By on June 27, 2013

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Car guys may mock the Toyota Corolla for its outdated powertrains and total lack of driving thrills, but no car dominates the landscape of Afghanistan in quite the same way.

Agence-France Press takes a look at the Afghani love affair with the Corolla – said to account for as many as 80 percent of all vehicles registered in Kabul. Afgahnis buy them for the same reasons as everyone else; they’re cheap, durable and inexpensive to maintain. The Corolla is so ubiquitous that taxi dispatchers advise passengers to look out for a “blue 2002″ or “white 2007″ since its implied that the taxi will automatically be a Corolla.

 

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131 Comments on “Afghans Love 4-Speed Automatics...”


  • avatar
    KixStart

    Hmmm… Does the auto have a high take rate in Afghanistan? The low cog count is irrelevant if everybody gets the manual.

    • 0 avatar

      This makes sense.

      I argue that manuals take too much attention in a day when people need to text, do makeup, eat and read newspapers while driving.

      How else are you supposed to have a free hand for the detonator if you’ve gotta use it to shift a damn stick?

      What if One of them needs the free hand to point an UZI at a girl’s school ala GTA???

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Please remove me from this lame website so that my email won’t be full of lame and useless articles anymore. No, wait, calling this site lame and useless is being kind.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      What’s lame about noting a car so dependable that it’s overwhelmingly chosen in a place like Afghanistan?

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      I agree. Please remove him.

      • 0 avatar
        CelticPete

        What’s not that great is that this site continually seeks to boost the likes of appliance Japanese car models. This takes the whole idea of ‘stretch’ to a whole new level. I don’t think the Afgani’s have access to all car brands over there.

        And let me tell you after living in NYC I don’t have great fondness for cab drivers from the arab countries. Sure it sounds like a nasty stereotype but by and large those guys can’t drive especially when you consider they are professional drivers. It turns out practice does not make perfect. Even a 3 point turn is challenging for them.

        Is this the same writer that CRXs weren’t any good after driving em because they were too rough and tumble. LMAO.

        • 0 avatar
          Ron

          Afghanis aren’t Arabs.

          Originally Arab meant bedouins (nomads), but now it is used for those speaking Arabic and living or originating in the Arab world (the Mideast and North Africa). Afghans primarily speak Pashto or Dari and the country is located in Asia.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          Guess you didn’t learn the difference between Arabs and Afghans while you were in NYC…

          By the way, Mr. Kreindler, the title is still off. Afghani is the currency. Afghan is the person.

          • 0 avatar

            The one gentleman I know from Afghanistan refers to himself as “Afghani”, but it appears you are right.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            There’s probably some amount of discussion over it because Afghans aren’t a monolithic people. According to this article, the word in Dari and Urdu is closer to “Afghani” whereas the Pushtun word is closer to “Afghan,” so I’d be curious which language your acquaintance speaks:

            ::http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/chatterbox/2001/10/more_on_afghani.html::

            The article ultimately makes the point that the translation was to English and that the English word is Afghan.

          • 0 avatar

            Well he speaks Dari so that makes sense.

        • 0 avatar

          “Is this the same writer that CRXs weren’t any good after driving em because they were too rough and tumble. LMAO.”

          It had nothing to do with rough and tumble and everything to do with being a poor car to drive.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            I thought the CRX review was the start of a potentially great series, and give you credit for being honest about a car the internet fanboys are so in love with.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          @celticpete You are just seeing what you want to see. Try clicking through the link and reading the story. It is about a phenomenon not really attributed to any one cause.

          What does any of that have to do with your preference of cab drivers…

          If it so bad and you can’t possibly bear to read something without thinking for yourself why don’t you just go away and read somewhere that tells you what to think.

        • 0 avatar
          VA Terrapin

          CelticPete, what’s really ridiculous about this website is that you continue to display Celtic pride while you continue to bash Japanese cars. Now, you’re bashing Arabs. In the automotive world, Celtic pride can’t compare to even Arab pride.

          C’mon CelticPete, tell us about automotive achievements by Celtic countries. Show us why shoving Celtic pride down our throats in an automotive website isn’t strange or, at best, a little funny.

          As for Arabs, right off the top of my head, I can think about more substantive Arab achievements than Celtic country achievements in automobiles. Egypt has its own car company. Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is a significant investor in Volkswagen.

          What’s so great about Celtic countries and cars?

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            The screen name CelticPete is a reference to his support of the Boston Celtics. It has nothing to do with Celtic countries and cars. I seem to remember this being explained to you in a different story.

            Stop creating reasons to be offended. Let it go.

          • 0 avatar
            CelticPete

            I like Japanese cars – the sporty ones. Like the original NSX, CRX, GT-R, Miata etc. I don’t like the bland ecobiles.

            And I don’t like the continuing theme that I read on this site.. That we should be satisfied with bland souless autos – because they are so reliable or in this case because Afgani’s drive them which is even weirder..

            And yes I am fan of the Boston Celtics. I haven’t been to Ireland yet. It’s funny. I don’t even really understand that line of attack.

            Should I feel bad if my ancestors don’t make great cars or something? Huh?

          • 0 avatar

            There’s no so theme. On the other hand, we are not just for car enthusiasts only, and mainstream cars are an important part of the automotive landscape. They matter quite a bit and when there’s a compelling story, we will report on it. It’s up to you whether you want to read it or not.

          • 0 avatar
            VA Terrapin

            I don’t buy CelticPete’s explanation that his screen name is his way of expressing pride in the Boston Celtics. “Celtic” isn’t the same as “Boston Celtics.”

            Plenty of guys here bash Japanese cars, and I almost never respond to what they say. What’s really annoying about CelticPete isn’t so much that he bashes Japanese cars, but that he shoves Celtic pride down our throats on TTAC at the same time. CelticPete is like a guy who keeps on bragging about how great an untalented bench warmer on a bad rec league baseball team is while bashing Ichiro Suzuki as a baseball player at the same time. Idiotic bragging like this is hard to tolerate when talking about baseball players or cars.

          • 0 avatar
            Eyeflyistheeye

            The smell of butthurt and miscomprehension is rife here. And speaking about Irish achievement in automobiles, Henry Ford and the DeLorean comes to mind.

          • 0 avatar
            VA Terrapin

            Henry Ford was American. His Irish ancestry makes Ford Motor Co. no more Celtic than Toyota or Volkswagen.

            As for DeLorean, if that’s the best a Celtic country can do, there isn’t much to say about automotive achievements from Celtic countries.

          • 0 avatar
            VA Terrapin

            CelticPete,TTAC has always been about all sorts of cars, not just sporty cars. Why why pick on Japan when American and European auto companies make plenty of “bland ecobiles?”

            If you really are of Celtic ancestry, and if you keep on bashing other nationalities’ automotive efforts, you should feel ashamed about what little Celtic countries have contributed to autos.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          The Afghans live in a rough environment, that is rough on cars. If there were some hidden mega reliable car out there that put the base Corolla (and HiLux) to shame, it would surely have replaced the ‘Yotas there by now. It can quite literally be a life or death situation there. And those boring ass contraptions just keep on running, and running, and running… Being just as rattly at year 30 as they were when new. Without any maintenance at all.

          Corollas are reliable as heck anywhere. Even in the US, it is (or at least was) the small car of choice for militia types and survivalists, that wanted to have a shot at staying mobile post armegeddon. One truck for when you need it’s capabilities, one Corolla for when you don’t.

          Other classes of Corolla buyers I’m aware of, are those that simply cannot stand how unreliable that darned Civic is….

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      Moparman – You still here? I can’t hold the door open all day…

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Obviously more always = better, but really a 4 speed automatic is perfectly suited for a car designed for an urban environment. Plus, the venerable Toyota 4 speed auto is quite robust.

    Adding another cog to the gearbox wouldn’t really do anything for a throwaway car like the Corolla except add cost.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m willing to bet most Corolla drivers don’t know how many speeds their gearbox has. The whining is all from the automotive press who cannot understand why people might possibly want a car just for transportation. Meanwhile, Toyota is laughing all the way to the bank.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        There you go. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      • 0 avatar
        PartsUnknown

        It’s possible that one of the reasons they don’t know/notice the number of gears is because it’s actually a pretty good gearbox, unobtrusive in its operation. My wife just bought a 2012 RAV4 4 cyl with the 4 speed auto, and I’ve been quite frankly amazed at the refinement of this powertrain. Shifts are almost imperceptible, and likely due to the low cog count, it downshifts readily. There is no CAFE-induced dithering, and no ridiculous upshifting into 6th gear (since there isn’t one!) when puttering around town.

        Sure, an extra gear or two would help fuel economy, but we get 28mpg on the highway and it’s only pulling 2500 rpm’s at 70 mph. All in all, it’s a pretty slick piece.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          I recall when the domestics used 4 speed transmissions in the early 2000′s and they were regularly derided for not being advanced against 5 speed Honda transmissions. So it is a bit rich for some of those same people to now defend Toyota using 4 speed transmissions.
          Also surely Toyota can build affordable, reliable 6 speed transmissions. Therefore making it irrelevant that the 4 speed is robust, otherwise that argument could be used for say wind down manual windows or other old tech.
          I would also expect Toyota to make significant fuel economy gains by moving to 6 speed (or CVT) transmissions. I recall Hyundai stating that when the new Elantra came out the move to a 6 speed aided mpg by 11%.

          • 0 avatar
            carlisimo

            We’re not defending the use of 4-speed automatics for commuting on well-maintained roads at 75mph… this is Afghanistan we’re talking about.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            How do you know it is ‘some of those same people’ that are content with their 4 speed Toyotas? I highly doubt that anyone that cared about ratio count a decade ago is championing less than 5 ratios now. I also recall that Hyundai got busted for making up their fuel economy figures for marketing purposes.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            Put that in context: the furriners were building better cars with better fuel economy in the heart of the midsize sedan market and other hot segments. A 5-speed auto would have helped Detroit defend itself but they were slow in reacting to the competitive threat.

            Here in the US, the Corolla, at least until recently, more than held its own with a 4-speed automatic. In a place like Afghanistan, the attributes of “reliable,” “durable,” “proven,” “easily repaired,” “parts readily available” and “mechanics familiar with it” count for much more than an extra couple mpg on expressways they don’t have.

            Here, the Corolla has been criticized for sticking with the 4-speed for some years, mostly because people are pretty sure that a good 5 or 6 speed could improve both the performance and fuel economy an already pretty good car.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          I test drove that RAV4 a few years back and was surprised at how good the 4 spd was. Seamless shifts, responsive downshifts, overall smooth operation. I’d still prefer 6 speeds for the flexibility, but the RAV4 was a prime example of a 4spd auto done right.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            As were the GM four speeds hooked up to series II 3800 V6. Shifts were damn nearly imperceptible.

          • 0 avatar
            Russycle

            I have a GM 4-speed hooked up to a 3.4 liter 6. It’s not much good for hooning, but for driving around town it’s terrific.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I had a GM 4-speed automatic hooked up to a BMW M50 inline-6. It shifted smoothly and was was always in the right gear. Unfortunately, it was replaced at 30,000 miles, at 60,000 miles, and we decided to sell the POS at 90,000 miles rather than waiting to be on the hook for the fourth GM transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        Yeah… Car Guy Syndrome.

        But the resourceful plebeian can use that bias as an excellent indicator of quality. When I hear “meh, vanilla, numb, boring” I know those words of Utter Disdain mean I should check it out.

        There’s enough passion and drama in life, don’t want it from my car.

        • 0 avatar
          thetopdog

          So why are you on a website that is dedicated to talking about cars?

          I totally understand how some people don’t care about cars. For these people a Corolla is perfect. But I don’t understand how someone could care so little about cars that they seek out “vanilla, numb, boring” cars but car enough about them to go out of their way to read and post on a site dedicated to cars

          • 0 avatar
            Oren Weizman

            Because the Corolla reliably does everything you want a car to do without Drama. Some people, especially in this economy, don’t need the drama in their lives to transpose to the road. I understand the Corolla clientelle and I can respect it because they aren’t car enthusiasts, they can collect guitars, knit or spend their days dirtbiking across the midwest, when it comes to the thrill in their lives, their car isn’t where they want the emotion to come from. It gets them from A-Z comfortably and when they want a new one, it’s cheap. I guess the Corolla is the modern equivalent of Corn Flakes, sure you could have Vector for a few cents more or even direct injected Captain Crunch … but nothing quite does it likes Corn Flakes for some people.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            @thetopdog

            Old cars, new practical cars grudgingly reviewed, car history, industry trends/global maneuverings, and ads with Jan, the Toyota lady (where are they lately?)

            This a unique knowledge base for things I *am* interested in. And I’m certainly not the only one, just the loudest.

          • 0 avatar

            A friend of mine is a great example; he’s a P.Eng, was on his Formula SAE team and lives and breathes cars. He drives a W-Body Impala. It’s cheap, practical for his needs and is suitable for the long highway drives he needs to get job sites in Northern Ontario. What you drive does not define who you are, and a boring car is not always the mark of someone who hates cars.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            Some of the Truths About Cars are:

            There’s big money involved.

            Not everybody wants a car that’s optimized for hooning, the strip or the track. Some of us just want to carry 3-4 people and a small amount of luggage around with relatively little fuss and lots of predictability.

            There’s a lot of money to be made catering to these people and Toyota’s doing a pretty good job of that, even in Afghanistan. This represents a lost opportunity for American car makers.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            “What you drive does not define who you are, and a boring car is not always the mark of someone who hates cars”

            Well put, Derek. I’ll go ahead and add that an interesting car is not always the mark of an interesting person, since there is some REAL confusion on that matter on the interwebs.

          • 0 avatar

            Sadly I find that there’s often an inverse relationship between how many internet carguy points one’s ride would score and how cool said owner is.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            True words Derek, I am very similar. I am a P.Eng, have been fixing cars since my dad let me out in the garage with him, fixed up a rusty beater for my first car, fixed insurance write-offs for my next two, and spend hours reading about why an inline six is “smooth”…and drive a 2002 Alero with 272 000 kms. I love cars, live and breath them, but my Alero is paid for, economical, and to date has been very reliable. I don’t allow it to define me, which is hard in Calgary, believe me.

          • 0 avatar

            I should have mentioned that my friend’s previous ride as an E30 325is complete with LSD rear end and some other goodies. Before that, a ’77 Marquis with a 460. One thing he and I share is a belief that there’s little glory in spending most of your time working on a temperamental car that looks cool/has a lot of cachet. I’d prefer to spend as much of my time as possible driving it. Hell, I’m at the point now where I am considering getting something pretty vanilla and satisfying my urge for speed with a motorcycle or a faster kart.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            @Oren Weizman

            Yeah…guitars. Mahogany Martins. With Marquis mediums, the best purely acoustic midrange and bottom there is IMHO.

          • 0 avatar
            CelticPete

            The problem with Corolla isn’t that it’s not a capable A to B vehicle. Its that the current one used capable but outdated technology. You could drive nearly any other ecobox and for the same money get a better experience.

            The corolla is picked in the states BECAUSE people aren’t aware of their options. Many people don’t even TEST DRIVE the new car before they buy it. They just walk to the Toyota dealership and walk out with Corolla.

            Now this is going to change with the New Corolla coming out. It seems Toyota does listen to the enthusiast crowd thats been picking on their cars because overall they pushing to make their cars more sporty up and down the lineup and to update their drivetrains.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        When General Motors does this, is it still a sign of their demise?

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          Maybe.

          If they build a car that’s nominally inferior and still sell it in volume, profitably, then there’s no problem.

          If they build a car that’s nominally inferior, put enough cash on the hood to lose money on every one and pray they can make the profit out of financing upside-down deals to people with credit scores that don’t even make triple digits then, yeah, they’ve got a problem.

        • 0 avatar
          VA Terrapin

          GM wised up and stopped offering archaic transmissions in new cars sold in America. Toyota’s continuation in offering a 4 speed auto in a Corolla indicates some kind of malaise that Toyota has problems shaking off.

          The continued reliance on the 4 speed transmission has turned what was once one of the more fuel efficient cars in its class into one of the less fuel efficient cars in its class right now. Toyota has relied increasingly on aggressive incentives and fleet sales to sell more cars including the Corolla. Toyota can’t continue to let its car in one of the biggest and most competitive segments fester with outdated technologies like a 4 speed transmission. The upcoming Corolla with a choice of a CVT or 6 speed manual transmission can’t come soon enough for Toyota.

      • 0 avatar
        CelticPete

        More gears gets you better MPG and better performance. If you want to call that ‘whining’ go ahead. But I’d call it progress.

        The automotive press serves an important function. They help you discover what cars to get because they get to test drive them extensively. The average consumer only gets an hour or two.

        I know this site is big on bashing the press. But actually they are invaluable – more so then ever. All cars are pretty reliable. So you want to know about the ergonomics, gas mileage and performance of a car. Most of them give you that kind of information.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Consumer Reports and Edmunds are sources of the information you mentioned. I’ve found that enthusiast press sources are so inconsistent and biased that my time would be far better spent actually test driving the cars and ignoring what they have written.

          • 0 avatar
            CelticPete

            Do not agree. Car and Driver and Road and Track are both excellent. Motor Trend – I don’t trust at all.

            The thing is with the enthusiast press you have to read what they say. They describe cars accurately – even if their conclusions weight something you might not care about.

            For example they liked the BMW 3 better then the ATS. But because its was bigger and more comfortable. You might not care about that – and want the car they rated as having better handling.

            Anyway I found them really accurate when I compared it to my real life driving experiences. Even the little things they say is usually bang on.

            Like they really liked the generic 2.0t Audi engine because it is flexible. But it doesn’t sound great and had some ‘off putting’ vibrations at low rpm. That’s bang on – after driving a car with that engine for 2000 miles.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Road & Track is dying from lack of advertisers. If they ever utter a critical word about a car it is because it is eating their advertisers’ lunch. Car and Driver is practically as bad. I think CR has jumped the shark too, probably just due to lack of talent.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            CelticPete,
            I agree that Motortrend is a more grievous sinner, but Car and Driver isn’t immune. You’re right that differing priorities between myself and their staff accounts for some of it. But from years of reading their road tests and comparos, I’ve seen too much inconsistency and shifting priorities.

            That they pulled long-standing emphasis away from handling in order to continue offering the 3 series first place status is a pretty good example. Good source of instrumented test numbers, though, and when they don’t go overboard their snarky writing style is concise, well crafted, and amusing.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          “More gears gets you better MPG and better performance.”

          This alone isn’t true. Its more accurate to say “More gears and intelligent shift algorithms/programming gets you better performance.” I had the opportunity to drive a 2011 4 cyl Escape for the better part of the month and the six speed was so busy shifting, it was never in the appropriate gear. I tried to drive frugally and fuel mileage was atrocious. The transmission was always a gear to high and the engine labored mightily. I actually found I had to really push it to get it to hold a gear, and the mileage actually improved. This however isn’t practical tooling around residential areas, and then you’re just back to it being a gear to high. And sadly, with no manual shift options (paddles or slapstick) and PRNDL, the driver has absolutely no say or ability to straighten it out.

          Honestly, my dad’s 97 Olds LSS, with the 3.8L and 4 speed AT/OD got similar or better fuel economy.

          • 0 avatar

            My friend’s Impala with the 3.5L V6 and the 4-speed can do an easy 33 mpg on the highway. I don’t know if the 3.6L/6-speed can do much better.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            8-speeds plus CAFE stupidity doesn’t equal better real world efficiency than half as many gears chosen based on engine characteristics.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Yeah, the 4T60/65E coupled to any of the torquey OHV GM V6s (but any series 3800 especially) generally tended to shift smoothly and attain reasonable fuel economy given the size of vehicles they were attached to. Lots of low punch to really use the available ratios, a decent overdrive gear (1800rpm or less cruising at 110 kph), and most of all, decent shift logic. My dad currently has a 97 Olds LSS and 92 Olds 98 Touring Sedan (supercharged Series 1 3800), and we as a family ahve gone through a few other Lesabres and 88s, and when I get a chance to drive them (usually after flying home for holidays) I always enjoy how well that engine/transmission combo performs. Its super chill driving.

            My dads old 92 LeSabre (the car I learned to drive in) had this sort of weird spring loaded resisting spot halfway through the accelerator pedals travel. When you pushed through this spot was when the engine decided to downshift. It made it very easy to use the torque and accelerate in high gear, or force it to kickdown. It was a very easy to control automatic. Sadly, non of my dads other 3800 equipped vehicles, (or any other automatic I have driven for that matter) had something similar.

    • 0 avatar

      Is it just me or is anything more than 5 speeds in an automatic just make for a busy and slipping feeling transmission in towns?

      Sis’s 6 speed BMW always makes me feel like its busier shifting going to 0-40 than is really necessary, or am I just used to the 3 speed trans in my Chevelle and the oodles of torque from the ‘massive’ 5 liter V8, and the equally ancient 4 speed in my ’95 Explorer and the adequate torque the 4.0 gives.

      • 0 avatar
        CelticPete

        It’s just you. With more gear ratios there is less shift shock because the gears are spaced closer together. Thus if you have a modern 8 or 9 speed gear shifter its quite smooth. A CVT is very smooth for this reason.

        But they will still hold a gear as you accelerate so you get that vroom vroom effect.

      • 0 avatar
        otaku

        For what it’s worth, I think even a five speed auto might be too many if it’s not paired with the right engine or calibrated properly.

        Just a few years back I found a pretty good deal on a slightly used 2008 Ford Focus SE coupe. It only had an ancient four-speed automatic, but I liked the way it drove, so I shook hands with the salesguy and cut a check.

        About a month later, my best friend purchaed a brand new ’09 Honda Civic LX coupe with the five-speed auto. In the last four years or so, we’ve each done quite a bit of driving and compared notes. Neither car will win any races, but the overall performance and fuel economy were pretty damn comparable and there were no mechanical problems encountered with either vehicle. For me, the real difference was how much “busier” the Honda’s 5-speed auto felt. Maybe because the 1.8L doesn’t put out quite as much torque as my Ford’s two-liter, or because the Honda engine’s torque peak is a little higher up in the rev range, it seemed to require a lot more shifts in normal driving. I also noticed how much more often it needed to kickdown to either fourth (or sometimes third) gear to adequately ascend hills during highway driving.

        My friend let me drive it a few times and it just never felt as refined in everyday commuting as my Focus. Feel free to take my anecdote with a grain of salt, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a cardinal sin for any automatic if you can’t drive it smoothly.

        • 0 avatar
          CelticPete

          Honda makes a great stick – but awful automatics. Hence the switch to CVT. I bet they are buying it from someone else..

          It’s not gears > anything. You can have a 4 speed thats better then a 5 speed. But more gears give the transmission better potential.

          Drive one of the German cars with the 8 speed auto. Its very nice. However the 7 speed PDK is probably the best transmission in the world.

          • 0 avatar
            otaku

            I guess there are a lot of factors that affect how an automatic transmission operates under normal driving conditions, such as the number of cogs, gear ratios, final drive ratio, vehicle curb weight, etc. Then, of course, there’s the torque characteristics of the engine to take into account.

            All I know is that the few times I drove my friend’s Honda Civic, it almost always managed to be in the wrong gear. Whenever I wanted it to hold onto a lower gear for better acceleration, it would upshift. When I was trying to just drive smooth and save some gas, it seemed to hesitate before finally allowing a rough feeling shift to the next higher gear; almost like it was fighting me. Pretty sure my friend grew tired of it too, since he recently traded up on a new CVT-equipped Altima.

            I don’t really see any Hondas in my future, but if I were ever forced to drive one of them again, I’m pretty sure I would opt for a stick.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I drive an 8-speed Audi. It was nice when it was brand new. After a year and 15,000 miles, it is a busy, stumbling embarrassment. A drive in our 9 year old Acura TSX 5-speed automatic makes its shifting look that much worse. On the other hand, our 2012 CR-V 5-speed automatic has WIDELY spaced gears that are almost as annoying as the Audi ZF’s 8-speeds. But it really isn’t that small of an almost.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I have issues with high-revving Hondas engines in general (although they did a great job on the 2013 “Earth Dreams” Accord). I think I might be a diesel man…

        • 0 avatar
          Russycle

          When I was shopping for my Element we test drove a 5-speed auto, I was very impressed with how nicely it behaved. Could be the added torque of the 2.4 liter is more slushbox-friendly than the Civic’s 1.8.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        ::Is it just me::

        Yes. Those new-fangled BMWs your sister drives may feel busier, but they operate smoother and are far more often in the right gear, from my experience. And that’s true even on cars with oodles of torque. I never had anything positive to say about automatics in the past, but they’re far better than they used to be.

        It wasn’t that long ago that the Corolla had a 3-speed.

      • 0 avatar
        W.Minter

        Same with me. In heavy semi-crawling city traffic an AT6 can be quite irritating, so many hearable and feelable shifts. Even worse with a low power Diesel. Nothing beats the smoothness of a CVT oder eCVT.

    • 0 avatar
      VA Terrapin

      Today’s cars aren’t throwaways. The average car these days can easily last past 100,000 miles without catastrophic problems while returning a better blend of comfort, safety, fuel economy and performance than cars in the past.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    On further thought, if the Afghani cabbies are like the ones in a Middle Eastern country I had occasion to visit some years ago, I’ll bet they do favor the stick shift. The stick is essential to their driving style.

    Typically, the cabbie would take off and accelerate hard to a very high rate of speed – possibly in excess of Mach 1, as they didn’t seem to be able to hear me screaming in the back – and then they’d bury the clutch, switch off, shove the stick to neutral and “glide” as far as possible. Naturally, use of the brakes would be counter-productive so, in lieu of turning valuable kinetic energy into waste heat, they’d veer into the oncoming lane when our lane was blocked. When it was inevitable that the engine would be needed, they’d stick it in gear and pop the clutch to restart, saving wear and tear on the starter motor.

    Lesson learned: Always carry extra shorts.

    • 0 avatar
      schmitt trigger

      My son went to Egypt a few years back (Before Tahrir Square).

      His description of cab driving exactly matches yours. You only forgot to mention that the car horn is used more frequently than the brakes.

  • avatar
    redliner

    The truth is that for casual everyday driving, the four speed auto is fine. It’s design is very robust and reliable, relatively simple to service as automatics go, and inexpensive to produce. It even returns decent fuel economy. What else do you want in a car destined for harsh operating environments?

    Speaking of automatics, AUWM has a fascinating article on automatic transmissions. I especially liked the Buick “hydraulic CVT” idea from the 50s.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d say the 4 speed is perfect for anything 0-70mph, after that an extra gear or two would be nice, or a nicely spaced 5 speed.

      The 6+ speed automatics are in such a damned hurry to get to the highest gear by 50mph that they feel like they are slipping to me and makes it feel like my old Chevelle does when the carb has a bad accelerator pump.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      4 speeds work well when the power:weight ratio of the car is decent. I actually don’t mind them in, say, midsize sedans with more refined 4-cylinder engines that have a bit of low-end pull.

      I don’t like them in small sub-2.0 liter cars because you have to wind up the loud little engine across wide ratios to keep pace with traffic leaving the stoplight. Downshifting isn’t pleasant either. Six speeds seemed like a very appropriate number for the Ford Fiesta I’ve driven.

      • 0 avatar
        CelticPete

        Heck 3 speeds will work. Why when you spend 30k on a new car do you care about what works. You care about what works the best.. There is a reason transmissions are moving to mutiple gears/cvt. It’s smoother, faster and gets better gas mileage.

  • avatar
    ByTheLake

    Since the subject “Afghanistan” is singular, the title should read “Afghanistan Loves Its 4-Speed Automatics”. If you’re intent on using the “their”, perhaps you can switch to a plural subject and go with “Afghanis Loves Their 4-Speed Automatics”.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      Author must have been influenced by the English, who have totally lost control of using the proper agreement of subject and verb in their very own language. As in: “Manchester United ARE the best football side.” Whereas, we colonials would say: “Manchester United IS a totally overrated soccer team.”

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        They’ve used that plural where we’d use singular forever regarding corporations, sports teams and the like. Makes sense if you consider the collection of interacting individuals that actually make up the monolithic singular entity that we seem to focus on.

        Me, I like it but I’m an Anglophile 5 days out of 7.

      • 0 avatar

        Growing up a hockey fan in Detroit, watching Hockey Night In Canada and listening to Canadian play by play and color commentators on Red Wings games, I got used to hearing “Detroit are playing a good game tonight”. Eh?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Besides ox carts, MRAPS, HUMVEES and Abrams tanks, I didn’t think they had cars in Afghanistan.

    Has anyone ever seen a gas station in any of the footage they show on TV?

  • avatar
    threeer

    Corolla…”we’re #1 in VBIED!”

    Actually, on most FOBs, you see Toyota Hilux friggin’ everywhere. It’s all I drove while I was there.

    Toyota must love conflict zones…

    • 0 avatar
      morbo

      This

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_War

      I read that in recent(est?) Libya conflict, the rebels/freedomfighters/islamists/AlQueda/NextEnemy/NextAlly wre driving mostly Great Wall trucks, with a smattering of Nissans and Hilux’s. Apparently they hated the Great Wall’s, and Hilux’s were used by the lead vehicle, since it could handle the job unlike the Great Walls.

      • 0 avatar
        carlisimo

        Any chance you’ve got a link? I remember articles saying Great Walls were taking over, but I haven’t seen any from later than that (i.e. all the articles I saw, and can find now, portrayed Great Walls in a good light). I totally believe you, but I’d love to show those stories to some of my friends.

        • 0 avatar
          morbo

          Here’s a similar one that i saw

          http://www.chinacartimes.com/2011/03/are-chinese-trucks-replacing-the-mighty-hilux-as-the-truck-of-choice-for-rebel-groups/

          • 0 avatar
            schmitt trigger

            As the article you linked clearly states, Toyota was valued because of its overall ruggedness and simple, easy to fix powertrains.

            The Chinese are starting to copy that recipe……

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Volvo had it first, and now with Volvo under Chinese ownership, the circle is complete.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      KAF was like little America…SUVs with one person piloting them while sipping Green Beans Coffee were the norm.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Mkirk..compared to the rest of the FOBs in OEF, KAF was like going to Disneyland or something. Never will forget the feeling of watching hockey…in a warzone…while sipping on Green Beans! Good times…good times. BAF is just another story entirely…

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So in a country where the Russians blew it up to rubble, and then in a civil war they blew up the rubble into smaller pieces of rubble, and then the Taliban rearranged the rubble, and then the US came in blew up the small pieces of rubble into dust, they like the Corolla.

    Thanks for letting us know that the Afghan people have moved on from ox carts and that Corollas can negotiate rubble – when not being used for car bombs.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    The actual number of gears is not much of an indication of efficiency.
    A better yardstick is the number of miles-per-hour x 1000 rpm in the highest gear. Doesn’t even matter if that gear is technically an “overdrive” (that is, a reduction gear from a normal 1×1 final drive.)
    An efficient final drive rate for a 4 (or 5, 6, or 8) cylinder motor is usually somewhere around 28 mph per 1000 rpm, or higher. The Corolla automatic just qualifies.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      That’s not a measure of efficency because the gear spacing will be too large. Plus if you just stick a really high gear in your car you have to downshift for the slightest hill to maintain your speed.

      What you want is a large spread between the lowest and highest gears – but also you want alot of gears so the jump between each gear isn’t to large. Its the large gap that creates the shift shock. ANd you want your gears to shift quickly.

      Hence you can see the move towards more gears. Its just dumb to argue otherwise. Human beings on bikes are like very low torque motors. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that a cruiser with 1 gear or 3 isn’t as effective as a 21 speed for traversing long distances efficently.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The extra gears in transmissions these days are mostly for marketing hype. The gains in MPG are minimal.

    When I test-drove a Dart 6-speed manual, I found I was shifting all the time. A 5-speed would have been a lot nicer.

    My 01 Elantra has a 4-speed auto, and still delivers decent performance and mileage at 190k miles. Used ones are a dime a dozen. I’m sure the Afghanis wouldn’t want to pay for repairs on more exotic transmissions.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Is a 5 speed exotic? I am sure the same argument was made 30 years ago when 3 speeds were being superseded by 4 speeds.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        No, but the CVTs and dual clutch 6 speeds becoming more common are.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        ‘more exotic’ was my term. In Afghanistan, evidently 5-speed automatics are just that.

        The performance characteristics of an internal combustion engine and people’s driving habits mean that high gear counts merely add expense and complexity without meaningful improvements. Personally, I think 5 gears (manual or automatic) seem like the ideal match for an ICE.

        FWIW, I’m enjoying the 1-speed in the Leaf. :)

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        30 years ago you could have bought a new s10 with a 5 speed, pretty sure you could still get 3 speeds until the early 2000s

        Thus I have to agree 6 speeds are all hype unless your towing.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I had a 3-speed Diplomat and I would have LOVED another gear. OD is very nice to have.

      Really, the 3-speed is why I sold the car.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      My 6-speed MINI was the same way. Give me a close-ratio 5-speed with an uber tall 6-th gear for cruising please. I promise not to whine about downshifting on the hills.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The real question is, how do the Afghanis feel about the real man’s 4 speed auto the 4L80E?

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    This is one indication that grousing about the number of forward gears in your compact sedan’s transmission is a First World problem. I’ll consider myself fortunate that the problems in my life are so few and far between that I can spend time on an internet board discussing why 6 gears is better than 4!

  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    No doubt the popularity of the Toyota Hilux with the Taliban (preferably Canadian built) has a brand halo effect on sedan choices, and distribution channel inroads.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Gotta love how we liberate other countries so they can democratically buy non-American cars.

    • 0 avatar
      VA Terrapin

      How many Afghans and Iraqis asked America to liberate them? If someone does something “for your own good,” that doesn’t mean you have to appreciate what they’re doing.

      When you buy a mainstream American car, you buy lots of foreign engineering and/or manufacturing. The Cruze is a federalized Daewoo Lacetti. GM midsize and large FWD car platforms are from Opel. The Chrysler 300 and some Impalas are built in Canada. The Fusion is built in Mexico. Lots of engineering for the Focus was done by Germany. The Chrysler 200 platform is co-developed with Mitsubishi and the 4 cylinder engine co-developed with Hyundai. The Dodge Dart uses an enlarged version of the platform used in the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

      If the Detroit Three goes out of its way to outsource engineering and manufacturing from America, why should anyone care if their next car is American?

  • avatar
    cRaCk hEaD aLLeY

    Anyone knows what is the current price of a new Corolla, in Afghanistan?
    http://www.aaltoyota.com/Default.asp?SectionID=167

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Having driven on Afghan roads I will point out that the top gear is irrelevant because A: The roads are not in the condition to allow use of the top gear very often and B: on the road that would allow you to get to speed to allow use of the top gear you are always stopping at checkpoint so you don’t get going too fast.

    Incidentally I saw a ton of these Corollas. Many of them were lifted a couple inches so that should tell you all you need to know about the roads.

    Anyway, most of these started life in some other country, got wrecked, put back together, and sold in Afghanistan. If they are rolling in a new Toyota it is likely a Government person in a Hilux or 70 Series Land Cruiser. The average Afghani I knew of was more interested in the health of his goats vs how many gears his car had, assuming he had a car, or electricity.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “Having driven on Afghan roads I will point out that the top gear is irrelevant”

      That’s true in a lot of the developing world. In some countries, even some of the BRICs, you will struggle to get above 60 kph in routine driving and will rarely get above 80 kph in most typical driving scenarios.

    • 0 avatar
      ToyotaSlave

      I agree. Having lived in a BRIC country before, it’s a rare occurence a car can go beyond 100 km/hr or 55-60 mph. Unless you’re driving at 2-4 a.m.
      The roads are not 100% smooth as well (perhaps in certain locations), so anybody living there would prefer something easily maintained (suspension, shock, dummy electronics).
      Since emission regulation is relaxed in these places, there are some people who would use these cars for 10+ years. Rust being no issue, there is not many brands that can last long in there.
      I would agree with people saying that Toyota is selling based on its (past – perhaps?) reputation there.
      In addition, I’m confused as I thought Afghans would prefer to buy a manual, instead of automatic (just based on economic reasons – and yes, I’m making an assumption here).

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Funniest thing I saw car related..an older 4Runner crusing around BAF…with a license plate from…wait for it…California! Some dude in Cali probably would love to know where his stolen truck wound up.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    They like that Toyota Fortunner, or whatever it is as well.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    So this is where all the high-mileage frame-damaged and TMU wrecks from the Imperial Night auction in Orlando end up…

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    @Russcyle: If your 3.4/4 speed combo is anything like my 3.1/4 speed combo, the engine runs out of RPMs so fast you don’t even notice the end of gears.

    Try to keep it going down the highway and the engine seems to just fall flat on its face because the super-restrictive heads/intake manifold/exhaust manifold and crap cam make for a garbage powerband.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Like I said, it’s no hooner. The motor’s torquey enough to make normal driving reasonably pleasant. I always get a chuckle out of the speedo, which goes to 150. Talk about a waste of dashboard real estate, those boys at Pontiac sure had a sense of humor.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Here’s a comparison chart of the 3100 versus the 3400 for you to draw conclusions from:

      http://oi44.tinypic.com/2w74ay9.jpg

      I’m personally not a fan of that entire engine family.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Only real problem is that GM’s only major advancement during its lifespan was changing from carburetion to fuel injection.

        No attempt at a SOHC 60V6, no update of the DOHC 3400 for more power, nothing. At least the Buick 3.8 actually did get some genuine improvements during its lifespan.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Despite the constant put downs of this car, I am noticing a lot of young people with limited resources and who rather spend their money having fun and going out, driving these boring, appliances. I guess to them getting there is NOT half the fun,

  • avatar
    Jacob

    For a car to be popular in Afghanistan, it has to be reliable and relatively low cost. I can see why a Corolla with 4AT would fit the bill. 4-speed AT is an old 90s technology. Toyota by now probably has figured out how to build it inexpensively and highly reliably, and all of the R&D expenses had been recouped years ago. So, it’s not surprising Afghans prefer to take the 4AT over MT.


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