The last thing most young people want to do is mirror the choices of their parents. Knowing this, Toyota wisely spearheaded its quest to reach the youth market by giving the kids their very own brand. The manufacturer's Scion marque aims to provide mostly edgy-looking vehicles, no-haggle pricing and an unprecedented opportunity to customize cars on the front end.
Scion is in the midst of revamping its product line and the economy-priced Scion tC will be its only product for about the first half of 2007. This coupe-styled hatchback's cabin is stylish, with an abundance of quality materials. You'll have a hard time believing you're in an economy car, thanks to touches like sleek metallic accents, a full complement of power features and an outside temperature display. A deeply tinted glass panoramic roof (base models offer a power moonroof while Spec models have a glass roof only) also provides an upscale feel.
The 2007 Scion tC hatchback is ably powered by its standard 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine. This is a big engine for a class in which 1.7-2.2 liters is more the norm. The tC's motor offers more muscle than starter engines in the Civic and Ion coupes, generating 160 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. Handling is also sportier than one might expect.
For shoppers desiring a fun and affordable sport coupe or hatchback, the tC is certainly worth taking a look at. Though its styling rarely evokes much emotion, the car benefits from its sharp handling and ability to be personalized through Scion's extensive array of dealer-installed options. We think it's a better choice than the Ford Focus or any of General Motors' coupes. Closer competition comes in the form of the Honda Civic coupe or Volkswagen Rabbit; you'll probably want to cross-shop all three before making a final decision.
The 2007 Scion tC comes in two trims: the stripped-down Spec and base. Standard features on the Spec trim include 16-inch wheels, a fixed glass roof, air-conditioning, 60/40-split folding/reclining rear seats, keyless entry, an outside temperature gauge and powered accessories. A 160-watt Pioneer sound system with CD player and auxiliary input jack that is XM Satellite Radio-ready is also standard. Step up to the base trim and the list grows to include 17-inch alloy wheels, a power moonroof, cruise control, and one-touch up/down windows. The only factory option is a side airbag package, but there are a multitude of dealer-installed options, including a CD changer, satellite radio, a subwoofer and a lighting kit for the footwell, just to name a few. A unique iPod connectivity upgrade is also available, and allows full iPod control, including power and display, through the tC's audio system.
Although the Scion tC is a compact car at just 174 inches long, a relatively long (106.3-inch) wheelbase provides more than ample legroom, especially for those riding in the back. Rear passengers will also enjoy the split seat backs that can individually recline up to 45 degrees. Although it looks like a coupe, the tC is actually a hatchback, which means flexible cargo capacity. By folding down the rear seats as well as the right front seat, a load floor that stretches 103.6 inches is created, ideal for snowboarders and surfers. Cargo capacity is 12.8 cubic feet with the rear seats in use and a whopping 60 cubic feet when they're folded down.
Standard power for the Scion tC comes from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 160 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque. A smooth-shifting five-speed manual gearbox is standard, with a four-speed automatic available as an option. Fuel economy is average for a budget coupe, with a 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway estimate for the manual and 23 city/30 highway for the optional automatic.
Thanks in part to its fully independent suspension (with a double-wishbone setup in the rear that maximizes interior space), the 2007 Scion tC offers a precise, well-weighted feel and flat, composed cornering. Ride quality is firm, but compliant enough to absorb most bumps and ruts on battered city streets. The 2.4-liter engine's broad power band contributes to the fun with plenty of pull down low and through the midrange.
The 2007 Scion tC comes with antilock disc brakes, a first aid kit and a driver knee airbag as standard equipment. Side airbags for front occupants and full-length head curtain airbags are optional. In NHTSA crash tests, the tC earned a perfect five stars for driver protection and four stars for front passenger protection. In front and rear side-impact testing, the Scion scored four stars.
The 2007 Scion tC hatchback sees its lineup expand with the addition of a new, stripped-down, less expensive trim level. Dubbed the Spec trim, Scion's intention is to have this model serve as a blank canvas to be used as a starting point for customization. The Spec trim trades the base trim's 17-inch wheels for 16-inchers, foregoes the base model's power sunroof for a fixed glass roof and offers unique upholstery and interior trim.