By on July 1, 2020

2020 Toyota Corolla LE Hybrid

Add the Toyota Corolla to the list of nameplates that were accused of losing the plot in recent years, before being righted — at least partially — by a redesign or refresh.

We’ve talked about this with the Nissan Altima (and Sentra, and Versa), as well as other vehicles. Now, it’s the Toyota’s turn.

I got my grubby mitts on a Corolla Hybrid and put it through its paces around Chicago. I’ve been critical of the car before – the last-generation model’s steering felt like it was constantly out to lunch, and the seating position was uncomfortable, especially for a tall, beer-gutted dude like me.

These flaws might’ve been acceptable if the car didn’t also feel downmarket, even accounting for its price point. Honda, Hyundai, and others were offering compact sedans that were even with (or better) than the Corolla for similar money.

Toyota took a step in the right direction with the Corolla hatch, but did the sedan follow? Well, sort of.

(Read More…)

By on May 7, 2020

Toyota appears to be ready to answer a call, hinting at — but stopping short of confirming — the future arrival of a small car with outsized performance on American shores.

The automaker’s U.S. arm greeted Thursday by gathering up consumers who’d like to hear more about a GR-badged hot hatch from the company. GR meaning Gazoo Racing, an abbreviation already slapped on a two-door Yaris screamer not available on this continent. Boasting a very blown three-cylinder and all-wheel drive, this Yaris is not your coworker’s wife’s commuter. Nor will its one-size-up sibling be anything to scoff at.

Toyota clearly sees opportunity in the compact hot hatch space, and rumors and trademarks have spoken to this for some time. Today, Toyota’s speaking about it. (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2020

Recent trademark filings in Australia offered up tantalizing rumor fare for the hot hatch crowd, but the documents didn’t necessarily spell added future fun for Toyota-loving Americans. That, apparently, is now something they should expect.

The GR Corolla name will reportedly find a home on a three-cylinder version of the Corolla Hatchback — a vehicle whose piston count shouldn’t be scoffed at. (Read More…)

By on April 1, 2020

There’s no question that Toyota wishes posters of its cars were found on the bedroom walls of more teenage boys, and, to its credit, it’s made headway on that goal. Supra, anyone? Then there’s the TRD Camry and Avalon, which might raise eyebrows if found in said posters.

That said, the injection of sport into the brand’s once staid lineup seems poised to target the lower end of things. We’ve seen the overseas GR Yaris, an exciting hot hatch not bound for these shores, but Toyota’s focus now seems to be turning to higher-volume small cars. This is where things could get interesting for North America. (Read More…)

By on January 3, 2020

2020 Toyota Corolla - Image: Toyota Canada

Not that long ago, we posited that the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic would buck the declining passenger car trend and eke out a sales win in 2019. Several things were working in the models’ favor — name recognition, diversity of choice, and the elimination of domestic rivals.

In this market, in this era, breaking even counts as a win. And that’s just what the Corolla and Civic did last year. (Read More…)

By on November 5, 2019

As selling compact passenger cars to Americans is no longer a responsibility borne by domestic automakers, Japan is left shouldering much of the burden in a segment it’s always excelled in. Western car sales are on the decline and, with the Detroit Three pulling out, Japan saw both a challenge and an opportunity.

The biggest players, Toyota and Honda, chose to expend every round in their magazines in the hopes of scoring hits. The Civic and Corolla diversified, upping their game and pulling further ahead of rivals like the Nissan Sentra and Mazda 3.

If capturing a bigger share of the pie while stabilizing their own softening sales was the goal, Honda and Toyota seem to have succeeded. With two months left in 2019, it’s increasingly looking like both models could finish 2019 with a sales increase. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2019

In last Wednesday’s QOTD post we covered all the worst examples of automotive collaboration. Commenters racked up the examples, sharing collaboration failures even worse than the Jaguar X-Type selected for textual pillory in the post.

Today we flip it around and discuss the best outcomes of automaker cooperation.

(Read More…)

By on May 21, 2019

2019 Toyota Corolla

Y’all are probably gonna flay me for what I am about to write. I know, because one of our contributors took it on the chin (no pun intended) earlier this year after writing up the 2020 Corolla sedan.

That’s okay. I can take it. You guys out there fling arrows at us sometimes and we’re cool with it. It’s part of the job. Still, I am ducking (metaphorically speaking, do you know how hard is to type while ducking? Hurts your neck, man).

(Read More…)

By on May 14, 2019

As much as it pains us to say it, manual transmissions are on their way out. While car enthusiasts bemoan the matter incessantly, as we just did, the reality is that most drivers aren’t interested in owning something with a stick. It’s gotten to a point where many automakers no longer offer vehicles with a manual transmission, or just keep one high-performance model around with an optional clutch pedal just to appease a subset of their customer base.

Toyota, which sells more manual models than most, recently spilled its guts to CarBuzz after the outlet requested the company reveal the percentage of its new cars still sold with a manual while attending the Supra launch event.

The resulting figures are about what you’d expect.  (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2019

We know, we know — you’re torn on the answer to this age-old question. Well, Toyota thinks its 2020 Corolla sedan, which adopts the platform and powertrain changes seen on the 2019 hatch, is hot, sizzling stuff. And you will, too, it seems.

So much so, you’re liable to engage in a lewd public act, possibly encouraging a visit from the cops. (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2019

2020 Toyota Corolla - Image: Toyota CanadaPromises that “This will be the sedan that saves cars” and “The passenger car comeback starts here” are so 2017.

2018 welcomed the arrival of high expectations in the form of an all-new Toyota Camry and an all-new Honda Accord. The results were predictable, if not in the eyes of automaker CEOs, then surely for the rest of us. Camry and Accord sales each fell to a seven-year low, the refreshed Hyundai Sonata plunged to a 15-year low, and Mazda 6 volume hit an all-time annual low.

Now it’s time for an all-new version of the Toyota Corolla.  Rather than suggest the Corolla will revitalize the compact car segment by generating renewed demand across the board and ending a mass migration to crossovers, Toyota’s prediction is much more realistic.

According to Toyota, sales of the all-new-much-improved Corolla will decline. (Read More…)

By on March 11, 2019

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback front quarter

Let’s face it. Most Toyotas are boring. Sure, enthusiasts get tossed the occasional bone – the 86 and the upcoming (controversial) Supra – but otherwise, the lineup doesn’t excite.

I believe that there are gearheads deep within the bowels of Toyota R&D, however. Those who recall the days when several proper performance cars shared a lot with the ubiquitous Camry.

Here is proof. No, this 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback isn’t a hardcore sportscar. It could certainly do with more power. But that Toyota brought out a new car – with an optional manual transmission, no less! – in a climate where the crossover dominates speaks volumes about the future of driving enthusiasm at one of the world’s biggest manufacturers. There is hope for drivers.

(Read More…)

By on February 28, 2019

Yes, yes. It’s a Corolla. I’ve cursed them in traffic, you’ve done the same, and more than a few of them are purchased by a segment of the driving public who view the car as an appliance.

The little sedan from Toyota didn’t become a success for no reason; they’re scattered around this country like litter after a ticker-tape parade, after all. Can the new-for-2020 base model pull the pursestrings of this flinty-eyed author? Or is the frugal shopper better off spending $450 and upgrading to the LE trim?

(Read More…)

By on February 26, 2019

2020 Toyota Corolla

I had a nickname for the Toyota Corolla once. Back in my days as an overly judgmental prepubescent teenage boy, I used to call Toyota’s honest economy car the “Crapolla.” Growing up in an affluent North Jersey neighborhood in the ‘90s, everyone and their mother had a Bimmer, Benz, or even a Bentley. If you drove a Corolla, you were either a maid at the McMansion down the street or the underpaid seventh-grade social studies teacher of the local school district.

Although a by-word for cheap, efficient, reliable, and honest transportation, I simply couldn’t see beyond its reputation as a soulless tin econobox. It was far from a total dog. Yet, it still clearly gave off the impression that it was for people who didn’t have a pulse and couldn’t care less about cars or driving them. And let’s be honest, with the Toyota Corolla surpassing the Volkswagen Beetle as the best-selling automotive nameplate in history – over 46 million Corollas sold over its 11 generations – the vast majority of the car-buying public might have a questionable pulse.

My teen years were almost 20 years ago and the Corolla has certainly changed since then. Up until 2012, the Toyota Corolla maintained complete anonymity and was more inconspicuous than a loaf of Wonder Bread. It was hardly any more exciting than the loaf in nearly every aspect.

(Read More…)

By on December 28, 2018

Ten years ago, Toyota fielded a solid lineup of passenger vehicles that were about as exciting as lukewarm tap water. However, the company has since embarked on a quest to change its trajectory and spice things up. Phase one included revision to the firm’s design language. Phase two involved tapping into the brand’s performance heritage and utilizing Gazoo Racing to help develop performance variants of existing models in Japan.

With models like the Supra making a return and other re-imaginings of performance icons in the works, things are now clipping along at full steam over at Toyota. Unfortunately, not all of its upcoming offerings make sense. While the TRD versions of the Camry and Avalon do more to bolster dynamics than sport-inspired appearance packages offered by other manufacturers, next month’s debut of the TRD Prius is utterly bewildering. These aren’t the first models that come to mind when one imagines Toyota injecting more pep and attitude into the brand.  (Read More…)

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