Archive for September, 2012

Long term test – Corolla Rumion

September 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Starting this weekend, I’ve embarked on something of a three week road test with a Toyota Corolla Rumion. While I won’t go into the details, I did want to give a first take from two days’ experience with the car:

Sold in the US as the second generation Scion xB, the Rumion is definitely a car more adapted to the US market than the Japanese. If you’ve been clever enough to notice that the name is derived from ‘roomy,’ you might have also surmised that it’s intended to be accommodating to those who need a bit of extra space. At 1760mm wide, it’s actually wider than a family member’s 2003 Acura 3.2TL, wider than the current Noah and Voxy minivans and just shy of the Crown Athlete full size sedan. this makes parking in my very confined structure a challenge, but will ease the accommodation of two adults next to a child seat in back. It’s also has reasonable luggage space in the rear due to it’s ample length, but fortunately maintains a reasonable turning circle, making it easy to manage around town.

Despite its size, the interior feels a bit cramped due to the high belt line and dark color palette, and the forward placed, upright windshield increases the sensation of peering out of a tunnel – this accentuated by massive  A-pillars which give the car a substantial blind spot. Overall, visibility is amongst the poorest of any car of its ilk I’ve driven, and hopefully its successor will make good use of high strength alloys in the A-pillars and doors to open up the greenhouse a bit, as has been done on the newest Corolla.

The steering is surprisingly taut for the breed, and the wheel has a nice weight to it; while it lacks on-center feel and isn’t very communicative, it does enough to inspire confidence on the highway and never feels floaty. Controls were generally accessible, but the placement of the paddle shifters will take some getting used to – so close to the rim of the wheel that I often found my fingers brushing against them while making sharp turns. The brakes are strong enough but very isolated and a bit soft in feel, and the CVT does its part to encourage driving for mileage, rather than fun – but that’s exactly what I’m looking for in a car whose main purpose is to move reasonable amounts of people and stuff comfortably and quietly.

It’s in comfort and quiet that this car excels. Materials are surprisingly upscale compared to other recent Toyotas (particularly the low rent Aqua and 86, and the bottom of the barrel Spade and Porte twins), the seats were soft and supportive without being cushy, and the cabin was serene to great engine isolation (huge fluid-filled mounts!) and plenty of insulation in the cabin. This vehicle, as tested, was shod with well worn Yokohama Advans, which should be a recipe for excessive road noise, but that was also well controlled except on the most uneven of pavement. Wind noise crept up over 100 km/h, largely due to the aforementioned vertical windshield, but I never reached speeds which made it obtrusive.

Other than visibility, my biggest gripe is the central gauge placement, as well as the stylistic choice to use both a row of tiny circular gauges, along with a digital speedometer – I found it very difficult to read my speed with just a glance, and it took attention away from the road – a very poor trend indeed. Otherwise, I’m satisfied at first blush – let’s see how it holds up after three weeks of hard use!

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