Without adding optional performance parts, the 2010 Scion tC is motivated by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 161 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. Many reviewers comment on the tC's substantial low-end torque. "The Civic Si and the Mazda3 have as much horsepower, but they can't match the tC's twist," says Car and Driver. In the same vein, Edmunds also appreciates the "meatier low-end torque than smaller-engined competitors like the Honda Civic." The drawback, they say, is the acceleration, which they call just "adequate, with the 0-60-mph dash done in around 8.5 seconds."
For more go-fast, they continue, "Should you spring for the dealer-installed supercharger, 0-60 [takes] just 7.2 seconds." With the supercharger, output is boosted to 200 hp and 184 pound-feet of torque, and "it's covered under warranty," assures ForbesAutos.
Virtually all reviews favor the five-speed manual transmission over the four-speed automatic. Edmunds recommends buyers "go with the manual...as it has crisp shifting action and a smooth clutch. Automatic-equipped tCs are less enjoyable." Similarly, Kelley Blue Book comments that "the five-speed manual delivers crisp, short shifts," although Cars.com cautions that "the clutch can be jumpy." As for the four-speed automatic (fewer ratios than many competitors), ConsumerGuide complains that it "wouldn't make a kick-down shift without flooring the gas pedal" at cruising speeds, while Edmunds grumbles that the automatic "can be hesitant and indecisive during enthusiastic runs."
Despite the tC's advancing years, most reviews read by TheCarConnection.com deem the 2010 Scion tC's handling and braking above average. ConsumerGuide testifies to the platform's basic goodness, claiming that "handling is entertaining and confident" and "steering has good feel and weight." But that view isn't universal. Car and Driver calls the Scion tC chassis "an underachiever." It explains, "the culprit for the tC's otherwise estimable performance is weight."
Again, the answer may be optional equipment. Its four-wheel independent suspension and front and rear stabilizers make the 2010 tC an excellent foundation for tuning and customization. Optional suspension bits that Road and Track assures "will help you get the suspension sorted" cure the tC's chronic understeer and improve cornering. The brakes have "firm and progressive pedal feel," adds ConsumerGuide, although ForbesAutos notes, "The standard antilock brakes include electronic brake-force distribution [but] unfortunately, stability control is not offered on the Scion tC."
While small, the 2010 Scion tC is also heavy, and that hurts its gas mileage. According to fueleconomy.gov, with the automatic, the tC achieves only 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway; those numbers are little better than those of some much larger cars fitted with V-6 engines and the latest six-speed automatic transmissions.