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Weidel on Wheels: Scion’s tC gets its first makeover

Changes are nice, but will it still grab youthful drivers?
By: Jeffrey Weidel
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In an attempt to recapture some of its youthful appeal, the Scion tC arrives this year with its first-ever complete redesign. But even with the changes, it’s doubtful the tC can become a runaway hit again with the millennial crowd. Not that there is anything wrong with the changes Scion made for the 2011 tC. But duplicating that same exuberance when the tC debuted in the U.S. market in 2004 isn’t likely to occur. The oddly named tC (Scion also has vehicles called xA, xB, and xD) remains a two-door hatchback that has a sporty, attractive look. This year’s coup features headlights that resemble the Honda Civic, and a lower grill that’s large and quite distinctive. The front end has some minor changes that some people view as giving the tC a more mature appearance. The gradual drop-off in the roofline does give the tC a cool factor that should play well to 20-something car buyers. The price — $18,275 to $19,275 — is appealing as well. Not much is new in performance, so the front-wheel drive tC will provide similar punch when called upon. Scion, a division of Toyota, did add 19 more horsepower to this year’s model, which has a 2.5-liter, inline-4 engine that produces 180 horsepower. It has been clocked going 0 to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. More notable than performance is the increase in gas mileage. Scion replaced the hydraulic power steering with an electric system that caused the gas mileage to increase — the tC now offers between 23 and 31 miles per gallon. Another appealing aspect of the tC is a rather spacious interior and a cargo area that is surprisingly roomy. Even the backseat, typically a place no one wants sit in any coup, is fine for short trips. That doesn’t mean entry/exit is easy, but what coup can boast that claim? Up front, even 6-footers will experience a comfortable ride, thanks to solid leg and headroom. The folding rear seat provides a large area for storage. Give Scion designers credit for continually thinking about its target audience. The iPod setup is impressive and so is its electronics that puts an emphasis on a standard audio system geared purposely for iPod users. On the downside, the interior is filled with hard plastic, so that detracts from the overall sporty-looking appearance. Improved handling is another issue addressed in the redesign. Not that the 2011 tC will react like some sport scar, but the steering is improved and driving more aggressively is less of a chore. __________ 2011 Scion tC Price: $18,275 - $19,275 Power: 2.5-liter, inline-4 engine with 180 horsepower Mileage estimate: 23 mpg city; 31 mpg highway Standard features include: Panoramic sunroof; keyless entry; tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; eight-speaker Pioneer sound system with CD player, auxiliary audio jack, iPod/USB interface and RCA output jacks; stability and traction control; brake assist; tire-pressure monitor; sunroof.