Just Car Blog
|Top Ten Things I Learned Reviewing Automobiles in 2013||
1. Although a few buttons on the steering wheel are convenient, more than six is confusing and makes you feel like you are riding around in one of those hover chairs in the second half of Wall-E.
2. Speaking of…a contrasting-color-stitched-leather-wrapped-ergonomic-racing-inspired steering wheel may not make the car drive any faster or handle any better, but it sure feels like it does.
3. While illuminated shift knobs look cool, they are not a necessary upgrade. On the other hand, radar or assisted cruise control is totally worth the extra cash.
4. Nobody cares about gas mileage on the first day of a week-long car review. Everybody cares about gas mileage on the sixth day.
5. You do not always get what you pay for. There are cars that cost less than $30k that I would rather own and drive than many that I have driven that cost $60k plus.
6. The more fun a car is to drive, the less chance you have of getting a ticket for being on your smart phone.
7. Although I am a standard transmission kind of guy, many of the new automatics are simply amazing. I do not care if you are a professional rally driver, no one can shift as quickly and efficiently as the PDK automated manual transmission in the 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S.
8. Even though it probably will not get any thumbs up at the traffic light, the Toyota Sienna mini-van is a nice way to drive your entire family around town or on long trips.
9. Driving the new 2014 Corvette Stingray makes you proud to be an American.
10. If your ten-year-old daughter tells you that there is no back seat, it does not matter what the manufacturer claims, those seat belts are simply there to hold groceries in place under hard braking.
|Toyota Returns to the Spirit of the 70′s Import Sports Car: The 2014 Scion tC||
I have always been a fan of Japanese sports cars. While my friends were busy tearing out pictures of Mustangs, Firebirds, and Camaros from the pages of 70’s and 80’s muscle car magazines, I was searching for the elusive Datsun 280z or Toyota Celica GT advertisement. While the folklore that surrounds vintage Japanese may not be that of huge horsepower or gobs of torque, cars from these automakers are remembered for their “bulletproof” engines and “on-rails” handling. Although they couldn’t take Night Rider off the line, they would often catch him in the twisties, and do it with less gasoline and scheduled maintenance. The Japanese sports car philosophy was to find the proper balance between design, performance, reliability, and cost. The end-result was that almost anyone could own a capable performer at an affordable price that exceeded as a daily driver, was great on gas, but also presented well at the local Saturday morning Cars and Coffee.
Throughout the eighties and nineties, Japanese-import sports cars began to evolve into bigger, more luxurious automobiles. Higher displacement turbocharged engines replaced their fuel-efficient counterparts. Lightweight vinyl made way for dual powered heated leather seats and the cars grew significantly in both weight and price. In many cases, the flagship sports cars became so expensive that they struggled to find buyers. By the end of the 1990’s three of the most successful namesakes, Nissan Z, Toyota Supra, and Mazda RX7 ceased sales in the US or stopped production altogether. Although there are multiple reasons that these cars were no longer available, many argue that straying so far from the original formula of balancing aesthetics, performance, reliability and cost distanced the cars from buyers looking for a well rounded vehicle that was fun to drive.
To appreciate Scion’s new 2014 tC you have to consider it in the context of these original Japanese import sports cars. How does the new Scion’s stack up against these legendary imports? Granted a bit of this argument will be subjective, I think it is helpful to consider how the 2014 tC follows, or diverts from, the original formula. In other words, “How well does the redesigned 2014 Scion tC balance looks, performance, reliability, and cost?”
To fit the formula the car needs to be visually appealing. The new 2014 tC’s styling borrows heavily from Scion’s top of the line FR-S. The longer, sloping hood adopts the FR-S front fascia styling, complete with attractive projector lights and LED accents. All of the 2014 tC’s come standard with a tuner styled 18 inch wheel and 225/45R18 tire combination. The rear of the Scion tC also borrows heavily from the attractive FR-S, replacing 2013’s sedate rear bumper with an attention grabbing contrasting painted bumper and matte black valance that is complimented by the new LED tail lamps. The interior of the car is roomy and employs some attractive “metal look” plastics that are actually a lot nicer than they may sound. The racing styled front seats are firm and comfortable, keeping you firmly planted during more spirited driving. The gauge cluster is efficient and has everything you would expect in an affordable compact. The 300-watt maximum output audio system includes a 160-watt Pioneer AM/FM/CD head unit, complete with a 6.1-inch LCD touch-screen display, and an additional 140-watt 2-channel amplifier supplying power to 8 very decent sounding speakers. Complimenting the Inputs for auxiliary audio and USB is standard Bluetooth connectivity, which worked flawlessly with my iPhone 5. After initially syncing my phone, which only took a minute without any instructions, the phone and radio worked together flawlessly.
But as much as I appreciated the audio system the real treat for me in the new tC’s interior is the tilt/telescoping leather wrapped steering wheel. What can I say, I love this steering wheel. It is chunky and flat on the bottom, it reminds me of the racing video games from the arcades of my youth. And while a steering wheel may not make a car any faster or drive any better, it sure can make you feel like you are going faster! If you are reading this and are shaking your head I understand, this may have more to do with my love of simulated racing video games than anything else.
Yes, the styling of the 2014 tC may not be for everyone, but it is safe to say that Scion has produced an aggressive looking sports car that will turn some heads. I received numerous thumbs up and big smiles while driving it around town. On one morning the car formed a little crowd in the gym parking lot. Unsolicited compliments celebrated the bright red paint, the 18-inch wheels, the FR-S inspired styling, and the perceived value of the car. “It is only how much?”
The original Japanese sports cars of the 70’s had noteworthy performance. I own a mostly original 1976 Datsun 280z. The car is in excellent mechanical condition and with the minor performance modifications I have made, she is faster and handles better than the day when she rolled off the production line 37 years ago. (Yes my car is a she and yes that is a little embarrassing) However, I would be dishonest if I said that the Datsun was a better performer than the tC. The Scion has a 2.5L inline four double overhead cam engine that is good for 179 horsepower and 172 ft-lbs of torque. Just for comparison, my 280z makes 170 horsepower and 163 ft-lbs. Sending the power to the wheels of the Scion in my test vehicle is the newly designed six speed automatic that can, according to Scion, “change gears nearly twice as fast as the previous model for both upshifts and downshifts.” The automatic also features the highly addictive Dynamic Rev Management technology, which Scion wisely adopted from the FR-S. Not only does this rev matching system provide a smooth yet aggressive, smile-inducing downshift, the technology limits driveline shock reducing wear and tear on the vehicle. While the TC may not beat any modern pony cars off the line, performance is quite adequate and the handling is reassuring. Along with the wide 18-inch tires, Scion has made numerous small, but cumulative handling adjustments that include “modifications to the stabilizer bar hardware, optimizing the shock absorbers, and increasing the body rigidity with additional spot welds.”
Entering a corner with a little gusto gives the Scion a chance to show off the stronger chassis and retuned electronic power steering. The tC corners without a lot of fuss, rewarding the driver with good grip and frankly, the desire to do it again. The large, for the car, four-wheel disc brakes provide excellent stopping power. A quick glimpse at the available performance options from TRD (Toyota Racing Division) reveals a great variety of available “go fast” goodies including lowering springs, performance intake and filter, even bigger brakes, a quick-shifter, strut braces, and more.
While we are mentioning Scion’s parent company Toyota, I think it is a great time to talk about the 2014 TC’s reliability. The Scion’s 2.5 L Inline 4 DOHC engine is the same unit found in Toyota’s legendarily reliable Camry. And honestly, whether you are a fan of imports or not, when you think of “bullet proof” engines it is hard not to put the Camry’s strong running 2.5L close to the top of the list. Although the drive train and hard earned Toyota reputation alone does not mean that the Scion will prove to be reliable in the future, the pedigree and two year or 25,000 mile service that comes standard with the car should help ensure that the tC gets a fighting chance.
Finally, it is important to consider the cost of the 2014 Scion tC. The new tC starts at $19,965 for the manual and $20,965 for the automatic. Scion’s pricing model is fairly simple, almost everything comes standard on the car at this price. The one exception on the car that I reviewed was the optional all new BeSpoke Premium Audio system featuring Aha™. This upgrade adds functionality to the already existing Pioneer system and includes full navigation, as well as the ability to connect compatible smart phones through Aha to access 30,000 free audio stations, including Scion’s own signature station featuring a lineup of its 17 music channels and location based services like Yelp and TripAdvisor. The 2014 Scion tC is affordable, but the car certainly has numerous competitors that deserve a peek before settling on a purchase. I also want to note that while the back seat is very spacious for a car of this size, a couple of my passengers mentioned the road noise level during a longer road trip. Although it is biased, Scion has designed a nice webpage title “Feature Fight” that compares the 2014 with five of the cars rivals. I have included the link below, and if you are considering making the 2014 Scion tC your next vehicle, it is definitely worth the visit.
Scion’s “Feature Fight” Interactive Website
Copyright: 2013 AutomotiveAddicts.com
- Price: Base Automatic $20,965 / As-Tested $22,613.00 including a $795.00 delivery and handling fee.
- Vehicle layout: Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 2-door sport hatchback/coupe (really one of a kind)
- Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve inline-4-cylinder 179 horsepower @ 6000 rpm / 172 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic with Dynamic Rev Management
- Curb weight: 3,113 lbs.
- Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
- Length x width x height: 176.6 x 70.7 x 55.7 in.
- Headroom (f/r): 37.7 in. / 36.4 in.
- Legroom (f/r): 41.8 in. / 34.6 in.
- 0-60 mph: 7.3 sec (manual)
- EPA city/hwy fuel econ: 23 mpg / 31 mpg
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.5 gallons
|2011 Scion tC Review & Test Drive||
‘NO BUCKET OF CEMENT’
I just finished testing and photographing the all-new 2011 Scion tC sports coupe painted in the new ‘Cement’ color and had to laugh when I first looked at the Scion tag with the key and read that the color was the new ‘Cement’. The all-new Scion tC sure is no bucket of cement although the light gray or silver color does look like newly laid cement on a sidewalk.
The all-new tC adds new styling, excellent performance, and technologies that enhances your driving experience. It remains a tremendous value with more power, increased fuel efficiency, superior driving dynamics and more safety features with a starting price of only $18,275.00
The all-new 2.5 liter inline four-cylinder offers the latest in efficient, lightweight technology built using an aluminum block and head. The engine also features dual variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i), roller rocker arms and a variable-induction manifold system that changes the length of the air-intake pipe to supply more torque on demand. I felt that extra torque push even when I was in sixth gear driving up an incline at 65mph.
The new engine produces 180hp at 6,000rpm, 19hp more than last year’s model, and 173lb.ft. of torque 4,100rpm. Performance is further improved through a new intake-manifold design and a sport-tuned lightweight exhaust system that delivers a noticeably bolder and more aggressive exhaust sound.
The all-new tC is offered with the choice of two all-new six-speed transmissions, each adding driving excitement and excellent fuel economy. The manual transmission features smooth, short, confident shifts that are direct and precise. The automatic is optional and boasts sequential shifting, providing an additional fun-to-drive element. As a result the 2011 tC has quicker acceleration, 6.5 seconds with the manual, and an increase in fuel economy, 23mpg/city, 31mpg/highway, over the previous tC model.
The all-new tC also adds electronic power-steering that contributes to increased fuel efficiency with its lighter weight. It gives an outstanding feel for the road with a great on-center feel as well.
The 2011 tC enters its second-generation riding on an enhanced, stiffer platform. The new suspension features a MacPherson strut front, and double-wishbone rear setup that were specially tuned to offer both a sporty ride that is both nimble and confident. It proved it to me as many times during spirited driving in the mountains I felt that the tC was a rear-wheel drive coupe because it is so well balanced when challenging steep curving roads. I felt only a little understeer when cornering at high speeds. Part of the reason for the ‘riding on rails’ feeling is due to the fact that the new tC rides on wider 18X8 inch alloy wheels wrapped with wider 225/45R18 inch high-performance tires that also give it a broader stance. Further adding to the enhanced handling ability of the new tC is the standard vehicle stability control and traction control systems that can be shut off with the push of a button to let the car slide a little when cornering.
The new tC also comes standard with larger, power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes, 12 inch vented discs up front, clamped with dual-piston calipers, and 11.2 inch solid discs in the rear, clamped with single-piston calipers. Enhancing your control during heavy braking maneuvers are standard ABS, EBD and BA.
The tC’s all-new design projects a bolder, more aggressive stance. It is inspired by the Calty-designed Scion FUSE concept, the tC is a high-impact sports coupe with simple and unique elements.
Calty designers took inspiration from the athletic look of a racing helmet. As a result, one of the boldest design features of the new tC is the sleek cabin shape of wrap-around windows graphics with an arrowhead shape that adds to its sporty style and gives it a look of motion when parked.
Adding to the fresh design approach is a strong, renegade fascia. The sleek front grille and projector headlamps are complemented by protruding fender flares, which amplify its wider, lower stance. The front interlocks with the dynamic, muscular rear fenders. The shape of the rear taillights flow cleanly into the overall shape of the hatch, finalizing the iconic and purposeful nature of the total design. A single, 3 inch wide exhaust tip is cut out from under the left side of the rear bumper next to the diffuser.
The tC can be wrapped in an urban palette of seven colors-super white, silver streak mica, black, magnetic gray metallic, sizzling crimson mica, nautical blue metallic, and the all-new cement.
The sporty design of the new tC carries over to the interior with a look and feel that is sophisticated, sporty and functional. The front cabin design provides a driver-centered cockpit that is canted toward the driver with plenty of room for easy movement for the front passenger.
The beefy, tilt-telescopic steering wheel is leather wrapped and feels perfect in your hands. The flat bottom of the wheel provides additional thigh room making it even easier when turning the wheel. Dual illuminated combination gauges for the speedometer and tachometer have a three-dimensional appearance with large meter and needle indicators for good visibility. The middle trip meter also includes readouts for outside temperature, average mpg, and an ECO-drive indicator on automatic transmission models that helps the driver maximize the tC’s fuel efficiency.
The sporty tC does not sacrifice driver and passenger comfort. As part of the redesign, engineers made significant interior upgrades in the area of driver and passenger comfort and convenience. Among the many interior comfort features is a driver walk-through seat-memory function for both the seat and backrest. The driver and front passenger bucket seats and rear passenger seats are upholstered with premium fabric designs. Added comfort was accomplished by making the seats thicker, with firmer seat bolsters, while the driver seat is six-way adjustable. Entry and exit for rear passengers is made easy with a walk-in lever located at shoulder level on the front seats. For added comfort and utility, the rear seats are 60/40 split, and recline up to 10-degrees.
Staying true to Scion tradition, the new tC has an abundance of storage throughout. Additional driver and passenger comforts include four bottle holders, a large center console box that can hold up to 18 CD’s, two cupholders, a flat storage area in front of the console, assist grips above each door, sun visors with vanity mirrors and dual map lights. All dials, switches, buttons and levers are within easy reach.
The tC features a powerful standard audio system with a total of 300-watts feeding the eight-speaker sound package. With an emphasis on amazing sound quality, the tC’s stereo system shares some speaker components from the Lexus LX570, and features mid-range and woofer speakers that are superior. The tC comes standard with a Pioneer AM-FM/CD head unit with USB and iPod connectivity. The 160-watt Pioneer head unit powers the tweeters, mid-range and full-range speakers, while a separate 140-watt, two-channel amplifier is designed to drive power to the 6X9 inch door-mounted woofers.
The standard head unit integrates track, artist and album information from the iPod into a one-line display on the head unit’s screen. Connectivity is achieved by simply plugging the iPod into a port via a USB connector cable, while the car’s stereo system provides outstanding sound quality and constant power to the iPod. Music is controlled through the head unit and steering wheel audio controls. An auxiliary port is also standard, allowing users to listen to various portable music players.
The optional Alpine Premium audio system has the same basic features as the Pioneer audio but adds a 4.3 inch color touch-panel thin-film transistor (TFT) screen, HD radio technology, media expander (MX) and front and rear RCA outputs. Passengers can listen to HD radio technology with the premium audio system and view text, song titles, album and artist name on the head unit. Alpine’s MX improves compressed audio sound often found on digital music. The RCA outputs allow for up to three amps-front-rear and subwoofer. The optional audio system is also navigation and back-up camera ready.
Scion also offers an optional plug-in navigation unit for the Alpine Premium audio system. Navigation and audio functions utilize the head unit screen for display. Features include voice guidance, day and night screen modes, support in English, French and Spanish, 200 available address book entries, map coverage across the U.S. and Canada including Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Hawaii, three map views (3D, north up, and heading up), and more than six million points of interest. Users can also program up to three destinations before arriving at their final programmed stop. Scion makes this navigation unit customizable by allowing the user to change the vehicle position icon from an arrow to an icon of the tC, which can be customized to the seven tC exterior colors.
Both the standard and premium head units retain key Scion audio system features such as Scion Sound Processing (SSP) where listeners can choose from three pre-set equalizer settings, satellite radio compatibility and MP3, AAC and WMA capability. In addition, both units adjust the volume control based on driving speed.
A Scion navigation system is also available, featuring an audio/video/navigation unit with a seven-inch LCD touch screen. The system also has iPod connectivity, SSP, Alpine equalizer, Alpine Focus, which allows users to move the center of the sound field, clear sound effecter (CSE) to enhance compressed digital music data, Alpine digital sound processing (DSP), automatic volume adjust; and satellite radio capability. This audio system also features HD radio capabilities including HD Tagging, rich sound and on-screen text information, as well as Bluetooth and Bluetooth streaming audio.
Standard equipment not mentioned above in the new tC includes a panoramic glass moonroof with power tilt/slide, color keyed power outside mirrors with LED turn signal indicators, intermittent front windshield wipers/washers, power windows/door locks, remote keyless entry with engine immobilizer, A/C, cruise control, multi-information display, digital clock, thick cut-pile carpeting and floor mats front and rear.
You can speak with your Scion dealer about other options and upgrades for the exterior and powertrain of the tC.
Standard safety features include front airbags, side-impact airbags, front knee airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, front active headrests, 3-point safety belts with front pretensioners/load limiters, height-adjustable front seatbelt anchors, tire pressure monitoring system, a first aid kit, and the LATCH system for child seats.
I was really impressed with the all-new 2011 Scion tC after my seven-day test drive.
It has great sporty styling, a powerful engine that rockets the car at launch, a unique suspension system that handles more like a rear-wheel drive car, a sporty, comfortable and safe interior with options to enhance the fun-to-drive aspect of owning this very economical and value laden sports coupe.
- Price: Base MSRP $18,275
- Engine: 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder 180hp @ 6000rpm / 173 lb.ft. torque @ 4100rpm
- Wheelbase: 106.3in.
- Total length: 174in.
- Total width: 70.7in.
- Total height: 55.7in.
- Turning circle: 37.4ft.
- Passenger volume: 88.4cu.ft.
- Cargo volume: 14.7cu.ft.
- Headroom: f/r-37.7/36.4in.
- Legroom: f/r-41.8/34.6in.
- Curb weight: 3,060lbs.
- 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds (manual transmission)
- EPA fuel mileage: 23mpg city / 31mpg highway (manual transmission)