With a small range of automobiles to choose from, Scion has made its name over the last decade by providing reasonably priced cars that offer lots of freedom to modify and personalize. Smack-dab in the middle of that lineup is the 2015 Scion tC, a two-door four-seat coupe. While this model doesn't take honors for being the most entertaining model in Scion's lineup (that accolade goes to the performance-oriented FR-S), the capable tC still has quite a bit of appeal.
One of the most notable things about the 2015 Scion tC is what it offers in terms of value. Standard features include Bluetooth, a touchscreen display and a panoramic sunroof. And while the tC doesn't receive the best fuel economy ratings from the EPA (26 mpg combined), Edmunds testing revealed that in real-world driving, the EPA rating is a pretty easy number to beat. Furthering the case for the tC's practicality are the decent-sized backseat and the easily accessible cargo area, which combine for good rear-seat real estate (even for adults) and respectable storage out back.
That said, the 2015 Scion tC isn't perfect. For starters, it isn't as refined as several of its rivals. Almost every interior surface seems to be flimsy, hollow and made from cheap plastic. Even the surfaces that look good feel less rewarding to the touch. The suspension tuning and the seats are firmer than we'd like, and at highway speeds the cabin is awash with road and wind noise. Also missing entirely is the option of a rearview camera, which is compounded by the problem of limited rearward visibility.
Luckily, this segment is full of viable alternatives. The 2015 Kia Forte Koup is a great choice, thanks to its overall comfort, driving dynamics and refined interior. The same could also be said of the 2015 Volkswagen Beetle coupe. The 2015 Honda Civic, long a dominant force in the compact market, still provides excellent value and build quality. And if you aren't restricting yourself to models with two doors, there are several excellent sedan options, like the 2015 Ford Focus. In the end, the 2015 Scion tC is definitely worth a look, but we recommend shopping around a bit before making your final decision.
The 2015 Scion tC is a compact, five-passenger hatchback coupe offered in one base trim level.
Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, a panoramic sunroof, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-trimmed tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, reclining and folding 60/40-split rear seats, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and an eight-speaker Pioneer sound system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface.
As with other Scions, a wide selection of dealer-sourced accessories is available, including 19-inch wheels, foglights, TRD (Toyota Racing Development) performance parts for the suspension and drivetrain and an upgraded BeSpoke touchscreen audio system. The BeSpoke system includes navigation functionality and smartphone Aha app integration for connected audio and social media services.
Much like its exterior, the 2015 Scion tC's cabin has a definitively sporty feel. With its thick, flat-bottom steering wheel, cradling seat bolsters and controls canted toward the driver, the tC strives for a high-performance sports car aesthetic. Unfortunately, the cabin's ambience is sullied a bit by the abundance of cheap plastic trim and thinly padded armrests.
From the standpoint of practicality, the tC is one of your better choices. The rear seats have above-average legroom, and getting in and out of the back is pretty easy by coupe standards. Behind the rear seats the tC can hold up to 14.7 cubic feet of luggage, while folding the rear seat yields additional cargo space. The hatchback body style also means it's easier to load bulky items in the tC than it is with traditional coupes like the Civic or Hyundai Elantra.
While previous Scions have received high marks for their stereo quality, competitors seem to have caught up lately. Standard Scion knobs and dials are still clear and easy to use, though. That said, the optional BeSpoke audio system is worth the money, considering that it provides a navigation system and smartphone integration that connects Internet radio, Yelp and other popular social media applications.
The front-wheel-drive 2015 Scion tC has a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine that generates 179 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, while a six-speed automatic with a rev-matched downshift feature is optional.
During Edmunds performance testing, a Scion tC with a manual transmission went from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. An automatic did the same sprint in 7.8 seconds. Both are respectably quick times for this class of car.
Whether it's equipped with the manual or automatic transmission, the tC returns an EPA-estimated 26 mpg combined (23 city/31 highway). In Edmunds testing we found it easy to replicate those numbers, and drivers with a light foot can do considerably better. On our 116-mile mixed-driving evaluation loop, we observed 32.6 mpg.
Though the 179-hp four-cylinder engine in the 2015 Scion tC isn't the most thrilling powertrain in the class, it definitely feels powerful, especially at lower rpm. If you're up for shifting your own gears, the six-speed manual is a good choice as it's easy to operate. But the more popular automatic is just fine, and fuel economy won't suffer, either.
Around city streets, the tC is entertaining to drive. It may not be particularly exciting compared with the rear-drive FR-S, but well-weighted, precise steering and the car's light-on-its-tires nature make for respectable fun. The ride quality is mediocre, however, as many bumps or potholes seem to produce a jiggle or vibration. Excessive road noise and tiresome, incessant droning from the exhaust are also drawbacks.
Standard safety features on the 2015 Scion tC include stability and traction control, antilock brakes, front knee airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front headrests. In Edmunds.com brake testing, the tC stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet, an average distance among its class.
In government crash testing, the tC received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the tC earned the highest score of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact test as well as the side-impact and roof-strength tests. It earned a second-highest rating of "Acceptable" in small-overlap frontal-offset testing and a "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts (head restraints and seats).
The 2015 Scion tC gets the addition of steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters with the automatic transmission.