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Stepping into the 2010 Scion tC for the first time, I was admittedly skeptical. After all, the tC is a car targeted at a certain demographic, namely students and recent college grads. How cool can anything built by a bunch of old men in suits trying to target the “millennial” crowd really be? All it takes is one look at their Web site to realize Scion is the kid who always tries too hard to fit in. Sprawled across the tC’s image is, “Tear it up, don’t rip it off.” What does that even mean?
My point is this: anything that tries to be cool rarely ends up that way. That would be like Clint Eastwood looking you in the eye and saying you’ll never be as cool as he is. So in this way, the tC is like Colin Farrell: It thinks it’s cool, but does that alone make it a cool car?
Well no, not really. But strip away the overzealous marketing and uber-edgy packaging and you’re left with solid gold.
Like all models across the Scion range, the tC is subject to what they call monospec pricing. That means the tC comes in only one trim level. Think of it like ordering a burrito: You pick the meat and the tortilla, and everything else is a little extra. It’s the same way for the tC. The base price of $17,670 will get you the car, a five-speed transmission and a color.
But for that price tag, you get a great tortilla. The tC comes with standard power windows, power locks, a panoramic moon roof, 17-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, a Macpherson strut double wishbone suspension, cruise control and an iPod connector for the sound system. Not bad for a hair under $18,000.
If you’re a recent graduate, the deal gets even better with a $1,000 rebate. For those without much credit history (like college students), Scion has flexible credit programs to get you behind the wheel.
Under the hood you’ll find the same engine from the Toyota Camry and Corolla, a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder motor putting out 161 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft. of torque. Combined fuel economy is a comparatively low 23 miles per gallon.
But the real story isn’t the engine; it’s the suspension. Throw the tC into a corner at nearly any speed and it just sticks to the road. The Macpherson suspension keeps the whole car level while sailing around corners, and the steering is light and accurate. Our tester came equipped with optional 18-inch Toyota Racing Development wheels and sport tires. While nearly useless in the snow, they proved awesome on twisty mountain roads.
Click and drag to check out the tC in 3d.
Inside you get air conditioning, folding seats, a great sunroof and a Pioneer sound system standard, which you’ll immediately want to tear apart and throw out the window. Ours was the upgraded premium system, and frankly I’d rather listen to a dying rhinoceros.
Unlike other cars in this segment, people actually fit in the rear of the tC. They have to be short people, but their legs will find a surprising amount of space. Also of note is the visibility. The seating position is comfortable, and the massive front and side windows make it easy to see what’s going on.
But the tC’s best quality, like the burrito, is all the customization available for it–some directly from the dealership. Our tester had the 18-inch wheels, a ground effects kit, a spoiler, a special shift knob and the stupid sound system all for $21,636. Throw in a few other options like a limited-slip differential, a TRD performance brake kit, coil-over suspension upgrade and a TRD performance clutch kit and you’re only looking at $26,461. That’s $7,000 less than a new Mitsubishi Evo. If looks are more your thing, Scion and other aftermarket supporters offer a huge variety of options to tweak your tC just the way you want it.
So it turns out my skepticism was undue. After a long drive through the mountains the 2010 Scion tC proved to be a great car. Sure the transmission was a bit finicky at times and the seats were a tad uncomfortable after a few hours at the wheel, but overall the car performed magnificently, and for the price tag it’s way less than its competitors. Take a look past the cheesy advertising and you’ll find a great car at a great price.[flagallery gid=14 name="Gallery"]