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2016 Scion tC

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Overview (Final Score: C+)
The 2016 Scion tC is the Toyota youth brand's entry-level sports car offering. Fitting below the more sport-oriented FR-S and above the lower-cost iA and iM options, the tC fills a niche that seems to have no want for eager buyers. Combining the appeal of a sports coupe with the versatility of a hatchback, the tC brings the best of both worlds to the curb.

The 2016 tC has received some much needed interior trim upgrades and a great new 7-inch touchscreen infotainment interface as standard equipment. It is otherwise unchanged from the 2015 model year.

Most buyers in the entry-level compact coupe segment are looking for something affordable, sporty (at least in looks) and useful as a daily driver. The tC brings all of that to the table in a complete package.

What We Loved About the 2016 Scion tC

  • Versatile and roomy for the compact class.

  • Very value-oriented without being overly cheap.

  • Great fast-paced design and appeal.

What We Didn't Love About the 2016 Scion tC

  • Some interior materials are a bit cheap.

  • Sportiness does not translate to sport driving.

  • Loud on the highway.


Exterior View (9/10 relative to market)
The 2016 Scion tC is a three-door hatchback with a unique coupe-style design that has proven to be popular among younger buyers who want a sports car without the drawbacks it can bring. The hood is short, fast-paced in design, and curved with a raucous appeal. The front fascia is dominated by a huge air scoop, small vertical cuts for side markers, and edgy peering headlamps. The side panels are simple and unadorned, allowing the rear and its arrow-head-like pillar and fastback design to finish the speedy look.

Tire and wheel options for the 2016 tC are complements to its sporty appeal while maintaining the low cost expected of this entry-level model.

It's a good look for the segment and one that has only a handful of rivals that truly compete.

Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (7/10)
The interior of the 2016 Scion tC is a mixture of ups and downs. The highs include the sporty design that carries in from the exterior, with bolstered seating, a sport steering wheel, etc. Other high points include the Panasonic touchscreen display, the relatively roomy back seats, and the advantages of the hatchback design. Unlike traditional coupes, the Scion tC has folding rear seats and that opening hatch, which make loading even bigger items into the car a breeze.

On the low side, however, there are a lot of cheap plastics and a general lack of refinement that just makes it feel low rent. Scion has been working to upgrade that, though, by adding improved seating and a more quality appeal to some of the tC's interior points. The dashboard and arm rests are still not up to par with the way the segment has gone, but seating and stitching have improved greatly for the 2016 model year.

Seating comfort is very good for a tiny compact coupe as well. The front seats will accommodate drivers and front passengers of any size and most dimensions without cramping. The rear seats are mostly for children or small adults, but can seat full adults in a pinch for short distances. They are far better than any found in competing coupes in this class. The rear cargo space offers 14.7 cubic feet of storage, which is more than most coupes will have for trunk space in this segment. With the rear seats folded, the cargo space opens up to 34.5 cubic feet. That's on par with many four-doors in this arena.


Technology (6/10)
Most of the standard and expected integrations for technology are present in the Scion tC. The system has Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone integration for Internet radio streaming and the like. There is no satellite radio option, however, and not even an upgrade for extended apps. The tech interface is clear, easy to use, and responds quickly, but its lack of options limits its appeal. Many options are available at the dealer, however, that could remedy this for users that wish to have those added features.

Fuel Economy (8/10)
Fuel economy is about average in the little 2016 Scion tC. There are competitors which do better and some which do worse. The 26 mpg combined rating the EPA gives the tC is easily replicated in the real world, however, and the 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway are there whether the manual or automatic transmission are chosen.

Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (7/10)
The 2016 tC is too new to have reliability ratings of its own, but is virtually unchanged from the 2015 model year. That year, J.D. Power and Associates gave the tC a quality rating of "About Average" and the NHTSA issued one safety recall for the car; related to the rear suspension. No recalls have been issued for the 2016 model year and we do not expect any, given the car's design age.


Safety (8/10)
The 2016 tC has been crash tested by both the IIHS and the NHTSA. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the tC its top rating of "Good" on all crash tests except the Small Overlap Front Test, for which it scored a second-best "Acceptable." That is common in this segment.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rates the Scion tC with an overall 5-Star score. The car received five stars on the Side Crash tests and four on both the Frontal and Rollover tests.

Performance (7/10)
Although the 2016 Scion tC is billed as a sports coupe and has all of the appeal of one, it is not a sports car. The Scion tC is front-wheel drive and is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 179 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. The standard (and preferred) transmission is a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic is optional.

Despite being of low power, the Scion tC does have a fairly quick pace with a 0-60 mph average of about 7.5 seconds with the manual transmission. We were able to consistently pull that thanks to the easy shifting that the manual transmission offers. The clutch is forgiving and the shift knob slides back and forth smoothly. We've noted that Scion vehicles tend to be easy to shift and the tC is no different.

On the road, the 2016 Scion tC is a good drive, though interior noise levels are high and most of the car's power comes in the lower gears when getting up to speed. On the highway, the tC can struggle to pass at 70 mph or more. Around town, every nuance and bump in the road will resonate in the cabin.

Visibility is very good, though, and maneuverability is excellent in this little car.

Pricing and Value (10/10)
Probably the strongest point in the 2016 Scion tC's favor is its excellent value proposition. This coupe is priced around $20,000 and offers a very sporty look, good versatility for its size, and a fun nature. Although it may not be the most sophisticated car on the road, it is definitely one of the more stylish for the price paid.


Total Score and Competitive Comparison (62/80, 77%)
The nearest competitors to the 2016 Scion tC are the Hyundai Veloster and the Kia Forte Koup. Both are good competition with the Hyundai offering value-oriented pricing and the Kia having a nicer interior with a bit less versatility.

When compared, though, the 2016 tC is a great choice. It offers everything the new car buyer could want in a first-time buy and has enough versatility and sportiness to be appealing to a younger audience. At the same time, parents can be assured that the power delivery and performance are not likely to raise insurance rates or get kids in trouble. All solid selling points for an excellent entry-level sports car.

2016 Scion tC Trims

Trim Engine Drive Train MSRP
2dr Coupe 6A 4 Cylinder FWD 20535
2dr Coupe 6M 4 Cylinder FWD 19385
Release Series 10.0 2dr Coupe 6M 4 Cylinder FWD 23190
Release Series 10.0 2dr Coupe 6A 4 Cylinder FWD 24340

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