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How dare they call this a Corolla!

A Scion iM by any other name is actually worse


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TOYOTA COROLLA iM

When I heard that the Toyota people were sending me a new type of the venerable and popular Corolla smaller sedan – this time a hatchback called the iM – I didn’t give it much thought. Another Corolla. And besides, I don’t like to do too much research up-front on cars so I have the driver’s perspective.

Then I got into the car and thought, “Gee, this seems familiar.” Then it struck me. I drove the same car one year ago when it was called the Scion iM. Scion, the Toyota subsidiary launched in 2002 and targeted to younger people, has been discontinued after it went, basically, into free-fall in the 2008-09 Recession. They tried to revive it in 2014, but it didn’t take.

The odd thing is not that Toyota tried to recoup some of its losses and investment by taking a couple of the Scion models and re-badging them as Toyotas; heck, I would have done the same thing, and in any case, some Scions were marketed as Toyotas in other countries anyway.

The oddity is that in rebadging the iM they gave it the Corolla name. First, it is not a Corolla, not even close. And more importantly, calling it the Corolla iM, I believe, demeans the Corolla nameplate.

Corolla was launched in 1966 – 50 years ago – as a subcompact model that morphed into a compact in 1987 – and it has been either the top-selling or near-the-top-selling nameplate in the world since the 1970s.

It has gone through now 11 generations and proven itself more than worthy to stand up to the competition of the Nissan Sentra, the Honda Civic, the VW Jetta, some Kias and Hyndais, and the various models of American brand-name, lower-end sedan models that Ford, GM and Chrysler have thrown at it over the years. Or rather thrown themselves at; let’s be honest, with the possible exception of the more distinctive VW styling, all of the other cars that have competed with the Corolla over the years look like Corolla clones, and that was no accident.

This new Corolla iM is not a terrible car – more on that in a second – it is just a travesty that it is called Corolla.

I reviewed the Scion iM in late December 2015 and I am not going to rehash the review. They haven’t changed a thing except for putting Toyota badges on the car. Click here to read my earlier review.

Oh, I guess they changed one thing: the base price on the Scion a year ago was $18,460, and here the Toyota iM carries a base price of $19,490. They added in a couple of thing – carpeted floor mats, a rear wind deflector, and a delivery and handling charge – and the bottom line for this new Toyota Corolla iM is $21,498. That’s too much.

 The Toyota website indicates that the regular, sedan Corolla and this iM carry essentially the same base price, so by all means if you’re in the market for a small sedan, go test drive a Corolla; it’ll be worth your while. But skip this iM. It’s just not up to par.

My earlier review stands – I gave the 2016 Scion iM Two Wheels out of Four – but there was one thing this time around that stood out that I didn’t mention last year: The Toyota Corolla iM has power window and door lock switches on the driver’s door, and the switch to alter the outside mirrors is tucked into the dash left of the steering wheel near the door.

None of these switches light up, and I had a heck of a time trying to operate these systems at night. Not even turning on the overhead light helped; I couldn’t see the switches. I wrote in my notes that this was a pain in the neck. It has a lot of other high-tech equipment – Bluetooth, touch screen, voice commands – so you’d think they could add a hundred bucks or so and illuminate the window, door and mirror switches, or at least give the owner a flashlight.

Obviously, Toyota rushed to get the new Toyota badging on its Scion model and didn’t take the time to make any refinements. And it shows. Perhaps iM stands for “immediate Mistake.” Note: I lowered the rating from the Scion iM for the temerity of calling this a Corolla.

RATING: ONE WHEEL (OUT OF FOUR)

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Jeff Rundles

Jeff Rundles is a former editor of ColoradoBiz and a regular columnist. Email him at jrundles@cobizmag.com.

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