Editor’s note: 2016 was the last production year for the Scion tC for the U.S.
The 2016 Scion tC sport coupe doesn’t get much love from enthusiast-oriented car magazines. But we think that’s a good thing, because it underscores that the tC is a civilized car. It doesn’t have an obnoxiously loud engine, it doesn’t ride like an oxcart, and it doesn’t have a cramped interior. On the contrary, it’s a sensible Toyota-built coupe with just enough sportiness to remind you that you didn’t buy a Corolla.
Of course, your Scion dealer will be happy to make your tC look and sound like a performance car. The Scion experience is all about accessories, so if you want an aggressive exhaust or a lowered suspension, for example, you can get it at the dealership without jeopardizing your warranty.
But underneath its frequently flashy veneer, the tC remains a practical Toyota product that should provide a pain-free ownership experience. We know that’s not the stuff magazine covers are made of, but for real-world drivers, the Scion tC is a pretty cool package. See the 2016 Scion tC models for sale near you
What’s New for 2016?
The tC adds several new standard features for 2016, including a new 7-inch touchscreen and keyless access with a push-button starter.
What We Like
Sporty attitude; decent back seat; handy hatchback; cool tech features; good value
What We Don’t
Not quite as capable as it looks; interior feels a little cheap
The front-wheel-drive tC is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder rated at 179 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. Transmission options include a 6-speed manual or a quick-shifting 6-speed automatic. Both give the tC great performance, since its engine is the same one that powers the bigger and heavier Toyota Camry sedan. Fuel economy with either transmission is rated at 23 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.
Standard Features & Options
The 2016 Scion tC is offered in a single trim level with many optional accessories.
The base tC ($20,200) comes with 18-in alloy wheels, LED running lights and taillights, a panoramic sunroof, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, air conditioning, power accessories, cruise control, keyless access with a push-button starter, a first aid kit, a tilt-telescopic flat-bottom sport steering wheel and an 8-speaker 300-watt Pioneer audio system with a new 7-in touchscreen, HD Radio, and iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
Available extras include 19-in alloy wheels, fog lights, a rear spoiler, a BeSpoke infotainment system with navigation and Aha Radio mobile-app integration, and a variety of mild performance aids such as lowering springs, performance brakes and a sport exhaust.
The Scion tC comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and eight airbags (front, front-side, front-knee and full-length side-curtain). Unfortunately, it’s lacking the modern safety features offered by some models such as lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and more. It doesn’t even have an available backup camera.
In government crash testing, the tC scored a perfect five stars overall, including four stars for front impacts and five for side impacts. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the tC its top rating of Good in all crash-test categories except for the relatively new small-overlap front crash test, where the tC was deemed Acceptable (the second-best rating of four).
Behind the Wheel
In our interior evaluation, we deemed the tC model’s front seats a welcome departure from Scion’s ho-hum norm. The prominent side bolsters are clearly designed to hold you in place when the going gets twisty. The thick, leather-wrapped tilt-telescopic steering wheel has a wide range of adjustability, and it sports a race-car-style flat bottom that reminds us of an Audi TT.
The tC’s straightforward gauges feature an orange-illuminated tachometer and speedometer housed within separate hoods. The 3-dial climate controls couldn’t be simpler, and the entire central control panel is canted toward the driver for a cool cockpitlike feel.
On the road, the tC is a solid introduction to the joy of driving. Thanks to standard stability control and an appetite for understeer, this Scion is highly unlikely to behave unpredictably. What it will do, though, is get the g-forces going in corners enough to whet a driver’s appetite. At the same time, the tC has a civilized ride, and road noise isn’t a problem by sport-coupe standards.
The tC model’s back seat illustrates the advantages of basing a sport coupe on an existing sedan (in this case, the overseas Toyota Avensis). Unless the front passengers are unusually tall, full-size adults should be able to ride in the back for miles without complaint. Rear headroom is the most significant limiting factor.
Other Cars to Consider
2016 Kia Forte Koup — The stylish Forte Koup offers a cool turbocharged engine that matches the Fiesta ST’s power and easily bests the Scion’s.
2016 MINI Cooper — The tiny MINI Cooper offers on-the-rails handling and hatchback practicality. Prices can get steep in a hurry, so you’ll have to be careful with options.
Used Scion FR-S — The FR-S also hails from the Scion brand but offers enthusiast-friendly rear-wheel drive and a sportier chassis than the tC. It’s more expensive, though, so you may have to consider a used model.
The tC is a great value, particularly given how much standard equipment Scion throws in. We still prefer the manual, but the automatic is an unusually responsive specimen. Find a Scion tC for sale