Let’s be honest: Toyotas don’t sell on a reputation for style and excitement. Instead they are bought for things like high resale values, reliability and fuel economy. Those attributes are a powerful combination, as sales of stalwart models like the Camry and Corolla have remained strong. For years, the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic were at the top of their classes.
Today though they have fallen behind in competitive rankings as models like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra have stepped up their game. Reliability and quality have risen to acceptable levels for all of the aforementioned manufacturers, leading buyers to place more of an emphasis on attributes like design.
To not fall behind, the next-generation Corolla will need to do more than just offer more of the same. A sign that Toyota has gotten the memo with new products arrived when the Toyota Avalon debuted in January at the North American International Auto Show. It was a dramatic change. Toyota says the new Corolla won’t just be as big of a step forward as the Avalon, but even more so. “Some (within Toyota) have said it is an even more dramatic change” than the Avalon’s recent metamorphosis says Bill Fay, general manager for the Toyota and Scion brands in the U.S.
Fay made the comments to WardsAuto at a recent media event for the Tesla-developed Toyota RAV4 EV. If true, this is really good news. The current car is selling on name, as it clearly is at the bottom of its class on subjective qualities. It was the sales champ in the segment last year, but by the slimmest of margins: 232,159 units versus the Chevrolet Cruze’s 231,732. If Toyota can pull off a small car design that is up to the level of effort put into the Avalon, its sales future looks bright.