2 Years Behind! Toyota Struggles Playing Tech Catch Up

Image.aspx Two years earlier...2012 Ford Focus.

Winter 2012, I went shopping for a new car.

The Contenders:

2012 Mazda3

2012 Ford Focus

2012 Toyota Corolla

2012 Nissan Sentra

The Winner:

2012 Ford Focus

I honestly went into this game with the intention of buying a Toyota. That being said, I can admit without any pre-existing prejudice that the Corolla was the biggest let-down in my car shopping lineup. This took me completely by surprise because I had been indoctrinated to think Toyota made perfect machines, any of which I would love to drive. Wrong! This experience allowed me to see how much Toyota was slipping — and it was very sad.

The Corolla I drove was priced around $19,500 and was as bland as a piece of burned toast. The salesman was trying to sell me its CD player and A/C as major innovations. I also think it had a tape deck. I honestly thought the man was joking. It didn’t come standard with cruise control (strike one), it was priced very high for the (lack of) features inside (strike two), the quality of the materials was very low (strike three), and it had zero spunk on the road (strike four). I left very depressed — it didn’t even have the “standard features” from other cars.

When I drove the 2012 Focus (the Euro design), I thought I was in one of those hidden-camera Ford commercials. Legitimately, I looked around for a camera, saying out loud, “this cannot be a Ford!” The car had two computer screens—one for the radio/phone/CD and the other to serve as my trip computer and alert system. My steering wheel had buttons to control almost everything in the car — helpful in rush-hour traffic in Washington, D.C.

It had a USB plug in, the SYNC system for my smart phone, real leather, some definite pep in its driving, and, although controversial, the dual-clutch trans — which I do like. I got the 2012 Ford Focus SEL, fully loaded, for under $19k. Bam. Sorry, Toyota, you lost me. My next car? It will probably be a Ford.

corollaint And two years later...the 2014 Toyota Corolla.