2011 Toyota Corolla LE 1.8L from North America
A good car that makes me nervous
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.