Odometer at pick-up: 1,744 km
Odometer Current: 6,665 km (4,921 by Autos.ca)
Fuel Consumption: 7.13 L/100 km
Costs: $400.28 (Fuel only)
I don’t know if I’ve ever had a busier or better vacation, and the Toyota Corolla was no small part of that.
There is something to be said for not overreaching with family vacations, and to some degree, the Corolla’s compact size and sedan layout limited our plans to similarly modest but achievable goals.
The most ambitious goal was a little camping trip, our first solo family camping trip without any extended family (and associated childcare support network). We were on our own chasing our toddler and tyke around the campsite, keeping them from tripping over guy-wires and faceplanting in the fire, making an escape and running into the access road or playing with axes. Mission accomplished.
So, with four people to house (tent?) and feed for three days, we had to get creative with our packing in the Corolla’s 369 L of trunk space and evil box-crusher hinge arms. We packed a large tent, a bunch of tarps, a large cooler, four sleeping bags, three inflatable mattresses, three folding chairs, a folding camp stool/camping gear survival kit, propane camp stove and several smaller bags with clothes and shoes and food and raingear. As it turns out, we packed enough food for about twice as long as we stayed, so some of it spilled over into the cabin along with pillows between the kids’ car seats, small cooler with snacks and water bottles (the Corolla should be commended for its ample supply of cup and bottle storage around the cabin, and convenient placement of USB port), a large water jug and, well, more stuff.
While the kids were almost buried, the only real issue or complaint I would voice is about those hinge arms, which I defeated by packing the sleeping bags and tarps immediately beneath them so it would not crush our chips or be blocked by the cooler or something more solid. Trunk Tetris at its finest if I do say so myself.
Loaded up and ready to go, we finally had occasion to use the Corolla S’s navigation system, punching in Algonquin Provincial Park in order to have an ETA to tell the kids every two minutes when they asked if we are there yet. In truth, we bribed them with snacks and iPad and Kids Place Live on the satellite radio, and threatened them with loss of marshmallows every time they asked. Classic carrot-and-stick parenting, except without the yucky carrots. Regular arrival estimates also helped keep them eager for our adventure.
Getting the car moving was a bit more of an ordeal than usual, loaded as it was, so its 132 horsepower was sorely tested, bordering on desperately wheezing up to speed. We even tried getting every last ounce of the 128 lb-ft of torque by pressing the SPORT button on the console, and while that provided more immediate throttle response and held revs higher, the increased noise was not worth the marginal improvement in acceleration. In truth, the Corolla got us there, struggling up some of the hills, but still punchy enough to pass a couple of slower vehicles in some of the passing zones. In the grand scheme of things, it was just fine.
Also fine was the ride. Although a bit noisy, it is not so loud to require cranking the music up too loud, and you can still have some parental conversation without screaming, even with the radio on at highways speeds. The suspension was possibly even better under load, allowing the kids to take a nap when they get tired, and the Corolla has a practical amount of ground clearance for getting to campsites or cottages even if not able to tackle serious trails or go on backcountry winter expeditions. No matter, that is not the Corolla’s mission.
The Corolla is the epitome of the economical family car, and here again it proved its all-around utility in the life of a Canadian family. Upon our return from camping (a day early to avoid a night of torrential rain), we continued with our vacation adventures at Canada’s Wonderland and back-to-school shopping. However, unlike our previous long-term tester, we’ll have to find another way to get a new washing machine home, highlighting the superiority of the hatchback configuration and the need for Toyota to fill the void left by the departing Matrix with the promising new Scion iM.
Anyhow, the Corolla also continue to impress at the pumps, requiring only one top-up on the route north and another after our return, and we are now seeing a range of up to 600 km between fill-ups, the 50 L fuel tank never needing more than 40 L to fill even with the needle on E. Between myself and Justin Pritchard, we have landed at a consistent 7.1 L/100 km (as measured by hand and as indicated by the trip computer) with a nice mix of highway driving, commuting and some city driving in mostly ideal summer conditions.