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William Maley

Quick Drive: 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road Double Cab

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(Author’s Note: Before you ask, no this isn’t a typo. I really did drive a 2017 Tacoma in 2018. Due to some circumstances, the Tacoma took the place of another vehicle at the last minute. I didn’t realize it was a 2017 model until I saw the sticker. I’ll make note of the changes for 2018 towards the end of the piece.)

I’ll likely make some people annoyed with this line: The Toyota Tacoma is the Jeep Wrangler of the pickup world. Before you start getting banging on your keyboard, telling me how I am wrong, allow me to make my case. The two models have a number of similarities; off-road pedigree, not changing much in terms of design or mechanicals; and somewhat uncomfortable when driven on the road.

  • Since our last review of the Tacoma, not much has changed with the exterior. The TRD Off-Road package does make the Tacoma look somewhat mean with a new grille, 16-inch wheels wrapped meaty off-road tires, and a khaki paint color that looks like it came from an army base. 
  • The Tacoma’s interior is very user-friendly with a comprehensive and simple dash layout. Most controls are where you expect to find them and in easy reach. But some controls are placed in some odd locations. A key example is the hill descent control which is next to the dome lights on the ceiling.
  • Comfort is still almost nonexistent in the Tacoma. The front seats are quite firm and provide decent support. No height adjustment means a fair number of people will need to make comprises in comfort to find the right seating position. The back seat can fit adults, provided you don’t have anyone tall sitting in the front. Otherwise, legroom becomes very scarce.
  • Under the hood is a 3.5L V6 producing 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic and four-wheel drive. At low speeds, the engine pulls quite strongly and smoothly. It is very different when traveling on the highway as the engine really needs to be worked to get up to speed at a somewhat decent rate. Part of this comes down to the automatic which likes to quickly upshift to maximize fuel economy. There is a ‘sport’ mode on the transmission that locks out fifth and sixth gear, but only improves performance marginally.
  • Fuel economy is towards the bottom with EPA figures of 18 City/23 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed around 19.5 mpg.
  • TRD Off-Road brings forth a retuned suspension setup featuring a set of Bilstein shocks. Usually, this makes the ride is somewhat softer. But in the Tacoma, the ride is quite choppy on any surface that isn’t smooth. Steering is very slow and heavy, making tight maneuvers a bit difficult. A fair amount of wind and road noise is apparent.
  • Any changes to be aware of for the 2018 Tacoma? The only change of note is the addition of Toyota Safety Sense-P. This suite of active safety features includes automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beams, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.
  • The TRD Off-Road will set you back $35,515 for the Double Cab with the Long Bed - the 2018 model is about $1,410 more. With a few options, our as-tested price came to $40,617.

Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Tacoma, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2017
Make: Toyota
Model: Tacoma Double Cab with Long Bed
Trim: TRD Off-Road
Engine: 3.5L D-4S V6 with Dual VVT-i 
Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 278 @ 6,000
Torque @ RPM: 265 @ 4,600 
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/23/20
Curb Weight: 4,480 lbs
Location of Manufacture: San Antonio, TX
Base Price: $35,515
As Tested Price: $40,617 (Includes $960.00 Destination Charge)

Options:
Premium & Technology Package - $3,035.00
Tonneau Cover - $650.00
Carpet Floor Mats w/Door Sill Protector - $208.00
Mudguards - $129.00
Bed Mat - $120.00


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Lots of features to admire here, but why did they have to give it such a big chrome grill. I just do not get the chrome everything especially on an offroad purpose truck. 😕

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I want this exact truck.

34 minutes ago, dfelt said:

Lots of features to admire here, but why did they have to give it such a big chrome grill. I just do not get the chrome everything especially on an offroad purpose truck. 😕

The only things chrome on this truck is the grille and name badges. It's about as minimal as you'll find on a truck. 

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6 hours ago, ccap41 said:

I want this exact truck.

The only things chrome on this truck is the grille and name badges. It's about as minimal as you'll find on a truck. 

Guess with being a TRD, I would want all Monochromatic or use black chrome for a better off road look and darkness for disappearing in the woods. :P 

Think of this with black chrome replacing traditional chrome and black chrome rims or powder coated rims. That would be perfect IMHO.

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The TRD Pro is like what you're thinking of. 

They must not have had the brown Tacoma TRD Pro but they had the 4Runner and Tundra TRD Pros in the brown.

This is the Tacoma TRD Pro with the black grille and wheels.

4Runner.jpg

Tundra TRD.jpg

Tacoma TRD.jpg

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Being this is a TRD offroad, I would still expect this kind of treatment. Looks way better than chrome.

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      These changes, along with the reconfigured lower beltline, slimmer instrument panel, slimmer A-pillars, and repositioned side view mirrors, result in more expansive outward visibility.
      The front seats of the XSE and SE grades debut a new design featuring a unique shape with a headrest that nestles into the shoulder area, while the XLE and LE grades offer a seatback with a new U-shaped pattern. This major departure from a conventional square seatback design creates a sense of youthful, sporty appeal while improving comfort. The SE and XSE grades’ front seats offer thin, yet broad shoulder supports, evocative of a competition bucket seat, which overlap solid and thick side bolsters to achieve enhanced holding performance.
      Seating materials include standard cloth or, in higher grades, SofTex. New interior color schemes include several striking two-tone accents. Choices include Blue/Black (black as the main color with blue highlights), Moonstone (light gray as the main color with dark gray highlights) and new Macadamia (a warm, inviting cream color).
      Lots of Room, Not Noise
      The Corolla sedan may break tradition in the styling department, but it keeps to Toyota tradition when it comes to passenger room and comfort. The rear seat area retains excellent headroom, despite the lower roofline. Legroom is also plentiful, fulfilling a basic mission of sedans.
      What you don’t get in the 2020 Corolla sedan is noise. Powertrain and road noise have been culled thanks to revised drivetrain efficiencies, plus the widespread implementation of sound-absorbing materials, including Thinsulate, sealants, foams, and silencers. The TNGA structure utilizes additional seals in its body panel gaps to insulate noise penetration and enhance air-sealing performance. As one example, the floor silencer pad is now one large piece, instead of many smaller elements. The inner and outer dash silencers are thicker. Combine all that with Corolla sedan’s quieter powertrain, and it’s one tranquil ride.
      Cooler Where It Counts
      Corolla sedan’s fully redesigned air conditioning system is more compact, more efficient and more effective. One example of the smarter climate control is the innovative twin-layer recirculation/fresh air induction unit: In cold climates, it will automatically send dehumidified fresh air to the upper cabin to reduce glass fogging while promoting recirculation of warm cabin air in lower areas.
      System controls, located below the multimedia portal, are fashioned in a bright, highly-visible digitized configuration. The climate control interface features a piano black background with satin and silver accents for a premium, high-quality look and feel.
      Multi-choice Multimedia
      The 2020 Corolla sedan comes ready to pair with the driver’s digital life. The standard Entune 3.0 Audio includes an available 8-in. touchscreen display; six speakers; Apple CarPlay compatibility; Amazon Alexa; Entune 3.0 App Suite Connect; Safety Connect; Wi-Fi Connect; Scout GPS Link Compatible; Siri Eyes Free; auxiliary audio jack and USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control; AM/FM; MP3/WMA playback capability; hands-free phone capability; voice recognition and music streaming via Bluetooth; customizable home screen; and weather/traffic info via Entune 3.0 App Suite.
      The LE and SE grades get Entune 3.0 Audio with an 8-inch touch screen and 2 USB ports.
      Entune 3.0 Audio Plus, standard on XSE, XLE and optional on SE CVT, adds an HD Radio and Weather/Traffic info; SiriusXM with Cache Radio; Entune 3.0 Connected Services; Service Connect, and Remote Connect.
      Also available on the SE CVT is Entune 3.0 Audio Plus with JBL.
      Topping the range is Entune 3.0 Audio Premium that’s optional on XSE and XLE. The package includes a JBL nine-speaker, 800-watt system with Clari-Fi; Dynamic Voice Recognition; Dynamic Navigation; Dynamic Points of Interest Search; and Destination Assist Connect.
      JBL Audio system highlights include:
      Next-Generation HID8 amplifier creates 800-watts of total power Free-standing horn tweeters located in the A-pillar at ear level for optimal high-frequency performance 6.7-inch door subwoofers for powerful deep-bass response Sealed inner door panels promote cleaner, more powerful bass Midrange speakers provide full-range sound for rear passengers Clari-Fi technology analyzes, rebuilds, and restores audio signals that were lost in the digital compression process Featured apps for Entune systems include:

      Safety Connect®
      In the event of an accident or other emergency, assistance can be dispatched directly to the vehicle’s GPS location. Other connected services available on the Corolla include airbag-linked Automatic Emergency Notification, Manual Emergency Notification (SOS button) and Stolen Vehicle Locator.
      Service Connect
      Provides updates on everything from fuel level and mileage to maintenance alerts and more via email or the mobile app.
      Remote Connect
      Can lock and unlock doors, start the engine, locate the vehicle in a parking lot and monitor guest drivers.
      Wi-Fi Connect – powered by Verizon
      Connects up to five devices using the in-vehicle 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.
      Destination Assist Connect
      Directions and destinations delivered by a real person with 24-hour, en-route navigation assistance.
      Dynamic Navigation
      Provides the most up-to-date map data, routes and POI on its embedded system. (Available with Entune 3.0 Premium Audio.)
      Dynamic Force is with You 
      The 2020 Corolla sedan L, LE, and XLE grades will use the 1.8-liter engine (2ZR-FAE) found in the previous generation, yet with more horsepower and better fuel efficiency. The XSE and SE grades are powered by a completely-new 2.0-liter Dynamic-Force direct-injection inline four-cylinder engine (M20A-FKS). This new engine delivers more performance while using less fuel. Remarkably, the new Corolla sedan engine is physically smaller and lighter, helping to lower the car’s center of gravity and improve its overall balance.
      Here are some of the tech bits on Corolla sedan’s new available engine:
      The new Dynamic Force engine gets it high power and efficiency from a combination of high compression ratio (13:1), Toyota D4-S fuel injection combining direct and secondary port injectors, high-speed combustion, VVT-iE intelligent variable valve-timing on the intake side and VVT-i on the exhaust. VVT-iE uses an electric motor instead of oil pressure to control the variable valve timing.
      A two-discharge port oil pump and a variable cooling system with electric water pump help maximize engine performance and efficiency. The more efficient cooling system also ensures quicker cabin heating on cold days and quicker cool-down when the air conditioner is used.
      All of those technologies, along with ultra-low internal friction, yield a maximum thermal efficiency of 40 percent, very high for a passenger vehicle engine. You can’t feel thermal efficiency, but you can feel the effects of 169 peak horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 151 lb.-ft peak torque at 4,800 rpm.
      Shifting Smarter 
      Sedan buyer trends are shifting, and the 2020 Corolla sedan is right there with them. The new Dynamic-Shift CVT (continuously variable transmission) combines the smooth, fuel-efficient performance of a CVT with a more direct driving feel of a traditional geared automatic. The key to its distinct performance feel is a physical first gear used for start-off acceleration, before handing off to the CVT’s pulley system.
      Because the launch gear is handling the higher input load at launch, the size of the CVT’s belt and pulley components could be reduced, yielding shifting speeds that are 20 percent faster than in a conventional CVT.
      High-speed, high-response gear-shifting technology, using a multiplate wet clutch, switches power from the gearset to the CVT’s belt and pulleys. The Direct Shift CVT has simulated 10-speed Sequential Shiftmatic steps along with Sport Mode. Synchronization of the increasing engine revs and vehicle speed gives a linear acceleration feel.
      For those who want to shift for themselves, the 2020 Corolla sedan offers an intriguing choice with the all-new 6-speed iMT (intelligent manual transmission). Like some premium sports cars, it features downshift rev-matching control, automatically detecting when the driver is shifting and quickly rev-matching to make any driver a stick-shift pro.
      New control logic improves acceleration feel when starting off, and improved shift feel makes this a stick shift you want to use. Increased use of micro polishing on gear teeth reduces cabin noise. Standard Hill-start Assist Control (also on the CVT models), helps prevent the dreaded roll-back when starting off on an incline.
      Platform: The Strong, Silent Type 
      A super-rigid structure, lower center of gravity and highly refined suspension tuning endow the Corolla sedan with exemplary handling agility and ride comfort, along with a distinctive driving personality. This high-strength platform is fortified through the increased use of ultra-high-tensile steel as well as the application of new structural adhesive technology for enhanced body rigidity and occupant safety. Specifically, torsional rigidity is improved by 60 percent compared to its predecessor.
      The new body uses a totally new multi-load path front structure to absorb frontal collision impact forces and disperses collision energy to help prevent deformation of the occupant compartment. High-tensile steel in the rocker panel reinforcements and the upper kick panel; wider underbody side members; strengthened rear bumper reinforcements, and thicker dashboard panel, floor panels, and underbody tunnel all improve energy dispersion in the event of a collision.
      A squared figure-of-eight reinforced ring-shaped structure around the door openings, along with larger-diameter impact beams for the front and rear doors, are designed to help in the event of a side collision.
      Sport Sedan Handling, Sedan Comfort 
      The 2020 Corolla sedan looks the part of a fun-to-drive sport sedan, and the chassis delivers on the promise. The multi-link rear suspension is a major advance over the torsion beam setup used in the previous model, more adept at comfortably absorbing bumps while also ratcheting up agility.
      The MacPherson strut front suspension, totally revised for this platform, uses sophisticated techniques, including a strut bearing mounted coaxially with the kingpin axis. This feature allows smoother upward suspension travel, especially while traversing bumps, resulting in more comfortable steering feel.
      Overall, front and rear suspension friction has been reduced by 40 percent. Newly developed shock absorbers have been tuned to provide optimal damping force for dynamic handling and stability with exemplary ride comfort.
      Foundation for Safety
      The 2020 Corolla sedan features eight standard airbags and Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology. All Corolla sedan models come equipped with a standard backup camera.
      Toyota Safety Sense 2.0
      Significantly, all 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan models are equipped standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, an advanced suite of integrated active and pre-collision safety features.
      PCS (Pre-Collision System): Uses both a millimeter wave radar sensor and a forward-facing camera sensor for highly accurate detection of objects such as a vehicle or pedestrian or bicyclist in front of the vehicle. If the PCS determines there is a high probability of a collision, or if it deems a collision is unavoidable, the system is designed to automatically activate the brakes to help avoid the collision entirely or mitigate the impact force.
      DRCC (Dynamic Radar Cruise Control): Designed for highway use, has a vehicle-to-vehicle distance control mode that utilizes a millimeter wave radar sensor and camera sensor to maintain a pre-set follow distance from the preceding vehicle. The Full-speed DRCC version, standard on CVT models, is also capable of low-speed following, including stop-and-go traffic. The Corolla sedan is designed to stop when the vehicle ahead comes to a stop, maintaining an appropriate distance to it. The driver enjoys more relaxed driving in situations that can be annoying and fatiguing, while also gaining a measure of safety.
      LDA (Lane Departure Alert) with Steer Assist: Provides the driver with audible and visual warnings (vehicle positioning warning image shown in the Multi-Information Display) and, if necessary, is designed to provide steering assistance if it determines the possibility of deviation from the driving lane. It is also designed to detect vehicle sway (excess weaving within the driving lane) that might indicate driver distraction, inattention or drowsiness.
      LTA (Lane Tracing Assist): LTA, available on CVT-equipped models, is enabled when LDA and DRCC are both on and active. LTA employs a lane centering function that is designed to make constant steering inputs to help the driver keep the vehicle in the center of its lane. LTA is designed for uses on relatively straight highways to preemptively avoid unwanted lane departures and reduce driver fatigue.  
      AHB (Automatic High Beams): When enabled, the AHB system uses an in-vehicle camera to help detect the headlights of oncoming vehicles and taillights of preceding vehicles, then automatically switches between high and low beams as appropriate.
      RSA (Road Sign Assist): Designed to recognize speed limit, Stop, Yield, and Do Not Enter signs and displays them on the vehicles MID to help assist the driver.
      Blind Spot Monitor is a standard or optional feature, depending on model grade. When an approaching vehicle is detected, the system is designed to alert the driver using indicators on the outside mirrors.  

      Brake Hold, when engaged, is a convenient technology that helps reduces driver workload while waiting at a traffic light or while driving in traffic. When the driver depresses the accelerator pedal, Brake Hold releases.
      The 2020 Corolla will be available at dealerships Spring 2019.

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Toyota has been on a quest to shed its ho-hum image for the past few years. We found their efforts to be somewhat mixed in terms of the design and powertrains, but applaud them for trying. Their latest attempt is the 2020 Corolla sedan which debuted last night before heading off to the LA Auto Show in a couple of weeks.
      The basic shape of the Corolla isn't that much different from the outgoing model with slab sides and similar profile. The front and rear end varies on the trim. L, LE, and XLE feature a more conservative look with a larger lower grille for the front and clean styling for the rear. SE and XSE models get front end styling similar to the Kia Forte with a narrow top grille and fang-like headlights. Around back sits a faux rear diffuser and chrome-tip exhaust system. Compared to the hatchback, the Corolla sedan is about 2.4-inches longer.
      The interior appears to be the same as the Corolla hatchback with a modern dash design and better materials. A 7-inch touchscreen is standard on the L, while higher trims get an 8-inch screen. SE and XSE models get new front seats with slightly more bolstering.
      Two engines will be on offer for the Corolla. A revised version of the 1.8L four-cylinder used in the current Corolla will be used in the L, LE, and XLE. Toyota didn't provide any numbers, but did say the engine will provide "more horsepower and better fuel efficiency." SE and XSE get the 2.0L four used in the Corolla hatchback produces 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. A hybrid variant will be coming in the future. 
      Most Corollas will come equipped with a CVT, while a six-speed manual is available on the SE.
      A key change we're happy to see is the Corolla sedan moving to Toyota's New Global Architecture (TNGA). This means a wider track, multi-link setup for the rear, stiffer structure, and improved steering. These changes should result in a better to drive model.
      Toyota will be equipping the 2020 Corolla with a number of active safety features as standard. This includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, and lane-keeping assist.
      No word on pricing, but the 2020 Corolla will arrive next spring.
      Gallery: 2020 Toyota Corolla
      Source: Toyota


      All-New 2020 Toyota Corolla Ready to Rock the Sedan World
      All-New Dynamic Design TNGA Platform for Outstanding Agility and Comfort New 169 Horsepower, 2.0-liter Dynamic Force Engine Available Dynamic-Shift CVT or Six-Speed Manual Transmission Standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 Standard Entune 3.0 Audio with Wi-Fi Connect, Amazon Alexa, and Apple CarPlay Compatibility CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, Calif. (Nov. 15, 2018) -- With more than 46 million Toyota Corollas sold globally since its introduction in 1966, it would be difficult to find a driver who did not recognize the name. Everyone, it seems, has a Corolla story. Many, though are going to be doing double takes when they see the re-imagined and reconfigured 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan. And that’s exactly the point.
      The 12th-generation Toyota Corolla made its arrival in two chapters: the all-new Corolla hatchback arrived earlier this year, and now comes the current best-selling Corolla body style, the sedan. Both are based on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), which is far more than a new body structure, bringing together new approaches to engineering, design, assembly, and materials.
      TNGA transforms both Corolla styles into drivers’ delights while also bolstering the model’s renowned value and reliability. Both draw from the same DNA and share powertrains. It’s no surprise, then, that the 2020 Corolla sedan dramatically elevates this model’s focus on comfort and refinement while also infusing it with the Corolla hatchback’s feisty personality.
      The Corolla sedan’s bold new look is a perfect reflection of the bumper-to-bumper, wheels-to-roof transformation that has taken place. The TNGA platform means an available engine that produces more power than its predecessor yet delivers better fuel efficiency. TNGA imbues the Corolla sedan with greater agility, yet also with its smoothest, quietest ride. TNGA also means an elevated feeling of quality in every surface, switch and control the driver sees and touches. And, critically, TNGA delivers on Toyota’s commitment to driver and passenger safety with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of active safety systems – standard on every Corolla sedan model.
      Design Transformation
      Toyota shook up the midsize sedan ranks with the new-generation Camry, and now the compact sedan segment is in for a jolt with the 2020 Corolla sedan. From every angle, the new Corolla sedan looks lower and leaner, tauter and tighter. Powerful fender flares and generously curved fender top surfaces accent its sculpted, athletic core.
      The design team called its working concept “shooting robust,” because they were shooting for a robust, confidence-inspiring stance. Yet, they had to maintain ample space for practical, real-world use. That’s why people buy sedans, after all.
      The 2020 Corolla sedan rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, like its predecessor, yet any commonality ends there. Corolla sedan’s dynamic performance and stance benefit greatly from wider front (+0.47 in.) and rear (+0.87 in.) track dimensions. The front overhang was shortened by 1.3 in., and the rear overhang extended by more than half an inch. Height was reduced 0.8 in., and the hood lowered 1.4 in. for better forward visibility, made possible by mounting the engine lower. Those changes, plus many others, reduce the center of gravity by 0.39 in. That’s just one part of the transformation that has turned the Corolla sedan into a highly nimble, engaging machine to drive.
      The bold front fascia details vary by model grade, with the SE and XSE putting on the sportiest face, including a body-color chin spoiler and aero stabilizing fins to emphasize the wide stance. The slim, J-shaped Bi-Beam LED headlamps wrap deeply into the front fenders and give the Corolla sedan a steely stare and a distinct nighttime signature. The sporty SE and XSE grades use triple J-shaped clearance lamps with LED light guides along with LED turn signals, creating a unique design signature.
      The available Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) provides a wider field of light and steers the low beam in the direction of the turn, based on steering angle and vehicle speed.
      The rear leaves a distinct lighting impression as well, with narrow combination lamps that wrap deeply into the fenders. All 2020 Corolla sedan models use LEDs, the type and style varying by model grade. The sporty grades feature smoked outer light lenses.
      What better way to showcase the Corolla sedan’s dramatic new sheet metal than with a dramatic new color? The new hue is a highly iridescent Celestite Grey Metallic. The rest of the palette includes Blizzard Pearl, Super White, Classic Silver Metallic, Black Sand Pearl, Barcelona Red, Blue Crush Metallic and Blueprint.
      Big Wheels Keep on Turning
      The Corolla sedan transformation continues where the rubber meets the road. For the first time, 18-inch wheels are on the menu, standard on the SE and XSE grades. These multi-spoke alloys get their great looks from a complex machining technique paired with deep surfacing and dark accents. The LE grade rides on 16-inch steel wheels with covers. The XLE grade gets new 16-inch alloy wheels with three-dimensional twisted spokes.
      Cabin Fever
      Simple. Warm. Inviting. Sensuous. These descriptors, seemingly from the luxury car realm, inspired designers’ efforts when visualizing Corolla sedan’s cabin. The result is called “sensuous minimalism.” It’s equal parts sporty and elegant, and, as always, Corolla-comfortable and durable.
      A neat instrument panel lends an open, harmonious feeling thanks to its slimmer upper surface, with character lines that interlock with the door trim to convey an airy atmosphere. At the center of the instrument panel, within easy view for the driver and front passenger, sits a high-resolution 8-inch multimedia touchscreen for the standard Entune 3.0 multimedia system on all grades except the L grade, which gets a 7-inch multimedia touchscreen.
      The center stack screen provides access to vehicle settings, audio controls, navigation, and Entune 3.0 apps. Climate controls, located below the multimedia portal, are fashioned in a bright, highly visible digitized configuration. The center stack flows into a wider console, with an armrest that’s nearly 0.8-in. longer than in the previous model, for greater comfort.
      The cockpit provides an engaging interior space that surrounds the driver while offering a spacious environment for all passengers. Compared to the previous Corolla sedan, the instrument panel, cowl, hood and beltline height are all lowered to increase visibility and create the interior’s open feel.
      High-gloss materials are paired with matte elements – silver accents with piano black and available contrasting stitching – to accentuate a premium look and feel. Minimized gaps between buttons and switches, along with the elimination of unnecessary lettering on switchgear, adds to the high-class ambience. Consistency in all materials’ and elements’ shape, color, grain, and gloss maximize continuity and aesthetic quality.
      Available ambient lighting illuminates the front door trim, console tray and front cupholder. The tray can hold small items such as a smartphone or wallet, or, when so equipped, houses the optional Qi wireless device charging pad. Terraced cup holders adapt to various-sized beverage containers.
      Digital Tools
      The Corolla sedan comes standard with a 4.2-inch thin film transistor (TFT) Multi-Information Display (MID), with an available 7-inch MID located between the high-grade tachometer and speedometer. With the larger display, the driver can switch between analog and digital speedometer styles.
      Featuring rich graphics, the easy-to-read MID can be custom configured by the driver and offers intuitive operation to access information for the audio and multimedia systems, navigation system, vehicle information including fuel efficiency and tire pressure, the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), and other important parameters and system settings.
      Front Row Seating
      From behind the wheel, the 2020 Corolla sedan feels quite different than its predecessor. Positioning the driver’s hip point 0.98-in. lower and 1.57-in. further rearward yields an optimized driving position. The result not only improves comfort, but also helps to lower the vehicle’s center of gravity and improves front/rear weight distribution.
      These changes, along with the reconfigured lower beltline, slimmer instrument panel, slimmer A-pillars, and repositioned side view mirrors, result in more expansive outward visibility.
      The front seats of the XSE and SE grades debut a new design featuring a unique shape with a headrest that nestles into the shoulder area, while the XLE and LE grades offer a seatback with a new U-shaped pattern. This major departure from a conventional square seatback design creates a sense of youthful, sporty appeal while improving comfort. The SE and XSE grades’ front seats offer thin, yet broad shoulder supports, evocative of a competition bucket seat, which overlap solid and thick side bolsters to achieve enhanced holding performance.
      Seating materials include standard cloth or, in higher grades, SofTex. New interior color schemes include several striking two-tone accents. Choices include Blue/Black (black as the main color with blue highlights), Moonstone (light gray as the main color with dark gray highlights) and new Macadamia (a warm, inviting cream color).
      Lots of Room, Not Noise
      The Corolla sedan may break tradition in the styling department, but it keeps to Toyota tradition when it comes to passenger room and comfort. The rear seat area retains excellent headroom, despite the lower roofline. Legroom is also plentiful, fulfilling a basic mission of sedans.
      What you don’t get in the 2020 Corolla sedan is noise. Powertrain and road noise have been culled thanks to revised drivetrain efficiencies, plus the widespread implementation of sound-absorbing materials, including Thinsulate, sealants, foams, and silencers. The TNGA structure utilizes additional seals in its body panel gaps to insulate noise penetration and enhance air-sealing performance. As one example, the floor silencer pad is now one large piece, instead of many smaller elements. The inner and outer dash silencers are thicker. Combine all that with Corolla sedan’s quieter powertrain, and it’s one tranquil ride.
      Cooler Where It Counts
      Corolla sedan’s fully redesigned air conditioning system is more compact, more efficient and more effective. One example of the smarter climate control is the innovative twin-layer recirculation/fresh air induction unit: In cold climates, it will automatically send dehumidified fresh air to the upper cabin to reduce glass fogging while promoting recirculation of warm cabin air in lower areas.
      System controls, located below the multimedia portal, are fashioned in a bright, highly-visible digitized configuration. The climate control interface features a piano black background with satin and silver accents for a premium, high-quality look and feel.
      Multi-choice Multimedia
      The 2020 Corolla sedan comes ready to pair with the driver’s digital life. The standard Entune 3.0 Audio includes an available 8-in. touchscreen display; six speakers; Apple CarPlay compatibility; Amazon Alexa; Entune 3.0 App Suite Connect; Safety Connect; Wi-Fi Connect; Scout GPS Link Compatible; Siri Eyes Free; auxiliary audio jack and USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control; AM/FM; MP3/WMA playback capability; hands-free phone capability; voice recognition and music streaming via Bluetooth; customizable home screen; and weather/traffic info via Entune 3.0 App Suite.
      The LE and SE grades get Entune 3.0 Audio with an 8-inch touch screen and 2 USB ports.
      Entune 3.0 Audio Plus, standard on XSE, XLE and optional on SE CVT, adds an HD Radio and Weather/Traffic info; SiriusXM with Cache Radio; Entune 3.0 Connected Services; Service Connect, and Remote Connect.
      Also available on the SE CVT is Entune 3.0 Audio Plus with JBL.
      Topping the range is Entune 3.0 Audio Premium that’s optional on XSE and XLE. The package includes a JBL nine-speaker, 800-watt system with Clari-Fi; Dynamic Voice Recognition; Dynamic Navigation; Dynamic Points of Interest Search; and Destination Assist Connect.
      JBL Audio system highlights include:
      Next-Generation HID8 amplifier creates 800-watts of total power Free-standing horn tweeters located in the A-pillar at ear level for optimal high-frequency performance 6.7-inch door subwoofers for powerful deep-bass response Sealed inner door panels promote cleaner, more powerful bass Midrange speakers provide full-range sound for rear passengers Clari-Fi technology analyzes, rebuilds, and restores audio signals that were lost in the digital compression process Featured apps for Entune systems include:

      Safety Connect®
      In the event of an accident or other emergency, assistance can be dispatched directly to the vehicle’s GPS location. Other connected services available on the Corolla include airbag-linked Automatic Emergency Notification, Manual Emergency Notification (SOS button) and Stolen Vehicle Locator.
      Service Connect
      Provides updates on everything from fuel level and mileage to maintenance alerts and more via email or the mobile app.
      Remote Connect
      Can lock and unlock doors, start the engine, locate the vehicle in a parking lot and monitor guest drivers.
      Wi-Fi Connect – powered by Verizon
      Connects up to five devices using the in-vehicle 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.
      Destination Assist Connect
      Directions and destinations delivered by a real person with 24-hour, en-route navigation assistance.
      Dynamic Navigation
      Provides the most up-to-date map data, routes and POI on its embedded system. (Available with Entune 3.0 Premium Audio.)
      Dynamic Force is with You 
      The 2020 Corolla sedan L, LE, and XLE grades will use the 1.8-liter engine (2ZR-FAE) found in the previous generation, yet with more horsepower and better fuel efficiency. The XSE and SE grades are powered by a completely-new 2.0-liter Dynamic-Force direct-injection inline four-cylinder engine (M20A-FKS). This new engine delivers more performance while using less fuel. Remarkably, the new Corolla sedan engine is physically smaller and lighter, helping to lower the car’s center of gravity and improve its overall balance.
      Here are some of the tech bits on Corolla sedan’s new available engine:
      The new Dynamic Force engine gets it high power and efficiency from a combination of high compression ratio (13:1), Toyota D4-S fuel injection combining direct and secondary port injectors, high-speed combustion, VVT-iE intelligent variable valve-timing on the intake side and VVT-i on the exhaust. VVT-iE uses an electric motor instead of oil pressure to control the variable valve timing.
      A two-discharge port oil pump and a variable cooling system with electric water pump help maximize engine performance and efficiency. The more efficient cooling system also ensures quicker cabin heating on cold days and quicker cool-down when the air conditioner is used.
      All of those technologies, along with ultra-low internal friction, yield a maximum thermal efficiency of 40 percent, very high for a passenger vehicle engine. You can’t feel thermal efficiency, but you can feel the effects of 169 peak horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 151 lb.-ft peak torque at 4,800 rpm.
      Shifting Smarter 
      Sedan buyer trends are shifting, and the 2020 Corolla sedan is right there with them. The new Dynamic-Shift CVT (continuously variable transmission) combines the smooth, fuel-efficient performance of a CVT with a more direct driving feel of a traditional geared automatic. The key to its distinct performance feel is a physical first gear used for start-off acceleration, before handing off to the CVT’s pulley system.
      Because the launch gear is handling the higher input load at launch, the size of the CVT’s belt and pulley components could be reduced, yielding shifting speeds that are 20 percent faster than in a conventional CVT.
      High-speed, high-response gear-shifting technology, using a multiplate wet clutch, switches power from the gearset to the CVT’s belt and pulleys. The Direct Shift CVT has simulated 10-speed Sequential Shiftmatic steps along with Sport Mode. Synchronization of the increasing engine revs and vehicle speed gives a linear acceleration feel.
      For those who want to shift for themselves, the 2020 Corolla sedan offers an intriguing choice with the all-new 6-speed iMT (intelligent manual transmission). Like some premium sports cars, it features downshift rev-matching control, automatically detecting when the driver is shifting and quickly rev-matching to make any driver a stick-shift pro.
      New control logic improves acceleration feel when starting off, and improved shift feel makes this a stick shift you want to use. Increased use of micro polishing on gear teeth reduces cabin noise. Standard Hill-start Assist Control (also on the CVT models), helps prevent the dreaded roll-back when starting off on an incline.
      Platform: The Strong, Silent Type 
      A super-rigid structure, lower center of gravity and highly refined suspension tuning endow the Corolla sedan with exemplary handling agility and ride comfort, along with a distinctive driving personality. This high-strength platform is fortified through the increased use of ultra-high-tensile steel as well as the application of new structural adhesive technology for enhanced body rigidity and occupant safety. Specifically, torsional rigidity is improved by 60 percent compared to its predecessor.
      The new body uses a totally new multi-load path front structure to absorb frontal collision impact forces and disperses collision energy to help prevent deformation of the occupant compartment. High-tensile steel in the rocker panel reinforcements and the upper kick panel; wider underbody side members; strengthened rear bumper reinforcements, and thicker dashboard panel, floor panels, and underbody tunnel all improve energy dispersion in the event of a collision.
      A squared figure-of-eight reinforced ring-shaped structure around the door openings, along with larger-diameter impact beams for the front and rear doors, are designed to help in the event of a side collision.
      Sport Sedan Handling, Sedan Comfort 
      The 2020 Corolla sedan looks the part of a fun-to-drive sport sedan, and the chassis delivers on the promise. The multi-link rear suspension is a major advance over the torsion beam setup used in the previous model, more adept at comfortably absorbing bumps while also ratcheting up agility.
      The MacPherson strut front suspension, totally revised for this platform, uses sophisticated techniques, including a strut bearing mounted coaxially with the kingpin axis. This feature allows smoother upward suspension travel, especially while traversing bumps, resulting in more comfortable steering feel.
      Overall, front and rear suspension friction has been reduced by 40 percent. Newly developed shock absorbers have been tuned to provide optimal damping force for dynamic handling and stability with exemplary ride comfort.
      Foundation for Safety
      The 2020 Corolla sedan features eight standard airbags and Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology. All Corolla sedan models come equipped with a standard backup camera.
      Toyota Safety Sense 2.0
      Significantly, all 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan models are equipped standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, an advanced suite of integrated active and pre-collision safety features.
      PCS (Pre-Collision System): Uses both a millimeter wave radar sensor and a forward-facing camera sensor for highly accurate detection of objects such as a vehicle or pedestrian or bicyclist in front of the vehicle. If the PCS determines there is a high probability of a collision, or if it deems a collision is unavoidable, the system is designed to automatically activate the brakes to help avoid the collision entirely or mitigate the impact force.
      DRCC (Dynamic Radar Cruise Control): Designed for highway use, has a vehicle-to-vehicle distance control mode that utilizes a millimeter wave radar sensor and camera sensor to maintain a pre-set follow distance from the preceding vehicle. The Full-speed DRCC version, standard on CVT models, is also capable of low-speed following, including stop-and-go traffic. The Corolla sedan is designed to stop when the vehicle ahead comes to a stop, maintaining an appropriate distance to it. The driver enjoys more relaxed driving in situations that can be annoying and fatiguing, while also gaining a measure of safety.
      LDA (Lane Departure Alert) with Steer Assist: Provides the driver with audible and visual warnings (vehicle positioning warning image shown in the Multi-Information Display) and, if necessary, is designed to provide steering assistance if it determines the possibility of deviation from the driving lane. It is also designed to detect vehicle sway (excess weaving within the driving lane) that might indicate driver distraction, inattention or drowsiness.
      LTA (Lane Tracing Assist): LTA, available on CVT-equipped models, is enabled when LDA and DRCC are both on and active. LTA employs a lane centering function that is designed to make constant steering inputs to help the driver keep the vehicle in the center of its lane. LTA is designed for uses on relatively straight highways to preemptively avoid unwanted lane departures and reduce driver fatigue.  
      AHB (Automatic High Beams): When enabled, the AHB system uses an in-vehicle camera to help detect the headlights of oncoming vehicles and taillights of preceding vehicles, then automatically switches between high and low beams as appropriate.
      RSA (Road Sign Assist): Designed to recognize speed limit, Stop, Yield, and Do Not Enter signs and displays them on the vehicles MID to help assist the driver.
      Blind Spot Monitor is a standard or optional feature, depending on model grade. When an approaching vehicle is detected, the system is designed to alert the driver using indicators on the outside mirrors.  

      Brake Hold, when engaged, is a convenient technology that helps reduces driver workload while waiting at a traffic light or while driving in traffic. When the driver depresses the accelerator pedal, Brake Hold releases.
      The 2020 Corolla will be available at dealerships Spring 2019.
    • By William Maley
      I happen to be a big fan of the Kia Soul. Its daring looks, spacious interior, and overall value make it an interesting option in the compact class. It seems many others would agree as the Soul is one of Kia’s best selling models. To help keep it up there, Kia has introduced a new turbo engine for the top-line Exclaim (!) model along with minor changes for 2017. Let's see how these changes affect the Soul.
      Aside from the turbo engine, Kia made some design tweaks to the Exclaim to have it stand out from other Soul trims. This includes a new front bumper, red accents, 18-inch alloy wheels, a twin-tip exhaust, and exclusive colors like this copper color seen here. The little changes really make the Soul stand out even further than before. Moving on to the turbo engine, it is a 1.6L four-cylinder packing 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is only paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. If you really want a manual with your turbo-four, Kia will gladly sell you a Forte5 SX which features the same engine. There is a brief moment of turbo lag when you step on the accelerator, but the engine comes into its own after this with power building smoothly. There are no issues with getting up to speed when merging or making a pass. The dual-clutch transmission is a bit of a mixed bag. In stop-and-go traffic, the transmission exhibits some jerkiness and lazy shifts. We also noticed the transmission was slow to respond in terms of downshifting, making us think the programming for this transmission was focused on fuel economy. At higher speeds, the transmission is better with rapid and smooth shifts. The turbo engine has the highest fuel economy fuel economy figures in the Soul lineup with an EPA rating of 26 City/31 Highway/28 Combined. We saw an average of 25.3 mpg during our week in mostly city driving, which is slightly disappointing. With the turbo engine and racy looks, you might think that this particular Soul is fun to drive. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is not the case. Out on a winding road, the Soul is competent with minimal body roll and okay steering. This would be ok if it weren’t for the sporty image that is being portrayed by the exterior. We do wish that Kia had made some changes to the suspension to make it slightly sportier.  The upside to not messing with the Soul’s suspension is it mostly retains the smooth and comfortable ride of other models. Mostly is the keyword as the 18-inch wheels do introduce some harshness to the Soul’s ride. There is a fair amount of wind and road noise, most of this due to the Soul’s boxy shape. The Soul’s interior is still as sharp looking as it first was when the current model was launched in 2013. Little touches such as the uniquely styled air vents and orange accent stitching give the Soul a bit of whimsy. The extensive use of soft-touch materials gives off an aura of quality. Driver and passenger get power seats which make finding a comfortable position very easy. Those sitting in the back will appreciate the large amount of head and legroom, due to the Soul’s boxy shape. Our test Soul came with optional Technology Package that includes an 8-inch touchscreen with Kia’s UVO infotainment system and navigation. It is beginning to show its age in terms of the graphics, but it is still one of the most intuitive systems on sale today. A simple layout and redundant physical buttons make it breeze to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is an added bonus. The Exclaim begins at $22,650 and comes well equipped. Standard features include automatic climate control, 7-inch touchscreen with UVO, Bluetooth, leather and cloth wrapped seats, push-button start with proximity key, and automatic headlights. Opt for the technology to get the 8-inch system, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, heated seats and steering wheel, and power folding mirrors. For only $26,995, you get a nicely equipped vehicle. Our test vehicle is slightly more expensive at $27,620 due to an optional panoramic sunroof which we would skip. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Soul, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Kia
      Model: Soul
      Trim: ! (Exclaim)
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI Four-Cylinder 
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/31/28
      Curb Weight: 3,232 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gwangju, South Korea
      Base Price: $22,650
      As Tested Price: $27,620 (Includes $850.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Technology Package - $3,000.00
      Panoramic Sunroof - $1,000.00
      Carpeted Floor Mars - $120.00
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