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trinacriabob

Toyota Corolla base model - 2019 - test drive via weekend rental

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Posted (edited)

I rented a car because I got a good deal.  AAA was giving a 3rd weekend day free if you paid for 2.  Not only that, I got bumped up from a compact (because they didn't have any) to an intermediate.

The car assigned to me was a 2019 Toyota Corolla LE.  It was bronze with a black cloth interior and wheel covers on what appeared to be 15" wheels.  Its styling is acceptable.  The signature "angry appliance" grille isn't as bad as it is on some bigger Toyota's and Lexus products and an identifiable front fascia/bumper is welcomed.  The greenhouse is sort of dull, as is the rear fascia.  The small slats at the edges of the front bumper are odd but sort of grow on you.  I think they're more stylistic than functional.  So be it.

Within the first half hour of driving it on the interstate, I made up my mind about this car.  It's competent and easy to live with but it's boring.  The last time I had a Corolla was in Montreal about a decade ago.  It was a 10th generation Corolla.  (I cheated and looked at Wikipedia to figure out its generation.)  What I remember is how vague the steering felt but that, with that, the road was fairly well isolated.  It was a trade-off.  The current Corolla provides more steering feel and, with that, more of what is going on with the tires is transmitted through the steering wheel.  There is more road feel but there is also more tire and road noise that is sent into the cabin.  It's not significantly more, but I noticed it.  For its genre, acceleration is fine for everyday situations.  It's not the best car to get out of the way or merging onto the freeway when dueling with an aggressive V-8 equipped Ram/F-150/Silverado/Tundra driver.  I'm almost sure the engine is their ubiquitous 1.8 litre 4 cylinder that has been around for eons.  Kudos for how nicely the engine bay is laid out. It's very logical.  Fluid checkpoints are easy to identify.  It would be a snap to change the battery.  And, of course, there are what appear to be hard plastic manifolds that are an everyday occurrence on price leader Asian imports.

Since a person spends most of their time inside the car, the Corolla's interior is worth talking about.  The seats are nicely contoured, have decent looking stitching, and don't tire you out after a long interstate jaunt the way small car seats used to.  The dash is fairly sensibly arranged in most aspects.  There are the 2 large dials with the tach and the speedometer with fuel and temperature gauges inset into each of these dials.  Thankfully, there is a temperature gauge.  On econoboxes like Chevy Sparks and Sonics, the temperature gauge is now gone.  I want the redundancy of a temperature gauge backed up by a warning light.  What was irritating is that the Corolla has square information area between the big round dials that tells you all sorts of things.  The A and B trip odometer is easy to set and reset.  However, while you might get range and current fuel economy, I could not find a simple setting for a digital display of the speed.  I find this to be an excellent thing to have and one that is easier to work with than the speedometer dial.  I therefore had to rely on the dial.  Maybe I couldn't find the setting.  On Cruzes and Focuses, for example, the easily located digital speed display is much appreciated.  There are three stalks on the Corolla.  One is the turn signal, the one at the right is for the wipers, and the cruise control is on a stalk set in as a downward angled protrusion on the right.  I don't like the appearance of it but it's easy to work with.

There are some other things worth mentioning about the Corolla's interior.  There is a somewhat chunky and tall horizontal band at the right of the instrument panel for the driver.  With this, the audio screen, which is fairly large, is set within it and avoids what I call the "laptop left open" look.  In the upcoming 2020 Toyota Corolla, the "laptop left open" is overly prominent.  I think I'll pass.  The screen is fairly easy to navigate.  Two horizontal air conditioning vents and a separate digital clock are above it.  Below it is the climate control.  What was unique and likable here was the use of toggles instead of dials to regulate the temperature.  You just tap them upward or downward to get the desired Fahrenheits.   That small panel is also easy to work with.  The glove box is fairly spacious.  However, the center console has a few demerits.  The cubby hole in front of the shifter with the USB ports and lighter is small and not optimal for larger phones.  Also, the armrest and the space inside the console are underwhelming.  In larger Toyotas, these become more capacious.

There are a few more things about the interior's ergonomics.  I like that Asian cars are retaining floor tabs to release the trunk AND the fuel door from inside the car.  A secured fuel door is a good thing to have.  Surprisingly, the Corolla also offers good visibility.  I dislike rear headrests but it appears they are here to stay.  The two principal ones are integral with the rear seat while the center one is adjustable.  If they weren't there, visibility would be even better.

While not a religious diatribe, a revelation came to on the third day ... of the rental, that is.  I was out of town with the car on the first two days and used it locally on the third day.  A friend of mine was in the car on the third day I had it and was going on about how all these Toyota Corollas now had CVTs.  I was convinced that mine had a geared transmission.  As it turns out, it did have a CVT.  It's a modified CVT, though.  It shifts from first to second gear the "normal" way before operating as a CVT.  This is probably to pacify those who would otherwise detest CVTs ... and there are many.   However, I should have known better.  In situations where I had to pass or pick up speed, the rpm's spooled upward and then wound down slowly and haphazardly.  With a step gear transmission, the shifting of gears would have been crisper and identifiable.  The plus side of the CVT is that, on freeway jaunts with some minor amounts of stop and go traffic, the car was pulling in about 38 mpg.  I believe that, on a highway jaunt that has no gas stops and the like, the Corolla 1.8 + CVT can get 40 mpg.

The Corolla appears to be about the same size as a Chevy Cruze but can't touch the surprising refinement of the Cruze.  Instead, it almost drives more like a Focus.  It's also priced more like a Focus while Cruzes cost a few thousand dollars more.  For those seeking value on a budget, you really can't go wrong with a Toyota Corolla and its legendary reliability.  However, if someone needs to drive a car that they also really like, this may not be the car for everyone.  I give the Corolla a strong B+.

 

Edited by trinacriabob
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Very thorough.

My take on the corolla is as follows; much like a Kleenex tissue- if it's new, clean & uncrumpled, it has a latent function when needed. The very second it gets used, its garbage.

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I'll arrange some photos and put them up.

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2019 model is very dated, dating back to 2013 on the platform from 2006. The all new 2020 might increase in sales due to no American competition.

 

 

 

 

 

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@frogger  Very true.  Corolla sales have been strong but flat, and they have even declined slightly.

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Posted (edited)

the buff books have been heaping praise on the all new corolla that should be hitting showrooms soon.  2020?  Almost like it is greatly improved over what you just drove.  Maybe Toyota is getting better.,

Edited by regfootball
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Posted (edited)

Edmund's has the 2019 rated at 6.5 out of 10. Top Gear has it rated at 6 out of 10. 
LOTS of room to improve, it seems.

Edited by balthazar
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2 hours ago, balthazar said:

Edmund's has the 2019 rated at 6.5 out of 10. Top Gear has it rated at 6 out of 10. 
LOTS of room to improve, it seems.

Yes, much room to improve, and that's even the situation with the Camry I had a rental and swapped out ... after one day.  It wasn't  because it was a Camry as much as it was about how this newer rental unit shook at idle with the A/C on ... and, in Florida, your A/C will be on.

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Room to improve? YES

How much Toyota is willing to change from their ultra conservative approach to building cars? Not so sure!

Always easy to put a new wrapper on the dull candy.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, balthazar said:

Edmund's has the 2019 rated at 6.5 out of 10. Top Gear has it rated at 6 out of 10. 
LOTS of room to improve, it seems.

https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/a26524237/2020-toyota-corolla-sedan-drive/

enough praise I guess so they keep getting more of toyota’s Ad money

Edited by regfootball
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Posted (edited)

I only wish they could get it to handle a little more tautly, get the faint droning sound of the tires/etc. to stay out of the cabin, get rid of the front fascia's appliance look, and not have the "laptop left open" (2020) at the top of the center stack.  I think that's too much to ask for the price point and its position on Toyota's pecking order.

Edited by trinacriabob

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