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2006 Scion tC review:

2006 Scion tC

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The Good The 2006 Scion tC has the best iPod integration we've seen, and an auxiliary jack for other MP3 players is standard. The whole car is very customizable, from the stereo to performance kits and parts.

The Bad Rear headroom is almost nonexistent, while front legroom is tight for anyone taller than six feet. Core car tech features such as Bluetooth and navigation are not offered.

The Bottom Line One of the best values we've seen, the 2006 Scion tC offers strong audio options and decent performance, but leg- and headroom are limited for taller people.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.4 Overall
  • Cabin tech 8.0
  • Performance tech 7.0
  • Design 7.0

2006 Scion tC

The most impressive thing about the entry-level 2006 Scion tC is that its list of features would be at home on many midrange cars. The panoramic moonroof, the 17-inch alloy wheels, the engine immobilizer system, the tire-pressure warning system, the side-mirror turn indicators, and the 160-watt Pioneer stereo all come standard--on a car that starts at $16,740. Even with an automatic transmission, front side and side curtain air bags, all-weather carpets, a rear pedestal spoiler, security options, and iPod integration for the stereo, our test car still came in at less than $20,000 ($19,462, to be exact). There's no bundling of the more than 40 options available for the tC; everything is available individually on an à la carte basis.

On the outside, the hood reminds us of the Volvo S60 R and, combined with the honeycomb grille, give a hint of aggression. In standard form, the styling won't lead to any unwanted street race challenges, but tuners will be happy, as there are plenty of factory options as well as a growing list of available aftermarket modifications. Toyota Racing Development (TRD) has also just announced a $3,200 supercharger that can be fitted to manual transmission tCs, boosting the power from 160hp to 200hp along with a 13 percent increase in torque.

The standard panoramic moonroof on the 2006 Scion tC is a marvel. Both front and backseats have their own glass panels, and to open, the front panel lifts out and over the nonopening rear panel. We found the cloth front seats quite comfortable, although the driver's seat is a little high relative to the pedals for our liking, and we had to recline the front seats slightly to have adequate headroom. What really puzzled us, though, was the lack of front legroom, especially for the driver. The rear passengers have a surprising amount of legroom, but we found that anyone in the back seat taller than 5-foot-8 will be forced into a hunchbacklike crouch, as headroom is extremely limited, even for a small hatchback. Luggage space is decent, and with the 60/40 folding rear seats, there's more than enough room for skis or snowboards. Loading and unloading heavy suitcases is easy, thanks to the SUV-like flat access to the cargo bay floor. Another nice touch is the way the front seats fold down to the same level as the backseat, creating a big U-shaped lounge/bed area. This is going to be a very popular car at just about every lookout point frequented by teenagers across the country. All that's missing are remotes for the stereo and moonroof to help control the mood.

We also like the look and intuitive layout of the air conditioning controls, which, combined with the stereo hideaway door, give the center dash console a very clean, almost concept-car-like feel. And if you don't like the stereo that comes with the car, the double-DIN slot is very aftermarket-friendly, as the covering door maintains the look of the center stack no matter what you install. The hour and minute buttons, located at the bottom right of the stack, make setting the clock a snap, but we would have liked some way to prevent accidentally changing the time.

The iPod integration on the stereo is more sophisticated than on most cars, letting you navigate artists and all other pertinent song information. And the double-DIN slot is very friendly to installing aftermarket stereos.

There are no navigation or hands-free Bluetooth options, so any serious gadgetry will have to come from the aftermarket. The center console cubbyhole contains a 12-volt power supply, an auxiliary audio jack, and an optional iPod docking port, but we were disappointed that it lacks a pass-through slot for the associated cables. However, our biggest complaint is reserved for the windshield wiper operation, which has the right wiper blade pausing directly in the middle of driver's view before starting its downward stroke--very distracting.

We had a lot of fun changing between the 11 display colors on the 160-watt Pioneer CD/MP3 stereo (satellite radio is available as a $449 option) and liked the sound the six speakers produced. But if you want more bass, there's an optional 100-watt subwoofer that installs neatly into the corner of the trunk. There are three levels of automatic sound leveling available to automatically adjust the volume according to background noise, and the large SSP (which stands for Scion sound processing) button lets you pick from three preset equalization levels. Our test car was equipped with the iPod stereo upgrade, which adds a multiselector and volume dial to the stereo face and an iPod docking cable port to the center cubbyhole.

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