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In the world of inexpensive, stylish coupes that appeal to young drivers, the Scion tC has been a staple. It's easy to see why, because it offers that combination of affordability, good value and curb appeal that isn't often a given with inexpensive cars. Plus, Scion's long list of dealer-installed personalization accessories means it's possible to make a tC unlike anyone else's.
The tC comes well equipped and Scion doesn't offer any factory options, but instead, a list of accessories available from Scion dealerships. The tC is available in a standard base car and the special edition Release Series 8.0 that's more of an appearance package. But all models get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 180 horsepower with a standard six-speed manual transmission, though a six-speed automatic transmission is also available.
Cars get power windows, locks with remote keyless entry, power mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control, a full-length panoramic sunroof, split-folding rear seats, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 18-inch alloy wheels and an 8-speaker audio system with HD radio and Bluetooth streaming audio and a USB input. The Release Series 8.0 adds special alloy wheels with a lower ride height, paddle shifters on automatic cars and a body kit. Dealer-installed options include front fog lights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, cargo cover, anti-theft system and satellite radio.
Scion's own FR-S coupe is much more sporting to drive than the tC, thanks to more horsepower and a rear-wheel drive setup, but it's more expensive and the rear seats are useless compared to the tC's. The Kia Forte Koup also has stylish looks and comes extremely well equipped with superior fuel economy, but its base engine isn't as strong. The Hyundai Elantra Coupe is spacious inside and fuel efficient with better interior quality, but its engine lacks power compared to the tC and has a softer suspension. The Honda Civic Coupe is fuel efficient and offers features like satellite navigation, but interior fit and finish isn't great.
The tC comes standard with features like power windows, locks with remote keyless entry, power mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, cruise control, height-adjustable driver's seat, 18-inch alloy wheels, engine immobilizer, trip computer, tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, split-folding rear seat, air conditioning, sport front bucket seats, chrome-tipped exhaust and an 8-speaker audio system with USB input and HD radio with Bluetooth. An automatic transmission is available, but dealer-installed accessories are the only options.
The Release Series 8.0 is a special edition tC with appearance add-ons to give buyers a more distinctive look. These features include special 18-inch alloy wheels, a TRD suspension kit for lower ride height, TRD body kit, sport muffler and special interior trim with red stitching. It's available with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
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Good looking with good fuel economy and long list of standard equipment, but base engine is weak and interior quality is just OK.
Good fuel economy, lots of standard features and well-finished interior, but not sporty to drive and lacks power of rivals.
Renowned reliability, good fuel economy, but interior isn't as nice as others and some available features are limited to the most expensive models.
Decent power with tenacious handling and tight gearbox, but cramped inside and even the base model isn't that cheap.