with the indestructible Toyota Corolla
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Published on Fri, Sep 16, 2016
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Born in 1966, and introduced to the USA in 1968, the Toyota Corolla became the best-selling car in the world in 1974. By 1997, it became the best-selling nameplate ever, surpassing the original Volkswagen Beetle in sales. The Corolla has a reputation for being practical, boring, and indestructible. 50 year later, it is all those things and more. By Roy Nakano We were nearing high school graduation, and Blane got his first car. It was a new, first generation Toyota Corolla—an E17 1200cc Sprinter Hardtop Coupe with a four-speed. Blane used it to learn how to drive a manual transmission. After missing numerous shifts and hearing the all-too-frequent sound of grinding gears, Blane decided he was going to run the car ragged with the hope that Toyota will declare it defective and get him a new one under warranty. And so he proceeded to drive the car hard, speed-shifting at appropriate opportunities, and racing the engine from stoplight to stoplight. There was just one problem: The car never broke. No matter what he did to the car, it just kept on running. There were no visits to the dealer to find out what’s making that peculiar noise; no repairs needed—nothing. This was in sharp contrast to my ride, which seemed to break down every other week. It was also in contrast to almost every other car sold in America. And thus was our introduction to the Toyota Corolla.
Fast forward fourteen years, and Susie just acquired a third-generation Toyota Corolla. It’s an E30 sedan, and it sounds like the economy car it is. The word “tinny” as it applies to cars may have had its origins with the early Corollas. On the freeway, this car set the benchmark for noisy rides. “I’ll keep the car until it wears out,” said she. But as Blaine could have told her, Corollas don’t wear out. Oh yeah, they get noisier and tinnier as time goes by, but the car never dies. Susie had no excuse for needing a new car, so she did what Corolla owners do: She sold it not because it wore out; she sold it because she just wanted a new ride. Another fourteen years goes by, and the Corolla becomes the largest selling nameplate in automotive history—surpassing the Volkswagen Beetle. And thus is the legacy of the Toyota Corolla.
A lot has changed with Corollas since then. They are no longer the noisy, tinny cars of yesteryear. They have decent rides and are reasonably quiet. We tested a new model—an E170 Corolla S Special Edition—the modern day spiritual successor to the first-generation Corolla Sprinter. The S Special Edition model has color-keyed front and rear spoilers and ground-effects, a color-keyed grille, black alloy wheels and a few other appearance features to set it apart from the bread-and-butter Corolla. It is the sportiest-looking Corolla ever. The car even has paddle shifters, albeit on a CVT transmission(!). We found it to be very well behaved, but still no sports sedan. On the contrary, the acceleration is unremarkable. The handling is not sporty—despite the appearance package.
On the other hand, it’s easy to get in and out of the car, all the controls are where you expect them to be, the gas mileage is very good, and it’s a comfortable ride. This is the car for people who hate cars. There is very little that offends. Most importantly of all, it continues to have the reliability and longevity that is the envy of the industry.
After 50 years, the Toyota Corolla is as indestructible as ever. Thankfully, the car has a few more creature comforts than the original model.
For more information about Toyota products, go to www.toyota.com
Name of vehicle:
2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
$18,960 (Corolla L base)
$20,635 (Corolla S Special Edition)
$23,520 (Corolla S Special Edition as tested)
EPA fuel economy ratings:
29 city/37 highway (miles per gallon)
1.8-liter DOHC 16-valve four-in-line with Dual VVT-i
Continuously Variable Transmission with paddle shifters and Sport mode
Electric power assisted rack and pinion
Independent MacPherson struts up front; torsion beam rear
Power-assisted, ventilated front discs and rear drums
Wheels and tires:
17-inch alloy wheels with Gloss Blackfinish and P215/45R17 all-season tires