I lived in Japan for nearly 20 years.

I found myself back in the US and in need of a car that I could rely on. I went car shopping, made one stop and about 2 hours later I came home with your very basic white Toyota Corolla. I think it was in 2001. The car had been a leased vehicle and I got it with less than 20K miles. Thousands of miles and years later we drove that car into the ground. What a reliable vehicle.

Toyota Corolla Quick Test

  • Big? No.
  • Strong? No.
  • Gorgeous? No.
  • Dependable? Yes.
  • Sexy? You can say that now, too.

This week, I drove the 2016 Toyota Corolla Special Edition in absolutely red.


I had decided long ago that buying any car other than white or black would be a mistake. It's too easy to grow tired of a blue, green, yellow or red.

Not anymore. This absolutely red is, well, absolutely stunning. I NEVER thought something so red could be so appealing.

The black rims complement the color very well.

The car is simply cool.

Foundation First, then Paint

The 2016 Toyota Corolla Special Edition gets all the basics right. I don't have to wade through 50, 60, or 80+ buttons.

  • Bluetooth? Check.
  • Navigation? Check.
  • Speed control? Check.

Let's drive.

The 1.8L engine doesn't have the umph that the Lexuses and Camrys that I have been driving have. Neither does the car have the bulk.

Conversation with my Corolla

In my 2001 version, when I stepped on the gas, I got, "Huh? You mean me?" "You want to do what?" "Now?" I got a dialog, a pause and a head shake.

This 2016 Toyota Corolla Special Edition responds. Tires don't squeal. Smoke doesn't puff. But, when I ask the car to go, it does. And it doesn't talk back either!

This Absolutely Red edition didn't have the safety features of the Lexus and Camry I drove. And I missed them. I had to check my own blind spots for example. The car, however, was small and the visibility good.

Small vs Large

Did I say small? I am 6 feet tall, 210 pounds. Yes. The car felt very small for my frame. My 5' 1" wife fits perfectly.

And the size and handling suits her ideally.

Toyota has nailed every other consideration with this every person's car. Just enough frills to give an 'old standby' the cool factor. But not so many that the every person can't afford it.

Specifications: In the images.

Price as Driven:$23,520.

Last Thoughts - Can I keep it? Please.