There are new automobiles and then there are hip new automobiles—Scion is clearly of the latter. A branch of the monolithic Toyota Motor Corporation, Scion was one of the first marquees targeted at the younger and more hip middle class young professional. The tC—short for touring coupe—is a common sight in university towns and in cities with a thriving youth culture. In only half a decade on the market, it is simple yet reliable platform that has wowed critics and consumers the world over.
2004-2010: The New Kid on the Block
When Toyota debuted the Scion tC in 2004, it was clear that it was designed to appeal primarily to the so-called Millennial demographic—those born between the late 70s and early 90s who, by then, were just about to exit the universities and enter the working environment. This Toyota did by adding several amazing base features with optional extras that were numerous and easy to tack on. The base of the tC was the Avensis chassis coupled with a stable MacPherson strut front and double wishbone rear suspension.
It’s extremely low price--$ 17,670—added to the appeal because here was a new car that could be purchased in lieu of the common practice of old-clunker “first” cars. Among the standard options offered were power windows, cruise control, air conditioning, turn signal lights mounted in the side mirrors, anti-lock braking, 17-in. alloy wheels, a panoramic moon roof, and decent 160-watt Pioneer sound system with a built-in CD player. Again, for the price tag and the market targeted, it was great steal.
By 2008, the platform was so successful that the only real change was aesthetic—in the form of a revised grille coupled with new headlights and taillights. As if it wasn’t economical a purchase as it was, the Scion tC was also offered in an even-cheaper Spec Package. The 17-incher alloy wheels were downgraded to 16-in. steel ones, the moon roof lost its mobility, the steering wheel of this version was urethane, and cruise control was taken out. Considering that the price went down by over $ 1,500, the losses weren’t so bad, by and large.
The engine on this first generation was a 2.4-L DOHC 16-valve, 4 cylinder with VVT-I for enhanced and more efficient control. Power output was a decent 161-horsepower that provided enough of a pull without burning too much fuel—a balance, indeed between performance and economy. Safety was also above average, with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety giving the tC top marks across the board.
2011- future: A Scion for All Time
The latest generation debuted in April 2010 at the New York Auto Show and quickly turned a few admiring heads. It got a minor engine upgrade to a 2.4-L Inline-4 that could produce 180-horsepower and still remained very economical. The central design was not as radical was the first tC was—in face it bore close similarity to its brethren of the Camry class. It still looked good, however, especially with the now-standard 18-inch wheels attached. Sales of this Scion tC doubled what was expected by executives—so the future certainly looks bright for this “budget” beauty.