- Competitive base price
- Youthful interior design
- Peppy with the manual transmission
- Steering and handling
- Road noise
- Tight headroom
- Difficult rearward visibility
- Aging design no longer looks fresh
The 2009 Scion tC is more sophisticated and feature-rich than its price tag would otherwise indicate.
Introduced in late 2004 as an '05 model, the tC is the only coupe model to be sold under the Scion brand, which is offered at select Toyota dealerships. The 2009 Scion tC is based on the European-market Toyota Avensis. Now the oldest vehicle in the Scion lineup of small cars, the tC is updated for 2009 only with new interior fabrics.
The tC is powered by a torquey 161-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine similar to the one used in the Toyota Camry. Here it makes the tC quite entertaining to drive with the standard five-speed manual transmission or adequate for most needs with the available four-speed automatic. The 2009 Scion tC handles especially well, with good, communicative steering and a firm but comfortable ride.
Similar to Lexus in execution, the 2009 Scion tC has a sporty, cockpit-like design, with snug, well-bolstered front seats and a good driving position, though tall drivers will find themselves short on headroom and stout drivers short on hip room. The stylish cabin and instrument panel design look like they could belong to a much more expensive vehicle. The low seating position, high beltline, and thick back pillars can make rearward vision challenging. There's enough space for up to three in the small backseat, with decent access, but the tC's rather narrow body limits comfort (and elbowroom). The engine can be heard as a subtle sporty tone inside the cabin, but coarse road surfaces can introduce an unwelcome boominess, and a loud wind rush at speed emanates from the moonroof.
The 2009 Scion tC comes in one model: a well-equipped single-spec version that includes a very generous level of standard equipment such as air conditioning, keyless entry, a Panorama moonroof, sport seats, steering-wheel controls, cruise control, and a Pioneer sound system with subwoofer and full iPod-connectivity. Among the many dealer-installed accessories on the tC are carbon-fiber trim, fog lamps, a rear spoiler, and plenty of trim pieces and appearance enhancements, along with more serious performance equipment from Toyota Racing Development (TRD), including a performance exhaust, front strut tower brace, and rear sway bar. A navigation system is optional, as is an upgraded Pioneer sound system that has the capability to change "skins" and play four-second video clips. For tuners seeking more speed, a supercharger is available from TRD and thus covered under the vehicle warranty.
Safety is a major selling point of the 2009 Scion tC. Standard are dual side and front and rear side curtain airbags, a driver's knee airbag, and anti-lock brakes; electronic stability and traction control aren't available, though. The tC has been crash-tested by the federal government and did well, with four- and five-star results for frontal impact and great five-star ratings for side impact.