LONG-TERM UPDATE 3 | We say goodbye to our Toyota Corolla Quest

24 March 2021 - 17:22 By Waldo Swiegers
The Toyota Corolla 1.8 Exclusive proved a fuss-free companion.
The Toyota Corolla 1.8 Exclusive proved a fuss-free companion.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

Over the last 15 years, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the old faithful, run-of-the-mill Toyota Corolla variants. Many of them being battered and bruised pool vehicles for newspapers, where no mechanical sympathy is employed by the different drivers they fall prey to. Yet they keep going. Even with over 500,000km on, an old Corolla 1.3 carburettor model from the early ‘90s will start up on a cold winter’s morning and it will get you where you need to be.

My stint in the Corolla Quest 1.8 Exclusive Auto proved to carry on with that tradition of hassle-free dependability. As an appliance of movement, the Corolla’s lineage has cemented itself as the go-to model for people who care most about getting from A to B without fuss. It’s not the most exciting car, and it isn’t going to win any performance or styling awards. But it’s not likely to leave you stranded.

The Exclusive model features a more premium interior that will definitely appeal to buyers. Everything feels well put together and the leather seats are comfortable for longer journeys. The touchscreen infotainment system is a step up from the general old-school radio, but I found the lack of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to be a letdown.

Lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration was disappointing.
Lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration was disappointing.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

The Bluetooth worked well for phone calls and listening to music from my phone’s online streaming platform though. The automatic climate control worked brilliantly as well. Automatic wipers are standard, but automatic headlights are omitted – I’d be happier if that was the other way round.

The cruise control was a blessing on a trip to Rustenburg, but the system was slow to react when setting the cruise speed. I’d push the ‘Set’ button when I get to the desired speed, take my foot off the accelerator and the car would slow down for a few seconds before suddenly accelerating hard to get back to the chosen cruising speed.

As editor Brenwin Naidu commented in his initial update, the continuously-variable transmission (CVT) is a bit of a lemon. Slow and steady is definitely the approach to adopt. There is a Sport mode button which basically just keeps the revs up to allow for better access to the torque curve. It does help with overall response and driving performance in town, but at the cost of having to listen to a constant strained noise from the 1.8-litre engine.

Analogue instrument cluster is simple and easy to read.
Analogue instrument cluster is simple and easy to read.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

The ride quality is superb. On undulating roads, the suspension soaks up the bumps in a well-mannered fashion, without making the car feel wishy-washy. This isn’t a performance vehicle, so the 103kW and 173Nm of torque is more than adequate for the general commute and it cruises at the legal speed limit without much fuss.

Fuel consumption as indicated on the on-board computer is a little bit optimistic. It showed 7.6l/100km with the trip showing 584km, but it took 48.54l when I filled up – an actual consumption figure of 8.3l/100km in a decent mix of city and highway driving. When I handed it back, the on-board computer was indicating 7.1l/100km on a tank that mainly did highway driving.

Toyota has always been known for their build quality. The Quest is well put together, without any blatant squeaks or rattles, but the driver’s side window failed to close on occasion after driving over a bumpy piece of road with the window down. When trying to close it, it would hit the door frame and required a hand to guide it back into its groove.

The Corolla Quest averaged 7.4l/100km over its three-month tenure.
The Corolla Quest averaged 7.4l/100km over its three-month tenure.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

As noted by colleague Mzi Oliphant in his second update, the nose of the car touches almost every time one drives over a normal sized speed bump. It is the single biggest issue I have with the car.

Someone will probably buy this Corolla Quest, drive it for 200,000km, then it will go on to another owner where it will continue to go and go for many hundreds of thousands of kilometres still. It is the trusted choice for a reason!

TOYOTA COROLLA QUEST: UPDATE 3 (FINAL)

ODOMETER ON DELIVERY: 4,000km

CURRENT ODOMETER: 6,642km

AVERAGE CONSUMPTION: 7.4l/100km

PRAISES: Easy-going character, great ride, plush interior, big boot

GRIPES: CVT gearbox, nose prone to catching on speed bumps, no Android Auto or Apple Carplay, cruise control delayed activation


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