- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 10, 2004

Warning: This 2005 tC Scion report is about a car intended for youthful buyers. Those 36 and older could feel rejection from being left out of the loop.

Using the two previous Scion models as barometers, Toyota expects sales of the new tC to soar. The Scion xB and xA were launched about a year ago and even though the unusual design drew stares of disbelief, these cars, priced in the $13,000-to-$17,000 range, sold quite well to first-time buyers.

That’s the intended market of the tC Scion. The difference is this coupe has great eye appeal. Even though it costs a bit more — an automatic transmission adds $800 to the $16,445 base price — it contains many features that an economical shopper would appreciate. For example, gas mileage: 22 miles per gallon city.

But economy is only part of its attraction. The tC has an upscale appearance with the fit and finish and attention to detail on a par with a luxury car such as a Lexus, but the ride is similar to the vehicle the engineers had in mind: the Jetta sport model, a car costing thousands more.

With the combination of those two features — attractive styling and sporty handling — I’m sure the tC is destined to become a hot-ticket item. It stands on 17-inch alloy wheels and has numerous desirable features, such as a panorama moon roof, side marker lamps integrated into the side mirrors, four-wheel disc brakes and much more.

I was surprised to see other features on this “economy” car that are usually found on upscale cars, such as auto up/down front windows with pinch protection, auto shut-off headlamps, rear cargo tonneau cover and an engine immobilizer security system. Of course, it has the normal amenities such as power windows, keyless remote entry, cruise control, and air conditioning — all standard equipment.

Although the tC doesn’t have power seats, it does have driver height and thigh adjustment, along with a walk-in function with memory for both the seat and backrest. All I had to do was push a lever and it made a wide step-in to get into the back seats. The 60/40 seat backs recline and adjust to 10 different positions and can even be used as a bed. Folded all the way down, there is more than 8.5 feet in length for cargo. And there’s more storage under the floor.

But the fun is in the driver’s seat. After adjusting the seat and tilting the steering wheel to my liking, I started the engine. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces 160 horsepower.

But it’s the 163 foot-pounds of torque peaking at 4,000 rpm that gives it the quick get-up-and-go. Its low, wide stance provides good stability, with steering and handling similar to a sports car.

The Scion people told me the tC has an advanced four-wheel disc braking system. The stopping power is generated through ventilated front rotors and solid rear rotors. The precise pedal feel is the result of a two-step brake booster that increases the power assist.

They also told me that this car is equipped with driver’s-knee air bag to protect against knee injury — a feature currently offered only on the Lexus 330. It comes with a 160-watt AM/FM CD with six-speaker sound system.

It even has a sound-processing unit with digital equalization for clearer MP3-CD sound. Considering all the factors included as standard equipment, this car is a winner.

The downside is that older people, like myself, would really enjoy owning the tC but, because it’s intended for Gen Y buyers, we might look out of place. Sorry if I enticed you, but I did warn you.

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