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    Review: 2014 Scion tC


    • Keeping the Scion brand afloat, one coupe at a time


    If you have ever taken a class in economics, then you were most likely taught the economic cycle. The cycle explains periods of growth and decline in a economy via four different parts; expansion, boom, recession, and depression. A perfect example of this cycle in action is Scion. The youth-oriented brand which came on the scene in the early 2000’s experienced massive growth for the first few years. In fact, 2006 was its best year ever with sales reaching 173,034 vehicles. But since that time, Scion has been seeing its sales drop precipitously with 2010 being the worst year with 45,678 vehicles sold.

    2013 was a mixed bag for Scion. On one hand, the brand told its dealers that they can drop their franchise with no penalties at all and that new products wouldn’t be here till 2016. On the other hand, Scion is slowly crawling back up in sales. 2013 saw sales reach 68,321 vehicles thanks to two models; the FR-S coupe and refreshed tC coupe. So what is it about these two models that are keeping Scion afloat? We’ve driven the FR-S and now its time for the tC to help us answer this question.

    For the refresh, Scion tweaked the tC’s exterior to make it look more like the FR-S coupe. This is apparent in the front as there is now a longer hood that sits slightly lower than the previous model. The fascia has been slightly altered as well with a new bumper and grille layout. While not pulling the illusion of the FR-S fully off, the refresh does make the tC more interesting to look at. Other changes for the 2014 refresh include a set of LEDs on the bumper and a set of eighteen-inch alloy wheels.

    2014 Scion TC 2

    One area that Scion left mostly alone with the tC’s refresh was the interior and that’s a good and bad thing. Let’s start with the negative on the interior. The look and quality of the materials used in the tC looks like they come out of a mid to late-nineties vehicle. I get the tC is a cheap coupe, but with competitors such as the Honda Civic Coupe and Hyundai Elantra Coupe stepping up with the materials used in their interiors, Scion really needs to step up.

    Aside from the materials, the tC’s interior does everything else very well. Front-seat passengers are treated to cloth-covered seats with moderate side bolstering. Back-seat passengers will find a surprising amount of legroom. Headroom is surprising good if you’re under six feet. Cargo space is very generous with tC getting 34.5 Cubic Feet thanks to Scion’s decision of making the model a hatchback.

    2014 Scion TC 12

    Equipment is generous on tC will all models getting a flat-bottom steering wheel, dual-screen sunroof, telescoping steering wheel, power windows, and a 8.1-inch touchscreen head unit. My tC tester was equipped with the optional BeSpoke Premium Audio package which adds aHa internet radio and navigation. While the interface looks like something from the Windows 95 era, it’s a very straightforward system and quick to respond. One downside is that to get SiriusXM satellite radio, you need to pony up an extra $449 on top of the $1,198 price tag for the BeSpoke system.

    For thoughts on the powertrain and ride, see the next page.


    Under the tC’s hood is a 2.5L four-cylinder with 179 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. To access all of that power, you’ll have be ready to put the pedal down or close to floor. Otherwise, the tC feels like it can’t get out of its own way. This is somewhat surprising since the tC only weighs 3,113 pounds. A manual transmission is standard, but my tester came equipped with the optional six-speed automatic transmission with a Dynamic Rev Management system that blips the engine when downshifting. When left to its own devices, the transmission is quick on the upshifts. Downshifting is another story as it takes a few moments for the transmission to realize it would be a good idea to do that. This is very annoying when I was trying to make a pass on the freeway or merging and I found myself throwing the automatic into the manual mode when making a pass because it would be quicker. The dynamic rev management system is one of those systems that you either think is the coolest or stupidest feature. I personally liked it because it added a sense of excitement when I pushing the tC.

    2014 Scion TC 9

    On the fuel economy front, the EPA rates the 2014 tC at 23 City/31 Highway/26 Combined. My week’s average landed at 27.2 MPG.

    Along with the changes to the exterior, Scion worked on improving the tC’s handling. This includes revised stabilizer bars, electric power steering system, new struts, and more welds in the body to make it stronger. The changes really make a difference as the tC is a really fun coupe to push around. Body roll is kept to a minimum and the grip from the low-profile tires were excellent. Steering really didn’t have much feel, but the heavy weight more than made up for it. Out of all the compact coupes, the tC has to be the best driving one.

    But there is a downside to changes made by Scion, the tC is a rough rider when it comes to day to day duties. The suspension will send up every bump and road imperfection there is known to man, making for a very uncomfortable. Also, a fair bit of road and wind noise comes into the cabin. Those who are thinking about a tC for long-distance trips might want to reconsider.

    After spending a week in the Scion tC, I can see why its a big seller for the brand. The tC packs a lot of driving fun for not that much money. Add in the loads of standard equipment you get for the price, and tC makes a very good case for itself. But I do wonder if the tC can keep up this run of success, especially considering that Honda has launched a refreshed Civic coupe, Kia making huge strides with the new Forte Koup, and the Hyundai Veloster which has a pricetag that undercuts the tC by $2,000.

    gallery_10485_788_660400.jpg

    Disclaimer: Scion Provided the tC, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2014

    Make: Scion

    Model: tC

    Trim: N/A

    Engine: 2.5L DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder with VVT-i

    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 6,000

    Torque @ RPM: 173 @ 4,100

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26

    Curb Weight: N/A

    Location of Manufacture: Tsutsumi, Japan

    Base Price: $20,210.00

    As Tested Price: $23,166.00 (Includes $755.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    BeSpoke Premium Audio - $1,198.00

    Rear Lip Spoiler - $444.00

    Illuminated Door Sill - $375.00

    Carpeted Floor Mats and Cargo Mat - $184.00

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Amazing that People would bash the heck out of a US based auto company if they produced and tried to sell this but it is OK for garbage like this to exist and no one cares because it is Asian.

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    Out of curiosity, what platform is this on? The Auris/Corolla platform or the Avensis platform?

    I think its still the Avensis' platform.

    Thanks for the reply. Interesting that the platform is flexible enough to offer something a little less boring than an Avensis which, to be kind, is a Valium pill on wheels :D

    Edited by ZL-1
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    This is one of those Toyota products that, unlike the FR-S, receives universally negative reviews. I don't think I've read a positive review outside of a Toyota loving forum. Even Consumer Reports panned it, saying a basic Elantra or Impreza were more fun to drive. Ouch. Personally, I've only been able to go as far as the interior. That was enough for me to move past the tC permanently.

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    This is one of those Toyota products that, unlike the FR-S, receives universally negative reviews. I don't think I've read a positive review outside of a Toyota loving forum. Even Consumer Reports panned it, saying a basic Elantra or Impreza were more fun to drive. Ouch. Personally, I've only been able to go as far as the interior. That was enough for me to move past the tC permanently.

    Very true, and makes sense once you've seen and driven one.

    It's not terrible...but there are so many better choices, and some questionable "why?" on this one.

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    The things I find comical about these are the way young kids drive them like they are race cars and there lackluster mileage. The look on one guys face when my 2013 Impala blasted right pass him was priceless. And the fact that it will beat this thing in MPG on the open road is icing on the cake.

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    I know someone that recently bought a 2008 tC because she needed a used car under $10k and there isn't a lot sporty looking with low miles in that price range. There is a lot of back seat leg room, more than a lot of full size sedans, and the dual moonroof is cool. Other than that the interior is cheap and basic. They drive a little like the Grand Am to me, sort of punchy off the line, stiffer ride, and a little noisy. This isn't at all my kind of car, but I can see why people in their early 20s buy them. I think the Hyundai Veloster is better at the mission of being a cheap and sporty looking coupe to appeal to young people.

    The problem with the under $20k segment is the Corolla and Cruze seem built for people in their 50s or 60s, they just have an old image to me. The Mazda 3 and Focus can't be bought in a coupe, only a hatch. So you either have to over pay for a Civic coupe or buy a Scion or Hyundai, or Kia Forte.

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      Model: 1500 Crew Cab
      Trim: Laramie Longhorn
      Engine: 3.0L EcoDiesel V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 3,600
      Torque @ RPM: 420 @ 2,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Warren, MI
      Base Price: $52,365
      As Tested Price: $60,060 (Includes $1,195.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      3.0L EcoDiesel V6 - $3,120.00
      4-Corner Air Suspension - $1,695.00
      Wheel to Wheel Side Steps - $600.00
      Convenience Group - $495.00
      Trailer Brake Control - $280.00
      Cold Weather Group - $235.00
      3.92 Rear Axle Ratio - $75.00
    • By William Maley
      When I go back and look at the various Kia Optimas I have driven for Cheers & Gears, there has been one variant that I haven’t driven, the 2.0L turbo-four. But this changed back over the summer when a 2016 Kia Optima SXL came into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit bureau for a week-long evaluation. The SXL serves as the Optima’s flagship trim with more premium materials and the turbo-four.
      As I mentioned in my Optima EX review from earlier this year, the redesigned Optima looks familiar to the previous model. But that isn’t a bad thing per say. It is still as sharp looking as the previous model and the changes done such as a new trunk lid, LED taillights, a smaller grille, and reshaped headlights. The SXL takes it a step further with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, Turbo badging on the fender vents, and a little bit more chrome. Finished in a dark blue, the Optima SXL is damn good looking midsize sedan. You won’t find many differences in the SXL’s interior compared to other Optima’s. The key one is the seats being wrapped Nappa leather with a quilted pattern. If I am being honest, I can’t really tell difference between the Nappa leather and the standard leather used on other Kia models.  But what I can tell the difference with is the materials used in the SXL’s interior. Kia swaps the soft-touch plastic used on the dash and door panels for stitched leatherette. This is to give the impression that you’re in something more expensive and it works very well. The Optima SXL’s backseat is slightly tighter than the one found in the Optima EX. Why? The SXL comes with a panoramic sunroof as standard, which eats into headroom. Let’s talk about the engine. The SXL features a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. Leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to fully wake up and you can’t help but wonder where is the power. At first, I thought this new 2.0L developed a bad case of turbo-lag. But I soon realized that it was a lazy throttle that was causing this issue. This is something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia models equipped with the turbo engine. Once you get over the lazy throttle, the engine moves the Optima with some authority. Merging onto a freeway or making a pass is no problem as the turbo quickly spools up and gives the necessary thrust. It doesn’t hurt the engine is very refined. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/32 Highway/25 Combined. I achieved a not too shabby 26.1 mpg average for the week. One of my biggest complaints about the last Optima I drove was the uncomfortable ride. The tuning on the EX model let in more bumps and road imperfections inside than what I was expecting. To my surprise, the SXL featured a more comfortable ride. Despite featuring larger wheels, the SXL was able to iron out most bumps and imperfections. I can’t explain why there is a vast difference in terms of ride quality between the two trims at this time. The SXL does retain the sharp handling that we liked in the Optima EX. Body motions are kept in check and the steering provides a nice heft when turning. Some will lament that the steering doesn’t have the same feel as something like the Mazda6, but this has to be Kia’s best effort yet.  The Optima SXL begins at $35,790 and that includes every option available on the Optima as standard equipment - 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a Harman/Kardon audio system, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and much more. Some might balk at the price. But considering what the SXL brings to the table, along with its improved ride quality, it is very much worth the price. Plus, you might be able to work out a deal to where you’ll be able to cut the price. We’ve seen dealers cutting about $2,000 to $4,000 off Optima SXLs in an effort improve sales of the midsize sedan. Who knows, you might be able to get one of best equipped and decent driving midsize sedans at a surprising price. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima SXL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Kia
      Model: Optima
      Trim: SXL
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/25
      Curb Weight: 3,594 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia
      Base Price: $35,790
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      N/A

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