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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PIONEER SOUND SYSTEM
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.
BUILD YOUR OWN
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.
180 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
173 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31 mpg
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.