So I got a new car at the end of 2011, replacing my 17-year old 1995 Toyota Camry, which served me well and could have kept going, if I were willing to maintain it. The last thing was a $1700 part replacement for a car valued at $1500 on the high end. So it may have been time to look around. Toyota had a better-than-decent promotion and a further discount on certain models, so I now have a 2011 Toyota Corolla. I was able to drive it for 11 days before leaving the country, and I quickly noticed what I especially liked about the older Camry.
1. In the Corolla, the headlights stay on when you remove the key, which can drain your battery. For the last 17 years, my Camry would shut off the lights (and all electrics) when I removed the key, blocking any risk of a drained battery.
2. The Camry’s rear view mirror was anchored to the ceiling instead of glued to the windshield.
3. The Camry had a full-size spare tire, not a “space saver” miniature tire.
4. The Camry had more leg room and head room (but it’s also a larger model).
5. The Corolla’s clock is farther down the center panel, closer to the shift console, which means if you’re glancing at the clock, your field of vision includes less of the road.
6. The Camry had pneumatic struts on both sides to hold up the hood, no support stick required (though it had one as backup). The Corolla only has the support stick on one side.
7. The sight lines for the Corolla are worse, perhaps due to the smaller body (that leads to less leg room). When I turn my head to look before changing lanes, there is a large section of the body frame obstructing my field of vision. This happens on both sides: the beam behind the driver and rear door (on the driver side) and the beam between the rear door and rear windshield (on the passenger side).
I may find out more things as I drive it more, these were the things that stood out the earliest. There are good things about the newer Corolla: more safety features (10 airbags vs 2), more fuel efficient, and better stereo (auxiliary and USB port).