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Scion has an interesting dilemma—and one that we have trouble having a lot of sympathy for. Its tC coupe, which was the performance model in the lineup, has been overshadowed and outclassed by the fantastic rear-wheel-drive FR-S—a coupe that seems to be just as practical as the tC yet more in touch with the sensory experience of driving. Wouldn't most tC shoppers rather have the more straightforward sports-car look and driving feel of the FR-S?
As we ponder that, there are still some reasons to choose the front-wheel-drive 2014 Scion tC—like ride quality, or features for the money. And as if in admission of the New Kid on the Block, Scion has dialed the tC up for 2014 with “more assertive styling.” With the current generation notchback coupe already buffed-up and chunkier in appearance over the previous, softer hatchback, this model was already far from subtle. But with LED accent lighting and taillamps, new upper- and lower grille treatments, new headlamps, and a blacked-out lower rear valance—plus new 18-inch dark-gray-finish alloy wheels—the 2014 tC does keep its look assertive, if a bit overwrought and high-shouldered. Inside, the design carries over, with enough design nuance where it counts, in the cut-tube gauges and M&M-shaped climate controls, but the big news is that Scion has upgraded all the materials, with lighter-colored fabrics.
There's nothing significantly new under the hood for 2014, but the tC remains a solid performer. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, making 179 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque, is paired with a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic and can get to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds with the manual or 8.3 seconds with the automatic—this year adding downshift rev-blipping. The electric power steering feels good, as do the big all-disc brakes, and ride quality's obviously a priority, as the big 18-inch wheels and tires don't make things too harsh. For 2014, Scion does claim to have increased body rigidity and made “modifications to stabilizer bar hardware.” We'll update you later on exactly what that means.
Don't expect any packaging magic inside the tC; all the usual rules of sporty coupes apply here. Accommodations are snug in front and in back, with tight headroom all around (a sunroof is standard and makes things a bit worse than they could be). One unexpected twist is that the back seat reclines a bit. Cargo versatility is also somewhat better than you might expect, with the front seats tilting forward easily and a trunk large enough (with deep side bins) for several roll-on bags. One thing that is bound to improve for 2014 is the fine details; Scion has subbed in some “premium materials,” and we hope that means quelling the abundance of hard plastics from previous model years.
The Scion tC has held strong safety ratings, with top scores from both the IIHS (Top Safety Pick) and the federal government (five-star overall).
Value for money has been one of the major selling points for the tC; for less than $20k, it includes things like power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; steering-wheel audio controls; and a sunroof. For 2014 the tC becomes the first model in the Scion family to get Display Audio systems, with a 6.1-inch touch screen, HD Radio, and built-in Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio-streaming capability. In addition there will be an upgrade BeSpoke Premium audio system with Aha smartphone connectivity for integrated Internet radio. 2014 Scion tC shoppers, as before, have plenty of aftermarket appearance and performance upgrade possibilities available through the dealership. There's also a new Scion 10 Series model, in a special color, Silver Ignition, with details like silver seat belts, an LED-illuminated Scion badge, and sequential badging, plus LED running lamps, dual automatic climate control, and push-button start.
- Smooth, strong engine
- Good ride quality for a coupe
- Chances to upgrade at the dealership
Next: Interior / Exterior »
- Tight headroom
- Lacks sharp driving feel
- Interior materials: Are they upgraded enough?