Remember when Scion gave us a couple of FR-S sports coupes to test and I got the coupe fever? As usual, I figured I couldn’t justify owning a coupe because, as a father, ferrying kids around in a coupe is not ideal. But it turns out Scion’s other coupe, the tC, is actually pretty well-suited for family duties, as coupes go.
I gambled a bit when the press car delivery guy called me to say it would be late in the evening before he could deliver the week’s new car and pick up my Lexus GS450h: I had plans with the family and would have wife and child in-tow. As much as I’d love to test Nissan’s new 370Z NISMO edition on the heels of my good times in the Juke NISMO, that car has no back seat and would not have been able to transport all of us home at the same time. Heaven forbid I be given the awesome responsibility of reviewing a halo sportscar like the 2014 Corvette, which would attract the eyes of everyone — including law enforcement — as I tried to schlep my wife and son home strapped into the front passenger seat together.
When I got the call saying the car was in town, I left my wife and son at the event we had been attending and headed across town to meet the press car guy at the predetermined location. On my way around the block, I caught a fleeting glimpse of something bright blue and two-doored sitting all alone in the arranged parking lot as a man buffed it with a terry cloth. I have to admit, my heart jumped into my throat for a minute. What if this was the Z car or some other no-backseat-having conveyance?
That fear was soon allayed when I pulled into the parking lot to discover the 2014 Scion tC would be my ride for the week. I knew at least the tC had a rear seat. The ultimate question at this point was whether it was a usable rear seat. The memory of riding four-up in the tiny cabin of the FR-S last Easter still lingers in my family — especially with my wife — and is not something I think any of us wanted to replay after spending the evening sweating in the 90-degree, 100% humidity Tennessee evening.
I moved my son’s forward-facing compact safety seat out of the GS450h — itself no paragon of rear seat roominess, as four-door cars go, with 36.3 inches of legroom and about an inch and a half more headroom. I then took a deep inhale and exhale to relax myself before attempting, with my press car delivery guy as a one-man audience, to move it into the back row of the surely more-cramped tC.
I pulled open the passenger-side door on the tC and was surprised at how long it was. The FR-S doors felt like a downright normal length, in comparison. Placed atop the outboard shoulder of the front passenger seat was a flip-up handle that quickly pivoted the seatback toward the dashboard and scooted the seat forward on its track, providing maximum access to the rear row. That rear row, by the way, provides only slightly less legroom than the Lexus GS450h I was getting out of, at 34.6 inches, and its headroom isn’t too shabby either, at 36.4 inches.
Much to my surprise, I could actually stand up in the back of the tC and buckle all the LATCH components of my son’s car seat, so long as I bent 90 degrees at the waist. That’s saying something for a 6’3″ guy. After buckling in the car seat, I stepped backwards out of the car and returned the seat to its original position: slightly reclined and scooted all the way back on its track. Here again, the tC surprised me. There was actually enough floorboard showing between the back of the front row seats and the seat cushion of the back row to fit real human beings back there!
I’m sure I wouldn’t have been the most comfortable guy if I had to ride in the back of a tC for a long distance, but it says a lot that I could actually fit behind the driver seat I had adjusted to suit my frame. No surprise, then, that my son fit just fine. He was able to kick the back of my wife’s seat on the passenger side, but he seemed to dig the tC’s accommodations much more than he did the FR-S. (The gearhead in me hopes he put up with the tight quarters of the FR-S simply because it was like riding the world’s slickest go-kart to the babysitter’s house every morning, but the fact remains that even four months ago, when he was slightly shorter, his legs stuck out past the passenger front seatback while riding in the rear row strapped in his car seat.)
My wife had her doubts when I showed up to take them home from the event we had been attending, but once I strapped our son in, all was well with the universe. Her only other doubtful phase was when we had to make a grocery run last weekend, and she wasn’t sure the tC would swallow the two weeks’ worth of supplies we needed to bring home. It did so with aplomb.
A few days later, I even fit my son’s second birthday present in the back with the rear seats laid flat. The box measured 39 inches wide and 51 inches long and was 19 inches tall. As it turns out, those are just about the maximum dimensions the tC would hold. The hatch shut — barely — and I only got the box to fit by setting the driver and front passenger seats in bolt-upright position. Driving was slightly less comfortable, but I felt like a King of Logistics for getting it home without having to make cumbersome arrangements to return home and get my pickup truck first.
Maybe if all coupes were designed as spaciously on the inside as the Scion tC, I could actually do this two-door thing as a family man.
Disclosure: Scion provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.