3.6 Overall Score
Performance 3.1 Comfort 3.3 Styling 3.2 Value 3.1

Editor's Overview

Not quite as sporty as some of its competitors -- many of which offer the option of turbocharging -- the Scion tC's strengths lie in its attractive and well-appointed interior, surprisingly roomy back seat, and a badge not seen in parents' driveways.

You'll Like The 2012 Scion tC If...

Scion's attractive pricing combined with Toyota's reputation for dependable motoring makes the 2012 tC coupe compelling for anyone looking for a fun coupe with fair amenities. The aftermarket on Scion allows for maximum customization on a minimal budget.

You May Not Like The 2012 Scion tC If...

Depending on your performance expectations when it comes to a coupe, the 2012 Scion tC may leave you as underwhelmed as in past models. For the cost of the Release Series 7.0 Package, many might expect a performance boost that it does not provide.

What's New

After a design reboot for the 2011 model, the 2012 Scion tC coupe sees few base-model changes. The most notable change is the new 300-watt Pioneer sound system. The "High Voltage" Release Series 7.0 package is the biggest new feature available, giving buyers upgraded wheels, a TRD-designed body kit, keyless entry and push-button start, and a unique High Voltage finish.

Interior Features

The 2012 Scion tC earns its keep with a smart interior that offers exceptional comfort and a convenient control layout. The driver's seat is adjustable enough for all shapes and sizes, and rear-seat passengers will be surprised by the amount of room they actually have. Dials and instrument clusters have a round theme that is pleasant and manages to be Spartan without looking like anything is missing. Sixty/40-split folding back seats allow trips to actual supermarkets as well as convenience stores.

Exterior Features

The 2012 Scion tC remains an improvement over the first generation, with its more angular roofline and jaunting grille. Where other, smaller coupes in its class almost dreadfully wear their what-you-see-is-what-you-get-ness on their sleeve, the tC coupe looks playful and fun. The tC also looks fast, which has helped turn millions of young eyes to it over the years. The Release Series' Toyota Racing Development body pieces only accentuate this, and the High Voltage paint color is nice if a bit garish.

Driving Impressions

The driving experience has always been the biggest source of debate over the Scion tC, and the 2012 tC coupe is unlikely to settle any arguments. The clutch in the 6-speed manual transmission, for example, is both light for daily commute convenience and precise for quick shifts. Steering is somewhat anemic, but engine response at low rpm is more fun than expected. Compared to other coupes in its class, it's not nearly as powerful or capable, but for city driving it's just enough fun to keep you from thinking twice about what it could be. This isn't "slow-car fast"; it's "slow-car in stop-and-go" fast.

Pricing Notes

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on the 2012 Scion tC coupe is $18,575 with the 6-speed manual transmission and reaches nearly $20,000 with the automatic. The Release Series 7.0 has an MSRP of $21,635. Competitors like the Honda Civic and Kia Forte start for less, but don't offer the impressive list of standard equipment that the 2012 tC does. Resale values on the Scion tC have held well for previous models and the 2012 should be no different, but the impending arrival of the Scion FR-S may have some impact as more sport-minded drivers might flock to the new Scion. For the best picture of what 2012 Scion tC models are selling for in your area, check out the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com.

Notable Equipment

The 2012 Scion tC carries the youth-appeal cred of previous models with standard equipment such as 18-inch wheels and the new Pioneer sound system. That sound system is HD Radio capable and you can connect your phone to it, as long as it is running Bluetooth 2.0 or higher. There are two microphones in the ceiling-light array to help facilitate use of the hands-free phone option. Toyota's Star Safety System is also standard and features eight airbags and traction and stability control along with active front headrests.

Notable Options

From the factory, 19-inch wheels are available for the 2012 Scion tC as well as a Five:AD 4-Piece Aero Kit, which is inspired by a concept tC and gives the car a more aggressive look. Again, the Release Series 7.0 is an available option with TRD body styling. Aftermarket options for the 2012 Scion tC will be as endless as they are for all other Scion models.

Favorite Features

Pioneer Premium Sound System

That such a thorough audio setup is standard on a sub-$20,000 coupe is just flat-out great. The Bluetooth connectivity is easy enough to work with and the sound quality itself is excellent.

Build Your Own

If you even have the most fleeting thought of a piece or part for your 2012 Scion tC coupe, someone will immediately put it into production. The more time you spend on your tC, the more it becomes your tC, and there are many forums, clubs and the like dedicated to customization.

Under the Hood

All Scion tC trim levels carry a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, producing 180 horsepower and 173 lb-ft of torque. Both manual and automatic transmissions are 6-speed. The automatic downshifts well enough, but upshifts are a tick less than immediate-feeling. The coupe's manual transmission's clutch could garner some accusations of being soft were it not for the bolt-action precision of its shifts.

2.5-liter in-line 4

180 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm

173 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31

Editors' Notes

If you live in a city or close-by suburbs, try a little experiment: Look around when you're on the road and keep an eye out for Scion tC drivers. The 2012 tC coupe isn't even the most recognizable Scion on the road (that would be the "roundy-boxy" xB); let alone a standout among other cars. But once you start noticing tCs, you'll notice that they're absolutely everywhere. Sales of the everyday sporty coupe had started to wane, though, so the tC received a much-needed facelift for the 2011 model. As a competitor to the Honda Civic and on-the-rise Kia Optima, the Scion's upgrade was seen by many as being too conservative. The changes did their job, however – sales of the Scion tC jumped nearly 75 percent between June 2010 and June 2011. With a new cosmetic package available for 2012, Toyota looks to take advantage of the resurgent interest in Scion's 2-seater.

Road Test Video Reviews

2012 Scion tC Owner Reviews

37 Reviews
65% 22% 11% 3% 1 star 0%
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Cute compact car with roomy back seat for a 2dr hatchback

2012 Scion tC Base

This was the car I wanted for a long time. Finally purchased it in 2012 it was still fairly new but bought 'used' as it had 2500 miles on it. It's a great car. I don't have any children so the two door issue is not that big of a deal to me. However the older I've gotten (31 yrs old) I do realize it isn't the best for people to climb in and out of the backseat. But with that being said the backseat is pretty big. Especially to be a two door hatchback type car. The bag seat is far bigger than any two door I have been in. That part is all about preference. It hasn't made me want to trade vehicles through. As far as problems with the car I haven't had any real problems since I bought it late in 2012. If you keep the maintenance up on it the car will do it's part. Now there is one thing I will mention and it seems to have been an issue on a lot of the models. The rubber flap that goes alongside the front window, at the top, sometimes when you would catch a certain speed it would lift up and sound like someone was beating your car to death. However, quick fix. So again no major issues. Overall I love the car. I wouldn't go back and buy a 4 door or a different type car. It's a good little compact car.

- Amanda C

Most important thing you should know about a car is maintenance.

2012 Scion tC

I would rate this car 8/10. Reliability is at the very top I have had no issues if you maintain the car to good standards you are set with this car mine is over 100, 000 and runs as if it was straight of if the lot. Comfort is great I am around 6’1 and I fit fine passenger seat is comfortable as well and backseats are extraordinary better than most sedans and you actually fit inside. Mine has a Bluetooth touch screen unit with had radio and I love it. Also has a sport mode which makes this car fun and enjoyable for any kind of trips. One problem I would say is stuff suspension, another would be a bit of rattle but those are easy fixes just with a few adjustments. Interior is really nice and back cabin is roomy which makes it good for whoever else you bring in your vehicle. Trunk space is good as well as it is a hatchback.

- Cesar I

The vehicle is average space, many blind spots, and carpet cleaning.

2012 Scion tC Base

The vehicle is not very comfortable at all. For example the doors actually very heavy. When I first bought the vehicle I did not really feel it. Later they started to feel very heavy. There is also more blind spots than what I expected there to be. The Spacing in the vehicle is an okay average. The Carpet in the vehicle you will have to clean very often and seats are very easy to get damaged if you spill anything you get stains very easily even if you drop water on them. I would get thicker tires than the ones they come with. You also have to keep up with everything in your vehicle running good and do not fall behind on any oil changes. Other than that I think I like the vehicle just would probably get more of a gas saver and not much of a sports.

- Elizabeth H

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