By Cars.com EditorsSeptember 13, 2010
About the video
Cars.com's Kelsey Mays takes a look at the 2011 Scion tC. It competes with the Honda Civic and Chevrolet Cobalt.
<v Narrator>Cars.com Auto Review. Hi, I'm Kelsey Mays for cars.com. The Scion tC has been redesigned for 2011. It doesn't look radically different from before, but actually, it's on an all-new platform and it's slightly wider now.
We checked out the car when it was introduced on video at the 2010 New York Auto Show, so be sure to check that out. We've had a chance to drive it now and for a sub $20,000 affordable four-cylinder car, it gets up and goes pretty nicely. There's a nice drivetrain there under the hood. Unfortunately, you're gonna have to reconcile that with a pretty firm ride and a cabin that can feel cheap at times. There's a new 180 horsepower four-cylinder this year. That's up 19 horsepower over last year's smaller four-cylinder. And this car is only about a hundred pounds heavier than it was before. Combine that with a new optional six feet automatic transmission, that's actually pretty responsive and you've got enough power to move out from stoplights and merge on the highway. We like the car's steering. It's got plenty of assistant low speeds, so the tC is easy to drive around in the city and in parking lots, but it firms up on curvy roads, delivering both satisfying weight and turn-in precision. On the highway, the car tracks pretty well too. It stays nice and settled, meaning, you don't have to make a lot of corrections to stay on course. You're gonna have to weigh that against a couple negative qualities. One is ride comfort. Standard on the tC are 18-inch wheels and razor-thin 45 series tires, which you see here. When you consider that suspension tuning is a lot firmer, Scion says than in the last tC, ride quality can be pretty marginal. Might not be a big deal in the city, but on the highways, the suspension can be pretty choppy and just not offer a lot of cushioning underneath. A lot of automakers are proven that even in cheap cars, you don't have to have poor ride quality to have good handling. Unfortunately, that's just not the case here. The second issue is cabin quality. From a styling standpoint, it looks pretty good. It's all very sporty, kind of centered toward the driver. It's definitely nice to look at. We're seeing a similar effect that we've seen in Toyota's Corolla small car. There's just a lot of hard plastics here, especially in areas that your elbows are gonna fall along. The climate controls are pretty crude. The front windows here used to be power one touch up and down in the last tC. That's no longer the case. The new tC costs about a thousand dollars more than the outgoing one. To be fair, you do get a few more features for that. You got a bigger engine, there's better gas mileage, and an electronic stability system is now standard. I gotta say, also the styling is growing on me. This is a pretty sharp-looking car. But the old tC was really good in a lot of areas, especially in terms of interior quality. These are some big shoes to fill, and I'm not really sure that Scion got the job done. <v Narrator>For more car-related news, go to cars.com or our blog, KickingTires.net.