By on August 28, 2017

1977 Toyota Corolla in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The third-generation Toyota Corolla, still on a rear-wheel-drive chassis, was a tremendous sales success in California. The cheapest model was the two-door post sedan, and these reliable commuters were seen everywhere in the Golden State well into the 1990s.

Nearly all are gone, but this ’77 stayed on its own four tires until age 40, finally wrapping up its long career in this San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on August 23, 2017

2018 Honda Fit Sport 6MT in Orange Fury - Image: HondaThe Dodge Dart is dead. The Ford Fiesta is likely on its last legs in the United States. Ford Focus production is moving to China, off the North American continent where demand for Ford small cars is rapidly declining. General Motors is scaling back production at the Chevrolet Sonic’s Orion Township, Michigan, assembly plant.

That’s the Detroit small car picture, or at least part of it. From Japan’s perspective, however, small cars are entirely worth it, not just because of the sales success enjoyed by the Honda Civic (currently America’s best-selling car through 2017’s first seven months) and Toyota Corolla, but because of the demographic small cars target. (Read More…)

By on April 12, 2017

2017 Honda Civic hatchback - Image: Honda

Canadian passenger car sales are falling, not unpredictably, as SUVs and crossovers continue to earn an increasingly large chunk of market share.

And yet at the top of the passenger car leaderboard, Canada’s two best-selling cars are selling at a record pace, with no small amount of help from new hatchback body styles.

Bucking the Canadian, North American, and global anti-car trend most distinctly is the Honda Civic, Canada’s best-selling car in each of the last 19 years.

Indeed, so strong have Civic sales been through the first-quarter of 2017, we’re ready to make a projection. Make it a confirmation. We’ll say it with certainty. Honda Canada’s Civic streak will reach a full two decades, twenty years, as the Civic becomes Canada’s best-selling car in 2017.

The Civic’s lead is already insurmountable. (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2017

2017 Toyota Corolla iM rear – Image: © Timothy Cain

A year and a half since Scion introduced the iM in the United States, little more than a year since Toyota announced the Scion brand’s discontinuation, and six months since the Scion iM began to operate as the Toyota Corolla iM, almost every Toyota Corolla buyer chooses the inferior Corolla sedan instead of this hatchback.

Fortunately, the iM generates more sales activity for Toyota than it did for Scion. Over the last four months, for instance, the Corolla iM produced 6,548 U.S. sales, up 34 percent compared to the year-before figure claimed by the Scion iM.

After spending a week with the refreshed 2017 Toyota Corolla XSE sedan in January and the last week with the 2017 Toyota Corolla iM, it’s clear the iM is the superior Corolla. It’s clear that a far greater percentage of the 28,000 monthly American Corolla buyers should be choosing this car.

But they don’t. And they won’t. And there are a number of reasons why. (Read More…)

By on March 3, 2017

Toyota Corolla and Kia Niro, Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn

Crossover — it’s such a magical term. To the average consumer and the shiny marketing executive, adventure and utility come standard with a crossover. The consumers who own a crossover can rest assured they’re interesting, well-rounded, and worthwhile people. The marketing executive can also rest assured with the knowledge the CUV is without a doubt the fastest growing segment in the entire North American market.

But you are neither consumer nor person of marketing lineage, you’re the B&B. So tell me, what defines a crossover for you? (Read More…)

By on January 18, 2017

2017 Toyota Corolla XSE – Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

So you say you want to understand Toyota. You want to look the company in the eye and get a sense of its soul. Without spending hours studying kaizen and poring over 2000GT imagery and learning the significance of the number 86, you want to know why Toyota is different from, say, Porsche.

Allow the 2017 Toyota Corolla to be your tutor. In LE Eco guise, the fuel-sipping Corolla’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder produces 140 horsepower. In “sporty” SE and XSE trims, the 1.8-liter produces eight fewer horsepower.

No kidding.

With nothing more substantive than rear disc brakes, bigger wheels, and wider low-profile tires, the 2017 Toyota Corolla XSE and its less luxurious SE sibling hardly bring performance to the Corolla lineup. The loss of eight horsepower — and the gain of two pound-feet of torque – compared to the more efficient LE Eco aren’t performance-altering characteristics, either.

Think then of this Corolla XSE as just a Corolla, as merely a Corolla, as only a Corolla, as perhaps the most prudent transportation-oriented purchase a North American car buyer can make this year.

Or as the most joyless way to spend $24,130 on a new car. (Read More…)

By on January 12, 2017

1990-toyota-corolla-blue-front-quarter

This Monday, I sat among a herd of journalists and executives waiting for the Honda Odyssey press reveal to begin. While nominally I was there to cover the event on behalf of this fine publication, I was also considering my next family car purchase.

Jack wrote at length yesterday about the relatively recent phenomenon of at once coddling and ignoring the spawn relegated to the stern of the family vehicle. While I don’t intend to completely answer the questions raised, I’d like to consider what might affect our choice of family conveyance.

(Read More…)

By on August 22, 2016

2017 Toyota 86 Front 3/4, Image: Toyota

Toyota has released 2017 prices for some of its small cars, and it looks like a name change (and modest power increase) tacked a slight premium onto the Toyota 86, formerly the Scion FR-S.

A sign of our automated times, it looks like the manual transmission’s days could be numbered in the Corolla lineup. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2016

1981 Toyota Corolla SR5 Coupe in Colorado Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

These days, plenty of tuner kids want to get a E70 Corolla and turn it into a sick drift machine … but then reality sets in and they end up commuting to work in a 15-year-old Kia Rio instead. Meanwhile, the abandoned drift-project TE72 wagons become 24 Hours of LeMons cars, if they’re lucky, and the rusty SR-5s just get scrapped once something costing more than $19 breaks.

This ’81 Corolla two-door SR-5 liftback gave its all in the service of its owners, and now it awaits parts buyers in a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on March 24, 2016

2017 Toyota Corolla XSE

The eleventh generation Toyota Corolla has been refreshed with a new beak-like nose, and equipped with new safety features and options. Furthermore, as the Corolla is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, a special commemorative edition has been announced.

I’ll expect to see a few of these rolling across the blocks at the Barrett-Jackson auction in 2046.

(Read More…)

By on February 23, 2016

Aliza McKeigue with her 2001 Toyota Corolla, Image: Claire Brennan

Some fans of this website might call it an econobox. Others, who obviously don’t know better, might even call it a “penalty box.” But to Aliza McKeigue, 25, the humble 2001 Toyota Corolla is a beloved companion. She refers to the car affectionately in the third person singular, feminine.

So when Aliza left Boston, Massachusetts in January 2015, for what she thought was going to be six months of WWOOFing in Hawaii (that awkward acronym stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), she left the car at the old family home with her father and brother. But she soon found herself wanting to stay indefinitely, and began considering her longer term transportation options. Among other things, she had started recycling stuff — collectable and otherwise — at a local market, a business that she calls Funky Finds. She needed a vehicle. The more she looked at local used cars, the more she wanted her Corolla.

(Read More…)

By on February 12, 2016

08 - 1980 Toyota Corolla wagon in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The fourth-generation Corolla was a gigantic sales success in California, but you won’t see many of these TE72 wagons even in rust-free regions these days; nearly all of them were driven into the ground and replaced by RAV4s or Priuses a decade or two back.

Since we had wagon Junkyard Finds on Monday and Wednesday, let’s make this a Junkyard Wagon Week with this third one! (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2015

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. (Read More…)

By on May 28, 2015

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. (Read More…)

By on April 2, 2015

10 - 1988 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFor reasons that trolly shouters on both extremes of the American politico-socio-automotive spectrum know to be the truth, the exact same workers at the Fremont Assembly plant who couldn’t hammer together a decent-quality Buick Regal or GMC C/K— no matter how many Mickey’s Big Mouths they guzzled in some South Hayward parking lot before their shifts— suddenly became capable of building rebadged Corollas that were every bit as good as the ones made by their Japanese counterparts, once the plant became NUMMI (nowadays they build Teslas there). Of course, each of you knows that this is due to (insert damning indictment of those dupes who believe Wrong Things here) with a touch of (insert bilious tirade that sounds the alarm about Some Evil Conspiracy here), and to provide ammunition for your arguments I present this 1988 Chevrolet-badged AE82 Toyota Sprinter aka Corolla. (Read More…)

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