$7,842 - $8,809

2012 Scion tC Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Scion tC was new.


Performance: 7.2

Test drivers are disappointed that the 2012 Scion tC isn’t as powerful as its exterior suggests. But they say the tC is a pleasant performer and gets good power from its four-cylinder engine. Its main drawbacks are its firm ride and fuel economy ratings that can’t compare with its sporty classmates.

  • "That said, the 2012 Scion tC's combination of broad power delivery, pleasant driving dynamics and supple ride will likely appeal to a broader spectrum of drivers than would something with a peaky engine and stiff underpinnings." -- Edmunds
  • "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

Acceleration and Power

While test drivers think the Scion tC’s 180-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is good for a small car, none call it refined or the best in the class. They say the standard six-speed manual transmission is more fun than the optional six-speed automatic, but both are good.

One area where the tC flounders in comparison with its classmates is fuel economy. According to the EPA, the tC averages 23/31 mpg city/highway with either the manual or automatic transmission. Before the Hyundai Veloster and the Mazda3 with a Skyactiv engine hit the market for 2012, those were pretty good averages for a sporty small car. But the new Veloster and Mazda3 can get up to 40 mpg on the highway.

  • "What We Like: Steering; Smooth-shifting transmissions." -- Cars.com
  • "Quick enough on takeoff with either transmission, but the manual version feels a bit livelier. The manual transmission has light clutch and shifter action. The automatic is generally smooth and responsive. One test example exhibited an annoying tendency to hold a lower gear during acceleration, compromising low-speed drivability." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The 2012 Scion tC can best be described as ‘urban agile,’ meaning a car that's responsive and involving enough to keep you entertained when comfortably commuting around town, but not so sporty that you'd relish driving it on a back road somewhere. … The Scion tC won't put you to sleep, but you will have more fun in other coupes." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Test drivers consider the Scion tC a solid driver with a touch of sport, but not nearly as much as its styling suggests. The tC’s brakes have solid stopping power, but not all test drivers think it rides smoothly. While many say steering is responsive and sharp and that there is little body roll, some noticed that the tC picks up a lot of bumps in the road, which are felt throughout the cabin.

  • "There's not much body lean or bob either, which is nice in a sporty coupe." -- Car and Driver
  • "We found the Scion's electric power steering unit is a good match for this car. Exhibiting great on-center feeling, as well as direct feedback from the road, which almost allowed us to ‘think’ the car through a turn. The steering is phenomenally improved over the outgoing car's overboosted, yet too heavy tiller." -- Left Lane News
  • "The tC is fairly compliant on the highway, but, around town, even small road imperfections can register with harshness. … The brakes have a firm and progressive pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide 

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