The 2011 Scion tC is an excellent example of why it pays to keep an open mind in this business. Before the friendly folks at Toyota parked one in my driveway recently, providing the requisite full tank of gas, I considered the brand to be pretty annoying.
It launched in the early 2000's, back when Toyota appeared invincible, and to me it epitomized a certain aura of false modesty that seemed to be the party line with the automaker back then: Toyota execs always said the right things about how they just wanted to do the best gosh darn job they could and humbly satisfy their customers, but you always had the feeling they really thought, deep down in their hearts, that they could do no wrong. Witness the very name they picked for their new youth brand: Scion, as in "descendant, child; especially: a descendant of a wealthy, aristocratic, or influential family"—that's per Merriam-Webster.
And of course, since the brand was supposed to attract just the coolest, hippest young customers in the country, Toyota first introduced Scion solely in California, where all the cool, hip people live, creating a false sense of exclusivity surely designed to stoke demand among the great unwashed.
Worst of all, many of the media outlets fell for Scion hook, line and sinker. I'll never forget reading one review of the original Scion xB, in which the writer noted the "chrome" finish on the car's gearshift was already flaking—but it didn't matter because the car was so darned cool, and inexpensive, too! Never mind a GM product would have be excoriated for that kind of poor interior craftsmanship.
Personally, I caught more than a slight whiff of desperation coming off the strategy, and the actual execution—which appeared to involve selling cheap cars with not-really-all-that-cheap MSRPs—was surprisingly weak.
But because I was able to put all that in the past when my Scion arrived, I can now honestly report that the tC is indeed a superior package for drivers—of any age—who are interested in a low-cost, high-fun sports coupe