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February 25, 2005
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2005 Scion tC:
Scion's Latest & Greatest - The Versatile tC
By Max Farrow
Contributing Editor

(February 18, 2005)

2005 Scion tC

Scion tC: Youthful, hip and fun

Value and utility - Scion tC

Official Web site:
If you're over 30, you can be forgiven for missing the 'buzz' surrounding Toyota's new youth-oriented Scion brand--after all, they're not marketing to you. The line, first populated by funky little econobox xB and xA models, is aimed squarely at twenty-something and younger buyers, many of whom will be plunking down their first new-car dough for a Scion. Toyota fervently hopes these early converts will become loyalists for life, moving up along the line through Camrys, Avalons and finally Lexus models throughout their auto-purchasing career.

However, like so many automotive campaigns targeted to the young, Scion has in one way missed its mark--the cars are terrific values for buyers of all ages, and have appeal far beyond their planned demographics. The xB and xA are straight from the Japanese domestic market, and have the offbeat looks to prove it, but offer plenty of space and utility in a rather enjoyable package, backed up by the promise of Toyota reliability. The deal is further sweetened by starting prices on the happy side of $13,000 and $15,000, respectively.

The tC, though, is a new sort of venture for Scion--a sexy little sports coupe that packs decent standard equipment and a satisfying drive into an attractive body, again with the proven engineering of what is now pretty much America's number-one seller of cars. Still, it boasts enough value and utility to appeal to buyers of any age.

We like this car. It's attractive, fun, versatile, and overall quite probably one of the best buys in automobiledom today. Behind the wheel, the Scion tC is about as fun as it looks. The ride isn't too firm, as some softness has been built in, although the roughest of roads will elicit a bit of a buckboard ride. The standard suspension getup consists of MacPherson struts up front, a multilink, coil-sprung independent rear, and anti-roll bars at both ends. It responds sharply enough for most prospective owners in most situations, but the most demanding drivers may find the handling and grip to be lacking come track day. For those folks, Scion offers a dealer-installed suspension kit and various ancillary pieces. Still, we think the standard setup is a good compromise between back-road prowess and commuting livability.

The make-or-break part of the deal, of course, is the powertrain. The tC packs a 160-horsepower four-cylinder, which also does duty in the base Camry. It's torquey, providing plenty of oomph for this diminutive machine. Zero to sixty is achieved in about seven and a half seconds, but even more important is the overall feel of this engine. It's entirely capable of the type of passing and acceleration maneuvers even the most aggressive pilots will demand of it, and it just hums along freeway jaunts at extralegal speeds without ever feeling stressed. In fact, we took our test car to Detroit, and on the way up averaged nearly 80 mph--including bathroom breaks and tool stops--for the entire drive. The whole way up, the car never missed a step, and managed 27 mpg while doing so..

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