Journal: News & Comment

Wednesday, August 28, 2002
# 6:19:00 PM:

Minor differences

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I'm not a car guy. As cars go, the one we own, a Ford Focus wagon, is not especially exciting. It has slightly more cachet than the Toyota Corolla loaner car we're currently driving, while the Focus is in the shop. Both are low-priced, solidly built, functional, and extremely popular cars built in North America but designed elsewhere -- the Focus in Europe, the Corolla in Japan. I'm routinely amazed by how much stuff I can cram into the Focus -- my entire band's instruments and PA setup, for instance, including drums, three guitars, three amplifiers, sound board, stands, cables, lights, and monitor speakers (i.e. everything you see here), as well as costumes. Plus me and my briefcase. Everything except the two big main speakers, the subwoofer, and the rest of the musicians, actually. If I use the roof rack, I can even carry a passenger.

The Corolla seems a bit roomier for passengers, and has a little more zip from the engine. A few of its ergonomic details are odd: the steering wheel seems too low, and the centre console definitely is, preventing me from comfortably resting my right elbow on it while I drive, as I do in the Focus. Where the Focus has a well-hidden little plastic coin pocket in the dashboard (in the "wedge" between the instrument lights and air vents at the top of this photo), the Corolla's is right out in the open (it's the scoopy thing at the far left of this photo), which means you have to take the coins out when you leave the car in public, negating much of its usefulness.

The Corolla, like most Toyota products, is a legend of reliability. The Focus is more iffy, but ours has been pretty good so far. Were I in the market for a new vehicle, I'd probably still choose the Ford. Of course, there is no longer a Corolla wagon, and I couldn't stuff those drums in the trunk anyway.


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