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When the design folks at Scion decided the tC needed some changes, the focus of the redesign was making the vehicle even more appealing to younger drivers.

The Scion tC arrives this year with its first-ever complete redesign. Seven years after it debuted, the tC is still being marketed to the younger crowd, and the redesign makes that even more evident. The gradual drop-off in the roofline gives the tC a cool factor that should play well to 20-something car buyers.

The oddly named tC (Scion has a history of weird names, xA, xB, and xD) remains a two-door hatchback that has a sporty, attractive, hip look. This year’s coup features headlights that resemble the Honda Civic, and a lower grille that’s large and quite distinctive. The front end has some minor changes that some people view as giving the tC a more mature appearance.

Scion smartly put in a great stereo system that is bound to attract some young, music-focused car shoppers. Give Scion credit for continually thinking about its target audience. The iPod setup is impressive and so is its electronics that puts an emphasis on a standard audio system geared purposely for iPod users.

The tC, which comes in just one trim, is also reasonably priced (just under $19,000), and that certainly ups the appeal for young folks on a budget. And one more way to discern this is not a vehicle for older folks – the back seat. If you’re over 50 there’s no way you want to contort yourself for entry as a back seat passenger.

Not that there is anything wrong with the changes Scion made for the 2011 tC. But duplicating that same exuberance when the tC debuted in the U.S. market in 2004 isn’t likely to occur.

Not much is new in performance, so the front-wheel drive tC will provide similar performance when called upon. Scion, a division of Toyota, did add 19 more horsepower to this year’s model, which has a 2/5-liter, inline-4 engine that produces 180 horsepower. It has been clocked going 0-60 mph in 7.3 seconds. Not bad!

More notable than performance is the increase in gas mileage. Scion replaced the hydraulic power steering with an electric system that caused the gas mileage to increase; the tC now offers between 23-31 mpg.

Another appealing aspect of the tC is a rather spacious interior and a cargo area that is surprisingly roomy.
Up front, even 6-footers will experience a comfortable ride, thanks to solid leg and head room. The folding rear seat provides a large area for storage.

On the downside, the interior is filled with hard plastic, so that detracts from the overall sporty-looking appearance.

Improved handling is another issue addressed in the redesign. Not that the 2011 tC will react like some sportscar, but the steering is improved and driving more aggressively is less of a chore.

Overall, the tC comes at an enviable price, has a fun factor, looks cool, and has enough spunk to make it a wise buy for someone who likes looking fashionable and doesn’t have much use for the back seat.

2011 SCION tC

Performance: 2.5-liter, inline-4 engine, 180 horsepower
Mileage estimate: 23-31 mpg
Price: $18,275 – $19,275

Standard features include: panoramic sunroof; keyless entry; tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; eight-speaker Pioneer sound system, CD player, auxiliary audio jack, iPod/USB interface, RCA output jacks; stability and traction control; brake assist; tire-pressure monitor; sunroof

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