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How could Toyota improve on the Corolla?

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What do you like about your Corolla? What do you find annoying?

I have my Corolla via my company, I was pretty much forced to go Hybrid by government tax brackets, and in my opinion, the only reasonably priced Hybrid estate (that doesn't plug in - not practical for me), with toys, and a proven reliability pedigree was the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports Hybrid. My previous vehicles have been "dirty diesels" such as the VW Passat 2.0 GT etc, this is my first ever Toyota.

Power wise, it feels is on par with my previous vehicle, I'm not disappointed. It is smaller in the boot department, but I can manage using the rear seats. One major annoyance was the rear seat belt sensor alarm sounding alarms when I had items there - far too sensitive, never had this before with any other car, but problem solved with a cheap app and an obd device.

The front seat base in the Corolla is shorter than the Passat, and I am quite tall, but I have adjusted to it, and I can get a comfortable position for those long motorway miles. Although one thing that annoys me about Japanese cars is the ratchet backrest, I usually struggle to fine tune the backrest angle to my taste, it all seems a compromise - the VW had an electric backrest which I could find that perfect position.

The media system is just ok, I just wish it had more station presets per mode - travelling the country, 6 isn't enough on DAB.

The sat nav does work, but it is so irritating! I like 2D, direction forward - the auto zoom is just terrible. You're on a motorway, getting near a junction, with it set to 0.25 miles or whatever, and it will auto zoom in far too soon, so you can't see the junction layout ahead. And then when you get to your destination, it will auto zoom in, and then remember that zoomed in level as the default for your next trip, so you have to zoom out again. I never once had to touch a zoom button in the VW, it just worked as expected. Luckily my Corolla has Android Auto so I can use Google Maps, but I do feel sorry for the people stuck with the standard Toyota/Lexus system.

Steering was a little unusual at first, after the VW, the Corolla felt a little unstable at speed to begin with, whereas the VW always felt heavy and planted. Maybe the Toyota runs a little less toe-in to reduce fuel consumption. Sport mode helps with the light steering feel, but it still feels like it wants to move around, I'm used to it now though.

For a CVT, the Corolla can be quite fun to drive on the twisty stuff in sport mode, yes it revs and makes noise, its not trying to be a sports car, but it goes where you point, with good body control it and the 2.0 actually has reasonable performance, the standard fit Falken tyres don't impress me, but they'll be changed out once worn. I don't miss manual gearboxes. I did love the DSG gearbox on the VW, but once I got used to the CVT, I don't miss DSG too much.

Speed accuracy... Toyota's accuracy margin is far too high. Was driving up the motorway on cruise control the other week at 65mph wondering why lorries were overtaking me. If I plug my obdlink lx into the car, and interrogate the car's speed via the ecu, and compare it with gps in the same app, the car's ecu knows the true speed very accurately (mostly within 0.5mph of the GPS speed), however, it decides to lie to me and give me a 10% margin for error on the dashboard, as an example, when my dashboard tells me I'm travelling at 70mph, I'm actually travelling at 64mph. When my dashboard says I'm travelling at 77mph, I'm actually travelling at 70mph. The VW was within 2mph at 70mph.

And that brings me to the radar guided cruise control. In the VW, the radar display on the dashboard would show the vehicle in front approaching your set distance for cruise, giving you opportunity to plan ahead and pull out before you hit the threshold, so the car doesn't slow down. The Toyota doesn't do this, car ahead just suddenly appears on the dashboard to say it is tracking a car, then you just start to slow down, this seems to vary based on speed of approach to vehicle in front and distance, but if Toyota implemented this better on the display, like the VW, it would assist the driver to save fuel by pulling out to the overtaking lane at the right time.

MPG, Corolla 2.0 is poorer at motorway speeds than a VW 2.0 diesel, low/mid 40's compared to late 50's/mid 60's. But it more than evens out with traffic. Currently, my Corolla is showing a long term MPG of 50.9 mpg, thanks to city driving, the VW long term average was about 44MPG for me with the same driving.

I'd prefer it if the doors would auto lock when setting off, just to keep my rear doors/loads safe, it is something I'm used to.

I'd also prefer it if the default for the brake hold was as you last left it - I press the brake hold button every time I turn the car on. (A similar annoyance in the VW was the engine start/stop - this defaulted to on every time you turned the car on, but in a DSG diesel, it didn't work well on roundabouts/junctions at all)

Brakes were very strange at first, but once you understand the system, it makes sense. I'd just like a better regeneration display showing when the car is braking using electricity regeneration only and when the real brakes come in (eg the HybridAssistant app)

I think the base car is very good, and most of the improvements needed are in software/user interface. 

I'd like:

  • More accurate speed indication on the dashboard
  • Accurate radar distance in cruise control mode, so you know exactly when the car is going to slow down
  • More radio station presets per mode
  • Sat Nav? I don't know, it is just poor for this day and age. 
  • Brake hold to remember the previous setting
  • Customisation for driving settings (eg VW) I'd like a custom option where I can choose the sports mode steering with the normal throttle mode, or just remember the last spots setting at least. (it seems to remember eco mode, but not sports mode)
  • Improved regeneration display showing when the disk brakes come in to effect - this would help improve my efficiency,

Overall I'm pleased with my Corolla, but in my mind. it does have some small technological items that could be improved on. 

How does the new Corolla live up to your expectations?

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If you find the steering is a little unnerving, turn off the lane keep assist feature.

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Iane assist is pretty much always turned off, but it can be fun to let it drive itself every now and again (for the 10 seconds before it complains about hands on the wheel) when traffic conditions allow.

I don't have any problems with Toyota's lane assist feature, it is comparable to my previous car, and works ok, it just spends about 99.9% of it's time disabled in my car - I rarely use it.

When I mentioned toe in, this is what I had in mind https://suspensionsecrets.co.uk/toe/

Do toyota run a more neutral toe angle (compared to other manufacturers) at the expense of high speed stability, for an increase in fuel efficiency?

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In terms of hybrid usage, Hyundai ioniq has a pretty smart feature. The cars GPS calculates where hills are located, so the car is ready for giving a proper push. Going down hill is when the Battery is recharged. 

Toyotas Battery management seems a bit strange. 

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Does that rely on programming a route into the sat nav? Or is it just as smart without a satnav route, depending on the direction of travel? Sounds like a useful feature, to really optimise the route ahead 

 

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You must use the sat nav to get the feature started. According to Honest John real mpg, the Ioniq performs better than the Corolla. So it seems to work well. 

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  • Brake hold should stay as you left it.
  • Automatic main beam headlights need attention - a lot of us believe they can't be trusted.
  • Infotainment unit needs a little patience when waiting for attached devices to wake up.
  • Lane assist needs more work.
  • Sat nav could do with a 'your next road is...' function.

But it's very close to the perfect car for me.

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Needs to have the features removed for UK market 

Blind spot monitoring 

Rear cross traffic assist (now with braking as per my20 chr) 

 

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My most annoying problem with the car is the auto zoom of the navigation.

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The annoy thing about the 2.0 is that the Battery doesn’t charge up on the motorway. If anything it sometimes loses charge so when you get stuck in a jam or leave the motorway you’ve only got 2-3 bars left.

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The main thing for me is, it's a Toyota. It is not the same as my last car by a mile. And I like that. So I don't try to compare it with another car, I drive it because it is my new driving experience, warts an all.

I always said I would never drive an automatic, but I love the CVT now. If I do a long trip, I am more relaxed and less tired when I get there. I am still uncomfortable about the engine revs when you need to accellerate, but that is my problem, and I'm getting used to it.

My left calf muscle is not dropping off any more if I am crawling in a motorway jam, through slipping the clutch and changing gear constantly. Stop starting is no longer stressful.

The brakes took a little getting used to, and I ached from the seats for a while, but I have got used to the different driving position.

The lane assist is switched off as it was dangerous, but I since read that it is for motorways, not trunk roads, so that makes sense. 

The auto headlight dip is just on in case I don't notice an oncoming car, otherwise I control the headlights, I don't leave it up to the car.

And I don't use the auto cruise control, because I like to be in control, and be the driver.  The radar auto brakes can be a bit annoying, because if you need to just swivel past the wheely bin on the drive, it won't let you, prompting an emergency stop from 1 mph!!

So I have the car set up how I want it, and it meets all my expectations, to be honest. I agree the navigation could be better, especially no house numbers. The Garmin I had on my dashboard in my last car, took me to the door step, which was good.

 

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My cons with this car: 

- unstable at highway speeds 

- very sensitive to crosswinds 

- nvh not the best 

- pianoblack panels 

- infotainment system (lack of smartphone integration) 

- ride to harsh sometimes, doesn’t deal with some bumps very well 

- lack of space in the hatchback 

It’s a big improvement from the Auris, but compared to some of its rivals they need to further improve some things.

 

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@vonkhaled have you checked your tyre pressures? The stability, harsh ride and road noise issues that others reported always came back to dealers leaving the tyres at too high a pressure. I appear to have the same car as you and have never experienced any instability and consider the road noise to be entirely reasonable for this class of car, ditto the suspension.

I'd say the space in the hatchback is fine for the market the car is targeted at (young adults).

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I did try the lane assist on a drive upto the North East on the M1/A1M earlier in the year. I had it set to centre the car, the roads were very quiet that day, so I let it drive itself for a stretch, obviously with hands lightly on the wheel as I don't trust it. It did fairly well, there was the occasional slight swerve, but it didn't go out of the lane. I got to passing an exit slip road, where it couldn't work out which way it wanted to go, and drifted towards the exit. I've left it turned off since, for me it is just a toy that I've no interest in.

I've never had a problem with piano black panels/scratches, but then I've never had a Toyota before, so I'll see how they go.

I actually find the ride quite good compared to my previous German cars, it can corner, but it I find it very compliant on uneven surfaces.

Infotainment is definitely the weak point for me. There were a couple of updates released recently for the MEU and DCU (as well as the map update) Some information here if you use google translate / Chrome: https://www.toyota-corolla-forum.de/forum/thread/135-software-kartenupdates-f%C3%BCr-die-meu-dcu-des-neuen-corolla/  

It is very important you use the correct one for your vehicle from the information pages on your media unit, I'd recommend taking it to a dealer, but if your feeling competent enough, manipulate the Toyota links described on the German forum to the codes relevant for your car, copy the files to a usb stick formatted in fat32, place in the socket by the glove box and it will offer an update. Not really noticed any differences yet, but then I haven't been driving the vehicle much recently.

Maybe we should have a thread here about media/navigation updates.

Coming to a Hybrid from a diesel, the brakes definitely took some getting used to for me, I'm normally very smooth, but it was difficult to adjust, I've cracked it now though.

The radar brake system in the Toyota goes off just as much as my previous VW. I've never had a car actually brake on me, but they do warn when turning corners with parked cars etc.

I've never seen the hybrid Battery on my 2.0 lower than 30% on motorway journeys so far. I do notice the engine charging the Battery on the motorway when in a steady cruise.

Overall I really like the car, it is a great place to sit on those long journeys.

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19 hours ago, AndrueC said:

@vonkhaled have you checked your tyre pressures? The stability, harsh ride and road noise issues that others reported always came back to dealers leaving the tyres at too high a pressure. I appear to have the same car as you and have never experienced any instability and consider the road noise to be entirely reasonable for this class of car, ditto the suspension.

I'd say the space in the hatchback is fine for the market the car is targeted at (young adults).

I've checked and changed the tyre pressure many times, no difference. 

Found this interesting article today in a swedish car magazine about the brakes on the Corolla (the same one that did the moosetest on the RAV4): https://teknikensvarld.se/toyota-corolla-bromsar-farligt-daligt/

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Interesting article.

It's not been picked up before by US or UK mags as far as I can tell.

I find the HB brakes quite fierce, and have to adjust when I drive other vehicles, because I find them less responsive. The HB needs a soft touch, or you throw all your shopping around the car! In fact, the most common comment is that the Corolla brakes take some getting used to.

I see the test refers to the TS chassis only, is it a problem other TS owners have noted?

 

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The only issue I have with the brakes is the last few mph when coming to a halt. It is very difficult to achieve a smooth halt. I suspect it's the transition from electric to physical that I'm struggling with. Other than that I haven't found the brakes any different to any other car I've driven.

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12 minutes ago, AndrueC said:

The only issue I have with the brakes is the last few mph when coming to a halt. It is very difficult to achieve a smooth halt. I suspect it's the transition from electric to physical that I'm struggling with. Other than that I haven't found the brakes any different to any other car I've driven.

I agree with this.

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With regards to the brakes. I went on a test drive with an Auris hybrid and nearly put the salesman through the windscreen. Very sharp. Learnt to be more gentle compared to my 23 year old Volvo 940. Now totally used to them as bought an Auris TS hybrid.

I don't own a corolla but would of hoped Toyota would of fitted electric front seats with memory, even if it was just for the drivers seat. I suppose they don't want to take sales away from their Sister the Lexus?

I also like full leather, so more interior colour options would be nice. I'm quite old fashioned, so cream leather and headliner. I don't mind a light brown leather or grey interior rather than all black. 

James.

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2 hours ago, AndrueC said:

The only issue I have with the brakes is the last few mph when coming to a halt. It is very difficult to achieve a smooth halt. I suspect it's the transition from electric to physical that I'm struggling with. Other than that I haven't found the brakes any different to any other car I've driven.

Yeah i don't know what people mean when they say that the breaks need getting used to. I had no problems at all, they're maybe a bit harsher than normal brakes but that's about it.

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1 hour ago, Auris James said:

 

I also like full leather, so more interior colour options would be nice. I'm quite old fashioned, so cream leather and headliner. I don't mind a light brown leather or grey interior rather than all black. 

James.

I like the approach that toyota has  taken with the seats, even the most basic model gets some really nice sporty fabric seats and the leather ones have alcantara i think or some sort of fabric in the middle so that your skin on your back doesn't become one with the seat. I had full leather seats on my last car and it was a nightmare during the summer, my skin would almost rip off my back whenever i tried to get out of my car. 

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26 minutes ago, King Crimson said:

I like the approach that toyota has  taken with the seats, even the most basic model gets some really nice sporty fabric seats and the leather ones have alcantara i think or some sort of fabric in the middle so that your skin on your back doesn't become one with the seat. I had full leather seats on my last car and it was a nightmare during the summer, my skin would almost rip off my back whenever i tried to get out of my car. 

Everyone is different, which is good. My Volvo 240GLT had black leather. It was hot with no AC! I like as I'm usually the owner years down the line how easy to keep clean leather is. Always think with cloth, has a child wet them! I like Lexus for the heated and cooled ventilated leather seats.

James.

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13 hours ago, King Crimson said:

Yeah i don't know what people mean when they say that the breaks need getting used to. I had no problems at all, they're maybe a bit harsher than normal brakes but that's about it.

Likewise, I find the brakes excellent. I remember when I took a test drive in the 1.8 Corolla, I also nearly put the sales guy through the window. But I put it down to me being used to driving a commercial vehicle and having a 17 year old car. When I picked up my new Corolla, sure you go easy for a day or so, but now, I find it very smooth. 

I can't remember finding it a struggle to adapt.

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Brakes work fine at normal driving speeds there is no noticeable difference.

The difference comes when transitioning to low speeds, suddenly there is less regenerative braking and it can feel like you have to press the brake pedal harder to obtain the same braking effect, and then back off for the final stop.

Seems normal now for me, it was just the first few stops weren't to my normal smooth standards. I really don't think about the brakes now (other than wishing the brake hold button would remember your last setting)

hybrid braking systems are a lot more complex than normal car brakes

https://www.techtips.ie/Blue-Print/toyota-prius-hybrid-regenerative-braking-1.pdf

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brake-by-wire

The my20 Excel has gone to full leather seats. They have dimples in them, I've not had any overheating issues with them - I find them very comfortable. My previous car had Alcantara seats, I used to get a bit warm with them occasionally on long drives.

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3 months and 600 miles on my denim blue 2.0 hatchback. I love the pano roof. It looks great as well, most of the roof being black glass with the black shark fin ariel. My first hybrid, braking is ok, the only time it seems not so good is when I am coming to a stop gently and then you seem to have to press the brake pedal quite hard to bring it to a halt or it will drift on. The boot is a bit shallow compared to the Kia Ceed gt I had before. No big deal though. The leather seats are lovely, it says black but to me more of a dark grey and looks good with the red and chrome in the headrests. I have Apple car play which for some reason a few times when on a call it stopped working and cut the phone call off. So I have not bothered with it lately. Anyone else had this? Car is great to look at and averaging around 55 at the moment. The piano black areas look good but being very careful not to scratch.

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