By on November 30, 2007

photo_5.jpgI like to believe that the general population’s insensitivity to the joys of automotive design, engineering and performance is a simple matter of missed opportunity. If the average driver had suckled on Hot Wheels' sweet metallic tang from toddler-hood, if a mechanically-minded mentor had gently and gradually revealed the wondrous secrets of the automotive arts during their teenage years, if they’d been shown how to harness horsepower with skill and respect as adult drivers, they’d share my passion for cars with genuine soul. Meanwhile, Toyota sells millions of Corollas and no one complains. Why would they?

Aesthetically speaking, there’s nothing particularly kvetch-worthy about your basic Corolla. The lines are clean and understated (i.e. unrelentingly generic and utterly forgettable). There’s no wrong answer when describing a three-box design with the requisite front clip folly of swept back headlights and a flashy plastic grille. And the infusion of sculpted amorphic taillights to a snub-nosed posterior isn’t in poor taste.

09_corolla_s_06.jpgThe ground-effects equipped Corolla “S” is a different– and important– matter. Fully 14 out of 16 photos on ToMoCo’s official website showcase the S: an adhesive-backed insult to the Import Tunerz sporting a dainty decklid spoiler and a tragically short tailpipe extension. Aside from the dressy 16” wheels that show off the rear’s dour drum brakes, the Corolla S’ sport factor isn’t fooling anyone– except (perhaps) for easily impressed, fictional documentarians from the Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. “Nice. Very nice.”

The cabin answers to that description without irony. The Corolla S offers a pseudo-upscale interior with delightfully comfortable cloth seating for four. The leather clad three-spoke rim improves the Corolla’s awkward tiller-to-driver seating position. The S-grade gauges have class-appropriate pseudo-sportiness, although their red and white motif turns to Siamese baseballs by night. And the base stereo hits the requisite highs and lows with moderate enthusiasm.

09_corolla_s_13.jpgBut wait, there’s less! Rotary knobs and switches are clumsy and clunky, and the chrome trimmed-shifter looks out of place in the cabin’s sea of flat black. More importantly, at every touch point, the Corolla is cursed with Toyota’s latest form of competitive advantage: borderline beancounting. The plastics are harder than cubic zirconium, and the engineering shows a lack of attention to detail. For example, the sun visor sucker-punches the (optional) lighted rearview mirror through its downward motion. Whoops.

Still, price points, polymer pickiness and all that. the Corolla’s cabin is acceptably sporty for people who consider sportiness a series of marketing-related cues, rather than a genuine dedication to harmonious performance prowess. And if you grok that, you’ll understand the rationale behind its dynamic “prowess.”

09_corolla_s_15.jpgThe Corolla S is motivated by a 1.8-liter four-banger. To compensate for the mini mill’s lack of power (126hp @ 6000rpm), Toyota’s cursed the S with jumpy throttle mapping. Part throttle inputs are an exercise in accelerative overkill; call it slow and furious. Summon some highway passing power and the wide ratio four-speed slushbox gives a whole lot of nothing. Still, a scamper to sixty takes all of eight seconds; not a shameful figure considering the 26/35 EPA window sticker.

If you don’t ask for much, you get plenty in return. At reasonable speeds, the Corolla S’ cheapo twist-beam axle keeps the rear tires composed on all but the sharpest corners. The steering is tight. The S’ compliant suspension and absence of body flex and/or roll delivers a smooth and composed ride. Behold! The Corolla’s stock in trade.

09_corolla_s_09.jpgWith 122lb-ft of twist on tap, torque steer is a non-issue. Push hard and the hyper-throttle sends the stiff tires howling in disapproval. More understeer and nods of disapproval from pedestrians soon follow. On the positive side, whatever speed you [eventually] achieve is easily retarded with the S’ responsive and linear stoppers, drum brakes and all. Taken as a whole, the Corolla S only feels sporty at 7/10ths. Beyond that, options like ABS, side air bags, and the active handling nanny become mandatory.

Cavil if you must, but there’s no peer for the Corolla’s reputation for quality and durability.  Intangibles like that are fine for most, but enthusiastic drivers prefer items like a fully independent suspension and rear disc brakes. If you want more, spend less. The Mazda3 offers more power, poise and interior quality for hundreds less. Even the rightfully-panned Ford Focus serves a fully independent suspension and more gadgets for the same coin. If you look closely, Toyota’s reputation premium threatens to destroy their value proposition.

09_corolla_s_comparo.jpgAnyway, reliability be damned. There’s no excuse for the Corolla S’ haphazard approach to spirited driving. At least not for people who genuinely give a damn about such things, or even understand what driving pleasure is all about. In fact, I suspect the S is nothing more than the anti-Corolla Corolla: the model customers choose to say “I drive a Corolla but I like cars.” Like, not love.

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133 Comments on “Toyota Corolla S Review...”


  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Toyota Corolla – a unhappy meal for the masses.

  • avatar
    salokj

    I used to be a big Toyota supporter. I learned to drive on a Corolla wagon (’92!), my first car was another Corolla wagon (’89). I really disliked American cars for being too focused on big than quality etc…then I drove a new Toyota Penalty-bo…Corolla over the summer. Man, what a POS. I’m sure it’ll last for 1000 years (or 15, whatever), but driving it is like being in purgatory…you know there’s worse, but there’s much much better out there too.

    If I was in the new car market, I’d be in the Corolla class of cars market…and I wouldn’t even glance at this thing.

    Toyota is trying to rest on their laurels and it shows.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    If there’s one thing you should never mistake a Corolla for, it’s being sporty. Performance and Corolla got divorced in 1987 when they ended production of the GT-S.

    Corollas are designed for people who don’t like cars, but have to put up with the indignity of owning one. In the end, they get a sanitized vehicle that’s inoffensive, requires no more maintenance than a pet rock, and will be the only thing to survive a nuclear holocaust along with cockroaches. There’s a lot of people on this planet that are like that.

    I don’t think it’s Toyota resting on their laurels, they’re just going with what’s worked well for them for so long. People what a car that’s easy like Sunday morning, and you’ve got to give the people what they want.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Good Review but bad taste for Toyota

    What is wrong with Toyota? It is almost 2008 it is now time to be more radical.

    Where on earth is the Toyota Corolla AE86?

    Rumours said that they will remanufacture the King of Drift cars. Hello!!! Kids are waiting Baby Boomers are curious!

    I am still waiting after that last Initial D movie that I saw 2 years ago.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Every time I see a review for a car in this segment, I say to myself: “If only Ford would bring over the Euro-Focus”.
    Seems to be a mantra repeated often, but yes, only a “pistonhead” would pay the price premium for a superior (exciting) small car.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    I disagree with the calls about Toyota needing to be more radical. Vanilla has worked for them in past and they’re not going to change a formula that’s still working.

    I don’t think anyone buys a Toyota wanted anything more than a reliable, inoffensive car. If you want a car with a bit more flair, try a Mazda, Renault or Peugeot.

    Corollas did not become the world’s most popular car buy having radical designs. From the beginning, they were bland and, in a curious way, that’s part of their charm.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Sajeev -

    You got your mitts on a 2009 already?

    That reminds me – I suggest that TTAC reviews should mention the model year in the title line, helps those folks who find this site on a search engine figure out if they’re looking at a current or not version of the vehicle they’re researching.

    Given the Corolla’s whopping sales figures – >300K YTD with a 4.4% loss of sales, they’re not failing too badly with the outgoing model, despite all the harping about how the big T has let the Corolla go too long and the replacement too uninspired.

  • avatar

    The Corolla here in Ontario, Canada is a big seller for Toyota, so why change it! Its outsold by the Honda Civic that has held first place for many years.
    A have a friend in the UK who drives a Corolla Diesel, wish they had it in North America, I am sure they would do well.

  • avatar
    JJ

    In the end, if they keep going like this, they will go down, like GM.

    My mind or what’s left of it after looking at these Corolla pictures just has to believe this is true.

    I was going to comment about the diferences between the American and European Corolla…but it really doesn’t matter, can’t be bothered.

  • avatar
    TFC

    “Looks like a Mazda, handles like a (15 year old) Hyundai,” huh? Darn. Some hoons enjoy reliability, too.

  • avatar
    crc

    Is Toyota trying to compete with Chrysler for the worst interiors? My father in law bought a Corolla to tow behind his RV. Toyota’s lack of interior quality is pretty evident in this thing; misaligned pieces, gaps, trim falling apart.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    The Mazda3, especially with the 2.3 engine, beats this thing like a bad dog.

    Unfortunately, Corolla-heads will never cross-shop a Mazda.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    I’m sure the bulk of people on this site would much rather read a Corolla XRS review. The Corolla S has never been anything other than pure poser BS. Shame on Toyota for even making it. Stick with the CE, LE, and XRS. The S does more harm than good to their image!

  • avatar

    Toyota became #1 in the world and now they’re in trouble, big trouble. The big advantage an underdog has is that they increase their reputation by increasing their value to the consumer by producing innovative products and clearly defining themselves within the market. Once you’re the biggest, the only way to make more money is to strip the quality from your products while keeping prices at previous levels or raising them and demanding more work from employees that you marginalize in terms of pay and benefits.

    Toyota’s lost the hunger, you can tell with the latest Camry where the beancounters have made their mark, and if GM can get their act together they can use this to their advantage. We’ll see how it plays out, but I think Toyota’s star is waning somewhat.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    From the AE86, Celicas, and Supras (especially the MkIV) to this. Mediocracy knows no bounds. And people wonder why I refuse to buy a Toyota. They’ve become the perfect car for people who hate driving.

    On this specific model, I had my car at the track not to long back, and some kid in one of these tried to pick something. Lets just say it wasn’t pretty for him.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Lol, what was that about TTAC Toyonda bias? A terrible car is a terrible car no matter who makes it.

  • avatar
    partsisparts

    Another bad review for a new Toyota. Seems to be becoming the norm these days.

  • avatar

    The Corolla’s that are produced here in Ontario at the Cambridge Ontario are second to none in no missing pieces, I guess because its in a non Union plant that the workers make a real effort to do a quality job, this plant also makes a Lexus model, it was again chosen for the quality that this plant excells in and its the only plant outside of Japan that makes a Lexus model!

  • avatar
    fellswoop

    TWO QUESTIONS:

    1.)What the hell does “although their red and white motif turns to Siamese baseballs by night” mean?

    2.)What is the hatch on the right of the bottom photo? The Matrix?

    -0-0-0-0-0

    2 words to describe the ‘Rollah:
    Unrelentingly Beige.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I have a friend that owns a 1999 Corolla. As far as I know, it’s been very reliable. Except for the time that part of the exhaust system fell off on the highway, but that was just a year or so ago. He is definitely not a car guy. He’s looking to replace it with…..a Camry. These are the type of people that Toyota keeps selling cars to. The cars are toaster boring, and toaster reliable. And when someone feels it’s time to get a new toaster, they’ll either buy another of the same size (Corolla), or else they’ll upgrade to the fancy 4 slot toaster. (Camry, Sienna, etc.)

    I rented a 2006 Corolla this past summer. The only good things were the fuel economy, and the headlights. Everything else sucked. You wouldn’t catch me near a Toyota lot looking at one of these things, but for all the people who couldn’t care less about driving excitement, they’ll buy a Pontiac Toyota.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    I think the Corolla out selling the Civic may be more a function of Honda’s inferior production capacity than anything else. There’s really no reason Toyota can’t sell their vanilla Corrolas and still have a version comperable to the Si. Instead they slap $500 worth of body kit on a regular one and charge you $1500 for it. They used to offer the 180hp version, I guess it didn’t sell or they would have stuck with it.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    I figured out exactly how I feel about this car.

    Apathetic.

    I don’t like it. I don’t not like it. I just don’t care about it. I would never know if I saw one, nore would I know if a did.

    And you all must get great Toyotas. Every single one I’ve been in has been a rattle trap, and ride quality as usually shown up as a “well…it has doors so I guess its ok” affair.

  • avatar
    peteinsonj

    These Toyotas will sell like hot cakes — its not about them being great cars, they are not, its about them being decent cars what will run, and run, and run. People buy these for reliability, not as a sports sedan.

    But relative to being “great” cars — how have millions of Saturns, Cavaliers, and Sentras been sold?

    Not on being outstanding cars — to most drivers its neither an issue or desire. They want, what they perceive are affordable cars that are reliable (to what ever degree they are used to — say a family of Toyota owners will see things differently than a family of Chevrolet owners.

    Corollas, Cavaliers (now Cobalts), Sentras all have “sporty” versions with spoilers, bigger wheels and BADGES! Its a cheap thrill/look for a few extra bucks! —

    /p

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I have to say that I’m wondering what is the issue here. It sounds as if you got yourself a refrigerator which works perfectly well as a refrigerator, but that you’re disappointed that it doesn’t behave like a big-screen TV. So now you’re miffed that you can’t watch cool videos and impress the babes with your perfectly decent if dull refrigerator, even though it wasn’t designed to do that.

    Except for some nasty, cheap interior switchgear and the rear drums that deserve a bit of criticism, it seems that the Corolla makes for a very good refrigerator. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but a solid choice for those who want a rugged, dependable appliance without much in the way of home entertainment.

    So was the ultimate issue here really with the “S” affixed to the end? I’m wondering if you would have been a bit more forgiving had the almost-a-boy-ricer front air dam and other trim bits not been bolted to it. Maybe it’s an affront to the enthusiasts to see the body kit attached without any of the performance parts to go with it.

    Some people just like to have the look along with the predictability, but don’t require the horsepower. If white-faced gauges and a set of fog lamps are what it takes to get Grandma to feel more sporty in her Frigidaire, then just play nice, bless her heart and give it to her. (It’s that time of year, you know.) Although at this time of year, she could probably use the disc brakes, too.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    There was an ad in this morning’s paper stating that there would be a $1,000 cash rebate on all new Toyotas. Is this just regional?

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    I think you are right, the problem is the “S” badge. Other cars in the segment have sporty version too, and they come with, at the very least, more powerful engines. I think having a top end version of a car helps the entire range, young people who can’t afford an Si buy the base Civic and get a spoiler or 16″ wheels, maybe even the decals from the sport version and maybe even entertain the idea of doing an engine swap down the road. For current MY Collora drivers however, what are they trying to emulate, Corolla LE owners?

    Corrola S is actually the middle of the range Corrola so perhaps it isn’t fair to judge it in the company of Cobalt SS, Sentra Spec-V etc. The comparable car to those was the expensive Corrola XRS, which no longer exists.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Sadly, I know more about Corolla’s than I would like to admit. My aging parents are enthusiastic Corolla connoisseurs. They relish in the car’s practicality and have no use for powerful and more luxurious vehicles. I understand their affinity for the appliances; it fits their simple retirement lifestyle and Depression era conservative sensibilities.

    But I think you were much too kind in your review of the Corolla S. I’m deeply offended by non-functional “performance” styling. It’s a fraud. So what if the instrument cluster glows orange if Toyota couldn’t squeeze even 5 additional horses from that engine. Ground effects and spoilers? How about lower and firming up the suspension instead. It’s not so hard to do. Think Si or Mazdaspeed 3.

    I know, Toyota made the Corolla XRS and nobody bought it. Maybe that’s because the market was lulled to sleep after years of the impotent S. Besides, I don’t think anyone knew the XRS even existed (other than P.J. McCombs).

    Obviously, the ‘S’ stands for stupid, not sport – as in, anybody that believes that the S-optioned Corolla performs any sportier…

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    Pch101…

    I think the problem we have isn’t that we expect our fridge to act like a 102″ plasma screen. I think the problem is, we are expecting it at least ahve some niftyness to it, like an ice machine and water dispenser and super cool option that lets us set the temperature at exactly 31.20078573939912993 degrees…but it turns out to just be an ice cooler.

  • avatar
    alpha94

    I feel the exact same way as this reviewer. I’ve never owned a car that was fantastic on gas or had amazing build quality. But I had some of the best times driving across the country in my old pony cars than I would ever have in one of these things.

    The truth is most of the population does actually want just a bland, boring and predictable car. People like us who want something with more personality and don’t really pay attention to resale value or how many shades of brown the car comes in are not the majority.

  • avatar
    threeer

    When it came time to replace my mother's (third) Toyota back in 2002, she only had one manufacturer in mind. Toyota. Period. The last two Toyotas (1981 Corolla and a 1992 Camry) had served her extremely well, and she was pleased as punch with her mechanic. Granted, she resides in Germany and has had the same mechanic (German Toyota dealer) for nigh on 15 years now, but she genuinely trusts the brand. She bought a 2003 Corolla LE with all of the options boxes checked, giving her the leather/sunroof, etc…not that most people buying the Corolla are looking to option it out to the nth degree, but she did. Result, zero issues in four years of driving. Sure, it isn't a road rocket and won't get most people's pulse pounding, but Toyota has always found great success with the Corolla. It is her Fridgedaire, and that's exactly what she wants/needs. Taken in context, the Corolla is an excellent vehicle. Reliable to a fault and easy to drive, plus even with the auto slushbox, it returns admirable fuel economy. Is it her dreamcar? Hardly. But for the last four years she's been confident knowing when she gets in the car each morning, it will start and take her to and from work without fail. For her, the peace of mind that comes with owning the 'Rolla are beyond the worth of having a snazzy car that she has to keep returning to the dealership for service. With my father having passed away 10 years ago, and both of her children in the US, it's reassuring to know that car trouble is one less thing she needs to worry about. She'll continue to drive it for another 6 or so years before deciding on her next car. It's not a Mazda3, nor does it need to be. There is room in the automotive world for the Corolla and it should be reviewed in the context that 95% of its owners buy it for.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Corolla S is actually the middle of the range Corolla so perhaps it isn’t fair to judge it in the company of Cobalt SS, Sentra Spec-V etc. The comparable car to those was the expensive Corolla XRS, which no longer exists.

    It might be fair to attack it for being a poseur, I’m not sure. I was just tossing that one out there as a discussion point.

    I could see going either way on this one. On one hand, if my memory serves me, I think that Toyota has often labeled their sporty US-market models with pretty lengthy suffixes such as GT-S, etc., so maybe calling it just an “S” is Toyota’s way of reminding us that they don’t really mean it. On the other hand, it’s not my job as a consumer to figure out what “S” is supposed to mean, so if Toyota raises peoples’ expectations unreasonably and then can’t deliver, then punishing it seems fair enough.

    My sense is that people buy Corollas not because they are hot, fast, sexy or worthy of a tuner, but because they are rock solid and nearly impossible to break. Some of these people want a bit of flair, even if it’s just for looks. They could have called it an Appearance Package and left it at that, but they just shortened it to S.

    A friend of mine happens to be an avid fan of her refrigerator (Corolla) because she just can’t kill it, it’s fairly cheap to buy, and even cheaper to run. To her, that’s as good as it gets, and she’s happy as can be. If she’s a feeling a bit frisky the next time that she buys her next Corolla (and you know that she will buy another one), then she will be a perfect candidate for this car.

    All that makes me wonder whether Toyota was wise to effectively cease building true performance models for the US market. Personally, I think that’s a poor idea that could catch up with them, because performance improves the breed. But so far, they’ve been making plenty of money without listening to me.

  • avatar

    Sammy B: we already reviewed the Q-ship XRS before it died off. Check it out sometime.

    crc: no, Chrysler interiors are far, far worse.

    starlightmica: I tested the 2008, this is an internal miscommunication for sure. New (old) pictures are on its way. As if you haven’t seen tons of them on the road, but you know.

    shaker: you and I both say Euro-Focus. And the price penalty wouldn’t be that bad if they are made in Mexico…since they are already sold there.

    fellswoop: the red dashes/numbers on a white gauge face are baseball-like when the backlighting illuminates them. Just an opinion.

    Pch101: agreed, and I tried to give credit where its due. (great ride, nice seats, super fuel economy) but the value proposition of this fridge is not appealing. Why get this fridge when you can get the same in a Korean fridge for thousands less? Or a Mazda fridge (honestly, the base Mazda 3 is an appliance) for a little less? Or a Focus fridge with extra compartments (great standard features and SYNC) and a better warranty for the same price?

    Its important to ask questions. Just because you shop for a car like a fridge doesn’t mean you can’t look at different brands and make an informed decision. And fridges do have different ergonomic designs that can differentiate themselves from their competition. Unless you’re a Toyota reputation-hound, it usually comes down to purchase price. And I’m here to make people think about this class of cars more critically.

    More to the point: some appliances are better appliances than others.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    I’m sure Toyota is watching demographics carefully. Selling bland to the old is profitable right now, but eventually the old die off so they will need to apeal to the young again, maybe that’s why there are rumors of the AE86, Supra and Celica revivals in the works in the somewhat distant future.

  • avatar
    Prado

    It’s not really fair to criticize the ‘S’ for it’s lack of sportiness. It’s just an appearance (poser) package. If you want better performance they have the XRS. How much an improvement the XRS is, I don’t know.

    Sajeev, please comment on the “awkward tiller-to-driver seating position”. It it still as bad as the previous version? Does the newly added telescoping wheel help?

    Overall I am underwhelmed by this ‘new’ Corolla. It seems more like a typical Big 2.8 refresh. But since no one else other than Honda want to build economy cars that actually get good fuel economy, I’m sure they will continue to sell a ton.

  • avatar

    Sajeev:

    Great follow-up post! Props to the entire TTAC team for being one of the few blog/commentary/journalism sites out there that evolves their writing through the reader submitted comments. Show a willingness to stand up for what you originally wrote, and that you’ve got more than two brain cells to rub together post-article.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Here’s something interesting:

    Base Corolla CE: $14,405 US/$15,785 CAD
    Base Corolla S: $15,450 US/$21,135
    Base Corolla LE: $15,615 US/$21,900

    W-T-F mate.

    It would seem in Canada the S is a pretty horrible deal all around. I don’t see any glaring difference in the options list either.

  • avatar

    Prado: since they don’t have the XRS anymore (it died last year) it IS a good idea to knock the poseur package…and my article’s underlying arguement of surprising lack of value in all Corollas.

    And I tested the current 2008 model, we’ll be changing the pictures ASAP.

  • avatar
    jpc0067

    Whew, that was some goooood Friday reading. Nice work Sajeev. Whereas plain Corollas are invisible, yes, the S version is offensive.

    I only logged on to make the same comment as Starlightmica. Consider it seconded. I clicked to read a review of the 2009 model.

    My very first car was a 77 Corolla with an intermittent 5th gear. You know, I think everyone should learn to drive with a low-power RWD car in the northwestern winters.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Pch101: sense is that people buy Corollas not because they are hot, fast, sexy or worthy of a tuner, but because they are rock solid and nearly impossible to break. Some of these people want a bit of flair, even if it’s just for looks. They could have called it an Appearance Package and left it at that, but they just shortened it to S.

    Bingo. I think we forget that posters on this site do NOT represent the typical American car buyer. The Corolla has a satisified following, and as long as the wheels don’t fall off or the transmission doesn’t grenade just after the warranty ends, they’ll like this one just fine, too.

    And before we get the inevitable “Toyota is turning us into appliance drivers, why can’t it be like the good old days, when everyone drove exciting, stylish cars (aka, the 1960s)” rant, please note that cars like this have always been the bread-and-butter of the American new-car market.

    Don’t look at the typical car show as a reflection of what most people were driving in the 1960s. Most people drove a Chevy product – Chevy II/Nova, Chevelle and Impala/Caprice – with mid-level V-8, power steering, AM radio and maybe power (drum) brakes. Most people weren’t driving around in Corvette convertibles, Hemi Mopars and Shelby Mustangs.

    Most of those Chevys were sold on the basis of reliability, room and some flair (but nothing out of the ordinary, and certainly nothing that would scare the neighbors). And you could purchase an SS model with all of the cosmetic goodies that didn’t perform any better than grandma’s mid-level Chevy – which is apparently the niche that this “S” version now fills.

    It’s just that along the way to the 21st century, Toyota did a better job of adjusting the formula to match evolving regulatory requirements and consumer expectations, while GM completely lost it.

  • avatar
    dean

    Sajeev: And I’m here to make people think about this class of cars more critically.

    Well said, Sajeev. That is the point of criticism after all.

    So many of the commenters here are so completely missing the point (save Pch101 who obviously gets it) in their hatred of this car and, by extension, Toyota.

    With just about any product you can buy you can visualize a pyramid-shaped market. There is a large base, representing the majority who simply want something that gets the job done. At the top of the pyramid is a very small number that demand the best available (or simply have the money to buy the best whether they care about it or not). In the middle is what you might call the discerning consumer (or enthusiast).

    The Corolla and the like appeal to the majority who make up the base of the pyramid. Face it, they ain’t you. People who lust after (or own) the Cayman S, or the RS4, or the 335i will never get the Corolla or the people that buy them. Much like the majority of people that are happy with their $300 home theater surround sound system will never get the guy that spends $150k on his stereo setup.

    So be critical of the tacked on body kit, the rear drums, and if, like Sajeev, you have actually driven the thing feel free to be critical of handling and performance.

    But for Pete’s sake stop with the blanket hate of this car and the people that buy them. They don’t hate driving, they just don’t care about it enough to spend more than they need to on transportation. If someone buys a $200 digital camera instead of a $2000 prosumer D-SLR does it mean they hate taking pictures?

    All these people predicting Toyota’s downfall because of cars like the Corolla: when you’ve made billions of dollars selling cars in a free marketplace let me know. Until then, my money’s on Toyota.

  • avatar
    brownie

    Dean, you beat me to it. Tales of Toyota’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

    (No, I am not a Toyota fan, I have never owned a Toyota, I do not plan on ever buying a Toyota. But this is the kind of car my better half likes, and she is more representative of the car-buying masses than I am.)

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    My mom bought a Blue Corolla S in 03. She had owned a series of POS "American" cars in the past and one good car-an early 80's Sentra Wagon-all bought used. She's getting up there in age and wanted to a)treat herself to a new car, b)buy a car that would last for 15 or more years until she figures she will be driving little if at all anymore, and c)buy a car that won't drain her depleted bank account through repairs and fuel costs. Given her previous experience with Chrysler and Ford products, a Toyota Corolla or four cylinder Camry were her first choices. She liked the look of a blue Corolla S that the Toyota dealer had and after test driving that car as well as some others at different dealers-Accord, Sentra (horrible), etc.-she decided on the Corolla. I only wish that I had known how good a Mazda3 was at the time and could have steered her towards trying one of them or that she had felt she could wait until Scion xBs were more available (they had just come out and she was impressed by the interior room of the one sitting in the showroom). However, all-in-all, my mom got what she wanted, a dependable car that gets very good gas mileage and has decent styling. It may not be the car that I or the other folks on this board would buy, but the Corolla certainly does address a market segment, a very large market segment, people who want dependable, low cost transportation. The Corolla S just offers a different look, a little flair, for those who want it. By the way, the interior of her Corolla has held up just fine and still looks better than the interior of a new Cobalt SS that I looked at in '03. I've also noticed that the Corolla S body kit looks absolutely disgusting with most colors but good on a few, including blue IMO.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    Reading this review brought back memories of a youtube video of a young ricer talking up his corolla circa 2003 MY… he pointed to the alternator and said it was a supercharger… pointed to the head and said it was a vtec head then qualified his statement with blithering bafoonery. Oh what a great moment in intarweb history. Yes for the record he had a big wing on his corolla too. This video is the stuff of internet strokers… the ending is where it gets good.

  • avatar

    Lumbergh21 :

    But for Pete’s sake stop with the blanket hate of this car and the people that buy them. They don’t hate driving, they just don’t care about it enough to spend more than they need to on transportation.

    I think Sajeev’s review made this point perfectly clear.

  • avatar
    Prado

    Oh… my previous comments were all based on the impression that this was a review of the soon to be released 2009. I’m predicting that 90% of this review will still apply to a review of the ‘new’ S model! Maybe 3 stars at best for the 2009.

  • avatar
    EJ

    Corolla: reliable and frugal; that’s why my mother-in-law likes it.

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    Good lord, people sure love to bust on Toyota for not making sporty enough cars. I think a lot of this stuff is exaggerated now that Toyota is in the spotlight. I drove the Mazda 3 with the 2.0 and the Corolla back to back, and I didn’t feel like the Mazda was a better car for people who don’t want something sporty. The Corolla’s acceleration was just as good, if not better. The Mazda can’t match the fuel mileage. The Corolla has weak steering and handling, but the Mazda had an incessant vibration through the steering wheel on the interstate. The Mazda interior was better looking, but the materials seemed about equal in quality. Throw in the Corolla’s better reputation and the Corolla probably looks like a better buy for people who don’t care about handling.

    None of the alternative Corollas (Elantra) can come close to matching the fuel economy or the trouble free reputation. That’s worth the price premium to some. I can’t make further comparison as I haven’t driven the new Elantra.

    This isn’t supposed to be a sporty car, so it makes me laugh when I see someone post something like “The Mazda 3 with the 2.3 will spank this thing!”. The people who buy these cars could honestly care less, and thank goodness. I shudder when I think of a world filled with testosterone induced drag racing at every light, people throwing revs at each other, and talk about how my car is superior because it accelerates to 60 .2 seconds faster. It’s not enlightenment, it’s a disease.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Robert Farago :
    November 30th, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Lumbergh21 :

    But for Pete’s sake stop with the blanket hate of this car and the people that buy them. They don’t hate driving, they just don’t care about it enough to spend more than they need to on transportation.

    I think Sajeev’s review made this point perfectly clear.

    I didn’t write that, but I do agree with the sentiments. So, I’ll take credit for it anyhow. :-)

  • avatar
    ret

    However, all-in-all, my mom got what she wanted, a dependable car that gets very good gas mileage and has decent styling. It may not be the car that I or the other folks on this board would buy, but the Corolla certainly does address a market segment, a very large market segment, people who want dependable, low cost transportation.

    Lot’s of folks have this sentiment: that the Corolla is ‘dependable’. It is and has been and probably will continue to be.

    HOWEVER…

    How long will it be (if it hasn’t happened already) until the bean counters who are responsible for the sub-standard switchgear start cutting corners under the hood and in the drivetrain? The reliability “gap” has already been shrunk to a shadow of its former self. And no one seems to be arguing that the fit and finish of Toyota is what it used to be.

    What we are seeing here is probably the near-term zenith of Toyota’s popularity. Once people cross shop other vehicles and realize they can get equal (or better) reliability with unquestionably better appointments, Toyota’s sales will plummet. Or get sucked up into rental fleets. Sound familiar?

  • avatar
    carguy

    Dean – thanks for your comment – it needed to be said.

    Sajeev – “an adhesive-backed insult to the Import Tunerz sporting a dainty decklid spoiler and a tragically short tailpipe extension” – priceless!

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    qfrog:

    I saw a video on Youtube a couple of years ago from a car show where they were talking to this guy with a turboed Rx-7 covered in decals, silly spoiler, all the usual “go fast” equipment ;-). It was hillarious to hear him talk. The guy didn’t even know what a rotary engine was.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    Sajeev: According to Toyota’s own site, there is a 2009 Corolla XRS (and matrix). It’ll use the 2.4L from the tC and Camry. That’s why I mentioned the model. It’s back!

    Hopefully one day in the future you guys can get your hands on one of them.

    thanks for the review

    Nevermind — I see we’re talking about 08s here. The pictures threw me off and I just noticed they’ve reverted back to the present model.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    This sums it all up:

    “The Mazda3 offers more power, poise and interior quality for hundreds less. Even the rightfully-panned Ford Focus serves a fully independent suspension and more gadgets for the same coin. ”

    When you’re running strictly on Consumer Reports reputation-driven goodwill… you’ll run out soon – even of you are Toyota.

  • avatar

    When you’re running strictly on Consumer Reports reputation-driven goodwill… you’ll run out soon – even of you are Toyota.

    The latest Consumer Reports Buying Guide actually lists a Toyota in their cars to avoid list–the new Tundra due to engine issues. Also, their red dots are getting less red these days. So if you’re looking just at Consumer Reports you might not look to Toyota as much any more.

    John

  • avatar
    willbodine

    I maintain that Toyota’s (and to a lesser extent, Honda’s) success has been directly attributable to their word-of-mouth street cred. It takes a long time for “facts”, ie, sliding CU reviews, to filter down to the hoi-polloi. Toyota right now is riding the top of their sales/success wave, and as the experiences of GM has shown, what goes up eventually has to come back down. I’m just not sure who the David is that will take down the Toyota Goliath, unless it is a hubris-soaked Toyota itself (a la GM).
    I’ve rented a few Corollas and have to confess they left little impression. The perfect rental. Weird driving position though, almost Fiat-like. Bus-like wheel too far away, pedals too close. I did see the new 2009 iteration at LA Auto Show last week and was hard pressed to see any “newness.”

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    I have found that manufacturers take one of two approaches when making cars in this class. They either aim to make the a rock solid car that will last forever or they try to sell a POS car by adding some “sportiness” to an otherwise lackluster POS design.

    Witness that Honda and Toyota are able to sell the majority of their products without using “performance” as a hook. They sell very good cars that are built with care. Mazda and the rest of the makers with iffy quality records all NEED to use “sportiness” and “performance” to sell their cars.

    The joke is they are not selling better engineered cars, they are selling 17″ wheels with VR rated tires! They are selling a set of struts and springs with firmer settings, they are selling a gearbox or tranny with ratios that give better acceleration than fuel efficiency. Any automaker can add this stuff to any POS chasis. The problems is most of these cars do not have the longevity and reliabilty of a Corolla.

    After living with a number of Corollas over the years I can say for a fact that Toyota puts the money and engineering where it counts for a entry-level inexpensive car. The Corolla is a rock solid car that IS better built than the competition with the exception of the Civic. Unlike other cars in this class everything on the Corolla is designed and built to last a long time. After ten years of Corolla ownership it is a given that EVERYTHING still works RIGHT.
    That is why people buy Corollas.

    Its funny to read the stuff that VW owners are willing to put up with. Broken lights, broken windows switches, defective radios, interior and dash lighting that quits, engine problems, exterior and interior trim pieces falling off, faulty electronic safety equipment, hell faulty electrical everything, broken seats, leaky seals, etc. But I know it drives really good, right! It goes through the twisties like a dream! Explain that to your children when it wont start after a day in the mall!

    Look, folks need to get to work in the morning. They need to have cars available for the weekend and not in the shop. They need not worry about that strange noise coming from under the hood or behind the dash. Some cars are nicer and more butch, but if your super-sporty econobox leaves you and your girl stranded on the side of the turnpike I’ll bet you will wish you were driving one of the many Corolla that will pass you bye.

    I dont know about the rest of you guys but my career and children does not allow me much time to spend worrying about and servicing a less than reliable car just because it is “fun to drive”.
    Now dont get me wrong I love to drive but I do understand why all those folks in my neighborhood drive Corollas and Civics.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    If Mazda,Mitsubishi and Nissan can changed the look of their cars for 2008. I think Toyota can do it with their Corolla. They changed the look of the the Camry why not changed the design of the Corolla.

    They did it for awhile but stop doing it now.

    The Marketing strategy (feasibilty study) of Toyota is “forget about Corolla and try our new Matrix or Camry. Corolla is not even close to a family sedan because you don’t feel comfortable in the back seat for the front yes but rear forget it.

    Just plain and simple make it bigger, affordable and comfortable. Yes it has Great Engine,body, tranny etc etc but what the use of having great engine and other components if I cannot even stretch my legs in the back seat when I travel from Boston to Laconia, NH. And that’s a 3 hour drive.

    Price is not the quality,Quality is the price.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    The wife’s Corolla is a 2000, and it is perfect for what she wants out of a vehicle – reliability, and for us as a couple, cheap to own and operate.

    Doing maintenance on the car, you can tell engineers designed the car, and not marketers. Sure, it lacks a lot of comfort features, and it is uncomfortable, but it is spot on as a commuter car.

    I hate driving the thing, but I don’t have to.

  • avatar
    elaineen@aol.com

    I traded in my sporty Chrysler Lazer (anyone remember?)for a 1991 Toyota Corolla. The Lazer had numerous electrical problems and my three,growing daughters could not fit in the back seat. The Corolla lasted 15 years. My youngest daughter now owns a 2005. My wife a 2008. This is a high quality vehicle that lasts forever if properly driven. I made the mistake of driving my wife’s prior 2003 through desert dirt roads causing bearing damage. She did not forgive me until we got her the 2008. It gets 36+ m.p.g. If you need something other than basic transportation and plan to drive off the beaten path, do what I did: I bought a Jeep.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    Well,

    I think that this thing truly is the frozen tv dinner of the compact automotive seen. You won’t enjoy it, but it’s always there if you need it. I think toyota definitely let this redesign lag for too long.

    Now on the the related topic of automotive reliability/gas mileage and sportiness, I agree that there isn’t a car out there that combines the two save possibly the civic si (and the insurance rates are terrible for it). This leaves people like me having to choose between issues of having a reliable or sporty car. I don’t like this one bit.

  • avatar
    john.com

    Well said whatdoiknow1 and taxman100. The Corolla is a commodity car for Toyota. It’s the best-selling nameplate worldwide in automotive history. It is because it’s an appliance. The “S” model is simply a dressed up version for those folks that still look at themselves in the mirror as they walk past.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    The S was never really the sporty Corolla. The XRS was the true sporty Corolla (more powerful engine, only available with a six speed manual, etc.). But the XRS was dropped for MY 08-I believe the engine didn’t meet pollution standards for 2008. The Corolla S was always a posermobile in terms of sportiness, with the biggest change being a mere bodykit.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    My aunt was recently in the market for a car to replace her bought-new ’00 Focus SE, (oh the recalls that car had…) and was looking at a ’07 Corolla LE. She liked it well enough, but then I made her test drive a ’04 Civic EX coupe. She went with the Honda. She is by no means a car person, but she did not like how the Corolla rode on less-than-perfect surfaces, nor the ridiculously jumpy throttle (I diddn’t either). The steering felt distant, and she felt like she was driving a truck.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Witness that Honda and Toyota are able to sell the majority of their products without using “performance” as a hook. They sell very good cars that are built with care. Mazda and the rest of the makers with iffy quality records all NEED to use “sportiness” and “performance” to sell their cars.

    Except Hondas are sporty. Much of Honda’s high resale value (and high theft rate as well) is owed to the fact that their Civics are sporty and fun to drive, even if Honda doesn’t advertise them as such. Civic Si’s were not the poseur that the Corolla S is.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    drifter :
    November 30th, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    In realworld driving Madza3 drinks more that Toyota’s 7-seater SUV, RAV4. Add poor reasale and expensive Madza parts and maintainence, fortunately for Corolla-heads it is a no brainer.

    Combined EPA fuel economy for the RAV4 is 21 to 24 mpg, depending on engine/transmission, while the Mazda3 is 24 to 27 mpg, and the Corolla is 29 to 31. So yes, an automatic 2.4L 2WD RAV4 can match an automatic 2.3L Mazda3 in fuel economy. In the 3.5 years I’ve had my 2.3L Mazda3, I’ve averaged 30 mpg (my best tank was 39 mpg) and needed no repairs. I realize I could save a couple of hundred dollars a year in fuel costs with a Corolla, but that’s a negligible part of total driving costs so I’d rather drive something I like. Even my friend’s 60-year-old mother was turned off by the driving dynamics of the Corolla and Camry during her test drives. She had a ’92 Camry V6 5 speed for 15 years and over 200K miles before that and thought she’d buy another Toyota until she drove them. She got a Subaru instead.

    Mazda parts may be expensive, but so are Toyota’s, GM’s, Ford’s, etc. That’s why there are other companies that make parts for cars. I’ve never paid someone to work on any of my vehicles, so maybe I’m just out of touch on that issue. Mazda resale is also good around here.

    In Canada, the Civic has the #1 spot in total car sales, the Mazda3 has #2, and Corolla comes in third. We’re practical people who love small cars, and we prefer Mazda and Honda in that category!

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    “Except Hondas are sporty.”

    Some of them are sporty. I haven’t been fond of the Civic very much simply because the engines have no guts. The Corolla has a significantly stronger engine. The previous gen of Civic didn’t handle better than a Corolla either. The steering felt better, but it plowed like a mother and had more body roll. Yeah, there’s the new Si, but it costs a lot more money and will cost you about 8 mpg highway (old epa standards) and takes premium fuel. A few years back, I narrowed my car choices down to an early 00s Corolla, Civic, or Protege. The Protege was slow and got reprehensible fuel economy, but it handled like a dream. The Civic had good fuel economy, but was very slow, and didn’t handle too hot. The Corolla had a comparatively strong engine, unequaled fuel economy, and lame handling. I ended up with a Corolla. Obviously there were other things I considered, but the Corolla offered the best package of attributes in my opinion.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Nemphre :
    November 30th, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    Some of them are sporty. I haven’t been fond of the Civic very much simply because the engines have no guts. The Corolla has a significantly stronger engine. The previous gen of Civic didn’t handle better than a Corolla either. The steering felt better, but it plowed like a mother and had more body roll.

    You don’t like revving your engines, huh? I do! :)

    That generation of Civic certainly was an embarrassment! They should have skipped it and held the old one over for a few more years.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    He’s right about the Mazda milage, at least in my anecdotal experience. A friend of mine can’t even match the 25mpg my Celica gets with his automatic Mazda3 and RX8′s are known to get low teens in the real world, and that’s not even taking into account the staggering amount of oil they burn. Mazda has the Mazda2 coming of course, and Toyota has the Yaris, so if economy is your main concern then that’s the car you want. I haven’t driven a Yaris but I found the Echo hatchback to be a lot of fun to drive. I think that’s what I would end up with if I went into a Toyota showroom.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    Sajeev Mehta:
    Hard plastics aplenty, mediocre body panel gaps, and lack of attention to detail.

    You must have had a case of bad luck or have a bias against Toyota, or both. Most 9th gen Corollas I’ve been in (2003 – 2008 model years) have had good interior fit and finish. While the materials are average-to-mediocre, fit and finish has always been decent. In fact, I’ve never seen a review that had such harsh words about the Corolla’s fit and finish.

    Maybe the fit and finish deserves a 3 out 5, but definitely not a 1 out of 5. Being true to the TTAC philosophy, the truth is the current, dated Corolla does NOT have a poor fit-and-finish that’s worthy of a 1 out of 5 star rating.

    By the way, doesn’t “hard plastics” fall under the interior category rather than the fit and finish category, or am I missing something here?

    Sajeev Mehta::
    Pointless.

    You gave the ride 5 stars, and you also (briefly) mentioned the Corolla’s class-leading fuel economy as well as it’s reliability. Great ride, great reliability and class-leading fuel economy; I’d say those are enough points for people buy a Corolla.

    Also Sajeev, I am genuinely curious why you chose to review a 2008 Corolla S when in only 2 months a new Corolla will be in showrooms? You even mentioned in your review that a new model is on the horizon, so what’s the point of reviewing this old, dated model?

    Another thing: this harsh review of the old Corolla is on the front page right next to the review of the new Elantra. Coincidence? Maybe Robert Farago or Frank Williams can comment on this.

    This seems less like a review of the car *itself*, and more like an editorial/introspective piece on the writer’s personal opinion/preference of automobiles.

    JJ:
    In the end, if they keep going like this, they will go down, like GM.

    Going like what? Offering consumers around the world what they want? Heaven forbid an automaker actually caters to customers and listens to what they want.

    The Corolla is now in it’s 10th generation with the new 2009 model. The Corolla Sajeev reviewed is the old 9th generation.

    The Corolla is also the world’s best-selling car. I’m pretty sure Toyota knows what consumers want and listens to them otherwise the Corolla would not be a worldwide best-seller.

    Zarba:
    The Mazda3, especially with the 2.3 engine, beats this thing like a bad dog

    Not at fuel economy it doesn’t.

    Toyota’s lost the hunger, you can tell with the latest Camry where the beancounters have made their mark, and if GM can get their act together they can use this to their advantage. We’ll see how it plays out, but I think Toyota’s star is waning somewhat.

    I think that you’re drifting away from reality. Whether you like it or NOT, Toyota is the WORLD’S most successful automaker (in many metric) at this moment and that’s not going to change anytime soon, despite what some people may hope for, dream, imagine etc.

    tankd0g:
    I think you are right, the problem is the “S” badge. Other cars in the segment have sporty version too, and they come with, at the very least, more powerful engines. I think having a top end version of a car helps the entire range, young people who can’t afford an Si buy the base Civic and get a spoiler or 16″ wheels, maybe even the decals from the sport version and maybe even entertain the idea of doing an engine swap down the road. For current MY Collora drivers however, what are they trying to emulate, Corolla LE owners?

    Corrola S is actually the middle of the range Corrola so perhaps it isn’t fair to judge it in the company of Cobalt SS, Sentra Spec-V etc. The comparable car to those was the expensive Corrola XRS, which no longer exists.

    Correct. The Corolla S is NOT the sportiest version in the lineup. I just don’t understand the criticism. Are we going to criticize now Civic models with alloy wheels or rear spoilers? Are we going to criticize the Mazda 3 Sport?

    The XRS is the Corolla one should be reviewing or talking about if you’re looking for the sportiest Corolla model.

    Yes, the XRS is gone right now but it returns with the 2009 model. This brings me back to my earlier question; what was the point of reviewing the 2008 Corolla, and specifically an S model?

    Sajeev Mehta:
    agreed, and I tried to give credit where its due. (great ride, nice seats, super fuel economy) but the value proposition of this fridge is not appealing. Why get this fridge when you can get the same in a Korean fridge for thousands less? Or a Mazda fridge (honestly, the base Mazda 3 is an appliance) for a little less? Or a Focus fridge with extra compartments (great standard features and SYNC) and a better warranty for the same price?

    Because this has a good ride? Because this gets better fuel economy than anything else in the class? Because this has a rock-solid reputation for reliability and low-cost, easy maintenance that no other car in the class (except the Civic) has?

    Also, you’re comparing the 2008 Corolla S (an old fridge model) to a lot of new fridge models. The Focus and Elantra are new fridge models, and even the Mazda 3 is a newer model fridge than the 2008 Corolla. If I was hypothetically in the market for a fridge I would, you know, wait 2 months for the new model 2009 Corolla fridge to come out before making an informed decision on what fridge to buy.

    Prado:
    Sajeev, please comment on the “awkward tiller-to-driver seating position”. It it still as bad as the previous version? Does the newly added telescoping wheel help?

    Overall I am underwhelmed by this ‘new’ Corolla. It seems more like a typical Big 2.8 refresh. But since no one else other than Honda want to build economy cars that actually get good fuel economy, I’m sure they will continue to sell a ton.

    You’ve been confused by Sajeev’s review. His review is of the *old* 2008 Corolla, not the “new” Corolla. He mistakenly put a picture of the 2009 Corolla into his review. The new Corolla is the 2009 model which comes in 2 months.

    You did hit a good point though. Last time I checked, economy cars were supposed to be good at things like, you know, ECONOMY. It seems like most automakers, with the exception of Toyota and Honda, have forgotten this very simple fact.

    Nemphre:
    Good lord, people sure love to bust on Toyota for not making sporty enough cars. I think a lot of this stuff is exaggerated now that Toyota is in the spotlight. I drove the Mazda 3 with the 2.0 and the Corolla back to back, and I didn’t feel like the Mazda was a better car for people who don’t want something sporty. The Corolla’s acceleration was just as good, if not better. The Mazda can’t match the fuel mileage. The Corolla has weak steering and handling, but the Mazda had an incessant vibration through the steering wheel on the interstate. The Mazda interior was better looking, but the materials seemed about equal in quality. Throw in the Corolla’s better reputation and the Corolla probably looks like a better buy for people who don’t care about handling.

    None of the alternative Corollas (Elantra) can come close to matching the fuel economy or the trouble free reputation. That’s worth the price premium to some. I can’t make further comparison as I haven’t driven the new Elantra.

    This isn’t supposed to be a sporty car, so it makes me laugh when I see someone post something like “The Mazda 3 with the 2.3 will spank this thing!”. The people who buy these cars could honestly care less, and thank goodness. I shudder when I think of a world filled with testosterone induced drag racing at every light, people throwing revs at each other, and talk about how my car is superior because it accelerates to 60 .2 seconds faster. It’s not enlightenment, it’s a disease.

    Good points. I too have extensively driven the Corolla and 2.0 Mazda 3 back-to-back and I found the same similarities/differences as you did. While the Mazda 3 may beat the Corolla at some things, it falls flat at other things where the Corolla beats it.

    Plus, with the 2009 Corolla there is a 2.4L engine option that I’m sure will be more than a match for the 2.3 Mazda 3.

    ret:
    What we are seeing here is probably the near-term zenith of Toyota’s popularity. Once people cross shop other vehicles and realize they can get equal (or better) reliability with unquestionably better appointments, Toyota’s sales will plummet.

    But they can’t. None of the competition (save the Civic) can match the combination of fuel economy, reliability, durability, and overall easy, low-cost maintenance of the Corolla. Not the Focus. Not the Elantra. Not the Sentra. Not even the Mazda 3. While the competition may excel at other metrics like handling or acceleration, they fall flat in other metrics.

    whatdoiknow1:
    I have found that manufacturers take one of two approaches when making cars in this class. They either aim to make the a rock solid car that will last forever or they try to sell a POS car by adding some “sportiness” to an otherwise lackluster POS design.

    Witness that Honda and Toyota are able to sell the majority of their products without using “performance” as a hook. They sell very good cars that are built with care. Mazda and the rest of the makers with iffy quality records all NEED to use “sportiness” and “performance” to sell their cars.

    The joke is they are not selling better engineered cars, they are selling 17″ wheels with VR rated tires! They are selling a set of struts and springs with firmer settings, they are selling a gearbox or tranny with ratios that give better acceleration than fuel efficiency. Any automaker can add this stuff to any POS chasis. The problems is most of these cars do not have the longevity and reliabilty of a Corolla.

    After living with a number of Corollas over the years I can say for a fact that Toyota puts the money and engineering where it counts for a entry-level inexpensive car. The Corolla is a rock solid car that IS better built than the competition with the exception of the Civic. Unlike other cars in this class everything on the Corolla is designed and built to last a long time. After ten years of Corolla ownership it is a given that EVERYTHING still works RIGHT.
    That is why people buy Corollas.

    Its funny to read the stuff that VW owners are willing to put up with. Broken lights, broken windows switches, defective radios, interior and dash lighting that quits, engine problems, exterior and interior trim pieces falling off, faulty electronic safety equipment, hell faulty electrical everything, broken seats, leaky seals, etc. But I know it drives really good, right! It goes through the twisties like a dream! Explain that to your children when it wont start after a day in the mall!

    Look, folks need to get to work in the morning. They need to have cars available for the weekend and not in the shop. They need not worry about that strange noise coming from under the hood or behind the dash. Some cars are nicer and more butch, but if your super-sporty econobox leaves you and your girl stranded on the side of the turnpike I’ll bet you will wish you were driving one of the many Corolla that will pass you bye.

    I dont know about the rest of you guys but my career and children does not allow me much time to spend worrying about and servicing a less than reliable car just because it is “fun to drive”.
    Now dont get me wrong I love to drive but I do understand why all those folks in my neighborhood drive Corollas and Civics.

    *Applauds*. Great points all around, and what you said is the truth.

    Fact is, apart from the Civic, the competition cannot go toe-to-toe with the Corolla. The Corolla has a great reputation worldwide of over 30 years. You can’t mess with a reputation like that. The Mazda 3 is a very young car with no reputation. The Focus has a pretty mediocre reputation, as does the Elantra. The Focus and Mazda 3 NEED to be focused on styling and performance because otherwise they wouldn’t sell because they can’t go toe-to-toe with the Corolla.

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    “You don’t like revving your engines, huh?”

    I don’t mind revving it out as long as some pull is involved. It’s the uneventful (other than the scream of the engine) trot up to 8100 rpm that I don’t like. Even the new Civic has a weak feeling engine, despite the stat increase. It does handle way better though. I just wish they hadn’t ruined all the things that I liked about the old one (interior, shifter, clutch, throttle).

  • avatar
    Chaser

    whatdoiknow1, Johnson, Pch101> Great posts. I’m glad someone here can think past boy racer long enough to cut to the heart of why these cars are so popular. If you want a sports car, just buy a damn sports car. I hate how every car company tries to add “performance” to their economy cars at the expense of, well, economy. Some of us would rather spend our money on other things so we want a car that’s cheap to buy, cheap to operate, and doesn’t otherwise intrude on our lives with trips to the mechanic.

    Oh, and for the record I don’t drive a Corolla nor do I want to. Still, I respect what Toyota is doing here.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    A point to be made: the Civic’s engines (and most Honda engines) really do suffer from lack of “pull” until you rev the engine quite a bit. Toyota engines seem to have better torque and more power down low.

    That is one reason why (on paper) the Civic 1.8L seems to be better than Toyota’s 1.8L but in real-world driving both offer roughly equal acceleration (due to the Toyota engine’s better torque curve) and with the Toyota 1.8L edging out slightly better fuel economy. In defense of the Honda engine it sounds sportier and is more “fun”.

  • avatar
    RGS920

    Wow, I think that the Corolla S might just set a TTAC record for most comments in a single day!

    I think that reviews like these are what sets TTAC appart from the rest. You go out and test a car that the average person cares about.
    Every car magazine has spy pictures, comparisons and show downs featuring all the hottest cars, and a passing glance at a brand new “average car.” This is what TTAC is really about… this is real.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    There does come a time when a great deal of folks will say I need a car for personal transportation with NO BS!

    I need the engine to work everyday
    I need the electrical components to work everyday
    I need the AC and Heater to work when called on.
    I need electric windows and locks that will not breakdown and cause unnecessary expenses
    I need a car with simple inexpensive to replace consumerable parts like tires, brakes, fluids, etc.
    I need it to run with a minimum of maintenance
    I need it to be light on fuel consumuption

    I dont need a car equiped with expensive to replace and repair 17″ or 18″ wheels
    Nor do I need $100+ each 40 series VR rated tires with a very short treed life
    I dont need a liitle 4 cyl. car that can’t get better than 30 miles per gallon
    I dont need a car that every stinking little car thief is after.

    This is when a car like the Corolla makes perfect sense. Yes it is a transportation appliance and it does it job very well, kinda like a Maytag appliance. So how on earth can you find fault with something that forefills its primary propose for existance so well?

    On the other hand Performance and Inexpensive put together does not work very well. Remember the IROC Z from the 1980s that Chevy would sell you for less than $20,000 but would burn though a $1000 set of Goodyear Gatorbacks in less than a year! Or any number of Turbo pocket rockets from this era that you could buy for next to nothing but would cost the owner $2000+ for a Turbo replacement.

    Today we have cars like the Civic Si, VW GTI, and Mustang GT. that folks love to point out a performance bargins. In reality they are not bargins.
    The Civic Si requires premium fuel, is equiped with expensive tires and has some very expensive parts if you need to replace them like the LSD.
    The GTI can be equiped with the DSG that will cost as much any autobox to replace if not MORE!
    The Mustang by nature of having a V8 will be expensive to repair.
    In a nutshell all of these ride will be Expensive to own over the long haul. YOu may pay a decent price up front but in the end if you keep these things beyond warranty the whole notion of inexpensive performance is out the window!

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    I traded in my sporty Chrysler Lazer (anyone remember?)

    Rebadged Mitsubishi Eclipse, right? Also offered as the Dodge (Eagle) Talon, I believe.

  • avatar
    neurotoxin

    Though I would never consider owning such a car, I don’t begrudge others who do. Should an audiophile look with disdain upon those who listen to ipods with lousy earphones? We’re not all car nuts, you know.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    What the hell happened to the Corolla? I step away for a decade and this is what happens. I remember have blast driving a rental in Puerto Rico back when I was 16, high speed chase and all, just kidding ;) The S, what the hell is that, not for Sport, Silly maybe cause thats all it offers.

    Oh well my wife’s arrived, catch me if you can!

  • avatar
    confused1096

    I don’t really see a point in the “S” package. As far as the regular Corolla goes? Folks, it ain’t made for us. We are all enthusiasts to one degree or another.
    My mother has a ’98 or ’99 Corolla. The only time that thing as been to a shop was when some idiot backed into her car at work. She doesn’t care if her car is fun to drive. That is the customer base for the corolla.

  • avatar
    coupdetat

    I’m not sure if this has already been answered, but I noticed that a lot of people were wondering why the Corolla hadn’t been updated in so long. I heard that Toyota had an updated Corolla coming up, but the vastly improved ’06 Civic forced them to rethink their plans a bit. Can anyone confirm or refute this?

  • avatar
    CarShark

    This was exactly what I was thinking of during the last TTAC bias editorial. At some point or another, one of two things has to happen between TTAC reviewer and reader.

    1) The writer has to accept that not all cars are built with a sporting or style bent, and NOT penalize the car for that when telling the reader.

    OR

    2) The reader has to accept that the writer is reviewing the car with a sporting and style bent, and WILL penalize a car for that when telling them, and take what they can from it. This is the one that I personally have chosen, since it’s not like the reviewers are going to stop being head-strong or start caring about little things, like every buyer that doesn’t share their view of cars.

    It’s the nature of the beast that is an car enthusiast website that power, handling and style are recognized, and not much else is. Most family car reviews will praise a car’s performance, but where else would you go to get a review where someone says, “Reliability be damned” with a straight face?

    Personally, I think that the out-going Corolla can’t get out fast enough. The new engine has to bring the same best-in-class mileage and decent performance that the old one did, and I don’t think it’ll get any help from the transmission if it does stay a four-cog like I’m hearing. I don’t think it’ll be too much heavier, though.

  • avatar

    Wow so many comments in so little time!

    Dean: But for Pete’s sake stop with the blanket hate of this car and the people that buy them. They don’t hate driving, they just don’t care about it enough to spend more than they need to on transportation.

    Question is, did they survey the market and still go crazy over the Corolla’s value proposition? Because this isn’t the only appliance on the market, and the argument that Corolla owners don’t care about performance is irrelevant: you can get the same car elsewhere, for less. Or get a Civic and get more sport and more polish for the same money.
    ————-
    Qfrog: That youtube video was hilarious, thanks for that. But I’m always gonna be on the lookout for sleeper Corollas…it’s the perfect platform for a street savvy Q-ship.

    ————-
    ret: good question about beancounters. They already cursed the Corolla with a solid rear axle like a Mustang. If they had a part in the Tundra’s powertrain problems, the Camry’s recalls, etc…

    ————-
    Sammy B: looking forward to the new XRS. The 2.4L Camry moves pretty well, maybe the Corolla has a future as a factory tuner sleeper.

    ————-
    BEAT: actually the Corolla’s rear seating is very, very nice. Its obviously smaller than newer cars and CUVs, but you can’t argue with the Corolla’s fuel economy and comfort combination with these small-ish dimensions.

    ————-
    whatdoiknow1: This is when a car like the Corolla makes perfect sense. Yes it is a transportation appliance and it does it job very well, kinda like a Maytag appliance. So how on earth can you find fault with something that forefills its primary propose for existance so well?

    Very easily. You can get a similar appliance for less. Or get an appliance with more features (not sporty features, just stuff people like) for the same asking price. Two words: Value Proposition!

    ————-
    CarShark : The writer has to accept that not all cars are built with a sporting or style bent, and NOT penalize the car for that when telling the reader.

    I think I’ve made the Corolla’s weak value proposition pretty clear. This has little to do about sporting style, though its ironic that you can have your cake and eat it too…with a cheaper, sportier sedan.

    ————-

    CarShark: The reader has to accept that the writer is reviewing the car with a sporting and style bent, and WILL penalize a car for that when telling them, and take what they can from it. This is the one that I personally have chosen, since it’s not like the reviewers are going to stop being head-strong or start caring about little things, like every buyer that doesn’t share their view of cars.

    Wrong. That’s your opinion, and I’m gonna to challenge it since you spoke up. :-)

    Not only does the Corolla sell only on its reputation and perceived value proposition, its charging a premium for that reputation. And that sucks even more than the poseur bodywork on the S model.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Hard to beleive that in just 8 short years, this: http://www.rallycars.com/_cgi-bin/show-Toyota.cgi?17 (you’ll have to cut n’paste that, sorry) has been replaced by the car reviewed above. Perhaps we will be able to buy the road going version of the Toyota F1 car instead? Kinda makes you wonder WTF the point of their participation in racing is these days doesn’t it?

  • avatar

    Kudos to Johnson: this reply stands all by itself:
    ———–
    You must have had a case of bad luck or have a bias against Toyota, or both. Most 9th gen Corollas I’ve been in (2003 – 2008 model years) have had good interior fit and finish. While the materials are average-to-mediocre, fit and finish has always been decent. In fact, I’ve never seen a review that had such harsh words about the Corolla’s fit and finish.

    Maybe the fit and finish deserves a 3 out 5, but definitely not a 1 out of 5. Being true to the TTAC philosophy, the truth is the current, dated Corolla does NOT have a poor fit-and-finish that’s worthy of a 1 out of 5 star rating.By the way, doesn’t “hard plastics” fall under the interior category rather than the fit and finish category, or am I missing something here?
    ———–

    Well if you’re gonna go down that road, you forgot my bias against American cars like the Ford Mustang and German cars like the BMW M6.

    My tester had larger gaps around the hood, grille, fenders compared to others I’ve seen. (No, it hasn’t been wrecked, it was a new car with no overspray, etc.) The interior materials were sub-par to the Civics, on par (or below) a Focus. The sun visor slapped the rearview mirror when you pulled it down. You really expect me to give it 3 out of 5?

    When I see these glaring problems on a car that charges an arm and a leg for its reputation for “Toyota Quality” I get upset. It deserved 1 star for its poor “fit” and mediocre plastic “finish” at a top dollar price.
    ———–
    You gave the ride 5 stars, and you also (briefly) mentioned the Corolla’s class-leading fuel economy as well as it’s reliability. Great ride, great reliability and class-leading fuel economy; I’d say those are enough points for people buy a Corolla.
    ———–
    And that’s what went through my mind when I gave it two stars. If the value was better, it’d get three. And if the hardware (interior, suspension, brakes) was better than a Mazda 3 or Civic, it’d get five stars.
    ———–
    Also Sajeev, I am genuinely curious why you chose to review a 2008 Corolla S when in only 2 months a new Corolla will be in showrooms? You even mentioned in your review that a new model is on the horizon, so what’s the point of reviewing this old, dated model?
    ———–
    1) It hasn’t been tested
    2) I had access to one
    3) TTAC always needs metal to get three reviews every week for our lovely readers. (I heart TTAC readers, all of you!)
    4) There’s plenty of time to test the new one.
    ———–

    Another thing: this harsh review of the old Corolla is on the front page right next to the review of the new Elantra. Coincidence? Maybe Robert Farago or Frank Williams can comment on this.
    ———–
    If Robert gets lucky and his writers test similar vehicles at the same time, good for him. And it spices things up a bit, no? Where else do you get this kinda action?
    ———–
    This seems less like a review of the car *itself*, and more like an editorial/introspective piece on the writer’s personal opinion/preference of automobiles.
    ———–
    I guess if you distill an 800 word review to its intro and conclusion paragraphs, there it is. If you missed the content I’m alluding to, you’ll see words like “twist beam axle”, “jumpy throttle mapping” and “destroy[ed] value proposition” when you read it again.

    ———–
    Because this has a good ride? Because this gets better fuel economy than anything else in the class? Because this has a rock-solid reputation for reliability and low-cost, easy maintenance that no other car in the class (except the Civic) has?
    ———–
    Again, that’s enough for a two stars in TTAC’s overall rating. And that’s also why the Civic will likely fare much better, because it’s more car for the same money.
    ———–
    Also, you’re comparing the 2008 Corolla S (an old fridge model) to a lot of new fridge models. The Focus and Elantra are new fridge models, and even the Mazda 3 is a newer model fridge than the 2008 Corolla. If I was hypothetically in the market for a fridge I would, you know, wait 2 months for the new model 2009 Corolla fridge to come out before making an informed decision on what fridge to buy.
    ———–
    Except the new Focus isn’t very new, and most people don’t know there’s a new Corolla waiting in the wings. I’d wager that Toyota owners are even less likely to know about the new Corolla, since their cars are only for appliance use, they dedicate their time for other hobbies.

    ———–
    None of the alternative Corollas (Elantra) can come close to matching the fuel economy or the trouble free reputation. That’s worth the price premium to some.
    ———–
    Hence why I said, “If you don’t ask for much, you get plenty in return.”

  • avatar
    Nue

    Perhaps I’ll throw in my two cents as well..

    Long time lurker, first time poster :D

    I own a MS3 that seems to have more than it’s fair share of CEL problems (5-6 of them 3 months ago) though they ended up being resolved in a not so timely matter and repeated dealer visits.

    Not a happy camper coming from a 89 Celica GT-S (nowhere near sporty or fuel efficient) as a starter car bought used 4 years ago that I had obtained at 120k miles with only one of the cylinders misfiring though that was the only fix and a 98 Integra GS-R afterwards (this was also used but very nice in economy and fairly sporty in it’s own right) whose only maintenance outside of the regular oil changes was the major engine tuneup around the 90k mark (bought it at 60k).

    So when they sent me to Budget to take my courtesy loaner car (cheap bastards) they offered me either a Corolla S or a Focus (forgot the model). I excitedly pointed out to get the Focus first as I had always read it as being an understated performer and promised it to be a lively ride though I ended up getting the Corolla the first time so I’ll go with the Corolla first…

    The Corolla struck me almost as a mini-Lexus, as my family has been more or less a Toyota household ever since my parents immigrated here and stuck around with American autos for the first few years until he eventually got sick of them breaking down /not starting over and over. Ever since he picked up a heavily beaten Camry that ran faithfully at150k, he never looked back and behold, I’ve been the only person in our family besides the father that’s ever owned something outside of a Toyota/Lexus.

    Why did it seem Lexus like to me? For starters it’s a rather smooth car albeit with the twitchy throttle response that Sajeev mentions that I had initially attributed to the ECU programming of previous customers with flat foots. Acceleration was no big setback though and I was more or less surprised at it’s interior cabin noise. For the most part I’m comparing this to the beater 96 ES300 we have (we also have a 04 IS250 and an 05 LS430 for others as comparison it’s definitely inferior to their league). The handling could have been better but I never quite pushed it as hard as I could as the tire give up rather easily and quickly, but it was an enjoyable experience pushing it at 7/10th as Sajeev says. Maybe it’s just the inner hoon in me. The audio system was another surprise given Toyota’s atrocious audio system as this one actually sounded somewhat clean. Then there was the Focus..

    The Focus fell flat on it’s face as I was heavily expecting something significantly better in the handling department compared to the Corolla. Acceleration was nothing to write home about and was similar enough to Corolla though at least it didn’t have the troublesome throttle response but the attention to interior detail was downright horrible. The plastic trim and the integration of certain pieces made the Corolla literally a Lexus to me. The seats were definitely not up to the task of spirit driving and felt horrendously cheap even compared to the Corolla. Granted, I also didn’t try pushing this car to the limits but at least it did handle better though not in ways I’d give up purchasing a Corolla for this instead.. And the audio system sucked.

  • avatar
    AlphaWolf

    whatdoiknow1 :

    I dont know about the rest of you guys but my career and children does not allow me much time to spend worrying about and servicing a less than reliable car just because it is “fun to drive”.
    Now dont get me wrong I love to drive but I do understand why all those folks in my neighborhood drive Corollas and Civics.

    Loved the full post in it’s entirety. Best post I have seen on TTAC yet in a long time.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Mr. Mehta’s last reply was simply a beautiful thing. Come for the reviews, stay for the verbal barbeque.

    When the diehard brand fans can learn that it is quite possible for someone to assess the same facts and come away from them without feeling the love, then this will be a better world for all of us.

    If one is going to claim “bias”, “bigotry”, etc. instead of disagreeing respectfully, one should be prepared to prove it. “J’accuse” and fingerpointing ain’t gonna cut it.

  • avatar

    Love ‘em or hate em, I stand by my words.

    And I’ll fight for them, within the confines of TTAC’s strict no-flame policy.

    Try getting someone on Capital Hill to do that. :)

  • avatar
    QueensMatt

    Here are my two cents, from having owned one of the early versions of this car (Corolla S, 2003 model, purchased in March ’02).

    The positives were that the car had comfortable seats, great radio reception, rear windows that roll all the way down (why don’t more cars do that?), and got real world 29-30 mpg in Los Angeles city driving. And it was also totally reliable, needing nothing but routine maintenance.

    The downsides were the weird driving position, a painfully non-padded armrest, no shift indicator on the dashboard, mirrors that didn’t fold, and quite poor handling limits on curvy roads (it would skip around on canyon roads due to the primitive rear suspension).

    I wouldn’t buy another one, and I’m deeply disappointed that Toyota didn’t make more meaningful changes with the upcoming version, but it was a solid car.

  • avatar
    davey49

    The S model of the Corolla is a bit ridiculous. Go for the cheap CE model or a loaded LE instead.
    The reputation is hugely appealing. You do hear stories of issues with relatively new Mazda 3s (the current love of the enthusiast crowd), can’t say I’ve ever heard of an issue with Corollas.
    Road noise kills the appeal of the Civic to me. Nice driving car but it’s louder inside than my ION.

  • avatar
    CarShark

    @SajeevMehta

    You must be kidding. If a person just wants a reliable car that gets good mileage, then all of those extras you keep banging on about, like SYNC, IRS, more power, whatever, have NO value to them. And the Corolla’s reputation easily is worth more to a commuter or a first-time buyer than a couple toys on a cheaper car, since it’s hard to enjoy more power and better handling on the hard shoulder or in a gas station…again. As far as I’m concerned, there goes your value argument.

    Again, reviews like this really shine a light on the limits of the reviewer, especially for an enthusiast.

  • avatar
    Chaser

    I have an idea for future reviews–if the car isn’t so good for the money, then tell us what is. In this case, what other ECONOMY car is an equal or better value? The Civic comes to mind, naturally. What else?

  • avatar
    Johnster

    elaineen@aol.com: I traded in my sporty Chrysler Lazer (anyone remember?).

    Lumbergh21: Rebadged Mitsubishi Eclipse, right? Also offered as the Dodge (Eagle) Talon, I believe.

    No, the Chrysler Laser was the corporate twin to the Dodge Daytona, a pretty body placed upon the K-car chassis. The mediocre and horribly unreliable turbo four managed to pose a credible threat to the low-compression and low horsepower V-6s and even V-8s found in its Ford and GM pony-car competition back in those bad old days.

    Introduced as a 1984 model, the Chrysler Laser was only produced for 3 years. It was replaced by the 1987 Chrysler LeBaron Coupe and Convertible, which used completely different sheet metal from the LeBaron sedans of the same years. The Dodge Daytona would continue through the 1993 model year.

    You seem to be thinking of the Plymouth Laser, Lumbergh. Introduced in January of 1989 as a 1990 model and produced through the 1994 model year, the Plymouth Laser was a clone of the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Eagle Talon. The Eagle Talon would last through 1998.

  • avatar

    CarShark: If a person just wants a reliable car that gets good mileage, then all of those extras you keep banging on about, like SYNC, IRS, more power, whatever, have NO value to them.

    So you pay more for a reputation for reliability, with obvious fit and finish issues (rearview mirror banging against the visor), getting less in every other tangible aspect and as Toyota loses traction in Consumer Reports ratings on multiple platforms? What a shame.

    Kinda sounds like Detroit, circa 1974.

    And the Corolla’s reputation easily is worth more to a commuter or a first-time buyer than a couple toys on a cheaper car, since it’s hard to enjoy more power and better handling on the hard shoulder or in a gas station…again. As far as I’m concerned, there goes your value argument.

    And like I said in the article, for those who don’t mind spending more for a solid rep, they get exactly what they paid for. Less.

    Unless they get a Civic LX. I seriously doubt the Civic is a less reliable car, and since they keep production level as Toyota makes more (unreliable cars across the board) don’t be surprised if the Corolla’s residuals sink below the Civic’s. And its priced similarly, if not the same monthly payment.

    The Elantra’s value proposition is looking better and better: saving thousands (how long will it take to negate that with the Corolla’s better economy and lower maintenance costs?) and take advantage of their long warranty.

    Again, reviews like this really shine a light on the limits of the reviewer, especially for an enthusiast.

    Your counterpoints don’t justify the Corolla’s inability to give more content, higher quality plastics, similar reliability (if not the same in the real world) for the same price as a Civic.Nor do they explain how the Elantra gives the same appliance feel for less money.

    Even if my tester didn’t have quality control problems and lousy plastics, I expected more from Toyota.

    Getting what you paid for is more than a reputation and the implied promise of quality that comes with. At least it should be.

  • avatar

    Johnster, maybe this will help: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Daytona

    Chaser: I didn’t mention the Elantra and Civic in the review, but they are cars one should consider when looking at the Corolla.

    We all know the Corolla is much like an arranged marriage: it sells on reputation alone. But for everyone else, look at all the cars mentioned in the article and the comments section.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Still, price points, polymer pickiness and all that. the Corolla’s cabin is acceptably sporty for people who consider sportiness a series of marketing-related cues, rather than a genuine dedication to harmonious performance prowess.


    And right there you found the middle of the Tootsie Pop. Toyota is happy and content of building transportation appliances and they will build a “sporty” appliance for the masses. To the non auto-buff, it means a cheesy spoiler, maybe alloy wheels, an accent stripe or two, fog lights, fake aluminum (why can’t they be honest and call it silver plastic?) trim, and the dreaded ground effects kit. Top it off with an “S” and people will think they have something special.

    They might be reliable but they really have pinched pennies on the interior. Those knobs and switches really are poor feeling.

    Real sport models mean something and will cost something. Mazda3 and 6 vs Mazdaspeed3 and 6. Mid-90′s Maxima GXE vs Maxima SE. Sentra vs Sentra SE-R vs SE-R Spec V. The M-lineup, V-lineup, AMG-lineup and so on.

    I still cringe when I see one of those late-90′s purple (they always seem to be purple) Ford Escort ZX2 things with decal accents and the “SPORT” sticker written in splash font and trim. IT’S SPORTY!!!! Do the decals add power?
    (Sorry for any nightmare this might cause.)

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I love this web site. We go from 100 year old references(Remember the Maine!) To 200 year old references (J’accuse!).

    I suspect we have such a great conversation going because the usual idiots don’t get it and leave.

    PCH101 gets the Dennis Miller Reference Award for the day. Grats, PCH101.

  • avatar
    Seth

    Pics show new model corollas which will falsely lead people to believe that this review is about the new one. It is not. It is the outgoing model which has been around the block for quite a while.

    I vehemently oppose this stereo type of car enthusiasts as horsepower mongering go fast types. You can be a car afficianado without actually wanting crazy horsepower/sport suspensions etc.

    I want a high quality luxurious car at a decent price. Nothing wrong with that. Its a simple recipe that most have failed.

    Germans make high quality cars which are either expensive or unreliable or both. Americans couldnt get the quality act for quite some time and even now fail on aesthetic designs just as this car.

    Sure corolla may not have the soul of Mercedes 190E but it is the only decent appliance out there. It may not be sporty but it does provide a decent ride absorbing the bumps.

    I am surprised how some luxury cars dont have proper back support that a lowly corolla does. It steers well and gives decent gas mileage. Costs less to own and drives beyond 200k easy.

    I wish I was talking about VW golf but unfortunately VW failed in getting its act together. Corolla’s success is a direct result of it’s competitors’ follies. Cobalt or Corolla I’d pick corolla.. golf vs corolla I’d pick golf but I would be resigned to the fact that golf costs more to own and maintain.

    BTW, upcoming corolla looks very decent and I am sure plenty of folks will pick it up. Adding a boost to Toyota is the ethnic demographic who immigrated from Asia for whom Toyota has better name recognition.

    Then there are the others who are struggling to make ends meet. They are not willing to gamble on VW Rabbit which will depreciate like a rock and is expensive to own. i.e if common folk know what a rabbit is in the first place.

  • avatar
    autoacct628

    Toyota’s Corolla is about as boring and monotonous as their financial reports…you know,the ones that go something like: “Toyota announced another record sales month for (insert name of month here) posting a sales increase of (insert percentage increase, likely to drive other auto company sales chiefs to drink, here) and record profits of (insert rediculous amount of YEN here).” Expecting Toyota to deviate from a method which has resulted in boatloads of US $$$$ to be exported to Japan is about as logical as expecting a moose to suddenly grow feathers….ain’t gonna happen, so why stress about it? The world knows that if Toyota WANTED to do it, they could build a world-class car of any class, size or configuration…they have the engineering chops to do it….but why do they NEED to? The mission is profits, not the undying love and respect of auto writers. Last time I looked, the Big T’s sales and profits compared to those of the makers of the Focus, the 3, or the Civic for that matter, pretty much demonstrated that they know their market a lot better than auto pundits and bloggers do. They will not make a car any better than it needs be to sell in the market. If said vehicle disappoints the engineering and enthusiast sensibilities of a few writers, I expect that Toyota management does not lose much sleep over it. Of greater concern is the slight unraveling of Toyota’s to-now seamless, rock-solid rep for consistent quality…but they did not accumulate the huge mass of wealth they are sitting on right now by being slow either on the uptake or response to quality issues …anyone with more than a few synapses reliably firing should expect that Toyota will address the issues with aplomb, and that the next iteration of Toyota vehicles will stomp the yard with respect to quality…they have the bux to spend to buy that reputation back, and then some. If you want a high-performance, but less reliable vehicle, buy a Ferrari, Jag, whatever. But the greater mass of people like reliable, reasonably comfortable and cost-certain. Nifty performance is just not ever gonna be a gotta have for the mass of car buyers. How did you guys get jobs as auto writers without realizing that truth? Form follows function. BTW, I ain’t a Toyota driver, I’m an Audi A-6 guy. My wife has owned three straight Toyota’s, progressing from a ‘90 Celica to a ‘95 Corolla to a ‘01 Camry…I liked the efficiency, cost-effectiveness and reliability of the cars, but I didn’t enjoy driving them….but I didn’t expect to, either. My A-6 is a different story, but cost as much as a Corolla and Camry combined.

  • avatar

    Nifty performance is just not ever gonna be a gotta have for the mass of car buyers. How did you guys get jobs as auto writers without realizing that truth? Form follows function.

    Well, obviously. That truth is so universal its implied in most every review…in any enthusiast publication.

    But the new truth is that Toyota doesn’t have the lock on it. You may not like a Mazda 3, Focus, Elantra, Civic, Lancer, or whatever other car in that same class…but the value and quality construction that were once Corolla hallmarks are no longer unquestionable.

    Guess that wasn’t clear in the review.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Great review Sajeev. Like a lot of folks here, I don’t believe that the Corolla ‘just’ sells on the reliability scale. It drives a lot like the Camry (at least in non-S trim) and an awful lot of people out there prefer a soft and comfortable ride over a sporty one like us enthusiasts. The class leading fuel economy and contemporary flow of the design are also distinctive enough vis-a-vis the edgier competition.

    Finally you have an exceptional VVTI engine, a very smooth shifting automatic, and ergonomics that are probably the easiest to discern in the compact market. All that helps tilt the windmills of demand towards the Corolla.

    I remember when this vehicle first came out you could get a base one with a CD player for right around 13k. That’s an enormous value propostiion. 40 mpg on the highway, the perception of 200,000+ worry free miles, and a comfortable environment for commuting made it the class leader for sales ever since 2003. It’s the Camry of the compact class and with the Yaris and Camry stretched out to a class higher than typical these days, it appears that it will indeed become the size equivalent of the once midsized Camry.

    If provide the same value proposition with the next generation, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Corolla sells at a 350k to 400k level in North America by 2010.

  • avatar
    CarShark

    So you pay more for a reputation for reliability, with obvious fit and finish issues (rearview mirror banging against the visor), getting less in every other tangible aspect and as Toyota loses traction in Consumer Reports ratings on multiple platforms? What a shame.

    Kinda sounds like Detroit, circa 1974.

    Truthfully, I’ve never seen a poorly constructed Corolla, and as a college student I’ve seen gobs of late-model ones. So the few complaints I see here aren’t enough to sway me. You’ve (possibly) seen one, and suddenly, the end is nigh.

    And like I said in the article, for those who don’t mind spending more for a solid rep, they get exactly what they paid for. Less.

    Unless they get a Civic LX. I seriously doubt the Civic is a less reliable car, and since they keep production level as Toyota makes more (unreliable cars across the board) don’t be surprised if the Corolla’s residuals sink below the Civic’s. And its priced similarly, if not the same monthly payment.

    The Elantra’s value proposition is looking better and better: saving thousands (how long will it take to negate that with the Corolla’s better economy and lower maintenance costs?) and take advantage of their long warranty.

    Since you don’t seem to be able to comprehend that people can value different things than you, or can’t without being unnecessarily derogatory, again, if a person doesn’t want the extras in other cars, they are worthless. The only other car with the reputation is the Civic (like you said), but its dustbuster looks and Starship Enterprise dash will keep more conservative people away. That’s why the Corolla still sells better (~30,000 units better, despite being in its final year), and it eats at enthusiasts. That’s why this review had this “parting shot” kind of feel to it. One last kick in the crotch before sending it off.

    As for the Elantra, I honestly don’t have a clue. I don’t think I’ve even seen one before. Regardless, Hyundai still doesn’t have close to the reputation of the Toyota, and I have no doubt that Toyota is looking behind them and seeing the progress the Koreans have made, and, more importantly, are working on making the next one better.

    That, sir, is an incalculably HUGE difference from Detroit 1974.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Decades ago, if someone wanted nothing more than reliable point-A to point-B transportation, they bought a Plymouth Valiant, a vehicle that was as rock solid as an anvil (and about as exciting). The A-body Chrysler was the epitome of three-box styling. It seems that mantle has been usurped by the Toyota Corolla and will continue for the new millenium and beyond.

    From what I’ve seen and heard of it, the ‘all-new’ 2009 Corolla isn’t going to change things much, either. Whether that’s good or bad depends a lot on one’s perspective of what an automobile should do.

  • avatar

    Truthfully, I’ve never seen a poorly constructed Corolla, and as a college student I’ve seen gobs of late-model ones. So the few complaints I see here aren’t enough to sway me. You’ve (possibly) seen one, and suddenly, the end is nigh.

    Well I have–even if you don’t believe so–but I don’t think end is nigh. And I sure as heck didn’t say that. And you’re being just as “unnecessarily derogatory” in your analysis as you think I was in the review.

    But Toyota’s recent troubles in QC and fit/finish aren’t something to sweep under the rug. And to assume that Corolla owners don’t care about this is something I will never do.
    ——————

    Since you don’t seem to be able to comprehend that people can value different things than you, or can’t without being unnecessarily derogatory, again, if a person doesn’t want the extras in other cars, they are worthless.

    You are reading way too deep into this review and subsequent comments. And being just as “unnecessarily derogatory” in your analysis certainly doesn’t help prove your arguments.

    ——————
    The only other car with the reputation is the Civic (like you said), but its dustbuster looks and Starship Enterprise dash will keep morjavascript:document.getElementById(‘commentform’).submit();
    submit commente conservative people away.

    No doubt. I reviewed the Civic LX, and its styling will turn people off…if only it looked like the Elantra.

    ——————

    That’s why the Corolla still sells better (~30,000 units better, despite being in its final year), and it eats at enthusiasts. That’s why this review had this “parting shot” kind of feel to it. One last kick in the crotch before sending it off.

    Maybe it would be harder to “kick it in the crotch” if I didn’t test the poseur S model (which never helps), the price was a bit lower and it wasn’t sprinkled with fit/finish problems.
    ——————
    I have no doubt that Toyota is looking behind them and seeing the progres s the Koreans have made, and, more importantly, are working on making the next one better.That, sir, is an incalculably HUGE difference from Detroit 1974.

    Unless Toyota starts lowering production and increasing quality to Honda levels, I’m gonna remain doubtful. Risks increase when you push this much metal. And corporations are inherently greedy: Toyota Quality or not.

  • avatar

    Can I say BLAH… I love feeling my tank up everyday. You would too if you could make some fast cash. 

  • avatar
    timd38

    Toyota is looking more like GM everyday and GM is starting to look like Toyota…..

  • avatar
    Qusus

    Whoa whoa whoa! Look at these Corolla die-hards come out of the woodwork to spar with Sajeev’s unfavorable review.

    Who knew that people take Corolla’s this passionately?

    But guys, c’mon… Sajeev gave an extremely fair review to the car.

    He said it was more expensive than the competition and offered a great ride. No surprises there.

    He also said that you could find better cheaper alternatives than the Corolla if you opened up your mind. Is that really any surprise given the “Toyota reputation premium” that’s charged and that this is the oldest design on the econo-car market?

    When this generation Corolla came out in 2003 I thought it was one of the best choices on the market. A few years later many other makes re-designed the competition and the Corolla fell behind. The review reflects that well.

    The only quibble I’ve got with an otherwise stellar review is the “Pointless” moniker at the ratings section. Can a very reliable car that has class leading fuel economy and ride quality really be considered pointless? (Unless you’re referring to the S trim specifically?)

    Anyways, good work Sajeev. You’re still my favorite TTAC writer even though you dissed my daily ride. However, it seems like the same could not be said for the other Corolla drivers on TTAC. Haha.

  • avatar

    Qusus: thanks for the kind words, from a Corolla driver no less! The same thing happened when I tested the Camry LE, before Consumer Reports went to town on them.

    He also said that you could find better cheaper alternatives than the Corolla if you opened up your mind. Is that really any surprise given the “Toyota reputation premium” that’s charged and that this is the oldest design on the econo-car market?

    Now that you mention it, maybe it is a surprise. How often does someone give a critical pricing/content analysis of a boring car amongst its boring competition? Not often if you don’t read TTAC.

    When this generation Corolla came out in 2003 I thought it was one of the best choices on the market. A few years later many other makes re-designed the competition and the Corolla fell behind. The review reflects that well.

    And the 2003 Elantra sure as heck wasn’t up to par in design (speaking in terms of an appliance, of course) of the Corolla. But the tables are turning, and the old design got what it deserves.

    The only quibble I’ve got with an otherwise stellar review is the “Pointless” moniker at the ratings section. Can a very reliable car that has class leading fuel economy and ride quality really be considered pointless? (Unless you’re referring to the S trim specifically?)

    I did the review with the S’s window dressings in mind, and I don’t think the CE is pointless. Its certainly a better value, and that’s worth another star too.

  • avatar
    elaineen@aol.com

    Hats off to the gentleman who not only remembered the Chrysler “Lazer” but also that it was spelled correctly as Laser. The car was so forgetable that I misspelled it’s name. It was rather peppy for a 4 cylinder but it would stall (electrical blackout)for no apparent reason. No mechanic could figure out why. After one breakdown it miraculously started 15 minutes later whereupon I drove to a Toyota dealer and traded it in for my 1991 Toyota Corolla. I prayed, succesfully, that it would start when they test drove it, and lo and behold it did. This started my devotion to Toyota Corollas.

  • avatar

    I had the worst experience today trying to help my friend buy a Corolla in L.A. We were lied to repeatedly by several salesmen, got harassing phone calls from dealers from whom we’d requested internet quotes via e-mail only, and generally were treated with contempt.

    It is, I was alarmed to find, extremely difficult to get a Corolla with ABS or with the side airbags that are necessary to push it from a “Poor” to an “Acceptable” side-impact rating. They are nominally available as stand-alone options on all Corollas, but two of the local dealers (admittedly, ones who had already squandered their credibility) tried to insist that neither was available on the base CE, at least “not in this region.”

    I’m now trying hard to convince my friend to give up on the Corolla and look at a Civic, Fit, or 3 instead. The Corolla is dynamically back of the pack, and Toyota sure isn’t going to win any prizes for customer service.

  • avatar

    It is, I was alarmed to find, extremely difficult to get a Corolla with ABS or with the side airbags that are necessary to push it from a “Poor” to an “Acceptable” side-impact rating.

    Thank you for bringing something up that I forgot. Making these safety features standard is a no brainer if Toyota is truly committed to Continuous Improvement…or any other management buzzword associated with their excellent production system.

    Adding more standard features to a long in the tooth design justifies its price premium on an ongoing basis. Not to mention Toyota insists they see Hyundai as a serious threat.

    If that’s true, isn’t the up sell to standard ABS a no brainer for Management? Why give Hyundai any breathing room in the first place?

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Argentla,

    Your dealers may not have been lying to you. Toyota now owns all their previous distributors except two. The two in the SE. However, if I understand correctly, the distributors still exist and do business as seperate entities.

    The distributors often decide that certain sets of options are the best way to go, and they will often use their power to load up desirable cars for more profit. I did a lot of business with GST, and they played all sorts of games, including ordering only a single stripper car of some models and then loading the rest for the entire region.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you can’t find what you want in a Toyota. It is one of their worst atributes as a company.

  • avatar
    rtx

    Cheap plastic and drum brakes aside the Corolla will sell and do well within it’s segment. It was never meant to be a competitive car…….just an econobox with some “feel good” extras on it to try some appeal with the tunerz generation.
    In my opinion the most glaring oversight in the Corolla line-up is the limited travel and adjustability of the drivers seat. I’m only 6′ tall and I can’t seem to get comfortable in the thing no matter where I set it.
    I owned a Corolla new in ’98 and traded it with 30K on it for the same reason.
    The lack of power is really not a problem for me.
    Here in Commissioner Fantinos Police Province of Ontario (I’m told he wants the OPP logo reversed on the next series of cruisers) the gestapo will give you a quick trial on the side of the road if they deem you to be travelling at 50 km over the limit (or if the cop in question is just having a BAD day)
    The officer will at that point call a tow truck and seize the vehicle for 7 days. (never mind that the owner might have gainful employment to attend to because he won’t have a DRIVERS LICENCE for that week either)
    Think the pain is over…..think again. On top of the exhorbitant fees charged by the towing company and the cost of the tow itself the MINIMUM fine will be $2000 and could go as high as $10000 depending on the circumstance.
    NOT GUILTY???…….Never heard of it!
    Remember, the vehicle seizure and licence suspension is done on the side of the road at the time the cop pronounces you GUILTY. The $2000+ fine comes at a later date in court.
    Welcome to the socialist country of Canada.
    BTW…..I just needed to vent on this one…I don’t give a damn one way or the other about the Corolla.

  • avatar

    My current drive is a silver 2008 Mazda3 i Touring, 5 speed. Got it for $16,900 here in Ohio. Side curtain airbags are standard for the 2008 model. My wife drives a 2005 Toyota Sienna, that has barely 22K miles.

    A few points from the comments above…

    Why would anyone buy a Mazda3 with an auto transmission. Learn to drive people, and life and fuel economy will get better I assure you.

    Those who have said there is little difference in the overall driving dynamics of a 3 and a Rock a Rolla – with all due respect, were you awake when you were driving the car(s)?

    Toyota’s value proposition is in serious doubt lately folks (Sajeev is right on), and this “can do no wrong” attitude almost universally shared is a delusion. As the price of cars, even driving appliances goes up, many folks will seek little details and differences that maybe were not as crucial before, such as standard safety features, sporty handling, the latest electro-gizmos, ABS, daytime running lights, progressive styling, etc.

    At a mere 22K miles our Toyota minivan is seriously lurching and lunging on uptake – could either be minor computer adjustment or something mechanical (read expensive). As someone who bought this van on reputation alone, the stars have fallen from my eyes folks. The new Big Dog is really no different than the old dogs, the target is on TOYOMOTO’s back now.

    The new 2009 Mazda6 is a stunning piece of automobile design and engineering…

    http://www.thecarconnection.com/zoom-image.asp?/images/gallery/12217_RXOABNQJUOBOX.jpg

    CamCorders beware!

    And the Mazda2 coming stateside will eat the Yaris and Versa for breakfast (maybe not the Fit which is a fine car for sure).

    http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/07/02/new-mazda2-pricing-announced/

    It is time here in the US we discovered what the Canadians and Europeans already know – Mazda (and possibly Subaru to a lesser degree) is the only real challenge to the Honda and Toyota segment monopolies. As an aside, the new Accord is a visual abomination IMHO (on a Sebring-like scale).

    Great review Sajeev. I agree 100% that the generation-old reflex to buy one’s next Toyota should be questioned. In most segments, there are a lot of better choices out there, for less money.

    Did I mention my 2008 Mazda3 cost $1500-2000 less than an equally apportioned Rock a Rolla? The left-side of the brain part of the equation.

    In this segment folks, volume be damned, Do yourself and even Grandma a favor and get a better car!

  • avatar

    3 years ago I test drove a Corolla S and a Mazda 3 GT when I was looking for an economy car. I left the Toyota lot just stunned that these cars actually sell at all. If the Corolla had a Ford or G.M. badge on it, it would be the slowest moving thing in the universe. This editorial largely corroborates my opinion.

  • avatar
    davey49

    I’d go with the Sentra in this segment right now. Seems to be a bit higher class, if somewhat pricey.
    I don’t like the Mazda 3 at all, sitting in one seems depressing. Plus its cramped.

  • avatar
    Seth

    Corolla is sensible shoes. Its a lot like buying 500 dollar tv instead of 2500 dollar plasma even if you can afford one easy. Bank the money and enjoy more peace of mind. This kind of thinking appeals to a lot of folks. Saving money is how walmart got that big. Same with rolla. I guarantee that resale on rolla is still better than mazda3. Then there is always the lexus gene in yodas.

  • avatar
    poltergeist

    To whomever it was above that likened Toyota to Maytag…

    Man I hope not. Bought a brand new Maytag fridge several years ago. What a piece of s**t!!! Just after the 1 year warr was up it started puking water into the refrigerator cabinet. Payed to get it fixed (cracked plastic evap. housing) took two trips to fix because they ordered the wrong part. A year later the exact same part cracked again, (this time replaced it myself) then within a month the auto defrost timer stuck on and burned a hole through the side of the freezer cabinet. After perusing the ‘net I found out that many people were having the same (or worse) problems with their “reliable” Maytag appliances.

    Pitched it and bought a Whirlpool….so far so good (3 years).

    IMHO, buying stuff based on “perceived quality” can be dangerous.

  • avatar

    poltergeist: IIRC, Whirlpool owns Maytag. They bought the name and closed Maytag’s production facilities in 2006. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. :)

    Corolla is sensible shoes. Its a lot like buying 500 dollar tv instead of 2500 dollar plasma even if you can afford one easy.

    Really depends, Seth. The Corolla is the $2500 plasma in its price class.

    Or its the hypothetical $500 TV with less features than other $500 TVs. And you can get the same TV for less money elsewhere, just without the brand name.

    Speaking of, has Sony’s home electronic equipment went from “worth every penny” to overpriced in the past decade?

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Well, I guess it goes to show that we all have different priorities.

    I bought an $89 19″ TV along with a $35 VCR and $25 DVD player about five years ago. That and the converter thingie that makes them all work together is all I really need.

    Most Corolla buyers have the same attitude towards cars. Spend 12k to 15k (depending on the year you got the thing), drive it for 12 years, and then consider moving up to a Camry.

    Zero driving excitement. But it does offer one less worry and a fair bit of comfort for those who could really care less.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    A better television analogy might be that the Corolla is a small, high-quality, CRT fullscreen (3:4 aspect ratio) television versus a similiarly priced (but arguably lower quality), larger, widescreen (16:9), LCD television (i.e., the Mazda3).

    The point being, a 3:4 CRT fullscreen television will get you by, and I guess some don’t mind watching a widescreen dvd on a fullscreen television (the ‘mail-slot’ view with the black bars above and below) with the knowledge that their fullscreen television has a better reliability reputation than the LCD.

  • avatar
    Jason

    I must be f’ed up in the head. I own a 6sp Acura TSX and a 4 sp auto Matrix (a wagonized Corolla). Each car serves its purpose accordingly WRT the owner (me). Really, the Toy is the drive-it-like-you-stole-it commuter, where after a 10-hour day at the office and 2 hours sitting through graduate engineering lectures at the local university, and 90 miles of commuting home-work-school-home, it serves the purpose of getting back home without exploding and saving money for other treats. Remember, I may be mentally sick, but I find it fun to drive a slow car fast, its like saying F you Toyota, I’m flogging one of your bore-mobiles and you cant stop me! As to the Acura TSX, all I need to say is “snick-snickity-snick…and see ya later…” But it is not “disposble” car like the Corolla. A fellow collegue of mine came to my house to work on our masters projects. I laughed when he saw the Matrix and thought I had a girl over and was apologizing for thinking he’d interrupted a love-making session or somethin. Those are both my cars I replied and there was 5 seconds of akward silence. I guess the Jekell and Hyde of cars got him stumped. BTW he drove Mazda Protege MP3.

    Anyway, the point of all this personal story-telling is, the poor Corolla (and Matrix) are tasked with the more important job of providing solid, though not nearly a solid compared to the 1980′s, transportation where practicallity and durability are the cheif critera. For those of us that have demanding careers and stuff, this is a sad truth, at least Mon-Fri. (Sat-Sun, the Matrix gets alot of time providing shade to my driveway :) ) I would not subject the TSX to the so-called paved inner-city roads and idiots out and about when doing the 9 to 5 thang.

    BTW next commuter-banger will be the Honda Fit, Honda Civic sucks…its heavy, the accel is not peppy, despite the numbers, and the Star Wars interior with digital speedo is not for me. And that the handling is so good actually serves to highlight the engine having only modest power. Also, the trunk space is embarassing. (There’s that practical side coming out again) The Fit is amazing, with only a 1.5L engine and on paper, modest acceleration, it just has that “mojo” torque curve as you rev it up, I’m speechless, and you don’t have to be an engineer to appreciate that. Oh, and is a wagon (hence “Fit”), so on second though, come on out Mr. Practical…

  • avatar
    poltergeist

    Sajeev,

    Thx for the info, so far so good with my Whirlpool and my brother has had one even longer with no trouble…so my finger’s are crossed too! ;)

    Funny you mention the Sony thing, as my family has always bought Sony electronics and always (almost) been amazed at how well they work and how long they last…….until my parent’s bought a Sony DVD player a few years ago. Again, just after the warr. was up they we’re watching a DVD when the screen froze, then BANG!!!they hear a loud pop and see smoke pouring out of their video cabinet. I helped them pull the thing apart to find a capacitor had blown up inside this thing. Figured it was probably just a fluke failure until I checked the web to find that LOTS of people with this model had the same problem, and that Sony would not fix them for free after the warr period. They bought a “something-else” DVD player which has worked great so-far.

    Have to say that after working on Hondas for 16 years, they have more problems than they used to in the “glory days” of the late 80′s-early 90′s. My Dad still owns an ’88 Accord LX-I that literally didn’t need any non-maintenance repairs until around 100K when the axle boots finally split. Contrast that with his ’06 Ridgeline that had a rear strut start puking fluid after only 1500miles.

    I’ve got an ’04 TSX 6speed that has been very good, but I’m amazed at the rattles the thing seems to have…..maybe we just expect more than we used to?

    Guess it means you’re getting old when you keep saying to anyone who’ll listen “They don’t make ‘em like they used to!”

  • avatar

    drifter: 17″ tires are not standard on the base model Mazda 3. Well, that’s from my memory…when I spec’d a base 3 it was strikingly similar to a Corolla, except for the IRS and more of those tangible standard features the appliance shoppers care about.

  • avatar
    Chaser

    drifter> Yeah, the 17″ tires turned me off too. Back when I was commuting an hour a day, I was looking for a replacement to my troublesome Nissan Frontier. I just couldn’t swallow the Mazda 3′s gas mileage and expensive tires. At the rate I was driving, I was looking at $450+ in tires once a year. That is NOT an economy car in my opinion. Oh, and from reading the Mazda 3 forums the reliability isn’t exactly rock solid either. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great car. I just don’t consider it a low-cost commuter vehicle.

  • avatar

    Folks, the Mazda 3i has standard 15″ or optional 16″ wheels, and is the most likely candidate for a Corolla cross-shopper.

    The “s” model has optional 17″ wheels. But it also has a bigger engine, higher price, etc. Its the wrong car for this situation.

    I’m not saying all Corolla owners will flock to Mazda dealers (nor should they) but you can get a 3 that’s just as basic as the Corolla. (Except it has disc brakes, IRS and a nicer interior.)

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    While I agree with the assessment made in this article, it seems pointless to review and criticize a vehicle that was just redesigned and revealed, well, seconds ago. Lets review that one, that’s what I’m interested in. This generation Corolla is pretty much done, and everyone knows it.

  • avatar
    Jason

    The 2009 Corolla/Matrix will be more of the same…a snoozer, especially the Corolla, which is amazing since the Matrix is heavier and taller. The ease of which a Corolla washes out when making a U-turn is insane. My friend calls the one his dad bought for him in college “The Co-Roll-Over”. But anyway, Toyota knows a winning formula to harvest money, and the Corolla is not a “car” but a money harvester. So, expect the appliance tradition continued. The XRS models, with 4 wheel wishbone suspension (other lesser models base and “S” with have the rear twist tube and MacPherson struts) will handle well, but with lack of feedback, what’s the point? I’ve read Edmund’s test of a pre-production model. For those that hate driving, it will just mean the “missery” will end sooner. The 2.4L sucks, its tuned for torque only, which in NYC or something, is OK, but on the open roads of suburbia and the hinterlands, it will feel like the car has ED when you take the liberty to spin the mill up past 3500 RPM for spirited, let-your-hair-down spurt to the grocery store. And the all important gas mileage will go to hell and the MSRP will be well over $20,000. Personally, I’d buy just the base car and relish the fuel economy and utility (Matrix) and convincing the boss that I’m a responsible member of society when its decided to use my car to go out to lunch; I have another car for pleasurable driving. But Toyota knows its market. America wants boring cars, so boring cars it shall have. The Supra, Celica, Corolla GT-S, etc. were cool, but not profitable on the grand scale that Toyota operates today. It cannot afford to be a niche maker like it was in the glory days of the 80’s. Even what were then seen as stodgy, like the Cressida, are in retrospect, 10 x more interesting than the sportiest Camry SE. BTW, why did Toyota cease with RWD and I-6 engines? BMW is now left alone, when at one time, Toyota has a proud heritage of I-6 and RWD power. Oh my, how the big T has mellowed out and gone grey…sad, sad. But, Honda, you may laugh, but I see weaknesses in your armour. All the North American only models are noteably inferior to their 80s and 90s counterparts in the quality department. (Not as bad as Toyota, but nothing to brag about either) The Civic is a bloated pig, and the Si is overpriced and just a watered down RSX Type-S. And the Accord, there aren’t words to describe how bad the Honda boys are going astray. The Camry, despite its bugs, is sportier than the 4-door Accord (and only 5-sp auto when Toyota set the bar with 6sp auto? Com’on Honda, you’re better than that…) And full size car!? Who said we needed the Accord Victoria? The 190bhp 4 pot 2.4L is a jewel of engineering, but when lashed to this pig, is a pig. But the coupe seems very sporty, but its Dodge Charger looks will keep me away. And for $30,000+, I’d would reach out to a Infinity G37 if at all possible, at least you’ll get RWD and better looks. Even the exalted Odyssesy minivan is getting complaints by folks who owned the first gen and complained the new one is too soft and of lesser quality depsite leather and all that baloney. The only two Hondas I’d buy are the ones not made for the US market…the Fit and the Euro/JDM Accord badge engineered-for-’merians Acura TSX. But I fear they too will be polluted. Test reports of the new Fit in Japan say it is bigger and softer (does this trend sound familiar xB owners?) And Acura is adopting that “chrome bird beak” design motif thats hideous to me. The interiors, once tasteful like the current TSX, are now going the way of the Star Wars Civic, only with more chrome. Its like the engineers ditched their calculators and watched rap videos for 90 hours, got hipnotized by the spinners, then went back to designing cars.

  • avatar
    f8

    Spot on, Sajeev. I got a Corolla recently as a rental car, not the S trim but the regular one, although there probably isn’t much difference. It was honestly terrible when compared to other cars in its class. The brakes were supersoft and mushy, as they usually are on Toyotas, and that gave the car a real unsafe feel. The interior was poorly designed and made out of crappy plastics, the seats were torture on a long trip, and the driving position made me feel like I was driving a schoolbus.

    The automatic transmission literally refused to shift, and when it did, there was no power to be had – so every freeway merging maneuver was a life-threatening experience, which went sort of like this: slam on the gas so the car starts shifting – rpms go up, engine screams, yet no acceleration is present – push pedal to the floor – listen to engine scream as you slowly approach 55 mph – try to dodge traffic which is moving at 65-70 and merge without getting run over. Terrible, terrible car.

  • avatar
    f8

    Jason:

    “The Civic is a bloated pig, and the Si is overpriced and just a watered down RSX Type-S.”

    That’s just plain wrong – not only is Si better tuned, but it also has an LSD, which RSX never got. By that logic, an RSX was actually a watered-down Si – or, rather, Si is a hardcore version of the RSX. And Civic is a “bloated pig” – compared to what? Civics of old? Yeah, when you add safety stuff, more airbags, crumple zones, and electronics, your car will get bigger and heavier. Civics aren’t that bloated, by the way: 4-door Si weighs around 2950 pounds, and a 4-door Civic LX weighs 2685 with a manual – almost the same as a 4-door 1st gen Integra (87-89), while being larger than said Integra, with far more features. I’m not seeing how this is a “pig”.

    “And the Accord, there aren’t words to describe how bad the Honda boys are going astray. The Camry, despite its bugs, is sportier than the 4-door Accord”

    I drove a new Camry and a new Accord, as well as Camrys and Accords from the previous generation. What you said is just completely wrong – Camrys drive like a Buick, completely disconnected from the road with feather-light steering and no road feel. Accords are and have always been far more connected to the road, not as much as BMWs obviously, but miles beyond any Camry in handling and sportiness.

  • avatar
    MX5bob

    The XRS returns for the 2009 model year. The S remains a body kit car with a long list of options.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    drifter :
    December 3rd, 2007 at 10:46 am

    EPA only tell part of the story, many people get low 20s for 2.4 Mazda 3, which same a got with a V6 highlander rental. RX-8 and CX-7 gets worse gas milage than many full size pickup trucks.

    I was looking for a cheap grocery getter/commuter hatchback. Whos ideas was it to put 17inch V rated tired on Mazda 3s? Decided not to get it because I would have to replace the tires immediately for the winter. For many buyers in this class the cost of replacing 4x 17 inchers exceed on paycheck.

    . . . and some drivers get 10 mpg in a V6 Highlander. Hearsay mileage figures are not directly comparable to your own results!

    Why didn’t you look at the model with 16″ tires instead? I like the way my 17′s handle and look, but I’d get the 16′s if I were buying a new one today. The new 16′s look much better than the new “snowflake” 17′s. Tire cost and availability certainly is a benefit of the 16′s too, but not a deal breaker given that it’s a minor part of my total operating costs. I run studded 16′s on black steelies in the winter anyway.

  • avatar
    DEEtox

    Are you serious? Dont you think your putting cars on a pedastal a little too much? Look I used to drive a Cadillac Seville year 2000 which was the smoothest ride on earth I mean thing felt like a water bed. Then I got this and I couldnt be happier. First its not 17 mpg more like 30. Its also very reliable. I had to replace so many things in the Lac it was ridiculous. Not a single broken down part with this. Also so what if the ride isn’t really smooth are you not man enough to handle it? Trucks are terribly rough yet everyone drives them I don’t hear them complaining. Besides I think you just don’t like Asian products or something. For the price this feels like luxury and your complaining about a silver shifter not going with the interior? You sir need to stick to driving American trash.

  • avatar

    IM 26 Ive driven grand am mazdas as well as maximas and honda civics. I own a 2008 Toyota Corolla s. All around to me the last 4 years ive owned it its a great car. Better highway mpgs then most ive driven its alittle 4 banger 1.8 its not great but all around great driving vehicle. Im not interested in the interior I love cars to modify play with just something I love too do. So far ive only seen a couple of good reviews. If you dont like it dont buy it but dont complain about something you dont know it runs better than most american vehicles. You go to a junk yard what kind of cars do you see more in there. Hondas, Chevy, Ford, Just to name a few I havent found hardly any 2008 toyota corolla s in them. Toyota is number 1 car in america for a reason its cheap easy to maintain and you can always modify I love my Yota. I will never buy another car just because of the safety features the way it runs maintance is low. Handling could be better. I love cars and this car deserves alot more credit then what your giving it. As far as interior who drives a car for the interior your gonna buy a car for the way it rides and runs. It had 14k miles on it when I bought it. 91k miles later it still runs as the day I bought it thats more then I can say about my first car 02 Honda civic ex or my moms sonata chysler my dads chevy his ford truck. Toyota made a great quality car and im very happy with my corolla. Never had a problem with anything yet engine still a champ trany starter its overdue for a tuneup but other than that no problems.


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