2013 Scion

23 City / 31 Hwy
2.5-L, 4-cyl, 180 HP

Tired of the expression “think outside the box?” In this case, it’s actually good advice. When you think of Scion, its boxy little sedans, the xB and xD, are likely the first things that come to mind. Nothing wrong with that; they’re cool cars. But Scion also makes a stylish sport coupe that shouldn’t be overlooked – the Scion tC. Now you can keep the toy and throw away the box.

By Matt Stone


Scion launched its first Scion tC coupe in 2004; it was handsome, fun to drive, and proved an immediate hit with males and females, particularly the tuner crowd (remember the kids in those Fast and Furious movies?). The tC has grown up since then; remodeled, updated and relaunched; the styling is similar in flavor to the original, but the new one boasts a much more upscale interior, higher creature feature content, and more power, although it’s still a relatively economical four-cylinder machine.


Scion has cranked up the pizzazz factor in the tC’s interior. It’s stylish and “driver-centric”, with attractive “tech looking” materials, and grippy, comfy front bucket seats. The instruments are clear and easy to read, and there are plenty of cupholders and storage cubbies about. As with most compact coupes, access to the rear seats is modestly challenging but no biggie. The Scion tC’s cockpit is enveloping without being claustrophobic; like slipping on a blazer that fits just so. The rear hatch opens wide to reveal a large cargo area with a flat floor; drop the rear seatbacks down and you’ve got major shopping bag space, easily big enough to handle bounty from the half-yearly sale. The climate and audio controls are clean looking and logical to use, and typical of Scion’s current model lineup, finished in handsome high quality plastics. The large tilt and slide power moon roof is standard.


As family friendly as any compact sport coupe will be. Kids will scramble in and out of the rear seats with no problem, but your tallest gal pal in heels and a mini might not appreciate having to make the same maneuver too many times. And we’ve already talked about the wide-opening hatch and useful cargo area. The 2013 Scion tC is a sports coupe that makes few compromises, and asks few of them from you.


The 2013 Scion tC has a solid body/chassis structure and airbags everywhere. Plus the usual stability programming, traction control, and four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock are all standard fare. The tC also earns a “five star” overall crash rating from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).


The Scion tC has a 300 watt, Pioneer AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with bluetooth audio streaming and HD Radio technology that’s an optional upgrade in some other Scion models, and it sounds terrific. There are plenty of speakers, and it all harmonizes for rich, clean, sound. Natch, there’s an AUX port and the system is iPod friendly. The Scion tC is a well-equipped gimmick free car with no crazy stuff to add weight, cost or confusion. As a slick option, the Limited Release Series 7.0 has the latest in Smart Key passive entry and start, meaning you can start the car and turn it off from the outside.


Although not a full-on sports car, the tC is a performer nonetheless. Its 180-horsepower four-cylinder engine is happy to be revved hard (although you don’t have to) and makes the car a bit of a hoot to drive. Naturally, all of the racy TRD extras mentioned above enhance the experience, but are not required to enjoy the tC. We’ve driven unmodified versions, and find them nearly as quick and satisfying. The wheels, tires, springs, brakes, anti-roll bars and throaty exhaust really crank up the tC’s racy quotient, but the extra handling comes at the expense of ride quality. The beefed up suspension really thumps over freeway expansion joints and railroad tracks; the factory stock car handles fine in normal to sporty driving mode without all that stuff and its associated expense, or ride penalty. The electronic steering is light and easy under all situations, as is the 6-speed shifter. The 2013 Scion tC is a relatively quiet car too, ideal for travel (we took a 600-mile round tripper while the car was in our garage – easy peasy).

Pricing and Trim Levels

The 2013 Scion tC comes one-way: loaded. Virtually everything offered comes standard, your only major choices are color and transmission; choose between a 6-speed automatic or sporty 6-speed manual. Unless you live in San Francisco, we say get the stick; it helps you wring the most out of the high winding, 180 horsepower engine.

The car bases for $19,305 including the obligatory destination and delivery fee, and that was also the bottom line figure on the window sticker of our handsome black tester. Scion’s PR department equipped this one with a few nice goodies out of the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) catalog that perform well but aren’t cheap, so you can take or leave them as you wish.

A new Pioneer sound system with Bluetooth audio streaming and HD Radio technology is standard. And the limited edition Release Series 7.0 features exclusive High Voltage yellow paint, black 18-inch alloy wheels and a TRD body kit, as well as black and yellow seat upholstery and a Smart Key passive entry/start system. This model will run you $22,635, but it you'd like at least look like you're tearing up the streets of your home town, it may be worth every penny.

Final Thoughts

It's always been a great looking small car for a even greater price, and now Scion takes the appeal even higher with a much improved interior and lots of tech gizmos to sweeten the deal. If you're in the mood to be a girl-racer, Scion tC delivers the goods.

A sporty, stylish performer that gets good mileage and works as an everyday car.

Comfy, high quality cabin with plenty of cargo space for a coupe.

The TRD goodies – totally optional, of course – really hurt the ride.


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