2008 Scion tC Expert Review

You'll Like The 2008 Scion tC If...

If you were a long-time fan of Toyota's discontinued Celica, you'll like what Scion has done with the tC. Its robust power, long list of standard equipment and low base price are exactly what young consumers are looking for in a fuel-efficient sports coupe.

You May Not Like The 2008 Scion tC If...

The tC is long on style but short on rear-seat headroom. At a certain age, you might think the interior is a little too hip -- and colorful at night. Drivers taller than six feet may feel cramped behind the wheel.

What's New

The 2008 Scion tC receives a new face including a mesh grille, lattice lower grille and projector beam-type headlights. Interior upgrades include new seat fabrics, Apple iPod connectivity built into the head unit and a Pioneer subwoofer.

Interior Features

The tC's interior is Lexus-like in its execution. Fit and finish are flawless, right down to the seamless dash-mounted airbag. The instrument cluster is neatly arranged into three separate circular housings and the center stack is covered with a silver finish. A large aluminum knob is used to control the climate system, and above it resides a Pioneer CD/MP3 player hidden behind a flip-up panel. New for 2008 is the addition of rear audio outputs on the optional premium sound system, which allow for easy installation of an aftermarket amplifier. The front seats are properly supportive, with nice side bolsters and new fabrics.

Exterior Features

The tC exterior is handsome, but not revolutionary. From the front, the tC resembles a coupe version of Volvo's new S40, with a set of lighted eyebrows borrowed from BMW. Around back, the sleek hatch and side windows look a bit like an Acura. A unique item is the massive panorama moonroof included as standard equipment on every car. The new SPEC Package removes the sporty wheels and power moonroof but offers a number of front end treatments to please the most demanding tuner.

Driving Impressions

The tC has inherited much from its Toyota and Lexus heritage. The 2.4-liter engine sings sweetly, with plenty of pulling power, and the five-speed manual delivers crisp, short shifts. Handling and braking are also well above average, making the tC a very fun car indeed. Front-seat passengers enjoy ample head and legroom, but the rear passengers will have to stoop if they're over six feet tall. The rear area is better utilized by folding down the seats and creating a large cargo hold; the front passenger seat also folds, allowing longer items such as surfboards to be stowed with the rear hatch closed.

Pricing Notes

The well-equipped tC SPEC still has a base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting under $16,000, while the standard tC coupe is priced in the mid $17,000 range. Even with XM Satellite Radio, an automatic transmission, DVD navigation, premium audio and upgraded wheels, the tC remains well under $25,000. The tC is a hot commodity and a look at the Fair Purchase Price shows the typical transaction price to be at or very close to the MSRP. The pain of paying closer to retail than dealer invoice for the tC is somewhat soothed by the car's excellent resale value. Over a four-year period, Kelley Blue Book expects the tC to retain one of the highest resale values in its class.

Notable Equipment

The tC has a 161-horsepower 2.4-liter engine, five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), rear defroster, power door locks, power windows, remote keyless entry, tire-pressure monitoring system, auto-off halogen headlamps, dual power mirrors, power panorama moonroof, AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3 and iPod connectivity, front and rear side-curtain airbags, driver and front passenger airbags, a first aid kit, driver's knee airbag, cruise control, tilt wheel with audio touch controls and alloy wheels. The slightly less expensive SPEC model is designed for the budding tuner and features steel wheels and a fixed sunroof.

Notable Options

Options include a four-speed automatic transmission, carbon fiber dash applique, ground effects kit, fog lights, Pioneer Premium audio, high-performance engine and suspension components, under-dash interior light kit, navigation system and a host of dealer-installed options.

Favorite Features

iPod Compatibility

The standard iPod connector allows you to control your iPod via the radio or steering wheel controls. The system is hidden beneath the center console armrest and continually supplies power to the iPod.


LED Interior Light Package

The optional LED interior light package fills the foot wells with neat blue lighting.

Under the Hood

Like the 2008 xB, the tC receives a big dose of power in the form of a 16-valve 2.4-liter engine. The tC is not as quick as some of its turbocharged rivals, but most people should be pleased with the car's combination of good acceleration and great gas mileage.


2.4-liter in-line 4

161 horsepower @ 6000 rpm

162 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 (manual), 21/29 (automatic)

Editors' Notes

The 2008 Scion tC has proven to be everything its competitors feared. Smartly styled, fuel-efficient and a blast to drive, the little tC is more than just a good value -- it has become the poster child for the lucrative aftermarket parts and customization business. Though not as space-efficient as the xD or xB, the tC can comfortably fit two adults and its versatile hatch design makes it easy to carry sports equipment or overnight gear. A near-flawless repair history and excellent resale value are but part of the tC's early success stories. By holding the tC's price well below $18,000, Scion has grabbed a substantial chunk of the all-important youth market, attracting young buyers who may likely move up to Toyota and Lexus brands as they grow older.

Road Test Video Reviews

2008 Scion tC Owner Reviews

4.19
57 Reviews
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Toyota made cars are great cars to own. Built to last with minimal issues

I really like my car because it's good on gas, compact, and I don't have to worry about squeezing a big car into a parking space. It's a good car for someone who is young and doesn't have any kids and you want a sporty look, while being economical at the same time. The one thing that I don't like is that there is no way to pop the trunk or the hatch from the inside, the lever broke easily and now it's hard to open, it sits too low to the ground and with that means you will feel every little bump and pothole. When I do get another car, I will keep my Scion because it would be a great car to drive to and from work, but I would invest in a mid-sized sedan or SUV for future purchases.

- Erica L

Great car for single people!

The scion is a great compact car for new drivers. It is very sensitive to the touch, and easily responsive to the drivers movements. The car is comfortable but it is very compact. It has a small backseat which would not be comfortable for backseat drivers. It is a good car for single people, or the widowed. Works well for young people. But it is not a family size car. Very reliable car, I drive 80 miles on the highway at least 2-3 times a week and the car easily endures the driving. My scion has around 100, 000 miles and still works incredibly well. Would recommend.

- Marcia F

Very great first car or great used car purchase for a new driver or teenager.

This was my first and only car. It has been extremely reliable. Little to no issues as far as maintenance. I recommend regular tire rotations as the car is low profile and the front wheel drive causes the front tires to wear faster than the back if not regularly rotated. Cosmetically the piece on the trunk hatch did crack and break off and I know this is a common issue for this year and model in particular. This was very cheap and easy to replace. I know this model no longer exists brand new but I fully recommend as a great used car purchase.

- Ashley V

Scion TC - Our Travel Car

The only problem we have had with this car is there was a crack in the gas can and it was a relatively inexpensive fix. The problem was found when we failed the emissions test. Besides the one problem, our car has been good to us. It rides smooth and has plenty of room for us. We like the trunk space as we use the car to travel a lot. We also like that the car gets much better gas mileage out on the highway for this same reason. Where we live has a lot of stop and go traffic so the gas mileage often tends to be on the lower side.

- Alexa S

Looks great. And cool lol.

Some scion tics may have many performance parts available (sometimes dependent on the trim level). Out of the pool of available performance parts, we have narrowed down to the best parts available. The basic idea of performance parts is to optimize your scion tic's chassis and engine to operate at its fullest potential. In regards to engine performance, the parts you can get for your engine range from something basic like a cold air intake to a more complex system such as a turbo kit or supercharger kit.

- Jacky C

My Scion tC is overall the perfect start out car because its trustworthy, comfortable, and durable.

I have had my Scion tC for five years now and have not experienced any seriously expensive problems. The performance is great and very reliable. It's a little car, but spacious inside with the sunroof and moonroof feature. I like to dropped down my back seats and let my dogs ride with me so it's animal friendly. The fabric of the interior is easy to get stains and/or animal hair out of. The fabric is stretchy so it molds to you once you sit.

- Raimey J

Scion tc: it has two sunroofs, one that opens and one that does not.

My scion tc has a very smooth ride and is very reliable. It has 110,00 miles and has shown no signs of any issues. The double sunroof and sound system are nice additions of luxury. The car performs like a low end sports car. Handles well through the co mountain roads. A stick shift would be more suitable than the automatic transmission. The automatic transmission is not perfect, but not any worse than any other car in the same class.

- Matt D

Sporty, stylish, sleek vehicle.

My black scion tc is a two door coupe. It is a 2008 and has a spoiler. The double sunroof makes the car look very chic. The overall look is very sporty. I haven't had many issues with the car only the bumper cracked. Obtaining a scion was difficult however, because many young people race them. Most of the cars had been in an accident or had damage. I would have to ask for the car fax at each dealership.

- Nicole P

Money pit that comes with age.

Seems to drive smooth but slowly showing signs of age. Certain components slowly failing, and a lot of replacements of parts. Recently replaced battery, bad alternator, and now need to replace brakes and rotors. Slowly becoming a money pit. Interior is fairly comfortable. Entertainment is average, would like better sound and control on receiver.

- Kyler S

Double sunroof is a plus!

Car seats are really comfortable and there's a surprising amount of legroom in the back for as small as the car is. The only thing that I would say is a negative is that looking over my left shoulder to merge, you really have to be careful cause the back window is small and you have to check a few angles to make sure you're clear to merge over.

- Ky A

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