2009 Scion tC Expert Review

You'll Like The 2009 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 2009 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

No major changes for 2009.

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. The optional Pioneer upgraded head unit includes rear audio outputs, 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 vaguely resembles a coupe version of Volvo's 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. Toss in the new Make It Mine Package number 3 option and the tC gains a Borla Cat Back exhaust, fog lights and 18-inch Enkei wheels.

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 still has a base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting under $18,000. Even with XM Satellite Radio, an automatic transmission, DVD navigation, premium audio and upgraded wheels, the tC remains below $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 five-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.

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 2009 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 2009 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

2009 Scion tC Owner Reviews

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39 Reviews
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Scion tC has some pitfalls but ultimately is a reliable ride

The Scion tC is a five-seat compact hatchback coupe. The back seats pull down in order to get more "trunk" space if needed. It drives very smooth yet low to the ground. Drivers must be careful or else may easily damage the bottom of the front end. Although the Scion tC is classified as a compact car, it provides ample legroom, especially for those riding in the back. However, there is limited head room for tall drivers/passengers. It has a predictable reliability. Overall, the Scion tC is a respectable choice for a compact coupe.

- Michelle W

Awesome little car with great gas mileage

My Scion is awesome! I've owned SUV most of my life so going to a small 2 door compact car was a shock but it's pretty awesome. I absolutely love the two sunroofs! I wish the back one opened like the front one does. The strep is great gets loud and has a terrific base. The car is also really good on gas, I drive about 150 miles a day and I use about 1/2 a tank. My car has an excessive fuel vapor code in the engine but other than that no problems I think it's an overall good car.

- Colleen M

Why I love my 2009 Scion tc

I love my 2009 Scion tC. The only problem I seem to have with it is it eats up my oil. My car gets me to and from with no problems. For the most part, it's roomy. I am also short so that might be why. What I love most about my scion tc is the double sunroof. Only one opens, but having 2 makes it so much brighter inside. Another cool feature is that the whole top of my car is glass. I like it because it makes my car look like an expensive sports car.

- Rachel V

The scion tc is a great gas efficient comfortable sports car.

The scion tc is very gas efficient, very sporty. It has such a great performance I love how I can pull the roof back and get some fresh air on a hot day and feel the breeze on the highway. It's very spacious if you need some passengers in the back seat plus you can put the seats down in the back if you ever need to carry extra stuff in the trunk. The handling is great the brakes are super smooth and the acceleration is amazing on that thing.

- Christian B

My vehicle is a good gas saver

My car runs well, but sometimes it is a little unstable. In other words, since it is a small car, it moves a lot. I like it a lot though. I like Scions, I like how they look from the outside and the inside. I have not have any major problems with my car. I try to do the maintenance correctly. This type of cars are nice and convenient if you are single because they do not have a lot of space. The inside is small.

- Moses F

Scion tC: Toyota Reliability in a Compact Sporty Package

It's a comfortable little car, with great performance and the reliability that is expected with a Toyota. My child enjoys the reclining rear seats on road trips, and for a two door car it can haul a surprising amount! The sound system is geared for heavier bass, and the gas mileage could be better, but overall it is a fun car to drive without being too powerful or cantankerous.

- Elliot R

I'm a single female with no kids so it�s the perfect size for me.

I have luckily had no mechanical issues with my car. It's dependable and perfect for my needs. I like the sporty look and the sound system. The only issue I've had was the driver side visor would not stay up, I replaced that and all is well. It is convenient that the back seats fold down for extra trunk space as well, I like in Florida so this is good for beach days.

- Krystal R

TONS of space in the backseat/trunk.

This vehicle is awesome overall! A few problems that I have noticed is the engine tends to vibrant pretty intensely, the handle to open the hatchback has completely ripped off, my gas cap has lost the ability to completely seal, and every so often my sunroof doesn't want to close all the way. Other than these problems, I actually really do love this car!

- Allison C

Overall The car is in great condition it has the best family ever

The tire goes flat more often. The performance is more slower compared to the Toyota Supra, which is crazy. It's very comfortable for being a small hatchback car. In general I love this car. It has over 161 horsepower, many people like to drive tcs has a regular daily driver, but in my case I pimped me out to make it faster. It's very reliable

- Henry G

I LOVE the hatchback, great place to keep pillows and blankets inside.

Cons: The gas mileage is pretty crappy, a full tank lasts me 5 days...and as far as comfort goes..the way the chairs are shaped really put a number on my back, causing me some back pain. Pros: The speed on the car is amazing I can hit 45 mph in seconds, the cruise control is nice and at first was a little difficult to figure out.

- Kayla V

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