2015 Scion tC: Practical liftback with limitations

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The Scion tC was unveiled by Toyota 11 years ago as a 2005 model to cater to the millennial market. It’s a thrifty, five-passenger, three-door liftback with a lot of standard features and a few available option packages.

The 2015 model brings the car into its second decade as an unheralded compact with a sporty flair and a sub-$25,000 price.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

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Now in the second year of its third generation, the 2015 Scion tC (Touring Coupe) is offered in one trim level. Its standard equipment includes: 17-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 are 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.

As a second-year model, the 2015 Scion tC has only one distinct change. Steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters have been added to use with the continuously variable automatic transmission.

The 2015 Scion tC has a sporty exterior.
The 2015 Scion tC has a sporty exterior. All images copyright James Raia/2015

The standard engine is 1.8-liter, 16-value four-cylinder with 179 horsepower. The overall drive is two-fold. Around the Scion tC is zippy with a small turning radius and a lot of personality. The compact’s sportiness is impressive. It’s ideal transportation for grocery shopping and other errands, particularly since there’s easy access to the cargo are via the angled and non-cumbersome liftback.

On the freeway, however, the Scion succumbs to the same dilemma as other compacts. It doesn’t command a lot of performance respect while accelerating while getting out of difficult situations. The little Scion isn’t the quietest compact around and there’s substantial wind rush.

The Scion tC doesn’t offer a particularly smooth ride, either. Evan small bumps and potholes result in vibrations or stern jolts.

But the Scion is practical. There’s plenty of rear seat space and entering and exiting the back isn’t difficult compared the some compacts. The cargo area is respectable at 14.7 cubic feet without the rear seats folded. When the rear seats are folded flat, the cargo area is substantial compared more popular compacts like the Honda Civic or Hyundai Elantra.

Ford, Honda, Hyundai and Mazda all offer higher quality materials in their respective coupe models. The Scion tC is replete with low-grade plastic and insufficiently padded armrests.

Likes:

Spacious hatchback area.

Easy to use hatchback.

Sporty exterior design.

Dislikes:

Difficult to enter and exit.

Noisy at freeway speeds.

Unrefined.

Facts & Figures, 2015 Scion tC

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 7.3 seconds.

Airbags: 8.

Fuel economy: 23 mpg (city), 31 mpg (highway), 26 mpg (combined) six-speed manual transmission.

Horsepower: 179.

Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $19,210.00

Manufacturer’s Web site: www.scion.com.

Price As Tested: $24,935.00.

Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain,  5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles.

What Others Say:

“While the 2015 Scion tC isn’t as quick as its sporty styling suggests, it still holds appeal for buyers who want an affordable, good-looking and fun-to-drive coupe.” — Kelley Blue Book.

The Scion tC is a compact coupe that belies its sporty looks with a comfortable ride and predictable but uninspired handling. A corner carver it is not, yet for buyers seeking a stylish and practical machine for a relatively low purchase price, the tC will likely fit the bill.” — Left Lane News.

“The 2015 Scion tC is an appealing entry-level coupe, thanks to a roomy cabin, generous features list and snappy performance.” — Edmunds.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“Value is the key to all Scion models, and the tC shines in many ways when considering its value. But it doesn’t hold up well against rivals, many of which are more refined, better performing and overall better choices.”

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