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2011 Scion tC Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Scion tC was new.


Performance: 7.5

Test drivers admit that the 2011 Scion tC isn’t as powerful on the road as other coupes. Still, the tC is a pleasant performer and gets good power from its upgraded 2.5-liter engine. Thanks to larger brakes, the new tC stops strongly. While the tC handles itself well on the road, reviewers note that there are other cars on the market -- like the Honda Civic Si -- that driver smoother and have throatier exhaust notes. 

  • "On our drive, the steering and suspension proved to be on the firm side. The tC cuts a tight, concise path through corners and resists your palm motions with more manly weighting than your typical Toyota." -- Car and Driver
  • "Scion is supposed to show us the passionate side of Toyota. And though we've seen some risk-taking in the exterior design of these cars, this certainly hasn't happened in the performance department. The Scion tC is safe and predictable enough for your grandma to drive, and that shouldn't be." -- Edmunds
  • "The goodness goes beyond that, though, as the engine delivers ample torque right off the line and retains its vigor and smoothness all the way up to its 6,300-rpm redline. There's even a bit of an exhaust note that gives the tC a hint of sportiness without entering the realm of the annoying. Of course, there's a louder TRD accessory exhaust." -- Edmunds
  • "The tC's exterior may promise excitement, but the chassis delivers more comfort than thrills. This isn't an on-edge performer eager to carve corners or win drag races. It drives like a slightly more nimble Camry, stays solidly planted when hustled, will plow its nose a bit before the traction control system kicks in (the system can't be turned completely off) and rides smoothly and confidently." -- Popular Mechanics

Acceleration and Power

The 2011 Scion tC has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Although the engine has grown only slightly, it produces 180 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque, which is an increase of about 20 horsepower and 10 pound-feet of torque over the old model. Two new six-speed transmissions replace the 2010 tC’s five-speed stick shift and four-speed automatic. Most reviewers agree that the engine upgrades are a huge improvement and provide a more powerful drive.

Of the available manual and automatic transmissions, reviewers prefer the six-speed automatic because it shifts easily and has a sporty feel.

Thanks to the upgraded engine and hydraulic assist, which is new for the 2011, fuel economy has improved. The EPA says the tC averages 23/31 mpg city/highway with both the manual and automatic transmissions.

  • "That fun-to-drive thing is absent, as the tC doesn't really communicate with you." -- Edmunds
  • "Scion claims that a shorter intake and retuned exhaust have perked up the tC's voice, but if it has, the change made no impression on us. The engine sounds willingly efficient and pulls hard and smooth to its 6200-rpm redline, but a Honda in full VTEC fury still sounds better." -- Car and Driver
  • "The new six-speed automatic is perfectly acceptable. Shifts are smooth, and fairly sporty even, though by contemporary standards the manumatic mode (where you can row the gears yourself) is quite slow." -- Motor Trend
  • "Scion seems to understand what the essence of the tC should be -- and that's something better described as competent and well-mannered than overtly fast and hard-edged. That's not to say that the car can't boogie, however." -- Autoblog
  • "We found the Scion eager to pull through great sweeping turns on mountain roads, as well as a true track with minimal amounts of torque steer on straight roads. It's quite a refined ride." -- Left Lane News

Handling and Braking

Fitted with larger brakes, the auto press labels the 2011 tC a solid driver with a touch of sport. The tC’s new brakes have solid stopping power. With larger 18 inch wheels, a MacPherson strut system, and electric power steering, the tC handles better and rides more smoothly than the previous generation. Also, the tC doesn’t understeer, and there’s little body roll, making drivers feel in control of the car and safer on the roads.

While the 2011 tC is a smooth and dependable driver, reviewers are divided over the amount of sport the tC delivers. Some say it’s not fun to drive, while others say it has just enough pep to satisfy buyers.

  • "Getting down a back road in the 2011 tC is no problem, as the car doesn't fall all over itself with body roll or understeer. But that fun-to-drive thing is absent, as the car also doesn't really communicate with you." -- Edmunds
  • "There's not much body lean or bob either, which is nice in a sporty coupe. However, rotten street surfaces extract their payment from the chassis and 225/45 tires in the form of some jiggles and the occasional jarring thump." -- Car and Driver
  • "Grip, composure, and overall stability through twisty sections are all vastly improved over the first-generation car." -- Motor Trend
  • "Scion has strummed a nice, soothing chord with the 2011 tC's ride and handling feel, as it tracks down the road well, turns in with minimal body roll and doesn't beat its passengers to oblivion in the process." -- Autoblog

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