Today we finished up our first drive of Scion's re-styled 2014 tC. To make the test interesting, we took it on a fabled section of old Route 66 from Kingman to Oatman, AZ. The section of the old Mother Road is one of the most challenging, windy and treacherous.
Now you might be scratching your head at us taking a Japanese sport coupe on America's Mother Road. Truth is, Route 66 has always been a melting pot of cultures, and this foray takes that legacy further.
First impressions in our tC is how smooth and solid it feels on the scenic road west out of Kingman. This sense comes from heavily weighted steering, firm seats, and a well isolated suspension. It feels like a tank for a car its size.
Route 66 gets pretty rough as you head up into the Black Mountains. Cracks filled with tar become the norm, but the Scion tC is doing a good job of keeping them to a mild message rather than a wicked rock concert.
My first stop is at a place called Cool Springs Cabins. It's a restored gas station which is now a gift shop and museum of sorts. The place once had many cabins by the road side you could stop and rent over night.
A decade ago this place was in ruins, but today it's been restored to period correct condition, giving this route new life and an appreciation for what once was. It's a place you just must stop and check out.
The stop gave a chance for some photos of the Scion's new fascia with which has more aggressive lines, LED accent lights and sharp angular headlamps. New 18” wheels are standard with nicely sized 225/45 tires. Clear lens LED tail lamps and an FR-S like center reflector in the rear fascia round it out.
For 2014, the Scion tC gets revised suspension and steering that is noticeable over the 2013 model. The electronic power steering is heavier, requiring more effort up here. Shock valving and the sway bar have been revised for better feedback, and the body structure got beefed up with additional spot welds.
The changes make for a car that is more sporting in feel as well as more solid in ride, especially on this less than smooth road. I did find the steering to be almost a little to stiff at times however. A driver selectable mode might be a welcome touch in future models.
The interior of the Scion tC has proven a welcome place. The cabin is simple and down to business with firm seats that fit will in a sport coupe. The standard panoramic sunroof makes for an airy feel given its low roof line.
For 2014 is remains largely similar to the previous year but a new 6.1” display audio deck is now standard. The sound quality is excellent, and you can upgrade it at your dealer to include Satellite Radio, Nav and Scion's Bespoke applications.
The only complaint is that the dash and door panels remain of hard plastic. On the trip, the door panel especially became a very uncomfortable place to hang your arm. We are in the 21's century, some padded materials would be nice.
The 2014 Scion's 2.5 liter engine carries over with 179 horsepower. It's a large torque motor, doing well at grunting up hills, but not as excited to rev out. It has a distant sound, but an ever present exhaust note as you power through the canyons.
The six-speed automatic transmission for 2014 gets retuned to offer a well done sport shifting behavior. What Scion calls Dynamic Shift Management, means when shifting manually you get rev matched down shifts with the computer blipping the throttle for you. Upshifts are more immediate than before and more crisp as well.
I was surprised that shift paddles weren't included on the tC given this new automatic transmission's mission in life. Toyota puts shift paddles in the Corolla S which is about the same price and it's an economy car.
That aside, the Scion tC makes for a good all around road trip car, offering a good balance of handling, ride, comfort and mpg. It's not an all-out performance car but offers up a good balance of style and sport to go along with excellent fuel economy that makes living with it easy for the younger buyers Scion seeks out.
At the end of a long drive, it feels like and old friend that has gone the extra mile with you and hasn't, made you want to get separate hotel rooms at the end of the trip. And at its price of $20,965 including destination, you can afford a nice room.
On the road-trip, the Scion tC is got excellent fuel economy. It's EPA rated at 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined. I averaged a consistent 29 mpg combined on this trip, including the mountain roads.
We ended out road-trip in the historic town of Oatman, Arizona. It's an old ghost town long bypassed by the interstate, leaving it exactly as it was back in the day. The 2014 Scion tC made the journey comfortably and with a sense of flair.