This is my second car, now be it the first one was a 2006 Corolla and this car will last awhile. I have had this car for over two years now and have only had a minor fix on my sunroof. This car isn't that sport, but it is exactly what you get for the price. The back seats have surprisingly a lot of room. I have fit two people at the same time that where 6 '5 and they where comfortable. The speakers are very nice stock. Most people invest money into speakers that sound worse.
I bought this car used after a leasee returned it to the dealer. My initial impressions of the car were favorable. The seats are supportive and the 6spd is smooth. This achieves exactly what I think Toyota set out to achieve with this car being a "my first sports car" type car.
After putting some long highway miles on it there are a number of things that started to creep up on me that wouldn't have been apparent to me in the test drive. The first is the quality of the interior build. The bass from the radio rattles the panels around the window control buttons. I'm not sure I'b a big fan of the vinyl sunroof cover either. The exhaust note may or may not be your thing during a long drive.
The car is very basic all the way around, but I would have to say the suspension is probably my favorite part of this vehicle. Its comfortable enough to eat the bumps on the highway and aggressive enough to have fun on the on and off ramps.
I'd also have to give a shout out to the dash and center controls. I'm a fan of spartan interiors and in a world where cars are starting to have more buttons than sense its nice to see just a few knobs and easy to use steering mounted radio controls.
The engine for this care is woefully anemic and is the primary contributor to the "meh" feeling that I get from the rest of the car. Pulling out of toll booths and trying to beat out a tractor trailer isn't as sure a thing as I would prefer.
If you are over 6ft tall then you might run into an issue with the low roof line. You may have to avoid pulling all the way up to stop lights for lack of vision.
The word of the day however, is horsepower, and this car really needs it.
Aggressively styled exterior, although not sure what to make of the dash materials them coming off as a coated plastic, nothing felt cheap nor did I feel slighted in the least. This is a fun point a to point b vehicle with some extra curricular teases. This car was too easy to fall in love with for what it was and hard to hate for not being what would cost another 4-5 thousand green backs out of pocket to get. If youre looking for sporty DO NOT LOOK HERE. But if youre looking for a convenient, stylish way to get around without sacrificing efficiency or your pocket book this should be in your considerations. Overall this is a Toyota and its drive, comfort and lives to that name.
What I wasnt expecting is what I could not see. I popped in my latest physical disc purchase, an at the time popular hip-hop artist and turned the round ergonomically placed knob clockwise. I was pleasantly greeted with an ear full of dramatic sounds from all sides bass, vocals, treble al mashed and smashed into a quite pleasing audio experience. Yes, an audio experience. 8 speakers had a small orchestra occupying my surroundings. A few more twist and turns on the dash brought me the feel preset. This brought the car to life. Rear passenger room rivals Lexus IS and all around comfort of the vehicle is exceptional.
I fired up my new ricer hearing a low rumble as the engine purred. Yes purred the 2.4 liters that this Thunder Cat (TC) came equipped with gave a hollow purr that can only be heard clearly with the AC off and the music low. A hum if you will. Nothing special but again stock exhaust what more could I ask for at idle? That partnered with the fact that it is an engine transplant from the established family mobile but otherwise snooze worthy Toyota Camry. Dash and detailing could have seen a little more love.
Can't stand when people review a car that aren't driving it everyday, so I thought I would add a few comments.
Don't buy this car if you are looking for a sports car. It's not. Buy this car if you are looking for a much more attractive looking 2-door Corolla with a tiny bit more juice and a lot of extras. For only a couple thousand dollars more than the Corolla, the decision was easy for me.
The only reason I gave it a 4 performance wise is that it seems like Toyota markets the car as 'sporty'. Sporty looking/feeling yes, but not a sports car. For commuters, the performance would easily be a 5. Nothing wrong with it.
Love the steering wheel, even though this is clearly not a sports car, it feels a bit like one. I can understand why purists think its a gimmick, but for someone in the $20,000 price range, looking for a commuter car, everything works great. The car handles great, takes sharp turns easy, feels real solid driving it around town. It has just enough extra juice to pass a car at an intersection or on the freeway, or to merge into traffic. You aren't going to be racing people in this thing.
Love the dials and seats. Love how the back seats fold down. Contrary to all the reports about back seat room, there isn't really. Buy a 4 door if you are constantly driving friends/family around.
The interior plastic side door panels seem a bit cheap. They scuff pretty easily. The automatic shifter takes a bit to get used to. The shifter knob is cheap compared to the rest of the interior. Closing the doors take a bit getting used to. They just need a slight touch, anything harder and they make a cheap aluminum rattling noise when slammed.
Blind spots are my only legit complaint, the others are miniscule. It's really stressful backing out of a parking spot in a crowded parking lot. You can only really see out of the side mirrors and directly behind the vehicle. Its really hard to tell if someone is waiting for you to back out in the wings. May be that I'm just used to a 4 door.
Bought TC'11 1 month ago, now have >3,000 miles on it. After having driven RSX for almost 8 years, needed to adjust to TC. TC feels larger and heavier than RSX, steering is lighter. Turns need to be initiated, while RSX turned effortlessly. That said, TC seems to to be quite a decent H-back, even tossable, with plenty of room in the back, and good gas mileage.
-with rear seats down flat, plenty of room in rear,
-lighter wheels; standard 18" wheels may be too heavy, impending handling.