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Scion tC, Version 2.0

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On: Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 9:03AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Scion tC, Version 2.0


In the time Scion has taken to redesign the tC, a lot has changed in the world. The country has had the biggest peak in real estate, followed by the biggest crash in the economy since the Great Depression. The city of New Orleans has been destroyed and rebuilt. We had our first African-American president. Being on Myspace went from making you cool to making you a social outcast. Michael Vick, Roger Clemens, and Tiger Woods all went from being sports icons to pariahs, and Brett Favre retired at least 50 or 60 times. 

Needless to say Scion, and parent company Toyota, have taken their time (And about seven years to be exact) recreating their very popular sport coupe. So what do we get for all this waiting? Some unbelievable Ferrari-fighter? No, sorry. A hugely over-hyped disappointment? Nope, not that either. What we get with the newly redesigned 2011 Scion tC is simply what should have been expected all along:  A better car than the one we had. And better in just about every way possible. Almost all of the car’s major aspects have been improved upon in some way, shape, or form. 

The powertrain has been upgraded starting with the horsepower jump from 161 to 180 (at 6,000 rpm) and torque being raised from 162 to 173 lb-ft(at 4,100 rpm) from the 2.5 liter in-line four (up from 2.4). The peppy little motor sends power through either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission (up from the five and four speeds respectively).Scion forecasts 30% of its customers will opt for the manual version.

The suspension has all been upgraded to improve handling, and give a much more refined ride than the previous iteration. An increase of 1.3” to the front track, and 1.1” to the rear, new spring and damper rates, as well as an increase in size to the anti-roll bar all help the new tC to stay planted firmly on the tarmac. A bigger footprint by way of larger wheels and tires also help things a bit, going with 18 x 7.5 inch wheels (up from 17 x 7 inches) mounted on 225/45R/18 tires (up from 215/45R/17).

One of the more obvious changes drivers will notice is the new fat flat bottom steering wheel that accompanies the updated interior. Although still very plastic-y, the HVAC controls are very intuitive and, unlike some pricier cars, very simple and not too busy to figure out while driving. Although some may have to squint to see the 3" x 5" inch navigation screen, one has to put this in perspective seeing as how you are getting a navigation screen in a car with a sub-20 grand base price. Another higher-end-cum-entry-model feature is Bluetooth connectivity, and a 300-watt Alpine stereo that is a company model used on the Lexus LX 570.

Seats are an inch wider and provide ample bolstering for road trips and spirited driving. The rear seats fold down and are split 60/40, which gives a tremendous amount of interior room for the occasional small furniture move, or drum set delivery. Another perk is the telescoping steering wheel

A change that drivers might not instantly recognize is the power steering unit; that sporty steering wheel is now a speed sensitive electric unit that provides a better on-center feel, rather than the hydraulic one it replaces and eliminates the need for annoying maintenance. Brakes also may go overlooked, but not only are they bigger at 11.65 inches on the fronts versus the previous model’s 10.59 inches, the new tC comes with the Star Safety system that not only provides ABS, but also Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Traction Control, and Vehicle Stability Control. Toyota is also installing the Smart Stop brake over-ride system, that may sound like a driver benefit, but kind of sounds like an insurance policy for the company just in case there are any more ... Toyota technical difficulties.

Obviously the visual cues are the most noticeable change in the 2011 Scion tC. The car itself is the same height and length with the outgoing model, but it is two inches wider, and has an overall more aggressive look about it that was inspired by a racing helmet. Not only does the new car look the part, but it does back up its new bark with a bit more bite. 0-60 comes in at 7.6 seconds for the six-speed manual (versus 8.2 for the old version) and 8.3 seconds for the six-speed automatic (versus 9.2 for the old auto). Fuel mileage has also increased to 23 city/31 highway versus 21/29 for the outgoing tC.

A lot has happened in the time it has taken Toyota to redesign the tC. But for a base price of $18,275 for the manual and $19,275 for the automatic, the new tC is worlds better than the car it replaces and has been well worth the wait.

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