Things have been a bit stagnant in the Scion camp since the debut of the FR-S rear-drive sports coupe; leaving many of us to wonder what was coming next. Scion’s response: “wait till next year”. In the meantime, Toyota’s youth brand has been tinkering with some of its current models, including one of our favorites, the tC.
Quick, which Scion is the brand’s biggest seller? Well since you’re looking at a 2014 Scion tC driving across the screen, it’s a safe guess to say that would be it. And you would be right, as 40% of all Scions sold to this point are the sporty, front wheel drive tC.
And, it has now been updated in a move to look more modern, and keep its electronics relevant. There are mechanical updates too, chiefly an updated 6-speed automatic with quicker shifts and Dynamic Rev Management. So, it was off to the track to put the new tC to the test.
There’s enough torque at launch to get the wheels spinning a bit, but power builds slowly off the line. However, the engine still feels peppier than its 179-horsepower output indicates.
The new tranny may be responsible for that, although shifts still seem on the lazy side. But the engine does stay in its power band more than before. The 0-60 sprint took 7.4-seconds; the ¼-mile pass, 15.6 at 92 miles-per-hour. Here again, feeling swifter than it was.
The same is true of handling. It’s not outstanding, but the tC does keep you entertained. There’s a light feel that encourages spirited driving, and nimble responsiveness that makes it fun to do so. The very quick steering does lead to some understeer, but it’s easily managed, without computer intervention.
And probably more important than all of that, even with the sporty nature, ride quality remains very good for a compact car. We’d forgotten just how much of a well-rounded package this hatchback is. And it feels like it has grown up some; definitely the most normal car of all the Scions.
Despite the tiny appearance outside, there’s actually plenty of room inside. The dash is well sorted out; again appearing almost normal for a Scion. The radio works well, and both it and the optional navigation system are easily understood. There’s even a tune knob; thank you very much!
It’s a little light on bells and whistles though, with no hatch release on the key fob. Plus, a temperamental body mounted release, and the hatch is heavy. But once up, there is a huge opening and lots of very useful storage space.
Seat backs easily fold almost flat, and when they’re upright there’s even adult size room in the back seat. Front seats are also very comfortable, with a nice, well bolstered feel. Gauges are just how we like them: clear, comprehensive, and simple.
The 179-horsepower 2.5-liter I4 engine rates an also modest 172 lb-ft. of torque. Our test car featured some additional bark from the TRD sport exhaust that had exactly the right amount of crackle and pop, without the annoying ripping sound of most import warm rodders.
We still love the chunky, flat top design, definitely more mature than the slightly quirky first-gen.; and think it appeals equally well to buyers both young and older. It certainly doesn’t look like an economy car; it’s way too hip for that. Distinctive elements such as headlights and hood have been updated, blending in with a more open grille. The hatchback design is almost hidden, as from most angles it looks more like a very sporty coupe.
New 18-inch alloys are standard. The optional 19-inch TRD Alloys look great, but the Toyo Proxes tires didn’t do much for us on the wintry roads that we were unfortunately saddled with during our test.
The tC occupies a bit of a unique place in the market as there’s not too many other small, sporty 2-doors that are not just a hatch or coupe version of a preexisting sedan.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for our automatic are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined. We averaged a decent 27.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular. The Energy Impact Score comes in at 12.7-barrels of yearly oil use with CO2 emissions of 5.6 tons.
Base pricing of just $19,965, makes for a great little bargain blaster. Not as much fun as a Ford Fiesta ST, but priced less, and with an automatic that most prefer. And as much hoopla as there has been made over the rear drive FR-S, unless Scion ever gets around to putting some more horsepower in it, we prefer this car.
So, for 2014 the great little Scion tC gets a little amount of great updates. That’s enough to keep it a winner in our book and a top seller for Scion.
Engine: 2.5-liter I4
Torque: 172 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.4 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.6 seconds @ 92 mph
EPA: 23 mpg city/ 31 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 12.7 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.6 tons/yr