The 2014 Scion tC recieved new design up front that shares more a family resemblance with the popular Scion FR-S sports car. It gets sharply chiseled headlamps and a deeply flared grille which are more aggressive than before.
The rear of the tC got a few tweaks like a center reflector which mimics that found on the FR-S. The look is fresh and clean, with new clear lens LED tail lamps as well. The redesigned 18” wheels look more expensive than before too.
The cabin is mostly carry-over from 2013 but a new touch-screen Pioneer display audio deck is now standard, with dealer upgrades available. The system has an aftermarket installed look which is very much deliberate.
The deck is easy enough to use but if you are into audio you soon find there are very few adjustments to made. Luckily the baseline sound is not too bad.
As the Scion tC is meant to be an affordable car, starting under $20,000 well equipped it’s a pleasant surprise to find a standard panoramic sunroof which can open up light to both the front and rear passengers. There are even separate sunshades, nice.
The only areas where the cabin falls down is in the area of cheap hard plastics that still abound in important places like the door panels and dash. Your arms naturally rest on a very hard and unshapely piece on the door that gets to be a pain over time.
On the road, the tC is a striking balance of economy car sensibility and sporty handling. It has a softer edge and grip limit than say a Honda Civic Si, but offers a willing chassis to be pushed on windy roads. It just signs off a little sooner in the g-Force department.
The ride is well sorted and the general feel is solid with refinement. Steering communication is a bit vague, not directly informing you of how close you are to the limit. This is something you find out once you have passed it.
For most young and inexperienced drivers the balance is likely right on the money as it doesn’t breed overconfidence. Add to the mix the 179 horsepower 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine and you have just enough power to make the car fun, but not so much to outwit most first time buyers.
The manual transmission really adds a sporty character to the tC over the automatic equipped model. There is a playfulness that seems to come through, more punch in the back and a sense that it is simply more fun to drive.
With the six-speed manual, the tC is rated at 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with a 26 mpg combined rating on the window sticker. We achieved 28.5 mpg combined in our time with the tC which is well above what was promised.
The nice thing about the tC overall is that it comes with Scion’s “mono spec” program of strong standard features which represent what most people would order and option out as standard equipment. This means the price is $19,965 no matter what, unless you add an automatic transmission or dealer accessories.
The tC’s two-door competitors are few, but it can be compared to cars like the Hyundai Veloster, Kia Forte Koup, and the Honda Civic coupe. All of them are different however and really must be tested if you don’t already have a styling or brand loyalty choice made.