2005-2010 Scion tC
2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010
Rick Carlton has served as a professional automotive/motorsports journalist, writer, researcher, editor, and publisher for thirty years. He has also served as a press/media consultant for a range of professional motorsports organizations. He contributed several vehicle profile articles to Crutchfield's Research Garage.
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2005 Scion tC liftback (Crutchfield Research Photo)
When Henry Ford set out to craft the first business model capable of creating an evolving global automotive industry, it was unlikely that ‘brand concept’ was high on his ‘to do’ list. That said, nearly a century later, Toyota did indeed create the first vehicle purely based on a sense of brand first, and technology second when the company rolled-out its first Scion variant in 2004.
Although the Scion tC did not appear to be particularly innovative on first blush, there was a clear difference between it and its competitors in the compact-car category. The tC was entirely designed around five central customer-satisfaction points: price point, available options, performance & driving experience, purchase confidence, and most importantly in our case, 21st century vehicle-entertainment packaging. In each of these criteria, the Scion excelled, and as a result the brand immediately became a significant market success.
The tC's Pioneer stereo (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Factory stereo system
As a standard entertainment offering, the Scion tC carries a ‘flip-up’ AM/FM/CD stereo and a 6-speaker Pioneer audio system, driven by a 160-watt (peak power) amp. There was also an option to add a subwoofer powered by its own 35-watt amp. Along with the more traditional electronic elements, the car also offers MP3 playback, plus an additional audio input jack for an iPod®, cell phone, or other audio device.
Here's what the mounting kit looks like in the dash (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory stereo
The car’s dash cavity is nearly 9" deep, so there should be no problem removing the standard receiver package and replacing it with an upgrade that requires more space. The factory stereo is a double-DIN size, so you can replace it with the same size receiver, or use an adapter kit to install a single-DIN receiver. There are also mounting kits available that will let you eliminate the Scion’s flip-up door and mount the stereo flush with the dash. The necessary mounting kit and wiring harness are available at a deep discount with most car stereo orders.
Getting into the receiver itself is pretty straightforward, and offers no particular concerns. All you need to do is follow the step-by-step instructions in the Crutchfield MasterSheet™, and you should be good to go. The entire Scion configuration has been designed to allow the customer to tailor his/her driving experience and, as a result, the replacement and upgrade process has been made as simple as possible.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, small flat-blade screwdriver, panel tool
Steering wheel audio controls
It's relatively easy to retain your Scion's steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with your new receiver.
The tC's front door (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory speakers
Wondering what's involved in swapping out your Scion's speakers? Here's a brief look at what you'll need to do.
The Scion’s front door speaker system is comprised of a 4-ohm, 6-3/4" diameter woofer in the lower portion of the door panel, mated to 4-ohm, 1-1/2" tweeter installed in the mid-line, adjacent to the door lock panel, just under the window opening. The mounting height (the gap between the front of the speaker and the door panel) for a new speaker is very shallow.
Because of this and the need for a mounting bracket that works with the oversized opening in the door, your options for replacement speakers will mostly be limited to 5-1/4" component speakers (those with separate woofers and tweeters). There are also a few 5-1/4" full-range speakers that will fit, but you’d be better off taking advantage of the easy-to-get-to tweeter location and installing components.
Remove the door panel according to the directions in your Crutchfield MasterSheet. Start by prying off the sail panel at the top of the door panel. Open the screw cover found behind the door release handle and remove the screw. Pry off the front piece of the door pull handle and remove the two screws revealed there. Then use a panel tool to pry off the door panel around the edges, and lift if off of the door.
Drilling out the speaker rivets (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The woofers are riveted onto the door, so you'll have to drill out the rivets using a 1/8" drill bit. You’ll also need an adapter bracket to install your new speakers. Mount the speaker in the bracket, then hold it up to the door and use a pen to mark the locations for the screw holes. Set the speaker assembly aside and drill the new screw holes, again using a 1/8" bit. Then connect the speaker wiring harness and screw the speaker into place. The mounting bracket and wiring harness are available at a discounted price with your Crutchfield speaker purchase.
The factory tweeter (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The tweeter is mounted on a bracket which is attached to the door by a single screw. It’s easy to remove, but for new tweeters, you’ll need to fabricate a new mounting bracket. We carry a universal backstrap that can be cut to the proper size to mount your new tweeter.
Other than the rivet issue, the rest of the upgrade is pretty vanilla.
Rear side panel (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The Scion’s rear speakers are located behind the side panels, so getting to them involves a little more work, but it’s not that hard. Accessing the speakers involves removing the lower part of the rear seat and the side panels, but the process is explained step-by-step in our Crutchfield MasterSheet. Use care when removing the rear seat cushion since there is an internal retaining strap attached to the floor.
The Scion's rear speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The rear speakers are 5-1/4" diameter cones, and are fastened to a side panel bracket with screws. As in the front, you’ll have to use a mounting bracket to install the new speaker and drill new screw holes to install it. The available space between the inside portion of the side panel, and the top of the speaker is minimal, so when you choose a replacement, make sure you don’t buy something that's too deep for the available space. As in the front, your options will be limited to mostly component systems and a few full-range options. A Crutchfield advisor can help make sure you choose speakers that fit.
If you want to get a component set, you’ll have to custom-mount the tweeters on the side panel, or only use the woofers. Our article about tweeter mounting can be helpful here.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, small flat-blade screwdriver, panel tool, drill & 1/8" bit, ratchet & extension, 10mm socket
Bass options for your Scion tCThe Scion stereo system could be augmented by an optional factory subwoofer. If present, it’s located inside the car’s cargo area. The component is comprised of a 2-ohm, 6-3/4" subwoofer powered by a 35-watt amp, and is integrated into a molded cavity to the right of the spare tire. As a result of the integrated configuration and low-impedance design, replacing this woofer is likely not worth the effort. If you want to replace the woofer, you should also replace the amp with something with more power.
The factory subwoofer can be found above the spare (Crutchfield Research Photo)
If you don’t have the factory subwoofer, you can add a powered subwoofer or standard subwoofer/amp system. There’s plenty of room in the storage area for a subwoofer enclosure, but powered subs take up much less room and are easier to set up.
There’s also a custom-fit option available from JL Audio. The JL Audio Stealthbox installs under the spare tire and contains a 10" JL Audio subwoofer. Add a good amplifier (up to 500 watts RMS) and you’ll have your bass and storage space too.
Here are some other ideas for upgrading your Scion tC:
Installing a security system in your Scion isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's definitely a good idea. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and new gear to a professional installer.
If you replace the stereo, most new receivers have iPod controls built in. If you’re keeping the factory stereo, there are several adapters available that will let you add iPod charging and control to the stereo. Again, if you have any questions about these options, contact Crutchfield and our advisors will be happy to help define what you’ll need.
Good, better, best
The Scion tC is a great car for someone who wants to build a great audio system. The front tweeters are in the door panel, which makes replacement much easier. The stereo is easy to replace and there’s room for a touchscreen receiver. And there’s enough room in the back for a nice bass system.
Good: Since the Scion comes standard with a Pioneer sound system, a good place to start would be with a new stereo to add modern features like iPod control, Bluetooth® connectivity, and maybe navigation. Then of course, replace the speakers. The factory Pioneer speakers are fine, but they still don’t compare to the sound quality you’ll get from aftermarket speakers.
Better: After replacing the stereo and speakers, your next step is either more power or a subwoofer. A new amp will make those speakers sound even better, while a subwoofer will round out the music and give you the bass that regular speaker can’t reproduce.
Best: Do whatever you didn’t do in the first two steps.