The 2013 Scion tC is only in its second generation of production, debuting for the 2005 model year. This year's model features a brand new trim level but not much else is different from the previous year. It has an exterior that screams performance and an interior that remains pleasant. Being in the sports car/hatchback section it falls short of competitors in areas like fuel efficiency and economy, but it does possess some decent characteristics where rivals fall short.
Scion is a division of Toyota, which means the tC should possess all the reliability characteristics of any Toyota model, but don't expect all the glitz and glamour that comes on higher-end compacts. It is ranked at 32 out of 43 Affordable Small Cars by U.S.News.
"While the 2013 Scion tC looks the part of a sporty compact coupe, its handling performance doesn't quite live up to its appearance. However, the benefits of a generous list of features and a comfortable, roomy cabin should be plenty to attract the average driver." (Edmunds) Even though its exterior looks might brand it into the sports car category, its performance falls short of this classification.
"The car's appeal lies in spirited styling, lots of features, surprisingly good audio systems for the price and freedom to personalize the car. Actual over-the-road performance may not live up to everyone's expectations, with modest horsepower and soft suspension, but it's entirely adequate for a city and suburban runabout." (Kelley Blue Book) If you're searching for a stylish-looking automobile that doesn't quite walk the walk, the tC could be for you.
"The Scion tC is unusually practical for a small sporty coupe, with good interior room and usable cargo space. Its noisy cabin and pleasant, rather than sporty, handling are disappointing. Still, tC is worth consideration for shoppers looking at small coupes, but it's no longer the class standout it once was." (Consumer Guide)
"While not as sporty as some more performance-oriented competitors, the tC is fairly nimble and pleasing to drive. It also benefits from the versatility of a hatchback, and the cabin, particularly the rear seat, is quite spacious for a coupe. But a jittery ride and noisy cabin detract from the overall experience. Interior fit and finish is unimpressive, and the thick rear roof pillars and small windows block outward visibility." (Consumer Reports)
As for owner reviews, there are some that love the tC. "I just bought a 2013 tC in October 2012. I had it for a few months now and I really enjoy it. It is a really good looking car, audio is good enough you won't need any upgrades. I got the bespoke audio and it really makes the car look more sophisticated. It's quick and smooth ride make it fun to drive. Get the tint and spoiler and fog lights for a more aggressive look in my opinion." (Owner review from North Carolina owner)
Then there are those who find only minor flaws. "The only problems that I have with this car are that (1) the interior quality is terrible. Within weeks I had scratches all over the door panels and inner panels of my car. (2) The paint quality isn't that great. I got a bunch of scratches on it from washing it my first time. (3) Finally, it doesn't have that get up and go that you would like in a performance vehicle. Overall, it is reliable and gets me from point A to point B. Gas mileage is decent." (Owner review from Kelley Blue Book)
But there are some who have already received the bad apples of the bunch. "There are two HUGE blind spots. Seats are hard and uncomfortable for long drives. There is no trim on outside to avoid scratches and dings from other cars; it scratches easily. I like sitting higher but there's barely enough leg room for long legs." (Owner review from Kelley Blue Book)
Normally, you would have very limited options when choosing the tC. This year, however, Scion has added a new trim level, bringing the total amount of available trim levels to a whopping...two! The base model has standard features including keyless entry, driver track/seatback memory, panoramic sunroof, Bluetooth, alloy wheels, and an eight-speaker HD radio with audio jack and USB interface. There are models that have more impressive lists and those that come more stripped down; the base-model tC walks more around the middle of that road.
The new trim level is where all the excitement is this year. The biggest problem is going to be getting your hands on one. It is a limited edition trim level and is only being offered on 2,000 models. This doesn't bode well for the everyday buyer, but it could help some lucky collector strike it rich 50 years from now. There can't be too many collectors who will rush right out to pick up the latest Scion as a collector's item, but with only 2,000 being made it should sell out in a fairly short span of time.
If you're one of the lucky 2,000 you'll get additional features like stylish 18-inch alloy wheels, lowered suspension, an aerodynamic body kit, paddle shifters, a center-exit exhaust system, and a special interior design suited to the hatchback sports car enthusiast. MSRP on the 2013 Scion tC ranges from $18,725 at the low end, up to $22,865 for the new upper trim level.
There is one word that can accurately describe the tC's interior feel - modern. It features a wraparound cockpit display with an inset two-eye display on the dashboard (speedo on the right, rpm gauge on the left). The three-knob heater controls are angled toward the driver (as is the radio display) and they are situated directly above the console gearshift. Front seating is comfortable but cramped for larger passengers, as is the case with most vehicles in this class.
Rear seating is adequate for this segment but taller riders will still have difficulties with headroom. It is obvious the tC was not built with extreme comfort in mind. The standard features list is impressive and the controls for these features are simple and easy to use. The layout of the controls will take some getting used to though, as they are not labeled well. Cargo capacity is actually impressive, boasting 14.7 cubic feet. That number can increase if the rear seats are folded down.
Most owners will be impressed with the sound system, especially with the optional BeSpoke audio upgrade. This upgrade not only provides Bluetooth phone connectivity, it also allows for social media connectivity through Facebook and Twitter. Aside from the cockpit area, the rest of the car is racked with hard plastics and limited storage spaces. The glove box, center console, and door caverns are all deep but have small openings.
The 2013 Scion tC comes with only one engine option, the 2.5L four-cylinder that pushes out 180 horsepower and 173 ft.-lbs. of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard but you can opt for the six-speed automatic if you're willing to pony up a little extra green. The 2.5L engine can take the little hatchback from zero to 60 mph in just over 7 seconds, according to expert testing. Those are good numbers for this class.
Fuel economy is rated by the EPA to be 23/31 mpg. This could be the Achilles heel of the tC. Many competitors in both the compact and hatchback classes can boast better numbers at the pump. The overall driving experience can be listed as fun but not exciting. For an around-town commuter, the 2013 Scion tC is agile and capable. It can even provide some excitement through the tight turns and twists of the open road. It is not, however, an exciting sports car that will provide an exhilarating driving experience.
Steering is numb and doesn't provide much in the way of feel. Suspension isn't exactly cloud-like, and if you choose the upgraded trim with the lowered suspension it's even worse. If you're looking for some acceleration off the line, go with the manual transmission; it provides a much quicker shift through the lower gears than the automatic.
Safety & Reliability
In regards to safety the 2013 Scion tC is pretty good. It received top marks in all crash tests from the IIHS and garnered a title of Top Safety Pick. In NHTSA crash testing it earned the maximum five out of five stars overall, earning top marks in the side test and four out of five stars in the frontal test. You won't find much better in this segment.
There are currently no major recalls for the 2013 Scion tC. Being from the Toyota Corporation it does maintain a high standard of reliability, but doesn't come with more than the standard 3-year/36,000-mile warranty. It does feature a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is customary for most vehicles.
|Hatchback - FWD|
|2dr HB Man (Natl)||4 Cylinder||FWD||18725|
|2dr HB Man (GS)||4 Cylinder||FWD||18725|
|2dr HB Man (SE)||4 Cylinder||FWD||18725|
|2dr HB Auto (Natl)||4 Cylinder||FWD||19725|
|2dr HB Auto (GS)||4 Cylinder||FWD||19725|
|2dr HB Auto (SE)||4 Cylinder||FWD||19725|
|Release Series 8.0||2dr HB Man Release Series 8.0 (Natl)||4 Cylinder||FWD||21815|
|Release Series 8.0||2dr HB Man Release Series 8.0 (GS)||4 Cylinder||FWD||21815|
|Release Series 8.0||2dr HB Man Release Series 8.0 (SE)||4 Cylinder||FWD||21815|
|Release Series 8.0||2dr HB Auto Release Series 8.0 (Natl)||4 Cylinder||FWD||22865|
|Release Series 8.0||2dr HB Auto Release Series 8.0 (GS)||4 Cylinder||FWD||22865|
|Release Series 8.0||2dr HB Auto Release Series 8.0 (SE)||4 Cylinder||FWD||22865|
|2013 Scion tC||MSRP||Invoice|
|2013 Scion TC||$18,725||$17,789|
|Similar Cars to Consider||MSRP||Invoice||Compare|
|2013 Ford Focus||$16,200||$15,269||2013 Scion TC VS 2013 Ford Focus|
|2013 Mazda Mazda3||$16,700||$16,229||2013 Scion TC VS 2013 Mazda Mazda3|
|2013 Hyundai Veloster||$17,600||$16,983||2013 Scion TC VS 2013 Hyundai Veloster|
|2013 Hyundai Elantra GT||$18,545||$17,881||2013 Scion TC VS 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT|
|2013 Volkswagen Golf||$18,095||$17,371||2013 Scion TC VS 2013 Volkswagen Golf|
Interested to see how the 2013 Scion tC ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2013 Scion tC rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.
|1||2013 Mazda Mazda3||32|
|2||2013 Ford Focus||31|
|3||2013 Hyundai Elantra GT||31|
|4||2013 Hyundai Veloster||29|
|5||2013 Volkswagen Golf||28|
|6||2013 Scion TC||27|
|1||2013 Hyundai Veloster||201|
|2||2013 Scion TC||180|
|3||2013 Volkswagen Golf||170|
|4||2013 Ford Focus||160|
|5||2013 Mazda Mazda3||154|
|6||2013 Hyundai Elantra GT||148|
|1||2013 Hyundai Veloster||195|
|2||2013 Volkswagen Golf||177|
|3||2013 Scion TC||173|
|4||2013 Mazda Mazda3||148|
|5||2013 Ford Focus||146|
|6||2013 Hyundai Elantra GT||131|
|1||2013 Hyundai Elantra GT||40.1|
|2||2013 Volkswagen Golf||39.3|
|3||2013 Hyundai Veloster||39.0|
|4||2013 Mazda Mazda3||38.9|
|5||2013 Ford Focus||38.3|
|6||2013 Scion TC||37.7|
|1||2013 Hyundai Veloster||43.9|
|2||2013 Mazda Mazda3||42.0|
|3||2013 Hyundai Elantra GT||42.0|
|4||2013 Ford Focus||41.9|
|5||2013 Scion TC||41.8|
|6||2013 Volkswagen Golf||41.2|
|1||2013 Hyundai Elantra GT||55.9|
|2||2013 Hyundai Veloster||55.6|
|3||2013 Ford Focus||55.6|
|4||2013 Scion TC||55.4|
|5||2013 Mazda Mazda3||54.9|
|6||2013 Volkswagen Golf||54.7|
|1||2013 Ford Focus||53.9|
|2||2013 Mazda Mazda3||53.7|
|3||2013 Hyundai Veloster||53.2|
|4||2013 Hyundai Elantra GT||53.1|
|5||2013 Scion TC||52.6|