Words and Photos by : Nicolas Calanoc
The standard of Toyota’s compact passenger cars
The Toyota Corolla Altis has been the 90s golden standard of the compact segment by being big enough to accommodate passengers while small enough to be driven around proficiently by most, aside from being able to reach from point A to B with ease. But as early as the year 2000, the need for a practical car has shifted from compact segment to the subcompact. So as the Toyota Vios occupies the void of being the practical choice, the question left is what shoes do the Corolla Altis fill?
When people told me to review this car, the biggest question they had was how it compares to the 1st face when it came out in late 2014. Is it just a facelift that I can just buy the older one or have things changed that makes buying the new one worth it?
Personally, I do like the styling of the Corolla Altis, especially this time around. It still has its sharp look similar to that of a samurai, but even more pronounced thanks to its newly designed bumper to accommodate the new 2-LED headlight, which really works well at night driving. As for its size compared to the competition in 2017, I find it to be in the better half of the spectrum keeping things compact yet spacious inside. And that is its selling point, it has more space than the Vios, which is something you can’t add later on.
The bigger changes happen once you step inside the cabin. The dashboard is revised to feel more consistent with other Toyota vehicles like their new Innova, Fortuner, and Hilux. The Corolla Altis V models finally come with an infotainment touchscreen that has a backing camera that works in conjunction with the retained backing sonar, which it didn’t have before. It also comes with front sonar sensors to check for clearances. These sensors may not seem much, but it pays big once the city driving gets tough, for new drivers and veterans alike. These useful accessories are welcome additions that elevate its value, especially versus its tight competition.
The thing that caught me off-guard though (in a good way) was how it drove. It feels more collected this time around, especially in the suspension department. If 2014’s suspension felt bouncy but comfy, 2017 offers something that felt composed and yet offered the same amount of comfort. I also noticed a better sense of power delivery. Yes it is a CVT with a sequential shift up to 7, but it plays both spectrums of efficiency and effectiveness very well. When you pair up all these characteristics with good steering, it is something that invokes leisure driving. There is just something this time around that the 2017 Corolla Altis just feels better. You know that feeling when a word you’re trying to remember is at the tip of your tongue? The same goes for this one.
Some might notice that I have said nothing phenomenal about the car. It feels good to drive, but it won’t be my top pick for going up and down winding roads that appeal to enthusiasts. If I’m looking for the best standard equipment, this won’t be my top pick either. As for size, there are bigger cars out there. But that’s the thing about the Toyota Corolla Altis that appeals to me to this day, its greatness comes from being good at everything, just like every Corolla we know. As for comparing it to the model back in 2014, there are definitely improvements, but nothing to make the 2014 owners feel bad about. It’s like your favorite band covering a song that your parents listened to when they were young: it has the same soul but with a twist that you can thoroughly enjoy today.