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Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 Scion tCIs Scion's least goofy car just too normal?
-It's the only Scion you can honestly call handsome while you're sober--the tC. It's got new lines, a lot of glass overhead (that's signature), and some questionable gear inside. Let's drive it and check the tech. The second generation tC, this guy, hit in October of 2010 with quite a new look from the side, not so much from the front, a slightly bigger engine, and an all new cockpit. But it's neither a truly sporty car nor an econobox. I guess that makes it a good example of Scion's vague undefineability as a brand. Now, where they've really changed this car for this generation starts at about the door crease coming back, and there you've got this long and very low window. That's because you've got the roof slammed and the belt line high. This window here is new, too, around the second row, and notice you've got this whole different sort of sail panel here that gives this guy almost much more of a people-mover look, not so much a little short-stubby-hatchback look. And if you're back here on this side of the car, you look across and you see nothing but class here, here, here. We'll take a look at that when we get inside. Now, Scion didn't just redo the outside of this car. They made quite a change on the inside and the first thing you notice is that's a high cowl and a very low roof. This has got M1A1-type line. This is like driving a tank. Taking advantage of that, they've given this car a very high mounted set of wide AC registers here for heat and air conditioning. You've got a lot of controls that ride up nice and high because you've got real estate up this high, and that includes this head unit. This is the base rig which isn't bad, although, as Antuan Goodwin points out, one of the best things about it is it looks like double DIN. So, it wouldn't be hard to go after this guy in the aftermarket and do whatever you wanna do. This Pioneer unit has a single slot for a CD, no DVD on this guy; AM/FM, no HD radio; satellite radio is available; most interestingly, iPod USB. Scion was early on, what, 3 years ago, putting an iPod connector in all their cars standard. And now, of course, that is morphed into a USB for iPod or a thumb drive. When you hit that, you see you've got a very simple display but it has a lot of information. I know a lot of cars with that big old giagunda LCDs and don't get this much information across. And this knob here is kinda like a cheapo iDrive. You see it kinda moves left, right, up, and down, while also turning and having a punch for enter. The problem is: cheap. It's built like a piece of crap. If you wanna go nav, you've got 2 ways to go: for $2,000, kind of a large screen Scion Nav System; or for about $1,200, you can get an Alpine mini screen Scion Nav System. That Alpine, that has the little mini nav, also has HD radio but only the big boy nav has Bluetooth handsfree integrated into the system. Otherwise, you gotta go with this little disaster here on the left. A la carte, it's a BLU Logic Bluetooth Handsfree System and logic is a generous term for this damn thing. There's no display anywhere. You hold it down and wait for a series of beeps and stuff to pair a phone, make a call, drop a call, delete a phone--it's a pain in the ass. Now, check out this feature, kind of unusual in a car of this size at this price class. Look up, almost a panoramic glass roof, damn near like a modern targa. You've got this big over the first row. This one is the moving panel. Then you've got this little skinny guy in the back here which hovers over the rear seat, which is nice because when you stick someone back there, they hate you. You may as well give them a place to look skyward so they can look toward a better life in the hereafter 'cause they're not happy in the current life when they're sitting there. And then behind them, their heads are actually under glass with the backlight because it extends so far forward. So, this car is something approaching a full glass roof. You know this engine all too well. It's a 2.5-liter in-line 4. We just drove it in the Camry a few weeks ago. That should tell you enough. Nothing wrong with it; it's just an engine, a nice modern engine and nobody writes songs about this motor. That said it gets the car around just fine. It's a little bit bigger than the previous Scion tC which was a 2.4. A little more horse, a little more torque. Sit sidesaddle, of course, front-wheel drive. Our car is a manual transmission. Now the numbers: it's about 180 horsepower, 173 foot-pounds of torque, and that's good for a squirt to 60 in about 7-1/2 with the manual. But we've got to add a second or so if you get the automatic, even though it's a nice, smooth gearbox. And your mpg in this guy is gonna be 23/31. This is not a happy engine to rev. It kinda gets all teeth-grindy when you take it up above about, I don't know, 4,000. So, it doesn't make you wanna play with this gearbox a whole hell of a lot, although you do get your best time and performance out of this. I think soft is the word that applies here. Everything is soft. Throttle response is soft. Deceleration is soft. Clutch actuation is soft. Gearbox is a little bit loose. It's just a very soft car. Ride quality is pretty nice. I don't know if they bulked up the weight or the wheelbase on this model here, but they definitely have a-- a car that rides more plantedly than its size class has a right to. Okay, let's price our little glass top friend. The 2011 tC base is like literally $5 under $19,000; now, the options. You saw the standard head unit. It's not bad to get started. They're gonna give you something. If you wanna make that sound better, spend $450 on the Alpine sound system but there's no nav on that. But there is an LCD screen. Or if you wanna go whole hog, you might wanna look at the full-sized navigation system which includes integrated Bluetooth; $2,000 for that, typical factory pricing. Or, just get the base unit, rip it out, and go get something in the aftermarket. What you don't wanna do is get that BLU Logic Bluetooth System. For about $300, you can do better doing just about anything on the aftermarket.