2013 Scion tC Expert Review

3.6 Overall Score
Performance 3.0 Comfort 3.2 Styling 3.1 Value 3.0

Editor's Overview

Scion is Toyota's youth-oriented division and the tC coupe its best-selling model. The car's appeal lies in its styling, features, audio systems and freedom for personalization. Though actual over-the-road performance is modest, its fans don't mind. For under $20,000, the 2013 Scion tC offers style and attitude, and seems destined to continue as the Scion clientele's favorite.

You'll Like The 2013 Scion tC If...

Scion's attractive pricing combined with Toyota's reputation for dependability makes the 2013 tC coupe compelling for anyone looking for a fun coupe with reasonable amenities. The aftermarket offers a lot for Scion vehicles, allowing for maximum customization on a minimal budget.

You May Not Like The 2013 Scion tC If...

Depending on the performance you expect, particularly from a sporty-looking coupe, the 2013 Scion tC may leave you underwhelmed (as past models have). Acceleration, response and handling precision are rather average, and even the Release Series 8.0 package isn't much better.

What's New

After a major design in 2011, the 2013 Scion tC coupe is little changed in base form but as usual, a new up-level trim, called Release Series 8.0 this year, is added to the line. It's a striking, limited-production (2,000 units) configuration. Available only in Absolutely Red with black trim, 8.0 combines styling touches from Five Axis and performance parts from Toyota Racing Development (TRD).

Interior Features

The 2013 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. A 60/40-split folding back seat allows trips to actual supermarkets, not just convenience stores.

Exterior Features

The 2013 Scion tC, with its more angular roofline and big lower grille, makes a stronger visual statement than the first generation did. Where other, smaller coupes in its class can look excessively what-you-see-is-what-you-get, the tC coupe looks aggressively playful. The tC also looks fast, which has helped turn millions of young eyes to it over the years. The Release Series 8.0's Five Axis body pieces accentuate this, and the Absolutely Red paint color is brilliant.

Driving Impressions

The driving experience has always been the biggest source of debate over the Scion tC, and the 2013 tC coupe is unlikely to settle any arguments. The clutch in the 6-speed manual transmission is both light for daily commute convenience and precise for quick shifts. But road manners and chassis feel are uninspiring, with rather vague steering and soft suspension. Low-rpm engine response is quite good but revving out the 2.5-liter four generates only average thrust. Compared to other coupes in its class, it's not nearly as powerful or capable, though for city driving it's probably good enough for most buyers. The Series Release 8.0 package includes firmer, lower springs (and paddle shifters for the automatic) that help a little.

Pricing Notes

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on the 2013 Scion tC coupe is $19,480 with the 6-speed manual gearbox and another $1,000 with the automatic transmission. The Release Series 8.0 has MSRPs of $22,570 (manual) and $23,620 (automatic). Last year's Release Series 7.0, the hot yellow Lightning Bolt package with its TRD body kit, is still available, starting at $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 2013 tC does. Resale values on the Scion tC have held well for previous models and the 2013 should be no different, though the arrival of the excellent Scion FR-S rear-drive coupe may have some impact by pulling away the more sport-minded drivers. For the best picture of what 2013 Scion tC models are selling for in your area, check out the Fair Purchase Price on KBB.com.

Notable Equipment

The 2013 Scion tC carries great youth-appeal cred with standard equipment that includes 18-inch wheels and the impressive Pioneer sound system. That sound system is HD Radio capable and you can connect your phone to it, as long as you're 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 2013 Scion tC, as are a Bespoke audio upgrade, rear spoiler and sportier TRD springs and anti-roll bars. The Release Series 8.0 package includes a body kit from Five Axis, center exhaust with a TRD sport muffler, lower TRD springs and paddle shifters (with the automatic). Aftermarket options for the 2013 Scion tC are as extensive as they are for all other Scion models.

Favorite Features


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


Personalization is a consistent Scion theme, and between the factory and the aftermarket, it's easy to make your tC really your tC. There are many forums, groups and clubs dedicated to Scion 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 units. The automatic downshifts well enough, but upshifts can feel a little lazy. The manual transmission's clutch could be accused of being soft but the bolt-action precision of its shifter largely offsets that concern.

2.5-liter inline-4

180 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm

173 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31 mpg

Editors' Notes

Scion is Toyota's youth-oriented division and the tC coupe has historically been its best-selling model. The car's appeal lies in spirited styling, lots of features, surprisingly good audio systems for the price and freedom to personalize the car. Actual over-the-road performance may not live up to everyone's expectations, with modest horsepower and soft suspension, but it's entirely adequate for a city and suburban runabout. As is becoming an annual tradition, the tC gets a special-edition upgrade package, called Release Series 8.0 for 2013, that gives it a stronger personality. With starting prices around $20,000, the 2013 Scion tC offers a lot of style and a good bit of attitude for the money, and seems destined to continue as the Scion clientele's favorite.

Road Test Video Reviews

2013 Scion tC Owner Reviews

35 Reviews
54% 31% 11% 2 star 0% 3%
Leave your review

Would you recommend this vehicle?

(Select your rating)

My scion tc is the best car I have ever had!

When I went out to buy my car, I fell in love with it. Surprisingly 4 years later, I still do. I luckily have not had any problems out of it. The performance is great, it rides smoothly, it is quite comfortable on the inside. The features of the car are easy and straight to the point. The backseat had a ton of leg room, unlike most two door cars with a small backseat. I love my sunroof and moonroof in the car, I can easily put the back seats down for my soccer practices and I have a ton of room for my equipment. This has been my favorite car I have ever had and I definitely highly recommend it!

- Ashley H

If you like to drive a stick shift, this is a fun, comfortable car

This vehicle is very reliable, sturdy and well-built. I have over 100,000 miles on it and it is still running very well. I keep my vehicle very clean, and the trim, paint, and interior are all still pristine. The car is a manual transmission and I enjoy the active driving. The car is sporty but still comfortable, with a tight suspension. The car has a sunroof that opens wide and there is also a solid sunroof for the rear passengers. The seats run the back are comfortable, especially for a compact car. The back is a hatchback and the rear seats fold down to haul large items.

- Sharon A

The best hatchback I have ever came across!

Absolutely love my 2013 Scion tC! I have never had any problems with it. Very spacious, it is a hatchback so there is lots of room. The backseat is very comfortable for a two door car. Gas mileage is very good highway and city wise. Recently moved from Louisiana to downtown Dallas, TX and was able to fit lots of boxes in my car! The moonroof is my most favorite part of my car, but I love the car in its entirety and will keep it even when it is time for me to get a family vehicle.

- Jasmine W

Scion tc - great stereo system/speakers and drives very nice.

I love my scion tc. The speakers are very good and it drives very smooth. I like that it looks sporty and I like that it is a hatchback because it makes the interior of the car larger and gives people who sit in the backseat legroom. I have had to take it in for the check engine light coming on twice but other than that I have had no serious problems with it. I am very satisfied with my car and would definitely buy another scion tc in the future.

- Sabrina S

The sun roof is our favorite part.

The car performs well, though having any repairs done will be an issue as they are no longer making them. It is very comfortable, and driven on a daily basis but has had no major issues over the last few years. The steering responds well, though sometimes it can be a little tough to handle, we have a manual and it generally switches gears well but we also maintain it regularly at the dealership.

- Amber H

The most interesting feature this car has is the sun/moonroof.

I love how sports like yet how simple it is. It can be driven manually or like a stick shift car. There is a sunroof that opens and a moonroof. Although the moonroof does not open, it is pretty cool for anyone who is riding in the back to be able to look at. The biggest downfall of this vehicle is the fact that it has horrible blind spots making it difficult to see on your sides and behind you

- Victoria V

Scion tc 2013: comfortability and reliability.

It is very comfortable to drive, it is low to the ground but not to low where you hit bumps. Turns great and stirs very well. Does not have the best mileage but it is better than a truck that is for sure. It is a nice, affordable, and has all the features you need to have a safe and fun trip. It fits 5 but I'd say it only fits 4 because it is way more comfortable with only 4 passengers.

- Elijah R

It is really good on gas and it doesn't take much to fill it up. I drive it about 40 minutes every day to and from work and I get a whole week's worth of driving before having to refuel

I like that my car is little, but still very spacious. I love that my car is really good on gas. One thing I don't like is that it is only has two doors. I wish I would have thought that through more before I bought it because it is a hassle to get in and out of. I also like that sitting in the back seat I can reach for something in the trunk. I like that it's not completely separate.

- Liliana C

Great car for the money!!

Nice car that is very easy to drive, but fun at the same time. I have owned the car for 3 or 4 years now and it has costed me very little money. Parts seem to be a little more pricey than the more typical cars. Tires can get expensive. I have more good things to say about this car than bad. Overall I would say I like this car and am happy that I bought it.

- Brett R

My trunk lift supports gave out on me and I had to replace them, but I've had the car for 5 years and they gave out in year 4.

My car handles very well. It's sporty without being too sporty. It gets decent gas mileage but still has get up and go unlike other sedan cars. Now that I'm getting older I do wish I had 4 doors instead of a coupe. It is paid off though and I will drive it until it dies. It is easy to upkeep and has been a really reliable car. No issues whatsoever.

- Ashleigh F

Leave your review