2011 Toyota Corolla GX 1.8 VVTi from Australia and New Zealand


Design omissions and poor quality make it disappointing


Let's begin:

- When the car has been parked say overnight and you go to set off in the morning, you start it up, let the handbrake off, and put it in drive... a big graunchy clunk is audible from inside the cabin, and it sounds as if it's the rear brakes. I've heard this is common, and is simply part of the car's character apparently.

- The AutoCar and Top Gear reviewers are complaining in droves about the Cruze and its carpet dash. Well the Corolla has a type of soft touch plastic materiel on their dash boards and over the binnacle. Looks nice, but man can it squeak. It seems the glue lifts in the hot sun, and it rubs. Lovely. 6,400km.

- Window wiper motor developed a very very nasty ticking noise whilst in operation. Repaired under warranty (wiper blades are excellent, perfect wipe every time) 8,234km.

- Steering column rattle; can calm it by adjusting the steering wheel around.

- Plastic scratches very easily. Don't let anyone with rings or bangles apply the hand brake, because the silver plastic beneath will wear into tidy black scratch marks that are irreversible, and very, very horrid.

- The parcel tray is flimsy, second only to the world leader in flimsy trays, my aunties pink Alto! It collapses and has now broken the weak PLASTIC clip! Was talking to a friend of mine at Hertz, and he said it's hell for them. "Oh they are all like that". Toyota say it's fair wear and tear. Seems to me that is the majority are broken; they must have a cloudy vision on what's fair wear and what's questionable materials.

- Major design omission with the stereo unit!!! The tuner is positioned on the right, closest to the driver, and volume knob is on the passenger side, so that's a bit of a reach, but it doesn't stop there. The station you are selecting is displayed directly under the adjuster knob. So while you are turning the knob, your wrist is then obscuring your view of the what you are actually tuning! Big big omission! Goggle corolla interior; you will see what I mean. Thing that annoys me is I didn't even try the stereo when I tested it! It's liveable, just tune at home and sit in the passenger seat!

- The steering wheel has one button on it, and that is the DSP (Display) button. Very nice button, trouble is, Toyota also have an old fashioned push in stalk in the binnacle that does the same thing. That's wasted money making all those little stalks etc, when they could have addressed say replacing the weak plastic clips in the parcel tray with metal or something! Just a suggestion.

General Comments:

I purchased my Corolla GX hatch brand new in June last year, after much encouragement from people driving around in their 90's Corollas still going strong, and of course Toyota's perceived reliability cloud is still riding high, thanks to those cars from the 90's and early 00's. I wanted to wait and buy the 2012 Focus Ambiente or new Cruze hatch, but was talked around for this 'great deal'.

Not long after I purchased it, the issues began.

I must say it is extremely economical and has a reasonable amount of power from what is an ancient 4 speed auto.

Great wiper blades.

Reclining rear seats are a good gimmick, and have been useful once.

Love the electric folding mirrors; it's like a Peugeot!

Love the steering wheel's flat bottom, very sporty, shame nothing else is.

Dealer service is OK. It's very hard to get appointments because they are always so busy. All mostly late models, and most look like they are in for a little more than a service, little niggles, like rattles etc.

All round, if you simply don't care about the particular details and don't mind if things just fall apart around you, then this is your car. Just keep in mind, this is a very very expensive car in this category. Guys, it's not worth it!

You can get so so much more from competitors at the RRP. Which is why I'm lucky I got a bit off it.

I'm trading it on a Holden Cruze SRi in the coming month or so. Yet that Focus is also looking very appealing; just a bit too steep for the Sport!

In short, I've been really disappointed, because this car is talked up by everyone, but sadly they are talked up by people that are driving a car that has the same badge, yet was built well before it. IT'S NOT THE NAME THAT MAKES IT GREAT!!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 29th May, 2012

29th May 2012, 22:35

It's funny, I've got a Focus that I bought brand new in Brisbane in 2007 (2.0L TDCi) and I was expecting things to go wrong it as it 'wasn't a Toyota' and was built in South Africa and not 'in Japan'.

However, 5 years and 70,000km later, I've had none of the problems you've had with your Corolla like ticking wiper motor, flimsy broken parcel shelf, clunking brakes or scratch-prone plastics. Maybe 'non Toyota's' aren't so bad after all.

I've hired quite a few Corolla's for work purposes, and they've left me pretty uninspired. I've also hired a few Cruzes, and they were also pretty bad (albeit all gutless 1.8L petrol auto's), one of which took off with a definite 'clunk' as the brakes unstuck themselves, and another had peeling chrome on the inside drivers door handle, and that had a bit of sellotape on it to stop people cutting themselves, and another had a binding ignition barrel. Hopefully they are better now as they are locally made. Maybe take another look at the current Focus?

2011 Toyota Corolla LE 1.8L from North America


A good car that makes me nervous

General Comments:

I rent cars all the time, and Corolla is the one that I get most frequently. It is just such a bland car that I never thought I should write a review for it. But there may be a thing or two I noticed, that others may benefit from...

The Corolla has some decent features: it works, it was always reliable for me, and overall it is a good appliance. Its acceleration is non-existent, its engine is whiny as soon as the gas pedal is pressed, and it is as boring as hell. But it does its job, and has plenty of space, even in the trunk, for such a small car. All controls are where they should be, and I never had to reach for the user manual to figure something out. Cabin comfort is superb, except for some noise from the engine, and terrible noise with the windows down; this car was not tested with any of the windows open. I could also swear that I used to get better mileage with previous Corolla models than with the latest one... but that's not the key issue here.

The thing that bothers me the most with Corolla, and from others, I can see that it is applicable to (almost?) all N. American Toyotas, is its engine chip and/or mapping software. Basically, the software seems to simulate a disengaged clutch when just cruising without one's foot on the pedal. If one drives on the highway at 65mph or so, and then takes the foot off the gas pedal, the car will continue to SIMULATE to coast. Now, the most important part: that simulation is far from perfect, and under certain conditions, the car will actually keep the original speed AS IF THE CRUISE CONTROL WAS ON, when it is clearly NOT. I demonstrated this to my wife many times, and she was a little freaked out by it. You drive, say 80mph, and you notice you are speeding, so you move your foot off the gas pedal, and the car continues to do 80mph for miles, with nothing to hold the pedal down. Then it may start to decelerate slowly, but very slowly.

This tells me that Toyota has an issue with their chip programming, and it is also quite possible that the chip programming is what contributed to the "stuck gas pedal" problem of few years ago. To be honest, after reading about some other people's experiences who also claim that Toyota's can behave sometimes as if the cruise control was engaged, I find that problem disturbing enough that I would NEVER buy a Toyota until I see that they have truly figured it out. As it stands right now, they haven't. Either they don't truly care, or don't even know they have a problem of that kind. Once I figured out that the engine software has "held" the accelerator on its own, even with the driver's foot off the pedal completely, it did not take me too long to assume that the same software is quite possibly the true cause of all those "stuck gas pedal" accidents with Toyotas. I even know of someone who saw his Camry go into high revs, all the way in the red, when the car was parked and idling, and no one was in it. Again - the engine software gone berserk.

When I drive a Corolla, I am always aware that if anything seems even a little strange to me, I am going for "N", which is "NEUTRAL" on the A/T, and I am also ready to shut the engine off, in the worst case.

Since I have been driving for decades, and am a bit of a car enthusiast, and have gone through more than my fair share of road emergencies of similar kind, I can (sort of) live with that for a few days or weeks at the time when I rent a Toyota, but I would not want my family to drive it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 18th May, 2012

29th May 2012, 23:56

Pretty much all cars made nowadays have "throttle-by-wire" instead of a linkage.

30th May 2012, 18:17

Buying a car from a car maker that has the dubious distinction of recalling the most cars in history is definitely risky. Be glad you are one of those who reads and keeps up with such things.

Most car buyers are totally clueless, and buy solely on ad hype or internet myths. I will never buy a Toyota.