Why The 2014 Scion tC Co-Exists With The FR-S

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Scion tC

Pretty is as pretty does, and the 2014 Scion tC is definitely more of a looker than the '13.  No, this isn't an all-new car, or even that much of a comprehensive makeover...the changes this year are a much more aggressive-looking nose with projector beam headlamps and LED accents and a re-styled tail (which, really is a different set of taillights, some fake vents in the rear bumper and a black panel in the bottom middle).

Rear 3/4 view of 2014 Scion tC

The idea is to look like more of a sporting machine.  Choose the automatic transmission and you'll get another new feature for 2014...it's now a six-speed with dynamic rev management that matches downshifts. There have also been some suspension modifications that have resulted in somewhat more confident handling, a smoother ride and reduced noise and vibration.

Interior view of 2014 Scion tC

18-inch wheels are standard, too...and the audio system is now a Pioneer touchscreen unit with HD.  Nice. And they've tweaked the gauge cluster a bit, too...they call it "race-inspired". It's an improvement.

And it's hard to argue with the price.  The 6-speed automatic version starts at $20,210,  the manual at $19,965. Like the one we drove in 2011, there were no options, just a $755 delivery processing and handling fee, so our bottom line was $20,965.

That's a thousand dollars more than three years ago, which, as things go, isn't a huge hike.  The 18-inch wheels, suspension upgrades and new audio system account for that.

More power would have been nice. I The 2.5 liter four is rated at 179 horsepower, down 1 from the last one we drove...but then, much more power and you're closing in on the 200 horses in the Scion FR-S.  But that's 300 pounds lighter, so it would still be the quicker car.  And though the EPA ratings haven't changed (23 city/31 highway) from three years ago, our mileage varied.  An even mix of city streets and non-traffic jam urban freeways just barely got us 24 miles per gallon.

My first thought while driving the tC was "Why keep making this, when you have the FR-S?" But the fact is the $5,000 price gap between the two is significant.  The tC fills a need and is a solid choice for people looking for a sporty (as opposed to sports) car on a budget.