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?

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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…)

By on December 10, 2018

Jack Hollis, Toyota North America’s general manager, was quite forthcoming during a roundtable discussion at the L.A. Auto Show. After unveiling the brand’s upcoming all-wheel drive Toyota Prius and hybrid Corolla sedan, he speculated on what else might be coming down the product pipe.

We already know that Toyota wants to TRD-ify as many models as possible (the Camry and Avalon aren’t an end point, apparently), but AWD and hybrid power serve the purposes of practicality, not style. There’s more reason to desire a vehicle that sips gas or blasts through snowbanks with aplomb.

That’s why an AWD, hybrid Corolla isn’t off the table. Upon hearing this, this writer’s mind drifted to the new-for-2019 Corolla Hatch and a small crossover that, strangely, isn’t offered with AWD. What would a would-be C-HR buyer be giving up if Toyota went ahead and electrified the rear axle of the Corolla Hatch? (Read More…)

By on December 3, 2018

For two decades, the name “Prius” was all a committed Toyota buyer needed to know when searching for a compact hybrid vehicle. Soon, there’ll be two options, not counting the plug-in Prius Prime.

The automaker’s decision to offer a hybrid version of the still strong-selling Corolla was not made to usher its famed hybrid model into the shadows; rather, there’s two key reasons for it. Sure, the Corolla nameplate carries an enviable reputation and boatloads of name recognition, but Toyota’s also willing to admit that the Prius’ attributes just weren’t resonating with a certain segment of the American public.  (Read More…)

By on November 28, 2018

Toyota followed its November debut of the twelfth-generation Corolla with a November debut of the twelfth-generation Corolla. This time around, we’re looking at the new Hybrid sedan — a model which seems like it probably should have gone on sale years ago, though we aren’t positive who the intended demographic would be. Prius owners?

While the Corolla Hybrid already exists in Toyota’s expanded universe, this is the first time the automaker has seen fit to bring the variant stateside. The hybrid system unites a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle internal combustion engine (2ZR-FXE) and two electric motors for a combined output of 121 horsepower. Those are rather tepid specs, but the automaker was likely much more concerned with achieving the model’s estimated 50 mpg average fuel economy than tuning the motor for the racetrack.

Consider it sort of a Diet Prius, if that helps.  (Read More…)

By on November 16, 2018

Toyota gathered media in California this week, myself included, to drive the new RAV4 (check back next week for my thoughts). The company also decided that, since they planned to take the wraps off the new Corolla in China at about the same time we’d be eating dinner, it made sense to show us the newest version of the best-selling nameplate of all time.

Perched on Toyota’s TNGA platform like the already-on-sale Corolla hatch, the 12th-generation sedan retains the same 106.3-inch wheelbase as before, but grows wider front and rear. The front overhang shrinks by over an inch, the rear overhang grows by over half an inch, and the hood is lowered nearly an inch and a half. Overall height decreases by a little less than an inch.

(Read More…)

By on November 9, 2018

If you lose sleep this weekend, we’ll know why. Toyota plans to debut its next-generation Corolla sedan at the Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition on November 16th, completing a product revamp that began with this year’s introduction of the Corolla Hatch (formerly Corolla iM, formerly Scion iM).

It’s expected the sedan, now swapped to the TNGA platform, will appear with a familiar face and upgraded mechanicals borrowed from its five-door sibling. With compact cars on the decline, Toyota needs its aging Corolla gone in order to better compete with the Honda Civic. Both models, however, are alike in one way: they’re falling out of favor with consumers. (Read More…)

By on May 25, 2018

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

With a new body, platform, wheelbase, engine, and continuously variable transmission, the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback (formerly the Corolla iM) is a very different beast than its predecessor. This was made abundantly clear during our recent test drive. Gone is the weird seating position, the spartan interior, and the so-so ride.

Just as important, the iM’s lackluster power figures give way to decent specs for a car of its class. It seems Toyota actually listened to owner complaints, boosting the vehicle’s output by 31 horsepower and 25 lb-ft while adding a physical launch gear to the new CVT, all in the hopes of wringing a little fun out of the compact liftback.

Here’s what getting into a Corolla Hatch costs: (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2018

In the first installment of the Crapwagon Garage QOTD series, we asked all of you to submit value-priced used hatchbacks which were near and dear enough to earn one of the limited spots available.

Moving away from the hatch and liftback body style, today we turn our virtual attention to the sedan section of the Crapwagon Garage.

(Read More…)

By on April 30, 2018

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

Toyota’s Corolla iM was an orphan almost from birth. Conceived by Scion, the compact hatchback joined the Toyota clan after its youth-focused parent brand took an eternal dirt nap.

Despite styling that bordered on edgy, the iM failed to elevate drivers’ enthusiasm to a point where its sales numbers played much of a role in the Corolla nameplate’s popularity. Testing revealed a five-door hatch that, while versatile, severely lacked in both power and comfort.

Simply put, it wasn’t very special. At all.

That all changes for 2019, as Toyota’s making amends for its weak earlier effort. With its new Corolla hatch (the iM name disappears, erasing the last trace of Scion from the automotive landscape), the automaker hoped to create a car owners might actually want to toss around — and one they can drive without going nuts finding a proper driving position. (Read More…)

By on April 26, 2018

2017 Toyota Corolla LE - Image: Toyota

Those fools — don’t they know the Corolla sold *just* 329,196 examples in the United States last year?

Alright, not everything has to be about Ford. But as the Blue Oval plans a retreat from the affordable passenger car market, other automakers stand to gain the company’s lost customers. Some of them, anyway. And Toyota seems to have no qualms about continuing to sell small, affordable cars that bring buyers into the showroom — so much so, that it’s spending $170 million to bring more jobs (and a new Corolla) to Mississippi.

In the context of this week’s news, the Corolla’s factory retooling and platform swap makes one marvel at what name recognition and a simple bodystyle can do for a model. (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2018

Image: Toyota

We can put any speculation that Toyota wants to cull its five-door Corolla iM to rest right now. The automaker has revealed an all-new 2019 model ahead of its official debut at next week’s New York International Auto Show, but with a new body and platform comes a slight name change.

The last vestiges of the defunct Scion brand, under which the iM was born in 2015, is now gone. Thus, the Corolla iM becomes simply the Corolla Hatchback. With this model, based on the European-market Auris, Toyota attempts to correct a couple of its predecessor’s glaring flaws. (Read More…)

By on March 19, 2018

1989 Toyota Corolla GT-S in California wrecking yard, RH view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Corolla was the first Toyota car to be a smash sales hit in the United States (I’d like to say it was the Corona, for obvious reasons, but that car’s sales figures were merely respectable for a then-obscure brand), but we didn’t think of the sensible little econoboxes as fast until the legendary AE86 Corolla GT-S in 1983. Then came the front-wheel-drive FX16 GT-S, a worthy competitor to European hot hatches.

The AE92 GT-S never gained the cult following of the earlier GT-S cars, and so you won’t see many on the street today. Here’s an ’89, spotted in an Oakland, California, self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

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