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#38

in Used Small Cars $14K and up

Avg. Price Paid: $15,806 - $15,826
Original MSRP: $18,725 - $19,725
MPG: 23 City / 31 Hwy
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2013 Scion tC Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Although test drivers are disappointed that the 2013 Scion tC isn’t as fast or agile as its exterior suggests, they say the tC is a pleasant performer and gets good power from its four-cylinder engine. Its main drawbacks are a firm ride and fuel economy ratings that are less than what its main rivals average.

  • "The 2013 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." -- Edmunds 
  • "Actual over-the-road performance may not live up to everyone's expectations, with modest horsepower and soft suspension, but it's entirely adequate for a city and suburban runabout." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

A 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine comes with the Scion tC. This engine makes 180 horsepower, which is a high rating for the class, and comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is optional. Regardless of the transmission you choose, the tC averages an EPA-estimated 23/31 mpg city/highway, which is low for the class.

With one of the highest horsepower ratings in the class, auto critics think the tC has good acceleration from a start. Of the two transmissions, reviewers prefer the manual because it makes the tC more engaging to drive and improves the tC’s acceleration. Test drivers call the automatic transmission smooth, but one reviewer thinks its transitions between gears are slow. Overall, auto writers say the tC offers a good balance of power and practicality, which means that it is a good commuter car, but is also powerful enough to provide an entertaining driving experience.

See the full 2013 Scion tC specs »

  • "If you're game for shifting your own gears, the six-speed manual is the best choice, as the car accelerates significantly more quickly and the engine doesn't suffer from the rather agricultural droning that plagues it when the automatic transmission is in place." -- Edmunds 
  • "The automatic downshifts well enough, but upshifts can feel a little lazy. The manual transmission's clutch could be accused of being soft but the bolt-action precision of its shifter largely offsets that concern." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2012)
  • "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 (2011)

Handling and Braking

While most test drivers say the 2013 tC isn’t very fun to drive, they do appreciate its strong brakes and controlled ride that doesn’t suffer from excessive body lean. There are several complaints that the tC’s steering is unresponsive and that it picks up too many bumps in the road.

  • "The steering doesn't provide much feel, and the stability control has a tendency to kick in frequently during aggressive driving. The Scion tC won't put you to sleep, but you will have more fun in other coupes." -- Edmunds
  • "But road manners and chassis feel are uninspiring, with rather vague steering and soft suspension." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "You feel the pavement, and many will find the setup too stiff. On the upside, the car corners fairly flat and doesn't display a predominance of nose-heaviness." -- Cars.com (2011)
  • "While tC doesn't feel particularly sporty, its handling is pleasant and confident. In turns, body lean is well checked. The brakes have a firm and progressive pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "There's not much body lean or bob either, which is nice in a sporty coupe." -- Car and Driver (2011)