New and Improved?

My previous car was a 2005 Toyota Corolla, and I loved that car. I dubbed her Zippy and rode her hard for over 100,000 carefree miles.

When it came time to look at another car, I didn’t look overly hard. I checked out a Chevy Cruze and Honda Civic before driving over to Toyota, and without doing a thorough investigation, bought my 2016 Toyota Corolla.

I had read a small amount about the CVT transmission, which is relatively new, so I wasn’t sure what I though about it. My salesperson said they have been using them in Corollas about five years with great success. My experience is questionable. When driving around Southern Pines, NC on curvy roads with slight hills using cruise control, I would have to say that it sometimes felt like the transmission was slipping. I know I am basing that feeling on my experience with a regular transmission’s slipping. I was told, when I remarked on it at my first maintenance visit, that feeling is common on a four-cylinder car with a CVT transmission. Wish I’d know that before my purchase.

Let’s talk seats. Anyone else feel like their head is being pushed forward by the head rest, while the top of the seat rounds their shoulders and their lumbar area is unsupported? I was recently informed that my spine requires an upright posture with a slightly tucked chin. I realized immediately that my car seat allows for none of that. Who designed this car seat? So, I have purchased a cushion for behind my back that supports my lumbar and allows me to sit upright, and turned the head rest around backward to keep it from pushing my head forward in an unnatural position.

I am all legs, so with the seat back as far as it will go, I have just enough leg room to be comfortable. When I added the cushion to my seat, I was pushed forward enough to lose that comfortable leg zone. I’m not happy about that.

And who decided to make the head rests in the back seats non-removable?  Now, when I need to put the back seats down to carry long cargo, I have to move my front seats forward. I have already lost positive leg-room with my added seat cushion, so this further loss of leg room is unacceptable. And what if the head rest isn’t the right height for my backseat passengers? Too bad.

When I have my headlights on, people coming my way are always flashing their bright lights at me, as if I have my high beams on. This is another poor design feature halogen lights. Because they are brighter than the old standard incandescent headlights, they have designed it so the lights are shielded on the top, in hopes of not blinding people coming toward you or people driving in front of you. This limits my visibility of anything higher than the engine hood, so my vision going up a steep hill is impaired. Plus, reading street signs at night is now impossible because of the shielded lights.

It has been deemed aerodynamic to make the Corolla lower overall, which has added another problem. Going up or down a small, steep incline creates a grating noise, as the front end scrapes. I never had this issue with my old Corolla. And God forbid you should need to go down a gravel road that is being graded and has a small hill of gravel down the center that you have to cross. This happened to me recently and the front end of my car acted like a shovel. I heard gravel dropping out of my car for thirty minutes after getting back on the hard top because I crossed the loose gravel ridge to get out of the way of an oncoming car.

Who’s excited about the back-up camera? I can’t say I am. When the sun is out and shining just right, there is a glare on the screen, so you can’t see anything. If it’s raining, with a slight breeze, the camera gets droplets on it making it impossible to see back there. And forget using it at night-time. I was backing down a friend’s driveway one night, which was the same color as the road I was backing out onto, and both were strewn with leaves. There were trees on either side of the driveway and it was pitch black out there. Backing out was a nightmare. There aren’t any real back-up lights on the car, so trying to maneuver backwards using the mirrors or turning around and looking didn’t work. I felt blind and moved slowly, so if I did end up hitting a tree, I would do minimal damage. I would suggest Toyota add regular back-up lights to their future models so people can see what’s behind them.

So please Toyota, more leg room for the driver, ergonomically designed seats that allow proper spine alignment, headlights that don’t blind other drivers and allow the driver to see a full view, raise the car a tad, bring back removable rear seat head rests, look for a better transmission for a four-cylinder car and put in decent backup lights – even if you choose to keep the camera.

2 thoughts on “New and Improved?”

  1. Sounds like lots of disappointments to me. Fred had a similar experience with a Subaru he bought. Ended up selling it to my sister. She is much smaller than him and it fit her perfectly.

    1. I figure when I get it paid off, I can trade it in for something else. I’ll definitely research before I buy again. I was just in desperate need of a dependable car in a hurry when I bought this one.

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