By on January 2, 2008

09_corolla_xle_05.jpg"Other than a borrowed grille from the Camry SE, some 'character lines' in the sheet metal and the Camry’s 2.4L 4-cyl. engine/5-speed automatic transmission in the top trim, there’s little to get excited about with the new model." WardAuto proclaims that "Toyota has delivered a downright boring Corolla for ’09." On one hand, Christie Schweinsberg seems to appreciate the value of vanilla, pointing out that the Corolla didn't suffer a sales slump prior to the new model's introduction (a la Honda Civic). But she can't get her head 'round the fact that Toyota didn't do, well, anything about the Corolla's narcoleptic sheetmetal and driving dynamics. And that's bad because…? "Toyota says it is aiming to conquest Mazda3 buyers, the youngest demographic in the segment, with its new Matrix hatchback rather than the Corolla, but that seems shortsighted. A more dynamic Corolla would have given Toyota more ammunition with which to target that crowd." Or less pleasure for its existing customers. The article disses the Corolla's delayed intro while flagging ToMoCo's quality issues (the reason for the delay). Schweinsberg concludes with a quote that could have come straight from the mouth of a domestic competitor. Oh wait, it did. "But with Toyota’s quality reputation beginning to suffer just as competitors are building better small cars, there’s no guarantee the auto maker will be able to continue selling '350,000 appliances a year,' as a competing OEM exec recently put it."

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17 Comments on “WardsAuto: Boring Corolla Rests on its Laurels...”

  • avatar

    If Toyota wants to take on Mazada they may want to consider building actual performance cars again. Build a modern day Celica and MR2 and maybe the Mazada buyers will glance Toyota’s way. Until then what reason does Toyota give a performance car buyer to grant any consideration to their automotive sensory deprivation chambers?

  • avatar

    Once Toyota’s rep for quality has faded from people’s eyes (or at least the perception of faded quality), what will Toyota have to recommend it? I realize that everyone isn’t looking for a performance sedan or coupe, but even sedans that might be a little more on the “not so bland” side sell well – cars like the Altima and the Mazda6.
    Over the past couple of years, their designs have been average at best and WTF at the worst, quality scores are slipping, and every single one of their cars and trucks follows the “add 3 inches here, 2 inches there, and 6 inches there, add 300 pounds and call it new” template. Why don’t they cut to the chase and make each car the size of a 1978 Lincoln?
    Good luck Toyota. In your quest to beat GM, you became GM.

  • avatar

    No kidding. Toyota hasn’t made anything sporty on my radar since the MkIV Supra (1997 for US I think) or SW20 MR-2 (1995 for US). Until they try to get back into the game with a real car, I’ll continue to look elsewhere.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    Radimus and Danms6 both hit it right on the head. I never even put Toyota on my short list this last time through on buying a car. Even the IS Lexi are a bit to ho hum for the sport market. I wanted something fun to drive, fast, able to get me from point a to point b reliably enough, and cheap. Where was Toyota? A Corolla with a rice body kit and an S badge? Promises of a $150k Lexus that just set a ‘Ring record…with the only witness being the driver? An IS-F that even the Lexus fan boys don’t like?

    I couldn’t get any Nissan dealers to get down in price on the 350Zs, and I wanted something a bit more dynamic than a coupe. Mazdaspeed3 it was, and I ain’t looking back at all.

  • avatar

    There goes that AE86 revival…

  • avatar

    “Toyota has delivered a downright boring Corolla for ’09.”

    With the minor exclusion of the S models, when haven’t they? Exciting is NOT the Corolla’s market. That is NOT it’s job. It’s job is for people who want basic, reliable, inert transportation. Not a sports sedan.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    The Corolla has more of a luxury oriented focus (and reputation) in the compact market. The same ‘sporty’ proclamations were made about the last two Camrys and neither of them were given any serious credence by the public.

    Toyota’s formula is spot on for their market. A semi-luxurious, easy to drive Corolla that can get 35+ MPG and 200,000+ miles. So long as they can offer six airbags and hold down the price a bit, I don’t see them losing any sleep.

    The real issue may be whether they can make the Matrix a competitive vehicle given the pedestrian nature of the Corolla. Somehow I think that model will be more orientated towards the soccer mom’s than the tuners.

  • avatar

    I hope it’ll be priced appropriately, because if you want basic, reliable, inert transportation, they’re not the only game in town anymore.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity


    In answer to your question…a while back. At least, I’m not really sure if its sporty or not, or if its just the drift junkies wanting to make it seem cool.

    Maybe its just me, but you don’t slap an S badge on the back of a car, and then say “well, its not really meant to be sporty.”

  • avatar

    It is hard to figure out what’s happening in Toyotaland. They do have the ability to produce very sporty rides, have engineering resources that dwarf Mazda, yet nothing they build comes close to the driving dynamic of the Mazda3. The last MR2 was incredibly lightweight, yet was beat with an ugly stick before leaving the design studio and never offered the 180 hp motor-in-the-middle which Lotus is making famous. The IS is a reasonably good shot if one likes a sport sedan with Buick overtones…

  • avatar

    None of this matters if the quality is on par with its predecessors…and significantly better than the Tundra.

    With this, Toyota can still charge a premium for the Corolla, cut corners in features and performance and people will still love it.

  • avatar

    MaxHedrm: I understand you comment—–but it seems very GM like in its apologist tone and looking at things monadically vs. looking at the bigger picture.

    The Honda Civic proves that you can have basic and reliable transporation that doesn’t have to feel like a Grandpa-mobile.

  • avatar

    I was hoping for something interesting from Toyota, but the Corolla was a severe let-down. Aside from the new corporate face (that I’ve never liked), it’s the same appliance. But considering the pedestrian-ness of the current Corolla, the current Matrix is more fun, so there is hope for the new Matrix as well.

    We have an ’03, a manual, and it’s a lot of fun. Maybe ‘a lot’ is a stretch. But as long as the AC is off, I enjoy it. I’ll admit the interior has issues – the interior has lots of cheap bits with lots of hard plastic. Sure the armrests (doors and center) look inviting, but don’t drop your elbow eagerly or you’ll bruise.

    We looked at the Corolla at the time, but with the better drive and more space it was a no-brainer. As for quality, I know our first-year ’03 predates Toyota’s recent quality concerns as we’ve had 75,000 miles of problem-free driving. Bottom line is I’d buy it again (and just may, at 200k miles).

  • avatar

    End-of-year sales results aren’t out yet this AM, but for class-leading sales of the 6 year old Corolla to have gone up year-to-year says a lot: an aging, but affordable & economical car is sufficient for even more Americans than ever.

    The average economy car buyer cares little about at-the-limit steering feel or IRS, advantages that the Mazda3 has to go along with its rock-hard interior plastics and higher price.

  • avatar

    If you have a formula or a system and its successful you don’t mess with it. People expecting the Corolla or Toyota to be on the decline due to a perceived lack of desirability based on one’s own taste are barking up the wrong tree.

    If you deliberately make a small economy car slightly more rakish in design for looks at the expense of utility and make a trade off by making more acceleration while giving up a little fuel mileage you might please this website’s and the Mazada 3’s fanbase but that would drastically decrease the Corolla sales.

  • avatar

    Mazda U.S. Sales

    1995 283,745
    2006 268,786

    Toyota’s US sales over the same period increased from a little over a million to over 2.4 million units. Corolla by itself sells 1.3x as many vehicles per year in the US as the entire Mazda lineup does. Toyota would be idiots to try and trade places.

    The Corolla is just about perfect for it’s intended market. I’m not about to buy one, but 350,000 or more of my fellow citizens, er residents, will be pleased with theirs.

  • avatar

    A more dynamic Corolla would have given Toyota more ammunition with which to target that crowd.” Or less pleasure for its existing customers.

    Waitasecond. You mean to tell me that if Toyota made a Corolla that was good-looking, handled well, AND was comfortable…then they would start losing customers? That makes no sense at all. The fact that they don’t make one now exactly like that shows (to me at least) that they are starting to rest on their laurels.

    The article disses the Corolla’s delayed intro while flagging ToMoCo’s quality issues (the reason for the delay).I thought that the purpose of the delay was because they saw how the Civic (Euro and NA) had such daring styling, they were worried that the new one would be too boring, and went back to the drawing board. Looks like they could use another session there, too.

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