When it was introduced, the tC was considered by many to be the sportiest Scion available and that fact alone has made the car popular.

Factor in the long list of standard and optional features, plus Toyota reliability, and it's easy to see why this Scion coupe ends up on so many shopping lists.

The 2012 Scion tC has a youthful, sporty look thanks to crisp lines and a sleek profile. Style is a big selling point in this category. Plus, this FIVE AD: Aero Kit by Five Axis really adds some attitude.

As do the 19-inch alloy wheels, that ride on a lowered suspension with Toyota's TRD upgrades. Altogether, the Scion tC is not a copy-cat coupe by any means.

You could shop it against the Honda Civic Si, especially if performance is a priority, or the Kia Forte SX Koup, with power and handling but a boring interior.

The Volkswagen Golf has excellent driving dynamics and an even handier hatchback than the tC, so it's definitely in the game. Scion's own FR-S is sportier but considerably more expensive.

Inside, the tC's instruments are legible and the controls are both easy to understand and reach. Everything is slanted toward the driver for a cockpit-like environment... and the flat-bottom steering wheel gives the car a sort of boy racer feel.

Our tC came with the standard Pioneer audio system with HD Radio, Bluetooth, or optional SiriusXM. You can also upgrade to the Bespoke premium audio system to get even more.

Some of the highlights are a 5.8" touch-screen with navigation, Pandora internet radio, iPod/USB connectivity, and iTunes tagging.

The only downside on the inside is the interior color, black is your only option. And on long trips the seats start to feel a little flat.

The Scion tC comes in only one trim level and has just one engine: a 180-horsepower inline 4. It's not a Muscle Car, that's for sure, but there's plenty of throttle response and sure-footed handling to provide all the fun you can handle. Plus, with the TRD performance exhaust, it makes all the right sounds.

The six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission sends the power to the front wheels. Either one's a perfect fit for the torquey engine.

You can pile on the miles between fill-ups with the Scion tC, thanks to EPA estimates of 23 miles-per-gallon in the city and 31 miles-per-gallon highway. And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests revealed that the Scion tC offers good occupant protection in both front and side impacts.

Standard stability control, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and eight airbags all add up to top notch safety measures.

And you can't deny the tC's affordability with a base price under $20,000 before checking off the options. And every 2012 Scion tC is backed by Toyota's 5-year, 60,000 mile powertrain warranty.

The price is right, the driving experience will make you smile, and you can option out the Scion tC like no other.

There aren't many other affordable hatchback coupes that give you as much fun, economy and versatility for under $20,000. We think you'll agree, that's money well spent.

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Scott Markle is an experienced automotive enthusiast and industry observer who is passionate about creating compelling content for car shoppers. He has fifteen years of experience building top-tier websites for the automotive industry and beyond, and was part of the team that launched AutoTrader.com.

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