(Contributing Editor: Susan Frissell)
Lost in Translation:
Message from [then] Toyota Motor North America HQ [then] in Torrance, California to Toyota Motor Corporation Global HQ in Toyota City, Aichi, Japan:
“Please don’t send us any 5-door hatchback compact cars. Americans won’t buy them.”
Message from Toyota Motor Corporation Global HQ in Toyota City, Aichi, Japan to Toyota Motor North America HQ [then] in Torrance, California.
(“Please accept the forthcoming shipments of this 5-door hatchback car, which is popular in Europe, to sell in America with our compliments.”)
This is how the Mk. 2 Toyota Auris (E180) compact hatchback was foisted into American Toyota showrooms, wearing a Scion iM emblem in 2015.
Two model years later, with the whole “Son of Toyota” experiment but a memory, those same Toyota showrooms received a re-christened 2017 Toyota Corolla iM badge, in honor of the donor sedan.
√ Low M.S.R.P:
from $19,615 (incl. destination) for a 6-speed manual 2018 Toyota Corolla iM . Add $740 for the automatic CVT transaxle.
√ Low transaction price:
Check Toyota.com & Toyota dealers for their extensive purchase, finance incentives.
As a third generation Toyota Auris / Corolla iM is anticipated at showrooms Summer of 2018, expect steep discounting of the remaining 2018 Corolla iM inventories.
√ Sufficient capacity, Versatile use of space:
Front buckets suit wide range of body types, though cushions are on short side; Forward & side visibility are usable; Cargo parcel shelf partially impedes rear visibility; Crisp white on black dial gauges include TFT trip data display, Finger friendly switches, pleasing to wind rotary dials; Front door / Rear door pocket storage = Good / Meh.
For Comparison’s Sake: 2018 Toyota Corolla iM vs. Volkswagen Golf Mk. VII 5-door passenger volume, rear legroom & under hatch cargo volume = +4% , -2.9″-inches, +14% respectively.
√ Above average fuel economy, without hybrids or diesel power:
35 miles per gallon in combined driving, 530 mile highway range on 87 octane unleaded fuel.
√ Adequate highway long-ramp, challenging short-ramp merge acceleration
Long throttle travel, low effort clutch, positive gear shift lever action
√ Acceptable ride/ handling
Fully independent suspension lends compliance to 17″-inch alloy wheels fitted with lower resistance 45-ratio rubber; Quick steering, without being overweighted, provides accuracy and less fatigue; Planted stopping comes courtesy of standard disc brakes fitted all-around.
√ Reliability & durability:
Hard, though tight grained, plastics abound; EX Launch Edition trim seating and door armrests = split leather, peculiar embossed & low on aroma; Liftgate closes with low effort; Engine sound distantly muted from cabin; 30% torsional rigidity > 2017 Kia Rio, but some cold weather panel creak detected;
√ High reliability, O.K. warranty
Reliability is why donor Corolla sedan was the number one selling automobile in the world for 2017 (1.16 million units); 5 year / 60,000 miles powertrain (diminishing to 5 yr. / 60k on resale); 3 year / 36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranties; 2 yr. / 25k mi included maintenance.
√ Styling = Euro hot hatch ambitions
A sharp raked hood, rising beltline profile; Wisp of V-grille & upper fascia dignified; Flared lower fascia w/ dark honeycomb inserts; Body-color matching side-spats; Rear quarters extend past upright liftgate like Mk. I Nissan LEAF.
√ Generous standard equipment list – (Corolla iM has no options other than color & transmission):
Standard: Power windows (driver’s express), door locks,heated mirrors; Keyless entry; Dual illuminated vanity sun-visors, Leather tilt + telescoping steering wheel, Front and rear overhead map lights; Front & 2nd Row center armrests; 60/40 split folding 2nd row seatbacks; Cargo bay cover;
√ Good safety feature set & ratings:
8 airbags (incl. driver’s knee), Rear view camera w/ park guidance grid, Automatic lights, Toyota Safety Sense-C: Lane departure, pre-collision warning, automatic high beam headlights.
IIHS: Not [yet] Rated; cousin 2018 Hyundai Accent = IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus.
Standard & Making Life Easier Behind the Wheel:
√ Bluetooth handsfree phone & audio connectivity
√ Cruise control
√ 2-Zone automatic climate control
√ Touch infotainment display: 7″-inch touch LCD display HD FM/AM Audio with USB, Aux, I-pod, streaming inputs, 6-speaker Pioneer 160W audio w/ voice commands; Siri assist, aHa app;
√ USB x 1 ports, 12V x 1 power ports
√ Generous front center stack wireless device storage
Standard & Nice To Have:
√ Sport mode
√ Rear disc brakes
√ Fully independent suspension
√ Driver assist technology: Lane departure warning, pre-collision braking
Wish It Had But Doesn’t:
-1: 2018 Toyota Corolla iM lacks Corolla sedan’s available Entune Premium Audio Apps including Scout Link GPS Navigation mobile application.
Which to Skip, Which to Pick:
The manual transmission Corolla iM makes a case to “Save the Manuals.”
1) When possible, locate an outgoing model year vehicle. They come with greater manufacturer sale and lease incentives.
2) Do Your Homework.” Scour manufacturer websites for “Rebates“, “Incentives” or “Special Offers.”
3) Be flexible on options and colors. Be willing to consider what other consumers might readily pass on.
4) Reputable new car dealers may allow prospective purchasers to rent a similar model service loaner vehicle for extended test drive purposes.