The Truth About Cars » Corolla http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 31 Aug 2015 17:30:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Corolla http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Toyota Wants $500 From Canadian Owners To Fix Odometers (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-wants-500-canadian-owners-fix-odometers-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-wants-500-canadian-owners-fix-odometers-video/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 20:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1155522 Owners of some Toyota cars in Canada say that the Japanese automaker is asking them to foot the bill for replacement odometers due to a glitch that won’t allow the gauges to roll over after 299,999 kilometers, CTV is reporting (via AutoFocus). The glitchy odometers are found in 2003-2008 Toyota Matrix and Corolla models, and […]

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Toyota Odometer Stuck

Owners of some Toyota cars in Canada say that the Japanese automaker is asking them to foot the bill for replacement odometers due to a glitch that won’t allow the gauges to roll over after 299,999 kilometers, CTV is reporting (via AutoFocus).

The glitchy odometers are found in 2003-2008 Toyota Matrix and Corolla models, and some 2004 and 2005 Toyota Prius models.

There are a few videos on YouTube of people expecting to hit 300,000, but they never do.

We reached out to a Toyota spokesman in the U.S. but haven’t heard back. According to the CTV report, Toyota is replacing the odometer but asking owners to pay for the replacement (for now).

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Chevrolet Nova Sedan, Wisconsin Rust Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/junkyard-find-1986-chevrolet-nova-sedan-wisconsin-rust-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/junkyard-find-1986-chevrolet-nova-sedan-wisconsin-rust-edition/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 12:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1151025 Every summer, I go to Wisconsin to stay in a cabin on Lake Michigan owned by my wife’s family. Mostly I’m rendered too immobile by excessive cheese curd and cured-meat consumption to do much junkyard exploring, but this trip I managed to hit Green Bay to check out a self-service yard full of very rusty […]

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00 - 1986 Chevy Nova Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

Every summer, I go to Wisconsin to stay in a cabin on Lake Michigan owned by my wife’s family. Mostly I’m rendered too immobile by excessive cheese curd and cured-meat consumption to do much junkyard exploring, but this trip I managed to hit Green Bay to check out a self-service yard full of very rusty and/or late-model Detroit inventory. Among all the 9-year-old Malibus and endless stretches of Buicks in the GM section, I spotted this NUMMI-built Nova.
09 - 1986 Chevy Nova Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

I grew up in the East Bay where NUMMI was (and Teslas are built today), and I visited the plant numerous times when it was producing Novas and Corollas, so I always get a little nostalgic moment when I see this sticker under a junkyard car’s hood.

04 - 1986 Chevy Nova Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

This one doesn’t have many miles, by Corolla standards (the 1985-88 Nova was an AE82 Toyota Corolla/Sprinter behind its Chevy badges), but it has the kind of rust you expect on old Japanese cars in the rusty Upper Midwest.

17 - 1986 Chevy Nova Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

I think I would not feel comfortable trusting the integrity of the suspension mounting points in this car.

11 - 1986 Chevy Nova Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

The good old 4A engine, one of the all-time Toyota legends.

06 - 1986 Chevy Nova Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

In this series so far, we’ve seen a fair number of NUMMI-built cars, including this ’87 Nova hatchback, this ’87 Nova sedan, this ’92 Prizm, this ’87 Corolla FX16, and this ’88 Nova sedan (not to mention this hyper-rare ’90 Prizm GSi), which reminds me that it’s about time I started shooting some junked NUMMI-made Pontiac Vibes now that those cars are getting so easy to find in the self-service yards.

Reading the list of standard features on a new Chevy Nova can get pretty boring.

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Hammer Time: Is Scion The New Geo? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/hammer-time-scion-new-geo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/hammer-time-scion-new-geo/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 12:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1138522 Imagine if you will. The world’s largest and most consistently successful automaker is in deep trouble. Not because of profits, but because of products. They build a small car… and a small army of overseas competitors blow it away. They build a bigger vehicle, and another, and yet another. They build so many models with […]

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geo1

Imagine if you will.

The world’s largest and most consistently successful automaker is in deep trouble. Not because of profits, but because of products.

Chevrolet-Cavalier-1982They build a small car… and a small army of overseas competitors blow it away.

They build a bigger vehicle, and another, and yet another. They build so many models with so many names and variations that they wind up cannibalizing their own products. Every time this happens, they lose sales and more alarmingly, their youngest customers no longer see their products as fashionable.

Every year it gets worse. Then the corporate mothership, which has cost cut their way into the rear view mirror of most of their future customers, comes up with a brilliant marketing idea.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em — at least for right now.

That was the General Motors of the 1980s. After a mind numbing streak of marketplace losers (Chevette, Sprint, Citation, Omega, T1000, Skyhawk, Cimmaron, Sunbird), GM, under the ever watchful accounting driven gazes of its CEO, Roger Smith, decided that it was time to let imports fight imports. This fight would take place inside Chevy dealerships which were foolishly asked to market a new sub-brand that would compete with higher margin products which already represented the ‘real’ GM metal.

The new brand — Geo — was launched with a mandatory display area (usually in some God forsaken corner of the showroom) for those dealerships that wanted to carry a brand which was all about “Getting to know you.”

First they offered the Geo Prizm. This had been a Toyota in drag which had been marketed as a Chevy Nova during its pre-Geo run. Besides the annual humiliation of having GM’s highest quality plant and product be driven by Toyota know-how, the Nova had also been a sales flop despite the world-class Toyota underpinnings.

Prices were high, dealer margins were minimal, and the commercials? Like an aspiring Yuppie on speed.

The Prizm was followed by the Geo Tracker, which was a Suzuki Sidekick emblazoned with a new Geo logo that, strangely enough, had a bow-tie on the steering wheel — just in case the customers were wondering if it was a real American car, which it wasn’t.

The Geo Metro was next. Although this would turn out to be among the most popular models for gas sippers, tree huggers, rental car companies, and unrepentatnt cheapskates frugal zealots, it didn’t have as strong of a retail presence as many of today’s auto enthusiasts would imagine. The car was flimsy with a new car price to boot, and the acceleration with an automatic was just plain atrocious.

GM needed something, really anything, that would stand out. So what did they do?

They created a joint venture on a sporty coupe — with a company that had zero success in selling sporty coupes.

Sound familiar? It should for those who have followed the recent Scion FR-S. In GM’s case, the Isuzu Impulse, which even came with a Lotus tuned suspension to emphasize handling, was re-homologated into a Geo Storm.

It lasted one generation. The Prizm would last two generations as a Geo, and then would get pulverized into a fine red mist once GM pulled the plug and tried to make it a Chevy. The same with the Metro and the Tracker.

Come to think of it, nobody is quite sure what happened to the Tracker. But rumor has it that the model got eaten by a horde of obese cannibals disguised as Chevy Blazers.

This brings us to the Geo of 2015: Scion.

Like Geo, Scion was initially marketed to the young and youthful in a way that would make middle-aged and older people feel good about their ‘youthful’ purchase. Too bad the advertising was a cacophony of fake special effects and hip-hop fashionistas who apparently were told to display themselves instead of the car.

You think I’m kidding? Well this time, I’m being brutally blunt. On a press launch for the Lexus CT200h back in 2009, the marketing head for that project had also been in charge of launching the Scion brand in the United States. When I asked him why the CT200h didn’t launch as a Scion I was told, “Scion was never marketed as a brand for young people. It was intended to attract people at a specific price range.”

I immediately thought, “Well, okay. I never knew buyers in the $15,000 to $18,000 price hung around college campuses and went to death metal concerts.”

And that to me is the core part of Scion’s failure as a brand — it’s a cannibal. All cannibal sub-brands die in the car business because the core brand is too important to be seriously challenged. As sure as old four-door Geo Metros got recycled into Chinese washing machines, Scion became a poor excuse for Toyota not better supporting their Y2K-era Corolla against the compacts, and last generation Celicas against the sports coupes.

After 10 years of Toyota customers getting to know a slew of Scions, one thing is clear.

Scion only got launched because Toyota decontented their products and ignored the fact that a brand only becomes ‘boring’ when their products no longer cater to the emerging niches and interests within the industry.

Those new cars and new technologies need the Toyota brand. Scion is a mistake.

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, Spray-Foam Rust-Repair Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/junkyard-find-1984-toyota-corolla-hatchback-spray-foam-rust-repair-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/junkyard-find-1984-toyota-corolla-hatchback-spray-foam-rust-repair-edition/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1074322 Let’s follow up 21st Century Junkyard Find Week and Volkswagen Junkyard Find Week with Rusty Junkyard Find week, shall we? On Tuesday, we saw this ’83 Toyota pickup with not-so-effective fiberglass-and-Bondo cover-up-the-rust-and-hope-it-goes-away repairs, and today we’ll be looking at a thoroughly used-up Corolla with similar squeeze-another-few-months-out-of-this-heap repairs done by someone who knew he or she […]

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14 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLet’s follow up 21st Century Junkyard Find Week and Volkswagen Junkyard Find Week with Rusty Junkyard Find week, shall we? On Tuesday, we saw this ’83 Toyota pickup with not-so-effective fiberglass-and-Bondo cover-up-the-rust-and-hope-it-goes-away repairs, and today we’ll be looking at a thoroughly used-up Corolla with similar squeeze-another-few-months-out-of-this-heap repairs done by someone who knew he or she would be the vehicle’s last owner.
43 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAmericans didn’t much like the look of the AE82 Corolla hatchback, although we bought a fair number of its NUMMI-built Chevy Nova siblings.
51 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDoes this rust mean that important structural components are likely to fail soon? You bet!
32 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo close to that magical 300,000-mile mark, but another 38,868 miles in this hooptie would have been pretty miserable.
36 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEven if the structure held together, there is no quantity or type of air freshener that could cover the stench of the fast-food-detritus-and-bodily-fluids-caked interior of this car.
13 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPlus it’s a real hassle to have a hatchback with a nonfunctional hatch.
09 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCrab Spirits is sure to find inspiration about this Corolla’s previous owner via the large number of stickers on the back glass. For example, he or she was a fan of Propaganda E-Liquid.
10 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis retailer of smoking accessories also gets a shout-out on the Corolla’s rear glass.
47 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou could get a diesel version of this car, but few did. Wikipedia editors believe that the 4A-LC engine was sold only in Australia, Switzerland, and Sweden, but you’ll see plenty of these two-digit-horsepower cockroaches in US-market Corollas.

US-market ads for Corollas and their kin seldom employed the word “sexy.”

San Franciscans— hundreds of them, lining the streets— doubted that the ’84 Corolla sedan could do anything.

John Davidson pitched a special New Zealand version of this car.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1982-toyota-corolla-liftback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1982-toyota-corolla-liftback/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=830849 It has become a Corolla Junkyard Find week, with this ’78 Corolla wagon on Monday and this skateboarder-enhanced ’98 Corolla LE sedan yesterday, so I’m going to keep the streak going with today’s find: a Late Malaise Era (yes, I invented the term) E-72 Corolla liftback, which I found late last year in Northern California. […]

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11 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIt has become a Corolla Junkyard Find week, with this ’78 Corolla wagon on Monday and this skateboarder-enhanced ’98 Corolla LE sedan yesterday, so I’m going to keep the streak going with today’s find: a Late Malaise Era (yes, I invented the term) E-72 Corolla liftback, which I found late last year in Northern California.
12 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYou can tell when a junkyard car wasn’t towed away for unpaid tickets, because it will still have the keys. This was probably a trade-in at a sketchy used-car lot.
08 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinMost cars don’t rust in California, but Malaise Era Toyotas find a way. This car might have lived by the beach in San Francisco for a while, though not long enough to look like this terrifyingly salty ’84 Space Van.
01 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior doesn’t look too bad here.
02 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinJust 69,000 miles? That suggests a blown head gasket followed by 20 years of storage in a driveway.
03 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 3T-C engine made just 70 horses, but they were reliable horses.

Come on!

The early 1980s were the pinnacle of the “Oh, what a feeling!” era for Toyota ads.

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Junkyard Find: 1998 Toyota Corolla LE, New Jersey Skater Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1998-toyota-corolla-le-new-jersey-skater-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1998-toyota-corolla-le-new-jersey-skater-edition/#comments Tue, 27 May 2014 13:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=830505 After yesterday’s Corolla Junkyard Find, it seemed right to follow up with another, newer, Corolla. You know how you can tell when you’re a car’s final owner? Such was the case with the final owner of this much-abused Corolla, who drove his or her Corolla a couple thousand miles west, no doubt to be where […]

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12 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAfter yesterday’s Corolla Junkyard Find, it seemed right to follow up with another, newer, Corolla. You know how you can tell when you’re a car’s final owner? Such was the case with the final owner of this much-abused Corolla, who drove his or her Corolla a couple thousand miles west, no doubt to be where cannabis is legal.
09 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis sort of paint job attracts a lot of attention from members of the law-enforcement community, especially when the driver looks like this guy or maybe even this guy.
15 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe house-paint-and-rattle-can-graffiti look also tends to enrage neighbors, which increases the chances that the car will get parking tickets and then get towed away by The Man when those tickets aren’t paid.
08 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe drive out from New Jersey probably featured a lot of E.Town Concrete on the stereo.
03 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJudging from all the stickers and tags on the car, the owner must have been a big fan of Creature skateboards.
04 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMany Eastcrust stickers as well.
25 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou see many of these Grenade Gloves stickers on various mud-splattered SUVs and final-owner hoopties in Denver. They’ve become quite commonplace in junkyards, maybe even more so than ICP Hatchetman stickers these days.
13 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOdds are that this car’s first owner was a rental-car company, as is the case with so many Corolla LEs.

Or perhaps the original owner came from this Buick-like demographic.

It’s hard to imagine any car company being willing to torpedo their wholesome image with a song from the notoriously drug-addled Sly and the Family Stone back during the band’s heyday. What’s next, Iggy Pop selling Cadillacs?

OK, now we need some of Sly’s yodeling, from an era when cities were burning, bombs were dropping, and shit was getting crazier every day.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1978-toyota-corolla-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1978-toyota-corolla-wagon/#comments Mon, 26 May 2014 13:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=830033 The third-gen Corolla was the car that made Toyota in the Unites States; you saw the occasional Corona or Celica and maybe a rare Crown once in a while before the mid-70s, but the 1974-79 Corolla was the first Toyota that sold in sufficient quantity to make the marque an everyday sight on American streets. […]

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20 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe third-gen Corolla was the car that made Toyota in the Unites States; you saw the occasional Corona or Celica and maybe a rare Crown once in a while before the mid-70s, but the 1974-79 Corolla was the first Toyota that sold in sufficient quantity to make the marque an everyday sight on American streets. These cars rusted fast east of the Rockies and— once they got to be 15 or so years old— weren’t worth fixing when they got ugly in the non-rusty parts of the country. That makes them fairly rare in junkyards today; in this series so far, we’ve seen this ’76 Corolla liftback and this ’74 Corolla two-door, and that’s about it prior to today’s find.
11 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMost cars don’t rust much in single-digit-humidity Colorado, but these cars were very eager oxidizers.
23 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe High Plains sun is hard on paint.
13 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 75-horse 2T-C engine was a sturdy, if noisy, pushrod unit.
15 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAir-conditioning was a rare option on these cars, because frugal buyers of gas-sippers didn’t mind a little sweat. I’ll bet it felt like someone pulling the parking brake when you activated the cold air in this car.
05 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis looks like an aftermarket setup.
03 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRear defrost! Rear wiper! Even most Country Squire owners didn’t get that stuff!

This ad was hitting Chrysler below the belt.

Didn’t Lee Iacocca use the “if you can find a better car, buy it” line a few years later?

01 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Capsule Review: 2014 Toyota Corolla S Plus CVT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/capsule-review-2014-toyota-corolla-s-plus-cvt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/capsule-review-2014-toyota-corolla-s-plus-cvt/#comments Tue, 06 May 2014 15:12:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=815874 “Are you interested in our Thousand Dollar Test Drive raffle?” the saleslady eagerly asked. A row of new Corollas beckoned at the front of the lot; their freshly redesigned maws were hungry for customers.   The car I wound up driving is not the one in the pictures, but this showroom model is exactly the same […]

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“Are you interested in our Thousand Dollar Test Drive raffle?” the saleslady eagerly asked. A row of new Corollas beckoned at the front of the lot; their freshly redesigned maws were hungry for customers. 

 The car I wound up driving is not the one in the pictures, but this showroom model is exactly the same sans a color change. A combination of threatening weather, pollen, and lens glare prevented me from getting any decent shots of the one on the lot. Just as well, because I greatly prefer this car’s red to the other’s less flashy silver metallic. Even if the redesign turns out to be too adventurous for Toyota’s more conservative customers, I’m a fan. The 17” wheels of the S Plus are harmonious with the car’s overall proportions, and unlike the refreshed Camry there’s no DLO fail in the rear side windows. I will say that the racy elegance of the piano black front grille with chrome surround on the S doesn’t translate well into the cheaper trims. On those, you get a wide swath of “I’m poor” unpainted plastic, much like the unfortunate snout of the Chevrolet SS.

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 The interior is the single greatest area of improvement over the old car. Grab the dash, and you can tell that there’s a greater level of solidity in its construction. Luxurious isn’t the word I’d use to describe it, but everything is in easy-to-use good taste. The piano black and painted silver complement the overall cockpit ambiance without feeling cheesy or me-too. The dash felt high to me, but no worse than most other cars on the market right now. The back-up camera kicks on automatically, but I still prefer the rear window: visibility is reasonable but not great.  At 6’ 2” I had no problem getting comfortable and ready to roll.

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 Speaking of comfort, the seats were the best part of the entire car for me. The lumbar support felt great on my aching, recently operated-on back, and the bottom cushion was supportive but not too firm. I didn’t need to use the orthopedic pad I’ve been dragging around with me, and felt fine throughout my test drive. The six-way mechanical adjustment mechanism was great, especially the up-down function. In short, these seats completely outclass the previous-generation car, my xA, the Focus, the Altima, and pretty much anything else I can think of. If you do a lot of freeway driving and are contemplating a car at around this price and size, the Corolla deserves your consideration for those seats alone.

 The version of Toyota’s Entune infotainment system gave me no problems in my brief experimentation with it. It was easy to Bluetooth sync an Iphone 4 and make a long-distance call, which the recipient had no trouble understanding. I didn’t have any songs on that phone so I couldn’t test the music sync, but the menus were easy to understand. The stereo came through loud and clear- no complaints there. The voice-command system employs a training function that adjusts to the driver with time, so it’s difficult to get a feel for it during a short drive. As a millennial that spends a shockingly small amount of time playing with his phone while driving, I have no complaints regarding anything infotainment-related.

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 The only true negatives to the interior are in the back, but they don’t cancel out the strengths of the front. The rear seats don’t fold flat, and the trunk pass-through is disappointingly narrow. I didn’t have enough room to avoid hitting my head on the headliner, which didn’t surprise me: compact car back seats are rarely my friend. Even so, legroom was more than adequate and therefore should be good for just about anyone who isn’t an NBA center.  The biggest gripe I had was the totally flimsy and destined-to-break collapsible rear cup holder. I would rather sacrifice a small amount of center console room to get one or two molded cup holders, especially given the fact that in many cases rear-seat occupants are likely to be children. A couple toddler kicks is all it will take to bust off that chintzy fold-up mechanism. Another more trivial complaint: the map pocket on the back of the passenger seat is unlined. Instead of durable pleather, it’s some type of clingy foam material which felt thoroughly unpleasant on my hand. There’s also the annoying lack of a rear-seat coathook by the grab handle, a useful feature I have utilized in my xA countless times. What are you supposed to do with your dry-cleaning now?

 In terms of overall road manners, it’s a mixed bag. In the Deep South we’re a little short on freeze-cracked pavement, so I didn’t get to test the ride on rough road as much as I would have liked. Despite this, the car felt thoroughly composed over the bumps I did encounter. This was another area of noticeable improvement over the previous generation. That feeling of flouncy, floppy suspension response typical of the old car is much reduced. It didn’t quite live up to the standards of the Focii or the Cruzes that I have ridden in, but I’d hesitate to render a final verdict without having taken the Corolla over a truly rough stretch of road. I will say that the handling is still the most tedious part of the Corolla experience. You rotate the steering wheel, and the car changes direction. If you want feedback, look elsewhere. The brakes are definitely more inspiring though, with a solid pedal feel no doubt helped by the tested car’s 4-wheel discs.

  This car was equipped with the simulated paddle shift option for Toyota’s new CVT. To its credit, it feels remarkably like the shift-it-yourself systems in other cars with conventional torque-converter automatics. Blip the paddle, and the gearchange feels just like a cog swap in an old-school box. If you enjoy those systems, you’ll appreciate the one in this car. As for myself, I can’t really escape the artificiality of the process. When allowed to do its thing, the CVT is a fine automatic transmission that isn’t intrusive or annoying. It will be a perfectly acceptable replacement for the much-maligned 4-speed, which is still in the fleet-level trims. There is some delay in response when you mash the throttle, but not any more than in most automatics. Like many compacts these days, there’s an “Eco” button on the dash that lights up to tell you you’re not driving like a nutcase. The good news is that a true 6-speed manual is available in this trim level, a nice concession to enthusiasts.

 With $860 in freight charges and a $299 set of floor mats, the tested car stickered for $20,869. For that you get Entune with a 6.1” touchscreen, USB, Bluetooth, and an auxiliary jack. You also get the “shiftable” CVT, backup camera, heated power mirrors, keyless entry, daytime running and fog lights, and 4-wheel discs. It’s not the bargain in this segment, but not the priciest either; about in the middle, in true Corolla fashion. The strongest argument I can make for this car is the seats, in addition to the traditional economy and reliability. The sensibility and comfort of the revised interior combined with the newly stylish exterior has gotten me to seriously consider it as a possible successor to my xA; I couldn’t have said that about the previous generation. I didn’t win the eponymous raffle. Even so, I managed to score a nifty logo towel as a consolation prize; you can judge if my opinion has been bought off. More importantly, the test drive got me, an enthusiast, to take the Corolla seriously once again.

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Hammer Time : Pick Your Stick! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/hammer-time-pick-your-stick/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/hammer-time-pick-your-stick/#comments Sat, 03 May 2014 18:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=814314 5 cars – 5 sticks = 0 Customer Demand I hate looking at that equation. But these days, it’s about as true for the car business as Georgia is hot. An older stickshift vehicle that isn’t an all out sports car will sit at a retail lot for months on end. Nobody knows how to […]

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5 cars – 5 sticks = 0 Customer Demand

I hate looking at that equation. But these days, it’s about as true for the car business as Georgia is hot. An older stickshift vehicle that isn’t an all out sports car will sit at a retail lot for months on end.

Nobody knows how to drive them except for those folks who are either too middle-aged, too arthritic, or too affluent to buy an older car with a manual transmission.

Don’t believe me? Well, here’s five vehicles that have become the equivalent of heavyweight paperweights at my humble abode. The funny thing is I like driving them all… I just wish I wasn’t two stickshifts away from driving a different handshaker every day of the week.

They are….

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2007 Toyota Corolla CE – Wholesale 4k, Retail 5k

I gave this Corolla brand new tires, an interior detail, and a new antenna. It has returned the favor with 29 dealer records and… well… have I mentioned the fuel economy yet?

When you buy the premium vehicles in this business, you always get three options;  good, fast, and cheap.

You can pick any two of the three.

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A car with good demand will sell fast, but you can’t buy it cheap.

 

A cheap car can sell fast, but you don’t always get a chance to buy them in good condition and chances are if it is, it’s not a popular car.

This Corolla has officially served as my decoy car. The one that everyone thinks they want to buy until they find something with more options (it’s a base CE), more miles (145k), or, inevitably, an automatic.

I don’t care. With all the in-town driving I do, and with the honor of having 4 police precints within a 5 mile radius of my workplace, I need a car that will keep me out of trouble while having at least some fun until the points on my license go down. This one does the job and yes, I would have rather sold it by now.

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2002 Volkswagen Beetle TDI  Wholesale $2500, Retail $3500

Right engine. Right leather seats.

The wrong transmission for everyone’s teenage daughter.

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I flipped a 2002 Jetta not too long ago. Ergonomically, the Jetta was about three parsecs ahead of this Beetle. The dashboard on this thing seems to go on forever, or at least three feet of forever. The interior is as cheap as it is kitschy and, well, parts of that interior are the same lime green as the outside.

I should have known better then to buy a lime green Bug. But about a year ago I struck gold with a zonker yellow Beetle. So I thought that a green one could be an acceptable weird color alternative.  It’s not!

Everything works (miracle!), but this one just sits and ponder that decades old VW question,  “To break? Or not to break?”

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1999 Toyota Solara – Wholesale $2250, Retail $3000

Now this one hit all of my buttons for my highway travels. Plenty of space. Comfortable for long trips. A V6 / 5-speed combination that effortlessly cruises down the interstate at an 80 mph clip while barely breaking a sweat. It only has one itty-bitty problem. After I took it down to Florida to see family, and up to Detroit to see the auto show, someone hit it. Figures!

The good news was that this  beige on beige Solara wasn’t badly hurt  at all. A tow square from an SUV pierced the plasticized bumper at a red light. The driver had almost blown through the red in front of a cop, and then decided to back up without looking. An act of stupidity that was hopelessly compounded by the cell phone attached to his head.

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It actually worked out to my benefit.  The old bumper had  already been scuffed up hard thanks to the errant parking escapades of the prior owner. 1990’s coupes always wind up with those scuff marks on the bumper because the paint was put on wafer thin back then  and never held up.

It’s also an SE model, which in 1990’s Toyota-speak means that it has a cassette player only… no roof… and plastic wheel covers. SE really meant “Subtraction Edition” back in the day.

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1997 Honda Civic EX – Wholesale $2000, Retail $3000 130k.

One owner. Sunroof. These Civics were incredibly popular up to a few years ago.

These days they still are here in the ex-urbs of Atlanta, but only the automatic versions. This particular one has the usual cosmetic issues. Some paint wear on the hood, flaking,  and a crack on the front bumper.

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It’s also owned by my brother-in-law. So if I tell you any more negatives, I’ll quickly find myself outside the “Circle Of Trust”. It’s a good car. Really! Oh, and the battery’s dead.

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1994 Mazda Protege – 60k original miles  – bought for $775 two years ago.

This is a bad, bad car. A terrible car. It’s like an ancient venereal disease. A horrific ride of almost Roger Smith-ian proportions.

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But I absolutely love it. Why? Because it was the cockroach of compacts.

I had financed it and got it back. Twice. After it came back to me in an almost Kevorkian state, I fixed it up again and retailed it.  I only had a thousand in it and got over $4500 after two years of tough owners. So naturally, I love this one the most.

But what about you? If you were to handshake your way into the penurious plenitude of older stickshift vehicles, which one would you chose?

Note: The Beetle and Protege sold earlier this week, and I have to confess that my only exposure for these vehicles has been drive-by traffic until recently. I wanted to finance them (well, all but the Protege), but thankfully, I am buying a lot more late model vehicles these days instead of older stuff. If this keeps up I’ll probably continue to chronicle these older rides, but I will be back to my old focus of retailing newer ones.)

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Hammer Time: The Automotive Extremist http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/hammer-time-the-automotive-extremist/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/hammer-time-the-automotive-extremist/#comments Wed, 29 Jan 2014 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=726490 Life is sometimes about extremes, and with the extreme life of buying and selling cars comes two cars, recently purchased by me, which easily represent the polar opposites of all things automotive. Last week, as many of you know, I bought an 03 VW Passat with about 157k and the completely unloved W8 engine. This […]

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Life is sometimes about extremes, and with the extreme life of buying and selling cars comes two cars, recently purchased by me, which easily represent the polar opposites of all things automotive.


Last week, as many of you know, I bought an 03 VW Passat with about 157k and the completely unloved W8 engine.

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This Passat was easily the dowdiest looking of all the German V8 cars from that era according to our august founder Robert Farago. Plain jane 10 year old VW exterior. The same cheap interior panels as a $25k Passat. It consumes gas like a 15 year old minivan and yet… the damn thing has a beautiful ride.

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Strong, stable, commanding, all the things that you find with the top dollar German luxury machinery back then with a pretty wicked four-wheel drive. But it would also be one nasty bastard to maintain if you kept it.

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This Monday I bought this Passat’s alter ego.

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A 2007 Corolla CE with the 5-speed, roll-up windows, power mirrors and locks, 145k miles, and a CD player. How Toyota came up with the idea of offering power everything but windows I can’t say, but this car is pretty much the most easy to drive car I have ever owned. Well, the other 30 or so Corollas I’ve bought are pretty much from the same ilk.

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I’m sure it would return 35 miles per gallon and then some if you did plenty of highway and country driving. The only problem with it is the interior is like dwelling in some remote corner of a Tupperware party.

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You have to keep one car for the next five years, and suicide is not an option. Which one would you chose?

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First Drive Review: 2014 Mazda3 (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/first-drive-review-2014-mazda3-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/first-drive-review-2014-mazda3-with-video/#comments Sat, 19 Oct 2013 16:17:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=582817 The mainstream compact car segment is the perfect example of the infamous “driving appliance.” The Corolla and Civic sell in enormous volume because they are the middle-of-the-road “white bread” option, not in-spite of the vanilla. Unlike many in the automotive press, I don’t find anything wrong with that. In fact, I love me some Wonder […]

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2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The mainstream compact car segment is the perfect example of the infamous “driving appliance.” The Corolla and Civic sell in enormous volume because they are the middle-of-the-road “white bread” option, not in-spite of the vanilla. Unlike many in the automotive press, I don’t find anything wrong with that. In fact, I love me some Wonder Bread. But sometimes you feel like a pumpernickel, and that’s where the 2014 Mazda3 comes in. Mazda was so excited about their new loaf that they invited me to spend the day with them in San Diego. Want to know if you should spend 5+ years with one? Click through the jump.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior
Accounting for 30% of Mazda’s worldwide volume, calling the Mazda3 their most important product would be putting things lightly. As a result 2014 brings a complete overhaul to every aspect of the 3 and the compact sedan now rides on a platform derived from the larger 6. The “Kodo” design language of the larger sedan has also been brought down to its smaller stablemate to astonishing effect. While the old Mazda3 was all smiles and bubbles, the new 3 is all grown up and aggressive with Mazda’s incredibly attractive grille. Before the 3’s release I was quite torn about who was the fairest of them all but now there is no contest.

2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior headlamps, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The 2014 dimensions play a huge role in the way the 3 looks on the road. Mazda moved the A-pillar 3.5 inches to the rear making the hood longer, lengthened the wheelbase by 2.5 inches, dropped the height by 6/10ths and made the whole car 1.6 inches wider. So far so good, but somehow Mazda managed to slash the front overhang and increase the wheel-to-front-door distance to an almost RWD like proportion. That would probably have been enough in a segment dominated by slab sides, but Mazda puts two distinctive character lines to separate the 3 from the pack. Out back we have tail lamps that mimic the front styling and your choice of a hatch or a trunk. Opting for the hatch gives the Mazda3 a side profile reminiscent of BMW’s X1, not a bad thing to be reminded of.

Interior
The problem with pumpernickel is that people’s tastes are different. The same thing can be said of the new interior. Rather than scaling down the Mazda6’s dashboard, the engineers went for something slimmer without a “double bump” for the infotainment screen. Taking a page out of BMW’s playbook, Mazda sets the 7-inch touchscreen inside a thin housing perched on the dashboard. Think of an iPad mounted to the dash. The look turned off some but I find the style appealing because it maintains a high screen position while reducing dashboard bulk. Mazda’s new “fighter jet inspired” heads up display is similarly perched on the dash, however, instead of being fixed, it folds itself flat when you turn the feature off. The display is as functional as any other heads-up display I’ve seen but the pop-up trick stuck me as being more gimmick than feature. Mazda tells us the reason for not projecting on the windshield which makes sense if you check out how much HUD compatible windshields go for.

2014 Mazda3 5D interior, Picture Courtesy of Mazda

Mazda says they benchmarked the BMW 3-Series interior which, given that BMW’s 3 went downmarket in some ways makes the comparison valid in  a way that it would have been laughable in 2006. Except for a segment average headliner, the plastics and materials choices in the cabin are all top of the class. (A logical finding since it is the newest as well.) Seat comfort proved excellent with well positioned controls and more side bolstering than you would find in the competition’s non-performance models. Rear seat room was a problem for the last generation Mazda3 and, despite the stretch, this continues to be an area where it lags the competition. For the biggest back seats and the largest trunk, look to the Corolla. Toyota’s 2014 offering has more leg room than the mid-sized Mazda6.

Despite a long list of optional features and gadgets, real leather seating surfaces happen only in the sGrand Touring model with mid-range models sporting faux-cow and lower end 3s wearing fabric.  Some comment has been made in the press about the 3’s 1990s era headliner, but it failed to offend me and here’s why: This segment is all about value and value is about cutting corners. Want snazzy dash plastics and metal trim bits-and-bobs? That headliner is the toll you have to pay and it’s one I’m OK with.

MY2014 Mazda 3
Infotainment and gadgets
If you recall my review of the Mazda 6 a few months ago, you’ll know I reserved my harshest criticism for the infotainment and navigation system. Forget everything I said because Mazda has taken customer feedback to heart. The Mazda3 is the first vehicle to receive MazdaConnect. The system combines a bright 7-inch touchscreen with an iDrive/MMI-like controller knob and button array in the center console. Similar to Infiniti’s systems, you can navigate with either the controller, or the touchscreen, or both depending on what is easier at the moment.

The system is as intuitive and snappy as the Mazda6’s is slow and painful. High resolution graphics, a completely redesigned interface and vastly improved voice commands join to create a system that rivals uConnect, iDrive and MyFord Touch for best in the industry. In that comparison the only things MazdaConnect lacks is smartphone app integration and some form of crash-notifying telematics system. If you want to dive into the details, check out the video.

MY2014 Mazda 3

The minimum point of entry for Mazda Connect is $23,340 because you cab only get it in the iTouring model with a $1,600 option package. Ouch. All models that directly compete with the white-loaf get something that looks like a clock radio molded into the dashboard (see the picture above). The logic was to keep the controls high and in the line of sight for the driver to reduce distraction and it does work as intended even though it looks a little odd. If you’re a high roller Mazda offers a high level of tech for this segment with everything from blind spot monitoring and backup cams available to surround sound, radar cruise control, collision prevention systems that will stop the car below 19 MPH (just like Volvo’s City Safety system), parking sensors and automatic high beams.

2014 also brings Mazda’s new “it’s-so-mild-that’s-not-called-a-mild-hybrid” system to the 3. i-Eloop’s is a mild energy recovery system that uses a large capacitor, variable voltage alternator and a DC-DC converter to recover energy when decelerating. The goal of the system is to limit the parasitic loss of the alternator by charging the capacity when you’re braking so that the car can disengage the alternator and use that power while accelerating or cruising. The system can’t help drive the car, which is why Mazda doesn’t call it a hybrid system, but the claim is that it can give you around one extra MPG in certain city driving cycles. Why so little? Because the alternator consumes less engine power than your air conditioning. The system is only available as part of a technology package and only on the top-end sGrand Touring model.

2014 Mazda3 Drivetrain

Drivetrain
Late in life, the old Mazda3 received a partial SkyActiv drivetrain. The reason it didn’t get fully implemented is obvious when you look at the Medusa below. That bundle of snakes is the Mazda “4-2-1″ exhaust manifold which is designed to prevent the start of cylinder 3’s exhaust stroke from interfering with the end of cylinder 1’s exhaust stroke. The convoluted pipes are there so that the catalytic converter, which is no longer “closely coupled” as is all the rage, heats quickly and less heat is lost on the way to the cat. This enormous contraption simply wouldn’t fit in the old 3 because of the shape of the engine bay and the firewall. To make the 4-2-1 manifold fit in the 2014 Mazda3, it was necessary to form an enormous bulge into the car’s firewall and chassis design, something only possible in a complete redesign process.

2014 Mazda3 exhaust manifold

With the final piece of the SkyActiv puzzle in place, Mazda cranked up the compression ratio on their new 2.0 and 2.5L engines to 13:1. Why not the 14:1 that Mazda advertises in Europe? Because in the USA all engines must operate “safely” on regular 87 octane gasoline by law. The boffins tell us that this results in a 5% loss of efficiency vs the higher compression EU engines that will grenade themselves on lower octane fuel.

The base engine for 2014 is a 2.0L 155 horse four-cylinder that’s good for 150 lb-ft of twist and 30/41/34 MPG (City/Highway/Combined) with the 6-speed automatic. If you have the cash you can upgrade to the 2.5L engine (shared with the CX-5 and Mazda6) which bumps these numbers up to 184 horses and 185 lb-ft while dropping fuel economy to 28/39/32.

The 2.0L engine comes standard with a slick shifting 6-speed transmission that is one of the best manuals in the ever shrinking compact segment. Engagement is precise, throws are moderate and the clutch engagement is linear and well-balanced in relation to the motion of the other two pedals. Sadly this transmission can’t be had with the more powerful 2.5L engine. Don’t shoot the messenger. Most Mazda3s rolling off the lot will use Mazda’s 6-speed automatic transaxle which chases efficiency and a direct feel by engaging the torque converter lockup clutch in every gear, as soon as possible, and as long as possible. While Mazda tells us this is unique to the compact segment, ZF’s 8-speed RWD transmission plays the same trick in the name of efficiency. Manual lovers and speed freaks should know that Mazda is cagey about a MazdaSpeed3 only saying that there would not be one “at launch.” Read between the lines if you like.

2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior-004

Drive

Being the mechanical geek that I am, one more thing caught my interest: the caster angle. That’s the angle that the steering mechanism acts upon the front wheel. Think of this like a clock with vertical being right at 12:00. Most cars out there have a slight caster angle of maybe 12:03 while the 2014 Mazda3 winds it up to 12:06. Why does it matter? Because we have electric power steering (EPAS). EPAS is the modern equalizer and has made all steering dull and lifeless. By dialing up the caster, you dial up the forces that come back up the steering column from the tires. This means that by the time EPAS dulls everything down there’s the hint of something left. I’d like to say it turns the Mazda3 into a Mazda Miata but I’d be lying. Instead what you get is a hint of feedback in corners and a tiny touch of road feel at other times. Because we’ve been living in a feedback-desert, the taste has overly excited some. No it isn’t your 2007 Mazdaspeed3, but it is livelier than the Focus or Civic.

Zoom-Zoom is more about handling than 0-60 times, made obvious by our 7.6 second run to 60 in a hatchback with the 2.5L engine. If you want more speed in the “non-hot hatch segment”, wait for Kia’s turbo Forte  I didn’t get a chance to test the 2.0L model during the event but my “butt-dyno” tells me it should be about 2 seconds slower and right in line with the competition. It’s when the road starts to curve that the difference is obvious. This 3 can dance. The Mazda is quite simply the best handling and best feeling compact car in stock form. Yes, the Civic Si is a hair more fun but it’s not a main stream car, doesn’t have an automatic and still doesn’t feel as connected as the Mazda. With road manners like these, I’m looking forward to a Mazdaspeed3 vs Focus ST shootout, I suspect the 3 might dethrone Ford’s hot hatch.

2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior-009

What about daily driving? It’s all well and good to be the best handling compact, but in order to be a sales success you have to be able to sway some white bread buyers. Sound levels at 50MPH rang in a 73db, below the Corolla but above the Civic. No worries there. The sedan’s ride is on the stiffer side of the segment but quite similar to the Focus, that might be a problem for the average Corolla shopper. The big selling point for most cross-shoppers will be the fuel economy. The sedan with the 2.0L engine and automatic is the volume model and snags 30/41/34 MPG (City/Highway/Combined). That’s one MPG better than Sentra, two better than Civic or Corolla and three better than Focus.  While that doesn’t translate into much cash saved on an annual basis, it is one of the largest purchase factors shoppers site in this segment. I should mention however that the last time we had the Sentra it scored better than it’s EPA rating while the Mazda3 was fairly close to the EPA score. My big take away from this is that Mazda managed to beat the CVT equipped competition’s fuel economy with a more traditional feeling automatic. White bread buyers won’t care about the feel, but the numbers might cause them to take a second look.

With pricing that ranges from $16,945 (sedan) to a hair under $30,000 (loaded hatch) if you check all the option boxes on a Mazda3 hatch, it’s obvious the Mazda spans the price spectrum from white bread in a bag to a paper-wrapped organic artisan cheesy sourdough. Like the Ford Focus, this large price span means the $19,495 iSport and $20,645 iTouring compete with the bulk of Corolla/Civic shoppers while the upper level trims compete with the Ford Focus, Acura ILX, Lexus CT200h, Buick Verano, and the few that shopped Volvo’s defunct C30.

Compared to the Civic and Corolla, the Mazda3 delivers superior dynamics and more premium dash materials in exchange for less tech and no touchscreen infotainment. This is a dangerous trade in a segment known for placing features before fun. On the flip side, the Mazda3 has everything it needs to compete with the Focus, ILX, Verano and CT200h. Mazda’s chassis tuning makes the Mazda the most fun to drive (even considering the ILX 2.4’s Civic Si roots), the infotainment system is entry-level luxury worthy and 2014 brings all full-speed range radar cruise control and ever gadget the Buick and Lexus shopper could want. So is the Mazda3 the perfect pumpernickel for Wonder Bread prices? As good as. Civirolla shoppers who can be convinced to cross-shop will be pleased with Mazda’s sexy exterior, comfortable seats and road manners, but those after large seats and large trunks will return to the white bread alternative. I suspect the near luxury shoppers are the ones that will miss out the most however thinking that nothing this tasty could come in a package with a Mazda logo on it. Their loss.

Mazda flew me to San Diego, put me up in a hotel and fed me stuffed mushrooms.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 4 Seconds

0-60: 7.6 Seconds

Interior sound level at 50 MPH: 73 db

 

2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior-007 2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior headlamps, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior-009 2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior 2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior-010 2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior-001 MY2014 Mazda 3 2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior-002 2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior-003 2014 Mazda3 5D interior, Picture Courtesy of Mazda MY2014 Mazda 3 2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior-004 2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes MY2014 Mazda 3 2014 Mazda3 Sedan Exterior-006

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First Drive Review: 2014 Toyota Corolla (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/first-drive-review-2014-toyota-corolla-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/first-drive-review-2014-toyota-corolla-with-video/#comments Mon, 14 Oct 2013 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=607433 Calling the Corolla “Toyota’s most important car” would be an understatement. This single model accounts for 38 percent of all Toyotas ever sold in the USA and they expect to shift 330,000 next year alone. If the sheer quantity wasn’t amazing enough, ponder this reality: 75% of sales will be split between just four different […]

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2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Calling the Corolla “Toyota’s most important car” would be an understatement. This single model accounts for 38 percent of all Toyotas ever sold in the USA and they expect to shift 330,000 next year alone. If the sheer quantity wasn’t amazing enough, ponder this reality: 75% of sales will be split between just four different configurations. If you’re in a 2014 Corolla, the odds are about one in five that the Corolla next to you is identical save for paint color. Often derided by the automotive press as a “driving appliance,” is there more to the 2014 Corolla or is it just a toaster with wheels? Let’s find out.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

When you plan on selling 330,000 of anything, mainstream styling is essential. When many of those shoppers are repeat Toyota and repeat Corolla buyers, it’s also essential to avoid anything that could be described as “adventurous.” The result is the attractive but plain sheetmetal. You won’t find any Mazda-esque swooshes, any Ford/Aston inspired grilles and you certainly won’t find anything “aggressive.” And that’s how Corolla shoppers like it. Corolla shoppers apparently also like getting bigger cars with every re-design, so this 11th generation model has grown by 3.9 inches. Why don’t they shop up the ladder to a Camry? Who knows.

2014_Toyota_Corolla_S, Picture Courtesy of Toyota

Plenty of reviewers have found fault in the way the 11th gen Corolla looks, most of them complain vehemently in private and say little in public. I however, am not afraid to say what I think in public: the Corolla is pedestrian but far from offensive. I also find the Corolla S (pictured above) to be the more attractive of the bunch although neither nose is any more or less exciting than the Sentra, Civic or Elantra. The biggest problem with the way the Corolla looks has nothing to do with the Corolla and everything to do with timing. I drove the 2014 Corolla two days before sampling Mazda’s hot new Mazda3. If looks matter to you, the Corolla is unlikely to be on your short list. Adding a little visual flair to the front, Toyota made LED headlamps standard on every Corolla. Yep, even the $16,800 stripper model. The other thing that’s standard is an oddly tall ride height resulting in a larger than average distance between the top of the tire and the wheel-well making the Corolla look “off road ready.” Make of that what you will.

2014 Toyota Corolla Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Interior

After a week in the RAV4’s discordant interior, I was concerned what Toyota would do with the volume leader. Thankfully my concerns were unwarranted and I found the Corolla’s interior surprisingly elegant. Yes, I said that out loud, I found the design elegant. (Notice I didn’t say exciting.) There are a few caveats however. While the dashboard styling reminded me a great deal of the Mazda6, parts quality still lags behind the Focus, top-level Forte and, in some ways, even the Chevy Cruze. The picture above is of the more attractive (in my opinion) two-tone interior. You’ll only find this on the LE, LE Plus, LE ECO and LE ECO Plus model as everything else is black on black and looks a hair cheaper. 2014 brings soft touch points to most of the Corolla’s cabin and a new fabric headliner in most models. The exterior may be plain my bottom line on the interior is that I could live with it long term without a problem.

Front seat comfort proved average for the segment but I found the lack of adjustable lumbar support to be a problem for my back. Stepping up to the “Premium” trim LE or S gets you an 8-way power seat but still very little back support. The big change for 2014 is out back, the stretch allowed Toyota to add 5.1 inches to the back seat, ballooning to 41.4 inches total, just 2/10ths less than a Camry. More legroom meant more room for the seats themselves and allowed the rear bench to be lengthened for more thigh support. Putting that in perspective, that’s 5 inches more than most compacts, four inches more than the Sentra’s cavernous back seat and a whopping 8.2 inches more than the Focus. Sadly even the Corolla hasn’t been able to escape the low-roof trend limiting headroom for taller folks in the back. 2014 brings some trunk love, bumping the cube carrying to 13, respectable for the class but below the Sentra’s large booty. If bag carrying is your thing, you should know that the Sentra can swallow four 24-inch roller bags in a vertical orientation, and four more horizontally. I can’t even think of a modern full-sized sedan that can do that.

2014_Corolla_S_017

Infotainment and Gadgets

The new Corolla gets Toyota’s latest infotainment software package and this represents a new direction. Previously there were two separate navigation/infotainment operating systems, a low cost unit found in cars like the Prius C, and the totally different (and expensive) one found as an option in vehicles like the Avalon and the Lexus line. Toyota shifting to common software running on different hardware depending on the model. Cheaper cars get smaller screens, Toyotas stick to touchscreens while Lexuses (Lexi?) get the joystick.

Representing the Corolla’s place at the bottom of the Toyota food chain, you’ll find an 6.1 inch touchscreen standard on all models except for the L. (The L is expected to represent less than 10% of sales.) While I find this software one of the worst in the luxury class, my negative impression is entirely down to the Lexus joystick. In the Corolla the system is fast and responsive and the graphics are all perfectly suited to the 6.1 inch touchscreen. Toyota tosses in weather and traffic updates on certain models without having to add navigation which is a handy feature. USB and iDevice integration is excellent and easily the equal of Ford’s SYNC in terms of voice control and tops the segment in touch-screen ease of use. The standard Bluetooth speakerphone worked well and had excellent sound quality. Depending on the trim you can also add smartphone app integration to Pandora, OpenTable, etc. Like the rest of the Corolla, the Entune system doesn’t break any new ground, but it is easy to live with.

On the gadget front the Corolla covers all the basics with those LED headlamps, a standard cabin air filter, air conditioning and power door locks and windows. LE and higher models (again, 90% of sales) gain  automatic climate control, six speakers, a backup camera, cruise control and keyless entry. If you want any whiz-bang features like self parking, heads up displays, blind spot monitoring, power folding whatnots or dynamic cruise control, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

2014_Toyota_Corolla_LE_ECO_013

Drivetrain

The engine under the hood of 90% of Corollas is carried over from last year. The 1.8L four-cylinder engine is good for a class middling 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque. A new six-speed manual replaces the old 5-speed as the base transmission and delivers 28/37 MPG (city/highway) when so equipped. If you’re one of the incredibly few that plan on getting an L with an automatic, be warned that this is the same old four-speed automatic as last year’s Corolla.

All other Corollas, even the supposedly “sport” S model, get Toyota’s new continuously variable transmission. I can already hear the groans, but if you’re groaning about finding a CVT under the hood, then I’m going to generalize and say you’re not the target demographic. For the rest of you, you should know this CVT is one of the best I’ve ever driven and is a close second to the Honda CVT in the new Accord. Somehow Toyota and Honda have managed to exorcise the rubber band demon from the CVT in a way that Nissan has been unable. Ratio changes are quick and fuel economy is an impressive 29/38 MPG. S models get paddle shifters and all models will imitate a  seven-speed automatic when floored. The impersonation is passable, but I fail to see the point.

If you want to break the 40 MPG barrier, than the 30/42 MPG LE ECO model is the one to get. In order to get there, Toyota swaps new heads onto the 1.8L engine which incorporates their new ValveMatic variable valve lift, timing and duration system. Like BMW’s Valvetronic and Fiat’s MultiAir, this system acts as the throttle body under most circumstances to increase efficiency. When so equipped, power rises to 140 HP and torque drops to 126 lb-ft. It was hard to tell if the system delivered any real-world benefit because of the limited time I had in the Corolla but I can tell you that the extra 8HP didn’t make the ECO model any faster to 60.

2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drive

Why does the Corolla sell so well? It has more to do with brand loyalty and a reputation for reliability than road manners. Everything about driving the Corolla can be summed up in one word: average. From steering feel to suspension dynamics and road holding the Corolla is neither class leading nor class trailing. After a day and 140 miles, it reminded me of my flight to Seattle to see the Corolla in the first place. I flew in one of Southwest’s new 737-900 planes and the experience was entirely ordinary. The plane got me from point A to point B, it was as comfortable as I expected and the looks didn’t offend.

This middle-of-the-road mentality explains why Toyota jammed their new CVT into the Corolla. They aren’t the first to the CVT party and they won’t be the last. The CVT lags a hair behind Honda’s new Earth Dreams CVT but is more refined than Nissan’s Sentra. The combination of 132 ponies and a CVT make mountain climbing easier in the Corolla than the Civic with ye olde 5-speed, but not as nice as the large engine equipped Forte or Mazda3. Repeat Corolla buyers will find the Corolla peppier than before thanks to the CVT, since the old 4-speed automatic seemed to never have the right ratio for the situation.

2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Cabin noise measured in higher than average at 74 db at 50 MPH. 74db is a bit disappointing since even Honda made the latest Civic considerably quieter. Fuel economy was, yet again, middle of the road at 29 MPG over all after a day of city driving and stop-and-go traffic.

Even the Corolla’s recent “marginal” IIHS small offset crash score is class middling with the Civic snatching “good,” the Focus and Elantra “acceptable” and the Forte and Sentra slotting in below the Corolla at “poor.” While I can think of good reasons to buy something other than the Corolla, I honestly have troubles finding any reason to not buy one. When I tallied up my personal score card I was shocked to find I had ranked the Corolla 3rd behind the new Mazda3 and the Kia Forte. That ranking is based on the easy to use infotainment system, enormous back seat, large trunk, attractive interior and (of course) the reliability reputation the Corolla has maintained over the years. Yes, even I can be tempted (at least a little bit) by the logic of the driving appliance.

Perhaps that is what the bulk of the automotive press finds so vexing: The Corolla is probably the only car on the market that is deliberately designed to be average and Toyota nailed it.When I talked to a few Corolla owners about their purchase, none of them considered another model or brand before signing on the dotted line.

 

 Toyota provided airfare, accommodations and meals for this event.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.93 Seconds

0-60: 9.7 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 17.61 Seconds @ 81.8 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 29 MPG

Cabin Noise at 50 MPH: 74db

2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior 2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior-001 2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior-002 2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior-003 2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior-004 2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior-005 2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior-006 2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior-007 2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior-008 2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior-009 2014 Toyota Corolla Interior 2014 Toyota Corolla Interior-001 2014 Toyota Corolla Interior-002 2014 Toyota Corolla Interior-004 2014 Toyota Corolla Interior-005 2014 Toyota Corolla Interior-006 2014 Toyota Corolla Interior-007 2014 Toyota Corolla Interior-008 2014 Toyota Corolla Interior-009 2014_Toyota_Corolla_LE_ECO_013 2014_Toyota_Corolla_S, Picture Courtesy of Toyota 2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior-003

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/junkyard-find-1982-toyota-corolla-tercel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/junkyard-find-1982-toyota-corolla-tercel/#comments Wed, 04 Sep 2013 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=508673 I know it probably made perfect marketing sense for Toyota to piggyback their new subcompact’s image atop that of the fantastically successful Malaise Era Corolla, in spite of the fact that the two cars were unrelated other than having the same their parent company, but the confusion caused by the “Corolla Tercel” name persists to […]

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13 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI know it probably made perfect marketing sense for Toyota to piggyback their new subcompact’s image atop that of the fantastically successful Malaise Era Corolla, in spite of the fact that the two cars were unrelated other than having the same their parent company, but the confusion caused by the “Corolla Tercel” name persists to this day. For that reason, these cars always attract my attention when I see them in wrecking yards; in this series, we’ve seen this ’80 and this ’81 so far.

Because of the Corolla/Tercel confusion that Toyota set into motion back in the early 1980s, many 24 Hours of LeMons fans still think that I gave the coveted Index of Effluency award to an undeserving factory-hot-rod Corolla a couple years back, in spite of my protestations that the Tercel EZ is one of the most terrible cars ever to be inflicted on us by the Japanese. The EZ came two generations after the Tercel we’re admiring today.
10 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe first-gen Tercel, however, wasn’t a bad car at all. Fuel economy was phenomenal and it was incredibly reliable by the standards of the era.
06 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt looks like a rear-wheel-drive car…
07 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin…but it’s really front-wheel-drive, with the engine mounted above the transmission and sending power to a cute little differential.
03 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinClimate-control systems were simpler in those days. Holy mackerel, is that an air conditioning button? Such luxury!
Ign_Switch_OnI used one of these Toyota AC buttons as the main power switch on my homemade Junkyard Boogaloo Boombox project.
15 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin5-speed manual transmissions were boast-worthy.
04 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy dirt-cheap Late Malaise Era Toyota econobox standards, these stripes were the height of frivolity.
01 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior still looks pretty good at age 31 and 150,141 miles on the clock.

01 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Tercel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1976 Toyota Corolla Deluxe Liftback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/junkyard-find-1976-toyota-corolla-deluxe-liftback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/junkyard-find-1976-toyota-corolla-deluxe-liftback/#comments Sun, 14 Jul 2013 13:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=495050 Having driven quite a few mid-70s Corollas (these cars were as commonplace during my early driving years as are second-gen Tauruses today), I have to say that they were painfully slow even by the tolerant standards of the Middle Malaise Era. However, they were also shockingly reliable by the era’s standards, which means that these […]

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18 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHaving driven quite a few mid-70s Corollas (these cars were as commonplace during my early driving years as are second-gen Tauruses today), I have to say that they were painfully slow even by the tolerant standards of the Middle Malaise Era. However, they were also shockingly reliable by the era’s standards, which means that these cars were still plentiful on the street until well into the 1990s. Since few outside a hard core of fanatics have shown much interest in pre-AE86 Corollas, these cars get scrapped as soon as something expensive breaks and/or the Rust Monster’s bites get too large. Here’s a Deluxe liftback that I found in a Colorado self-serve yard a few weeks back.


“A welded body, not a nuts-and-bolts body!”
05 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis was the era of 5-digit odometers (I believe Toyota went to 6-digit units in the early 1980s), so there’s no telling if this is a 90,278-mile car or a 590,278-mile car.
02 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is in pretty good shape, so I’m guessing this car has no more than 190,278 miles on the clock.
11 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhile the 1976 Toyota subcompact version of “Deluxe” seems laughably Spartan today, this car did have some features you didn’t see on many cars in its cheapo price range.
07 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRear window defroster!
04 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAM radio with slider-style tone and volume controls!
15 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMost cars in Colorado don’t rust much, thanks to the area’s single-digit humidity, but Japanese cars of the 1970s were surpassed only by air-cooled Volkswagens in the “rust anywhere, rust everywhere” department.
12 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s possible that this car spent much of its life in the Midwest, but this Colorado dealer emblem says otherwise.
17 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe liftback hatch made these cars excellent haulers.
19 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThat is, they were excellent haulers if you didn’t have to move anything heavy… or carry passengers… or drive uphill. The pushrod 2TC was good for 75 horsepower, but it felt like less.
03 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf you had one of these in your 2TC car, you needed plenty of patience when negotiating freeway onramps or attempting to pass a slow camper in the mountains. Still, these engines were hard to kill.

02 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Corolla, Not Focus, World’s Best-Selling Car, Toyota Says http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/corolla-not-focus-worlds-best-selling-car-toyota-says/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/corolla-not-focus-worlds-best-selling-car-toyota-says/#comments Wed, 10 Apr 2013 11:35:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=484187 Yesterday, Ford announced that its Focus “is officially the world’s best-selling passenger car,” with 1,020,410 units sold worldwide in 2012. That according to registration data compiled by Polk. “Wrong” Toyota said today. Toyota’s spokesman Ryo Sakai told Reuters that Toyota sold 1.16 million Corollas in 2012 and that “Toyota still sees the Corolla as the […]

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Yesterday, Ford announced that its Focus “is officially the world’s best-selling passenger car,” with 1,020,410 units sold worldwide in 2012. That according to registration data compiled by Polk.

“Wrong” Toyota said today.

Toyota’s spokesman Ryo Sakai told Reuters that Toyota sold 1.16 million Corollas in 2012 and that “Toyota still sees the Corolla as the world’s most popular car”.

Last year, Ford got into similarly hot water by quoting a report by HIS Automotive, setting off an intense discussion about the finer differences of models, body styles and name plates.

Global Corolla Sales CY2012
Country Corolla S/D Corolla H/B Corolla H/B HV
U.S.A. 286,560  Corolla 0 0
North America Total 345,033  Corolla 0 0
Europe (incl W. RU) 63,481  Corolla 59,320  Auris 23,693  Auris Hybrid
China Total 269,078  Corolla & EX 0 0
Asia (except China) 153,386  Corolla Altis 0 0
Oceania 14,417  Corolla 29,727  Corolla 0
Middle East 83,949  Corolla 0 0
Africa 29,410  Corolla 2,671  Auris 434  Auris Hybrid
Central & South Am 91,071  Corolla 538  Auris 47  Auris Hybrid
Japan 33,794  Corolla Axio 10,119  Auris
Global Total 1,083,619 29,727
Corolla W/G Corolla MPV MATRIX Corolla TALL H/B
U.S.A. 0 0 4,387  Matrix 19,787  Scion xB
North America Total 0 0 17,369  Matrix 21,274  Scion xB
Europe (incl W. RU) 0 37,335  Verso 0 0
China Total 0 22,331  E’Z 0 0
Asia (except China) 0 0 0 0
Oceania 706  Corolla Wagon 0 0 921  Rukus
Middle East 0 0 0 0
Africa 0 824  Verso 0 0
Central & South Am 0 28  Verso 0 0
Japan 39,705  Corolla Fielder 7,007  Corolla Rumion
Global Total 40,411 7,007
Global Corolla nameplate total 1,160,764
Including derivatives 1,381,842

TTAC obtained a spreadsheet from Toyota’s car counting department that shows the Corolla ahead of the Focus any way you look at it.  The Toyota Sedan alone racked up 1,083,610 in sales, handily beating the 1,020,410 of the Focus. Various other Corolla versions bring the name plate total to 1,160,764.

Would one count the many derivatives and other model names under which the Corolla is sold around the globe, the total would grow to 1,381,842 units.

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Corolla vs. Cube: Why Choose Boring? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/corolla-vs-cube-why-choose-boring/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/corolla-vs-cube-why-choose-boring/#comments Thu, 04 Apr 2013 18:29:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=483524 I recently inherited a Nissan Cube from my brother. When I tell people this, they have two distinct reactions. For anyone who isn’t into cars, it’s: “Your brother died?” Car people, however, usually respond with: “You have a Nissan Cube?” This is the same reaction that non-car people tend to have when I explain my […]

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I recently inherited a Nissan Cube from my brother. When I tell people this, they have two distinct reactions. For anyone who isn’t into cars, it’s: “Your brother died?” Car people, however, usually respond with: “You have a Nissan Cube?” This is the same reaction that non-car people tend to have when I explain my brother did not die, but rather moved to Los Angeles, where his soul will.

People just don’t like the plucky little Cube, whether it’s my friends (“Why do you still have that thing?”) or my neighbors, one of whom left a note under the wipers asking me to move it away from the unrestricted street parking spots in front of his house. Truly. This actually occurred. Perhaps the worst reaction is from other Cube owners, who occasionally wave, reminding me that I can be seen driving the thing.

As you can imagine, I’m not the Cube’s biggest fan either. There’s a fuzzy piece of shag carpeting on the dashboard (the “Cube pubes”) that seems like it might keep sunglasses from sliding around, until you turn it over to reveal a warning label that says – truly – “Caution: Do not place anything on this product.”

The headliner is rippled, presumably after the designer got high (this part is definitely true) and, faced with the munchies, decided to pay homage to the Lays potato chip (this part is probably true). The rear is asymmetrical (see: the designer got high). There’s a cupholder to the left of the steering wheel. And, five carwashes later, my Cube still smells like my brother’s dog no matter how many times I tell my passengers “it’s probably you.”

But can we all agree it’s better than a Toyota Corolla?

I talked my brother into the Cube three years ago when his budget for a new car was around $15,000. He has since upgraded to a Nissan Xterra, apparently eager to reclaim some of the manhood he lost driving the Cube. But as I reconsider the situation, I don’t think I would’ve done it any differently. Except maybe I wouldn’t have left those retaliatory death threats under my neighbor’s windshield wipers.

At $15,000, you have two basic choices when shopping for a nearly new, reliable, fuel efficient car. You can go the boring route and buy a Civic, a Corolla, a Focus, or some sort of Hyundai that vaguely resembles some sort of Kia. Or, you can go the interesting route, which involves the Kia Soul, the Scion xB, and – of course – the beloved Cube.

For my money, it’s the Cube every time.

My thought process is quite simple, which won’t surprise regular readers. As mentioned, the two cars cost about the same, provided we assume ego damage can’t be measured financially. Fuel economy is also the same, in part thanks to the Cube’s smooth, spry CVT. Whrrrrrrrrrrr. (Before you say anything, consider this: the warranty on Nissan’s CVTs was extended to 10 years or 150,000 miles. That means I will probably get at least two transmissions for free!)

So what distinguishes the Cube from its dull sedan rivals? For one: it’s more practical. Put the seats down and you can get whatever you want in the thing. Based on the smell, for instance, mine once hosted a competition to see how many dogs can fit inside a Nissan Cube.

But most importantly, the Cube is unique. If you’re like most car enthusiasts, you probably spend a lot of time complaining about a) speed cameras, and b) how boring you find cars like the Corolla. The Cube is the antidote: it is decidedly not boring and – for those of you who don’t like the CVT – yes, there was a three-pedal version.

Same fuel economy, same price, more practical, more unique. Sounds great!

Except, the simple reality is, it just doesn’t sound so great to most drivers, even if they say it does. One of the universal automotive truths I’ve discovered in the last few years is this: people talk about how they don’t want to be just like everyone else. People complain about how everyone else is just like everyone else. People say they’re going to be different from everyone else. And then people go out and by the same car as … everyone else.

In other words, the Cube is the car for those few drivers who actually want to break the mold set by everyone else. Maybe that’s why other Cube drivers wave: to celebrate the fact that we think differently from everyone else. In exactly the same way.

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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BODACIOUS BEATERS and road-going derelicts: CRUMPLED COROLLA http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/bodacious-beaters-and-road-going-derelicts-crumpled-corolla/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/bodacious-beaters-and-road-going-derelicts-crumpled-corolla/#comments Fri, 22 Mar 2013 14:47:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=481999   That I do agree with other’s criticism of the fact that the Toyota Corolla has become too appliance-like over the past decade, has me looking back on earlier iterations of the model with increasing fondness. While there were indeed some memorably fun-to-drive FWD versions—the FX-16 for one (and some may include the NUMMI Nova […]

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That I do agree with other’s criticism of the fact that the Toyota Corolla has become too appliance-like over the past decade, has me looking back on earlier iterations of the model with increasing fondness.

While there were indeed some memorably fun-to-drive FWD versions—the FX-16 for one (and some may include the NUMMI Nova Twin-Cam, although it wore a “Bowtie”)—there was, and is just no comparison to the “FTD Factor” intrinsic in the earlier RWD models. That “factor” was very present even in the little 1972 1200 Coupe I owned (and “boy-racered” to the degree that my budget and skill set allowed) back in the late ‘70’s.

(In my “Dealer Days” during the same time period, a very large Japanese-Hawaiian coworker had a wagon version of the same car. He had done some fairly extensive performance work on the little one-point-two, but visually it was bone-stock—right down to the wheel covers—and was wearing machine-gray paint that worthily complemented its “sleeper” image. It was quite a sight seeing him jammed into the confines of that tiny interior, racing towards or away from the employee parking lot, exhaust cackling a “mini-me” performance tune, as he heeled-and-toed or speed-shifted the little drivetrain into submission!)

The first experience I had with driving one of these earlier RWD Corollas was when I first started working at that Toyota dealership. We had a small rental fleet of 1977 Coupes, equipped with the legendary 2-TC 1600 engines, three-speed automatic transmissions, and precious little else in the way of upgrade options (I remember they were equipped with vinyl flooring—no carpet!) They were really the all-time perfect rental cars: stripped of any unnecessary equipment, and virtually indestructible! I know this because our crew of lot attendants and trainees—with our potentially hazardous combination of youthful exuberance AND inexperience—certainly couldn’t destroy them!

That bit of ancient history leads us into our present subject: what appears to be the 1981 construct of the same vehicle. The condition of this one illustrates my point on the Corollas of this time period—in a truly exaggerated fashion! Physically beaten—and rusted where not beaten—but still on the road.

The owner has probably been considering sending it to the wrecker for some time—no doubt just waiting for the catastrophic mechanical failure that will finally lead to its being euthanized. My experience with the mechanical integrity of these units says these types of failures can be a long time in coming. While their simplicity and rugged design are the main contributing factors to this, the FTD feature tends to be endearing enough so as to influence the owner in ways otherwise contradicting objective reasoning. “Yeah, she’s a little tired looking, but what a RUNNER!”

About the only thing in the mechanical realm that gets to be a consistent problem with these ‘rollas, at this point, is the A.I.R. injection componentry within the emissions control system. I mean, the stuff was all built to last; but we’re looking at a thirty-year-old vehicle here, and these components can’t be expected to last forever. Functional replacement parts—whether new or used—can be scarce, and expensive. I have found that a little “Yankee Ingenuity” can go a long way when replacement parts can’t readily be had, though.

Hopefully, the owner of this example continues to be “unreasonable”, letting his or her road-going derelict “freak flag fly”.

 

Phil has written features and columns for a number of automotive periodicals and web-based information companies. He has run a successful Auto Repair Business in the past for many years (See “Memoirs of an Independent Repair Shop Owner” on this ttac site). He can be contacted through this very site, or http://www.linkedin.com/

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Junkyard Find: 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/junkyard-find-1989-toyota-corolla-all-trac-wagon-3/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/junkyard-find-1989-toyota-corolla-all-trac-wagon-3/#comments Mon, 18 Feb 2013 14:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=477898 I now believe that at least half the Toyota All-Tracs ever sold ended up in Colorado, based on the quantities I see in junkyards around Denver. We saw the only Camry All-Trac I’ve ever found anywhere last month, and the Corolla All-Trac wagons are well-represented by this ’89, this ’89, and now today’s ’89. Toyota […]

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I now believe that at least half the Toyota All-Tracs ever sold ended up in Colorado, based on the quantities I see in junkyards around Denver. We saw the only Camry All-Trac I’ve ever found anywhere last month, and the Corolla All-Trac wagons are well-represented by this ’89, this ’89, and now today’s ’89.
Toyota didn’t go in for crazy-futuristic dashes like so many of their 1980s Japanese competitors (unlike, for example, Subaru and Mitsubishi), but the Corolla All-Trac still got this cool center-diff control panel. Yes, back in those days you had to make decisions about car four-wheel-drive while driving.
Bondo as rust repair?
213,269 miles on the clock, which is pretty good for a 1980s car.
The Toyota 4A engine family was the real workhorse of its era, going into everything from AE86s to MR2s. This one appears to be the not-particularly-hot 4A-FE.
The interior in this one is pretty nice, but the rust is bad by Colorado standards and it just wasn’t worth keeping. Next stop, crusher!

01 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Toyota Corolla http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/junkyard-find-1988-toyota-corolla/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/junkyard-find-1988-toyota-corolla/#comments Sun, 21 Oct 2012 13:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=464361 Because the factory-hot-rod FX-16 version of the AE82 Corolla held its value better than the non-GT-S version, you tend to see more of the FX-16s in junkyards these days. In fact, this is the first one of these I’ve seen with an 8-valve engine for several years. These things were well-built and reliable little commuters, […]

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Because the factory-hot-rod FX-16 version of the AE82 Corolla held its value better than the non-GT-S version, you tend to see more of the FX-16s in junkyards these days. In fact, this is the first one of these I’ve seen with an 8-valve engine for several years.
These things were well-built and reliable little commuters, though something of a snooze to drive. This one nearly made it to 250,000 miles, which is more than respectable for a car of its era.
Who says American cars of the 1980s weren’t reliable? Made in California!
This one appears to be a Midwestern transplant to Denver, since cars don’t rust much in these parts.
Toyota should have partnered with Mitsubishi and/or Subaru on this car, in order to get some more futuristic dash and interior action going on.

16 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1988 Toyota Corolla Down On The Junkayrd - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1990 Toyota Corolla GT-S http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/junkyard-find-1990-toyota-corolla-gt-s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/junkyard-find-1990-toyota-corolla-gt-s/#comments Tue, 09 Oct 2012 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=463129 You’re not going to find a rear-wheel-drive AE86-platform Corolla GT-S in a low-priced self-service wrecking yard, not these days. The later front-wheel-drive Corolla GT-S FX16 shows up in such yards every now and then, but the AE92 version of the GT-S that followed isn’t seen quite as often. Here’s one that I found in the […]

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You’re not going to find a rear-wheel-drive AE86-platform Corolla GT-S in a low-priced self-service wrecking yard, not these days. The later front-wheel-drive Corolla GT-S FX16 shows up in such yards every now and then, but the AE92 version of the GT-S that followed isn’t seen quite as often. Here’s one that I found in the San Francisco Bay Area last month.
The 4A-GE engine was up to 115 horsepower by this time. These cars were quick for their time.
The Geo Storm GSi had 15 more horsepower and weighed about the same as the Corolla, but there’s the whole Isuzu-versus-Toyota build-quality thing to consider there.


In Japan, where this car was known as the Sprinter Trueno, the marketing seems to have been focused on, what, ballroom dancing?

12 - 1990 Toyota Corolla GT-S Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1990 Toyota Corolla GT-S Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1990 Toyota Corolla GT-S Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1990 Toyota Corolla GT-S Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1990 Toyota Corolla GT-S Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1990 Toyota Corolla GT-S Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1990 Toyota Corolla GT-S Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1990 Toyota Corolla GT-S Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1990 Toyota Corolla GT-S Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1990 Toyota Corolla GT-S Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1990 Toyota Corolla GT-S Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1990 Toyota Corolla GT-S Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Ford Flubs Focus First, Fixes, Fails, Falls Flat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/ford-flubs-focus-first-fixes-fails-flat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/ford-flubs-focus-first-fixes-fails-flat/#comments Sat, 01 Sep 2012 05:35:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=458613 These F-words were brought to you by Ford. Yesterday, Ford’s 350 millionth vehicle rolled off the lines. It was a Ford Focus, and an occasion to celebrate an even more auspicious record: The Ford Focus “is the world’s best-selling car for the first half of 2012,” says a Ford press release. Media from Associated Press […]

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These F-words were brought to you by Ford. Yesterday, Ford’s 350 millionth vehicle rolled off the lines. It was a Ford Focus, and an occasion to celebrate an even more auspicious record: The Ford Focus “is the world’s best-selling car for the first half of 2012,” says a Ford press release. Media from Associated Press to Autoblog obediently announced the record. The record went down in a hail of protests.

The Wall Street Journal deemed it below its ethics to parrot a press release and asked questions. Answers in hand, they write:

“The company announced on Friday that through seven months of 2012, the car had sold 522,000 units around the world, making it the best-selling single nameplate vehicle, ahead of the Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Golf. Outselling the Corolla, which similarly is a model sold around the world, would be a great accomplishment for Ford.

But according to Toyota, the Focus actually hasn’t outsold the Corolla. Through that same seven-month period, it said it has sold 722,000 vehicles. Ford, when notified about the difference, said they made a mistake and issued a new press release, saying they actually sold 489,616 units in a six month period – not seven months – and the Toyota Corolla had sold 462,187 units. They also, in the new release, attributed those numbers to IHS Automotive, an independent auto research and forecasting firm that tracks data like global sales.”

That should settle it, no? No, says the WSJ.

Toyota says it sold 603,840 in that same six-month period. Which would give the Corolla a slight lead of 114,224 units over the Focus. IHS and Ford overlooked what is familiar to TTAC readers: The Corolla goes by different names in different countries, where it is known as the Matrix, Corolla Axio, Corilla Fielder, Corolla Rumion, and we possibly missed some.

Even if you only count global sales of the Corolla sedan and Auris hatchback, the two body styles available on the globally-sold Focus, that would give 524,000 units to the Corolla, which would still be ahead of the Focus, says Toyota.

Ford should know better than to rely on IHS Automotive. Its predecessor, IHS Global Insight, once received the nickname “Global Oversight” in the business for consistently erroneous numbers. In November 2009, IHS Global Oversight infamously crowned Volkswagen as the World’s largest automaker. A month later, Volkswagen ended the year correctly in place 3.

IHS concedes that its worldview is a bit blurred, as its numbers cover only 90% of the world and “the 10 percent that we miss out on may be in countries where Toyota is strong,” Christopher Hopson of IHS told the Journal.

In the end, muses a gracious Wall Street Journal, “it’s fair to say both companies are selling a lot of cars, even if no one can agree on how many.”

Bloomberg, after first buying into Ford’s 489,616 Focus vs. 462,187 Corollas story,  has second thoughts.  In a new story, the wire correctly reports that Ford and Toyota  “are each saying they produce the best-selling car in the world in the first half. Their definitions are the key.”

PS: Flagwavers, take note: The 350 millionth Ford and allegedly best-selling Focus rolled off the assembly lines in Thailand, at Ford’s Rayong plant.

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Fiction: Kaida Dreams of Glory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/fiction-kaida-dreams-of-glory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/fiction-kaida-dreams-of-glory/#comments Sat, 07 Jul 2012 21:11:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=450753 The dream is always the same. The day is ending. Cool evening breezes riffle across the sun-scorched furze and set dried leaves a-rustling in the trees, their sibilant hiss like the restless fluttering of a thousand small birds. Long and dappled shadows stretch flickering fingers across the hot tarmac of the final corner. There is […]

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The dream is always the same.

The day is ending. Cool evening breezes riffle across the sun-scorched furze and set dried leaves a-rustling in the trees, their sibilant hiss like the restless fluttering of a thousand small birds. Long and dappled shadows stretch flickering fingers across the hot tarmac of the final corner.

There is a crowd and they are silent, expectant and indistinct: faces like the smudged soft-focus colours of an impressionist oil-painting amongst the flapping flags. Insects hop and buzz in the long grasses; gradually, slowly, their hum is blended, enhanced, and finally supplanted by a rising crescendo.

The pack is coming, and Kaida is leading them.

She awakes to heavy rain drumming on her roof and splashing muck up onto her flanks. It’s barely dawn, the sky dull and sullen. Today it will clear, but brighten only to the dingy grey of an old bedsheet and no further.

Kaida feels her age. Shocks blown, bushings cracked, headliner sagging, once-beige paint fading and blistered. A crack bisects her grimy windshield, her headlights are yellowed and an inexpertly repaired wound is now an obvious and unsightly scar. Her heart is clogged with the plaque of neglect and she is shamed to see that where the water flows beneath her, it shimmers with a rainbow of dropped oil.

Soon, her current owner will call upon her and, with a single cough, she’ll rise gamely to battle the mid-morning traffic. Until then, she rests.

Chapter One – A Journey

Kaida was born in the way of all mechanical things. One moment a pile of assorted components, the next a whole. An unsmiling salaryman examines her, checking his notepad, oblivious to her questions.

“Where am I?”

“What am I?”

“Who are you?”

These and other soundless queries go unanswered as she joins the long queue exiting the factory’s womb and makes her way into the holding yard. There are others here, like her and yet not; their vacant, placid stares indicating a will to wait ’til the end of the world if need be.

Kaida is different, eager and antsy. Perhaps a fragment from a long-forgotten warrior’s katana has found its way into the steel that makes her chassis. Perhaps the factory worker that assembled her powerplant momentarily felt his fingers dance with the genetic tug of an ancestry of craftsmen; a family born and raised beside the heat of some hillside forge.

Whatever the case, she feels like a horse in a herd of cattle – packed tightly in the immense rectangular Ro-Ro vessel that will take her East to the West. In the damp gloom belowdecks, cars shift unhappily on their suspensions as the carrier shatters the Pacific with its bluff, broad prow. Kaida sleeps, and dreams.

California is sunny and bright with the raucous calls of circling gulls. They shit on the gathered rows of cars like endless squadrons of grey-on-white B-17s, layering guano on every imaginable shade of dirty, once-bright paintwork. Most don’t notice. Kaida hates it.

Then the railway. Endless swaying from depot to depot as the train snakes its way deep into the heartland. Shunting, rattling, delays and dust: the suffocating heat of a Texas rail-spur; the industrial despair of a rustbelt ghost town. And then, one day, the train moves on, but Kaida stays behind.

Loaded up front in a truck transporter, the driver figures her gold colour will hide any rock chips, tucking a black-on-black MR-2 safely underneath. They pull out on the interstate and Kaida gets her first glimpse of the American road.

It’s broad and smooth, an unbroken line stretching out to the horizon, and beyond. It speaks of freedom, sings of adventures to be had, whispers promises that are only the more enticing for all their vagueness.

She sits up high, watching cars stream past, loaded up with people and things. A lone motorcycle blurts its baritone raspberry. A dog barks at her from the open bed of a pickup truck. Endless fields spread out on either side as the traffic thins. A big country, wide open with potential.

At the dealership, a crowd gathers. Not for Kaida, or her other hum-drum travelling companions, but for the MR-2. Salesmen squabble over who will be first to try out the mid-engined car, right up until a florid manager arrives.

The law is laid down: no joy rides. Cleaned up and rolled right into the showroom for the weekend. The MR2, a green Camry, and – he points at Kaida – that one.

The lot boy – with his usual careless hurry – scrapes her belly while careening over a speed-bump, jams her transmission into park from a roll, and then proceeds to drop the wash-mitt on the ground and not bother to rinse it off. By five o’clock she’s backed into the far corner of the show-room, scarified and somewhat non-plussed by the rough treatment.

A small showroom, in a small dealership, in a small town, but it does have a crown jewel: a bright red twin-turbo Supra. It squats smack-dab in the middle of the showroom, reducing everything that surrounds it to mere background noise. Even the MR-2 shrinks by comparison; a minor noble in the presence of the king.

That night, Kaida neither sleeps nor dreams. She is in the company of greatness; titans with whom she will soon be sharing the road. She awaits the dawn anxiously, patiently, nervously, quietly.

Saturday is sunny, and the sales staff come trooping spiritedly out of the morning meeting, amped on caffeine and spiffed with cash, ready to greet, grin and grapple, shake hands and cajole. By eleven, four names are scrawled on the board in bright marker, and a jocular, festive mood fills the air. It’s going to be a good day.

Richard Hedley buys Kaida at 11:30, without test-driving. She is the last car to sell that weekend – he has that effect.

Chapter 2 – Richard

He comes in a cab on the Monday morning. No trade-in, his previous car has died on the hoist and been sent off for scrap without a twinge of regret at anything other than the expense of the tow-truck. The salesman flattens out his old license plates, bolts them on, and off Richard goes, without even adjusting his mirrors.

Mr. Hedley teaches, or rather, he lectures. Every day, he looks out at a herd of upturned, bovine faces and quietly despairs. His tone is dry, his tie knotted carelessly, his endless sports-coats frayed not by poverty, but ennui.

Like all kids, his students are no fools. They feel the waves of contempt radiating off this disheveled man and reflect it right back to him with surly unruliness. In the very first week, Kaida is awakened from a pleasant afternoon nap in the teacher’s parking lot by the cold sharpness of a key scoring a jagged line down her flank.

When he sees the damage, “Dickheadly” doesn’t utter a single staccato curse, nor clench his fist or jaw, nor harbour sudden red-tinged fantasies of revenge. He just sighs: in a sea of disappointments that laps at the shore of his life, this is but a minor wave.

The years pass and Kaida trundles back and forth from high school to home via the liquor store and the library. Her unpatched wound turns orange with iron oxide and her corners collect the scuffs and scrapes of an incautious parker: the kind who doesn’t leave notes.

The miles mount slowly, both in tally and in the speed at which they’re traveled. Mr. Hedley is as bumbling a driver as he is a wooer, cautious to a fault, yet not without a certain self-centered recklessness. Her tires wear and crack, her brakes began to squeak, but she is yet in her prime. Tucked away in the driveway at night, she dreams of hot tarmac and the sprint for the finish line.

For Richard, the same can not be said. He has swollen noticeably around the middle and sagged everywhere else. His life has become a sea of beige: beige textbooks, beige folders, beige papers, beige desk, beige trousers, beige meals, beige car. The only colour left in his life is the red to be found in his glass on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening. But then, she comes.

She is an English import, but not in an unapproachable, prim-and-proper sense. Miss (definitely not Ms.) Simmons is a South Counties maid, dark-haired, red-cheeked, plump in all the best places and merry-eyed. She teaches well. She likes a laugh. She likes a drink. She touches his arm when she talks, and laughs, and winks, and swirls away in a cloud of vanilla scent.

It takes a month to rouse himself from his long-habitual stupor. He drives faster to work and slower away from it – Kaida notices and is glad.

He becomes gradually less rumpled, less weathered. His shoes shine and his shuffle becomes a stride. His colleagues notice, and they smirk behind their hands– Miss Simmons touches everyone’s arm when she talks.

The road home leads past a little corner lot, coloured triangular flags fluttering in the breeze like the twinkling of a fish-lure above the hook. He’s passed this way for years, never noticing, but on this day a gleam of red catches his eye, and before he realizes it, he is turning in.

The red turns out to be a BMW 3-series cabriolet – “a real pussy-magnet” the salesman leers, with the sort of offensive manner that he knows is expected of him. A deal is struck. Papers signed.

Richard rolls out of the lot in a fog, out past the school, past the mill, past the liquor store, on past his house, out and down to the main drag where milling crowds fill the sidewalks in the warm air of the coming summer holidays. He sees her there, and she is with another.

To his credit, Richard doesn’t just sigh. He curses, and pounds the steering wheel, and speeds off into the night, eventually slinking home in the early hours of the morning to open a cupboard, crack a seal and pour himself out a cup of oblivion. In her new home, Kaida sleeps beneath the fluttering pennants, and dreams of apexes.

Chapter 3 – Michelle

Michelle Montgomery has made a mistake. His name is William (never Bill or Willy) and he is three. He is a bright boy, bright like his father and occasionally possessed of the same saturnine temperament.

Of course, William’s father has other qualities as well: narcissism, promiscuity, and violence. All of these dangerous little facets once seemed attractive to Michelle, and just because a hard truth has finally been exposed to her does not mean she’s learned anything from the experience. The pair of them are alone, except when she is not.

She has a job, which is something. It pays less than you’d expect, but it’d be enough if the money was well-managed, which it isn’t.

If this was another sort of story, Michelle would be a kind of heroine, struggling and sacrificing. As it is, she is only half as bad as William’s deadbeat father: deeply inconsistent, one moment smothering, the next coldly distant; as apt to throw a tantrum as her child – and she pinches.

She rolls into the corner lot in a dying Chrysler Intrepid with a cash-loan from her estranged mother that is just about enough to work out a skinny deal. The same salesman that talked Richard into his new BMW walks out to greet her with a lizard’s smile and a wolfish gaze that slowly devours her still-slim, denim-clad figure.

His lascivious smile lasts through the introductions, through the test-drive, all the way right up until negotiations. As they sit down, William, who has been fairly disinterested in the proceedings up to this point, contrives to get himself stung, grabbing a wasp that has been buzzing and batting futilely against the window.

The tiny office instantly fills with a piercing howl, a screaming roar made to rattle fillings and liquefy the brain. The salesman looks at the once-pretty girl, the grimace on her lined, exasperated face. She clutches at the squalling brat, his open mouth like a red wound, and the salesman feels his testicles retract back up into his stomach.

Paperwork never happened so fast. Kaida finds herself crammed full of stroller, child seat, boxes and bags and clothes and stuffed-toys and all manner of detritus. William recovers his composure in the first mile.

Michelle drives fast but not well. She leans forward over the wheel and lurches out into traffic, stomps on the brake pedal at the last minute, chatters on her phone and never, ever, signals before turning.

William is a little boy, and that means dirt. He kicks the back of the front seats and drops crumbs from crackers and cookies, spills juice in sticky puddles everywhere. Kaida’s interior takes on a musty fug of spoiled milk and fast-food wrappers.

There are boyfriends, most worthless, all temporary. One begs the keys “for a job interview” and ends up backing Kaida into a post. Hard. He slinks back at night, tosses the keys on the dresser and is gone in the morning. Michelle doesn’t even notice the damage until weeks later: she is trying to load the groceries and the trunk won’t open.

Her parking-lot struggles do not go unnoticed; he is tall and rangy, dark-haired and loose-limbed with a dangerous confidence. Kaida receives a close-fisted thump on the rear and her trunk springs open. Michele throws her head back and laughs, baring her throat. He smiles too, a glittering, toothy grin.

William, now six, looks solemnly out at the old familiar dance and briefly locks eyes with the cold, predatory gaze of the stranger. He is a bright boy, and he can see hard years ahead. But then, steel doesn’t sharpen against cheese: eventually, he’ll be fine. Kaida will not.

Michelle’s moves in, and as her stranger snaps up every aspect of her life, it becomes evident that there is no need for her aging set of wheels. Kaida will have to go, and after three weeks on craigslist, off she does.

Chapter 4 – Michael

Michael has just turned twenty-three and is coming to the bewildering realization that the world does not, in fact, owe him a living. This state of affairs is in direct conflict with his what his parents and teachers have been telling him for years.

He works as a picker at a warehouse, packing things in boxes, up and down through the aisles. The pay is okay. The hours are good. They don’t seem to mind when he makes a mistake.

The ladies that work the returns section of the warehouse love him, and why wouldn’t they? He’s always quick with a quip, affable; long-haired and lean with a languid smile.

He wires in a sub, replaces Kaida’s stereo with a Sony Xplod. On evenings, Mike drives out to the dyke with Tim-bo in the warm summer evenings and gets high as a kite to the thump of the bass and the sounds of Kaida’s trunk rattling and buzzing away.

He has a loose plan to pay back his parents for the car, but somehow it never happens. The summer seems to stretch on forever, and by the time the leaves start changing, he’s pretty much where he’s always been: not ahead, not behind, takin’ it easy.

Winter, and a cold one. There’s a new guy on shift, olive-skinned and silent; Mike invites him out for beers but he smiles shyly and mumbles something about his family. Whatever.

Tim-bo’s already half-cut by the time Mike finds a parking spot for Kaida and stumbles into the bar, eliciting complaints from those near the door as the icy blast swirls round their feet. Catch-up time – two quick shots take the edge off, maybe a brief step outside to blaze?

He nearly slips on a patch of ice coming back out, but catches the arm of a passer-by and hauls himself back up. The stranger pivots angrily and before Mike can murmur his usual easy-going thanks, a fist lashes out. The punch does little damage, but the fall…

Mike is ok. He’s ok.

Michael, on the other hand, Michael the little boy that once built a vinegar-and-baking-soda model of all the volcanoes of Japan; the boy that kissed Susie Jensen underneath the soccer field bleachers and then ran to tell Tim what kissing girls was like; the boy that once cried himself to sleep over the injustice of a dead hamster: he’s gone. All that’s left is Mike, good old, slightly dopey Mike.

Oh, and he can’t drive any more.

Chapter 5 – Trevor

Kaida is sold to Brent. Brent is a juggalo, and I hardly need tell you what the next two years are like.

Brent finally trades her to Kym for a laptop, but Kym doesn’t drive and Kaida sits outside on deflated tires in the heavy rain. Eventually, Kym’s roommate agrees to pay for the privilege of driving across town and promises to cover the cost of any parking tickets or breakdowns. Kaida is weary, but her dreams are as vivid as ever. In them, she is something more than the fading hulk that rises daily to travel across town, battling stop and go traffic.

Then, one day, Trevor arrives. He is slim, bespectacled, his face slightly scarred by long-forgotten teenage battles with acne. Kaida is yet again on the block, this time for just seven hundred dollars. Trevor will pay five hundred and five hundred only, but not because he’s cheap.

Kaida returns his gaze and for the first time, meets someone who knows what she knows. Someone who looks past the decrepitude of years of abuse, past the once-beige paint job and her rusting quarter-panels and her automatic transmission, past her weak four-cylinder engine and her soggy suspension and her ratty interior and her decaying steering and her mushy brakes and somewhere, far off, as though at a great distance she hears him say, “I’m looking to buy a race car and I can only spend five hundred bucks.”

A race car.

Eiplogue –

In the paddock, Kaida sleeps. She is painted in full race livery: her flanks read, “Rolling Road-block Driver Training” on one side and “Team Borolla” on the other. Her sagging front seats have been replaced with salvaged Recaros out of some VW product and her once-leaking engine boasts the least-likely turbocharging setup you could ever wish to see. It looks like Frankenstein’s duodenum with a tumourous snail hanging off it.

But she is ready. Ready for tomorrow’s battle. In the morning there will be smoke and noise and fire and paint-swapping and black-flagging and wheel-to-wheel combat of a ferocity unseen since the hippodromes of Rome. Her unlikely foes lie to the right and left, E30 BMWs, hacked-up Miatas, Volvos, Buicks, Lincolns, a Citroën.

Tomorrow, the fray. Tonight, Kaida sleeps.

And dreams.

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Junkyard Find: 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/junkyard-find-1987-toyota-corolla-gt-s-fx16/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/junkyard-find-1987-toyota-corolla-gt-s-fx16/#comments Tue, 12 Jun 2012 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=448495 Rear-wheel-drive AE86 Corolla GT-Ss are worth bucks these days, and you won’t see them in low-priced self-serve wrecking yards. The AE82 front-wheel-drive Corolla GT-S hasn’t held its value so well, and so examples do show up on The Crusher’s doorstep. We saw this white ’87 in California last year, and now I’ve found this silver […]

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Rear-wheel-drive AE86 Corolla GT-Ss are worth bucks these days, and you won’t see them in low-priced self-serve wrecking yards. The AE82 front-wheel-drive Corolla GT-S hasn’t held its value so well, and so examples do show up on The Crusher’s doorstep. We saw this white ’87 in California last year, and now I’ve found this silver ’87 in Colorado.
I’ve never owned an FX16, but it’s one of those classic 80s cars that I keep meaning to shop for.
Built at the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California, the FX16 was a worthy competitor to the Civic Si and VW GTI.
It was more awkward-looking than the VW and the Honda, what with its Toyota-stolid angular lines, but the 4A engine (shared with the MR2 as well as the AE86) made up for the already-dated-looking-in-’87 lines.
So, another FX16 GT-S about to leave the planet. I’m hoping a few solid examples will still be around when I decide to buy.

19 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S FX16 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Car Fight: Hyundai Azera v.v. Toyota Camry Hybrid, Niedermeyer v.v. Schmitt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/car-fight-hyundai-azera-v-v-toyota-camry-hybrid-niedermeyer-v-v-schmitt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/car-fight-hyundai-azera-v-v-toyota-camry-hybrid-niedermeyer-v-v-schmitt/#comments Sat, 09 Jun 2012 16:15:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=443746 Welcome to Car Fight, the comparison test with no basis for comparison. In this edition, we join Editor-In-Chief Bertel Schmitt and Editor-at-Large Ed Niedermeyer in sunny Southern California, where they’re arguing over which sedan makes a better $35k-ish commuter chariot, the 2012 Hyundai Azera or the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Niedermeyer: Well, Bertel… you asked […]

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Welcome to Car Fight, the comparison test with no basis for comparison. In this edition, we join Editor-In-Chief Bertel Schmitt and Editor-at-Large Ed Niedermeyer in sunny Southern California, where they’re arguing over which sedan makes a better $35k-ish commuter chariot, the 2012 Hyundai Azera or the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Niedermeyer: Well, Bertel… you asked for it. You were the one who thought your overpriced, buzzy little hybrid could take on my BuickBimBap on the uncompromising streets of L.A. You picked this Car Fight, and now you’re going to lose.

Let’s be clear: you’re pitting a midsized sedan with some overly-complex gubbins against a purpose-built, full-sized cruising machine. My V6 has nearly 100 horsepower on your hybrid. I could chauffeur three NFL linemen in comfort, you’d be hard-pressed to accommodate more than three cheerleaders. Oh, and did I mention that my car features the best application yet of Hyundai’s “fluidic sculpture” design language, while yours has… hybrid badges?

Sure, my Azera is a few grand more expensive, and no, it doesn’t get hybrid fuel economy, but this is no contest. Just admit that you wish you’d asked Toyota for an Avalon and lets be done with this.

Schmitt: Three NFL linemen? My ride has space for four Japanese cheerleaders. Actually, more, but I don’t want to be pulled over with a car full of lithe ladies. Lose weight, or lose money at the pump, as your kimchee-kruiser demonstrates. I drove my cheerleaders from L.A. to San Diego and back, and I still had half a tank. I bet they gave your car that “fluid” design because of how quickly fuel flows in that thing.

Have a look at this: With a bunch of cheerleaders in the car, and going down I5 with the A/C on full blast – those cheerleaders are hot – the mpg was a little shy of 40. Some hypermiler before me had 46.7 mpg. Probably driving alone. It’s lonely at the top.

And yours? No wonder they hide this god awful mileage deep in the instrument clutter of the Azera. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself, Ed? Do you hate polar bears?

And what’s that? An anatomically correct exhaust pipe? You car is sucking gas so quick it can’t even digest it properly. Give it up, Niedermeyer. I’ll buy my cheerleaders sushi while you head to the gas station. You will give up after you see the bill.

Niedermeyer: …

Schmitt (a week later:): Ed? Hello? Hello?

Niedermeyer: … 

Schmitt (yet another week later:): Ed? Eeeeeeeeeeehed?

No answer. Ed must be speechless.

I am forced to finish this car fight single-handedly. It’s too bad, because there is one area where Ed could have gained points. And that is …

The trunk.

Measured using TTAC’s new (and for all reviewers mandatory) trunksizing metrics, the Hyundai Azera  has trunkspace big enough for one overweight editor-in-chief plus three spooning cheerleaders, American. (Cheerleaders not in picture, they ran away.)

The Camry trunk on the other hand only has room for one skinny editor-at-large, end even that is a bit cramped. Azera 4, Camry 1. But then, if you need to lug around all that junk in the trunk, get a truck.

Finally, the coupe de grace: The talking navigation systems.

Sure, both struggled with Los Angeles and the chore of pronouncing “continue on South Sepulveda Blvfftbr… then make a right onto  West Cen-tineeeeela Avbzzt.” The Camry however has a nice human voice that seems to have charming pronunciation problems. The Azera has a computer voice straight from Mars.

Too bad that yellowbelly Ed went AWOL and is unable to defend his ride.

I felt great in mine. Prepared for a pokey hybrid, I was pleasantly surprised by the on-ramp prestige the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid delivers. After one week in the car, I had fallen in love with it, and I was sad to see it go.

If you have the extra $$$$ for the Azera and the gas station attendant, with whom you will become quite familiar, by all means, go for it. If not, take the hybrid Camry.

The 2012 Hyundai Azera was supplied by Hyundai with a full tank of gas. It was delivered to the airport by a rather attractive attendant, dressed all black with pink accents.

Prudent Toyota handed over the keys to the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid on their parking lot. Adhering to Japanese customs, the car was returned with a full tank of gas. After one week, it cost Bertel $39.50

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Review: 11th Gen Corolla, JDM Spec, And A Discussion With Its Chief Engineer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/review-11th-gen-corolla-jdm-spec-and-a-discussion-with-its-chief-engineer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/review-11th-gen-corolla-jdm-spec-and-a-discussion-with-its-chief-engineer/#comments Thu, 31 May 2012 19:22:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=447022 Two weeks ago, I covered the arrival of the 11th generation Corolla in Japan. In Japan, the sedan is called Corolla Axio, the station wagon variant is called the Corolla Fielder. My report caused consternation amongst some readers who do not expect the arrival of the new Corolla before 2014. Instead of simply accepting that […]

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Two weeks ago, I covered the arrival of the 11th generation Corolla in Japan. In Japan, the sedan is called Corolla Axio, the station wagon variant is called the Corolla Fielder. My report caused consternation amongst some readers who do not expect the arrival of the new Corolla before 2014. Instead of simply accepting that TTAC is ahead of its times, some readers ordered me to do better research. Your wish being my command (this time,) I went back to the scene of the alleged research crime to sit down with the car’s creator, Toyota Chief Engineer Hiroya Fujita. I asked him to explain to the Best and Brightest the birds and the bees of the new Corolla.

I also drove the car around the block a few times.

Fujita is a friendly man. When his eyes sparkle behind his rimless glasses, a laughter is quick to follow. This is the second Corolla in his career. He also led the development of the previous generation, “in its Japanese and South American version.” (Hint, hint.)

“Customers are different in each region,” says Fujita, and the Corolla will be adapted to these different tastes and requirements.

Asked how many Corollas exist in parallel in this world, Fujita says that there are “many Corollas, but the differences are small.”

Fujita confirms that this is the new generation Corolla which will eventually appear in the rest of the world once he and his colleagues are done with the adaptions.

One of the most obvious engineering requirements for the JDM variant was issued by the Japanese government. To qualify as a (lower taxed) compact car, vehicles must measure less than 4.7 m (15.4 ft) in length and 1.7 m (5.6 ft) in width. The new Axio complies with this requirement, while providing more space on the inside.

“U.S. customers think bigger is better,” says Fujita. Stateside, there won’t be a “honey, I shrunk the Corolla.” Fujita indicates that the increase in length will most likely translate into more trunk space, the cabin will be “almost the same.”

Fujita is a tease. He says that he cannot talk about the U.S. model because it still is in development, under a different Chief Engineer. Then he adds that the different Chief Engineer sits in the office next to him and that they are in constant communication. Occasionally announcing that the U.S. model is top secret, Fujita keeps talking.

The U.S. customer will not get the rounded windshield that provides the feeling of even more interior space in the new JDM Corolla. Forget about a wagon version in the U.S.

“I love technology” says Fujita, as he treats the new Corolla to a list of features that hitherto were only available in higher end Toyota and Lexus models. Will the new features survive the journey across the Pacific?

Fujita says that he can’t disclose details, and that the new ventilated driver’s seat may come to the U.S., or may not, depending on the colleague next door and the U.S. supplier. The chances of the automatic high beams coming to the U.S. currently are low. That feature is better suited to the “winding roads in Japan,” says Fujita. The U.S. engine will be a 1.8 liter, the CVT will stay at home in Japan. The new idle stop system also won’t make it across the Pacific, it is mated to the CVT.

What will never ever make it into a Corolla, at least as long as Fujita is in charge, is an instrument cluster in the middle.

“I don’t like it,” says Fujita, “and Corolla customers the world over don’t like it either.”

The ergonomics people tried to convince Fujita that sideway glances of the eyes are quicker and less distracting than up and down movements of the eyeballs, but the Corolla’s Chief Engineer is not buying it.

The new Corolla will not appeal to would-be car racers and horse power worshipers. The car is a crowd pleaser, more than a million change hands each year. Ever since I was on the launch team of the Golf in 1973, I developed great respect for mass market cars and their creators. Designing a supercar is easy, which explains the high numbers of people who dabble in it. The development of a mass-market car that is consistently successful over many generations is a demanding discipline that is mastered only by a chosen few.

With that thought in my head, I drive Fujita’s creation until I get lost on the way to Tokyo’s new Dinosaur bridge. I make a U-turn and head back. The turn is easy, the car’s learning curve is flat. To avoid complaints about different Corollas, I will leave the true driving impressions to Messrs. Dykes, Karesh, or even Baruth when the U.S. version will reach the U.S. shores two years from now. Or thereabouts.

Toyota provided the car and the engineer.

Corolla Axio. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Corolla Axio. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Corolla Axio. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Corolla Axio. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Corolla Axio. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Corolla Axio. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Corolla Axio. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Corolla Chief Engineer Hiroya Fujita. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Corolla Chief Engineer Hiroya Fujita. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Corolla Chief Engineer Hiroya Fujita. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Corolla Chief Engineer Hiroya Fujita. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Corolla Chief Engineer Hiroya Fujita. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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