2017 Toyota Corolla Altis Grande CVT-i – Detailed Review And Photos
And yes, we are back with yet another car review. And this time around, we have none other than the new 2017 Toyota Corolla Altis Grande CVT-i. That is a bit mouthful, isn’t it? Anyway, moving on. So, first of all, I would like to thank Usman Akbar, the lovely young fellow who was kind and gracious enough to lend us his brand spanking new only 100-something kilometre driven white Altis Grande. Thank you for the support and trusting us with your pride and joy. We truly appreciate that.
Now moving on with the review but a bit about the 11th generation Toyota Corolla first. The eleventh generation Toyota Corolla was launched by Toyota Indus Motors in Pakistan back in 2014. Only recently, Toyota Pakistan launched the highly anticipated facelift of 11th gen Corolla. Currently, Toyota Corolla is available in as many as 8th variants. Those are:
Toyota Corolla is a five-door, front-engine, front wheel drive sedan. It is available in 3 engine variants and four transmission options. Engines are:
- 1.3-liter inline-4 (2NZ-FE – 84 BHP)
- 1.6-liter inline-4 (1ZR-FE – 120 BHP)
- 1.8-liter inline-4 (2ZR-FE – 138 BHP)
All engines are 4-cylinder, with dual overhead cams, and are equipped with Sequential Multiport Fuel Injection. The 1.8-liter variant has dual VVT-i and comes with Toyota’s Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS).
And transmission options include:
- 5-speed manual (1.3-liter models)
- 6-speed manual (1.8-liter models)
- 4-speed automatic (1.3-liter GLi and 1.6-liter Altis)
- CVT-i (1.8-liter Altis)
The 1.6-liter Corolla Altis is only available with an automatic transmission.
Toyota Corolla is undoubtedly the most successful sedan in Pakistan. Indus Motors Company hit the jackpot when it secured rights to make Toyota cars in Pakistan back in 1989. And since the first locally assembled Corolla rolled out of TMC’s assembly line, the company has only seen an upward trend, and I don’t see the graph flat-lining, let alone dropping down, anytime soon. Now let’s continue with the review.
2017 Toyota Corolla Altis Grande CVT-i Exterior
Toyota has completely revamped the front end of the car. You now get a new front grille, new headlights, and a new front bumper. The rear of the car remains pretty much the same except for the brake lights. Let’s start talking about the exterior of the car in a little bit in detail. The front as mentioned above has been revamped you get straight shooting lines between the headlights that are now narrower and the front grill is much more prominent with Toyota badge shining right in the middle. The bumper looks big and beefy from the middle with vertical black accents at the bottom.
The front grill in the Grande model is completely chromed, whereas lesser models have a half chrome half black front grille. Compared to the previous model, since the new model has sleeker lights, the middle portion of the bumper is chunkier between the headlights and the bottom part of the bumper. The middle area of the bumper also comes with an embossed slot where you mount your registration plate.
The bottom one-third of the bumper is all black with an air vent in the middle and black plastic accents on the both ends. Grande model also comes with fog lights that are housed in those black accents at the side of the newly designed bumper.
The newly designed beautiful headlights now come with daytime running LED as well as bi-beam LED projectors. The new lights also have auto levelling feature. It means the projection of the light remains the same even if there is load in the rear of the car making the front and tilt upwards. The lights will fall at the optimal viewing level regardless of how the front end is sitting on the road.
Looking at the front of the car from right bang in the middle, you will notice that how the headlights and the chrome grill now make one single piece. You will also find a front view camera protruding from the Toyota badge in the middle of the front bumper. The updated parts make the car look much sleeker from some angle yet giving it a muscular look from a different angle.
Now let’s move to the sides of the car. Looking at the sides of the car you will notice that nothing much has changed except new and larger alloy wheels as well as side skirts. Only the higher 1.8-litre model comes with the side skirts. This time around Toyota has shifted to the 16-inch alloy wheels instead of the 15-inch alloys that were present in the previous model. The new larger headlights wrap themselves from the front grille to back towards the fenders of the car. On the rear half of the fender, you get a Dual VVT-i badge as well. You get the conventional door handles that were also present in the previous model of the Corolla, but you get a thin chrome line passing through the individual handle.
Moving towards the back the only major difference between the current facelift model and the pre-facelift model is the new pair of brake lights. Other than that there are some chrome bits here and there. The rear bumper is completely flushed to the body with minimal contour and lines. And that pretty much wraps the rear of the car.
Talking about the overall design of the new facelift Corolla I would say that it looks much bulkier than the previous generation of current generation Corolla, but when we compare it to the new Honda Civic, the Civic looks much beefier and muscular compared to the new Corolla. But another point to be noted is that Corolla looks bigger and bulkier from the rear whereas the new Civic looks very sleek.
The car we were are driving was only 150 km driven, and as expected from the new car it was very well put together. I found that the panel gaps were uniform and I didn’t find any area where I felt Toyota Indus forgot to pay attention. The paint quality was top notch, and the fitment looked great.
2017 Toyota Corolla Altis Grande CVT-i Interior
Although Toyota has also changed the interior, especially the dashboard of the new facelift Corolla, it is not as obvious as the front end of the car. The changes are much more subtle.
The newly designed dashboard now comes with what Toyota is calling a three-dimensional floating interior with soft touch padding. The AC vents ON extreme left and right are now circular instead of triangular like in the previous iteration. Right in the middle of the dashboard now you get a new 9-inch capacitive touch LCD surrounded by a piano black bezel. You get two center AC vents on top of the LCD with a digital clock in the middle.
Under the new LCD panel of Toyota Corolla Grande, you get a new AC control unit. Instead of regular touch buttons like in the pre-facelift model now you get toggle switches for changing various vent positions and fan speeds of the AC.
The new multimedia system of the facelift Corolla comes with a bunch of features. It is powered by Android operating system and supports 4G connectivity. You can use it for anything from Skype calling with the help of the interior webcam, to using it for the navigation with the help of Google Maps. And if you have inserted your 4G SIM in the multimedia system, you can turn its Wi-Fi hotspot so all the occupants of the vehicle can use the Internet through Wi-Fi. The audio system of the car is by no means a premium audio system, but still, it produced quite a nice sound.
Under the AC control unit, you get your 12 volt/120-watt power output, a USB input, an auxiliary audio jack, and a 4G SIM slot. Underneath all those ports, you get a small tray to keep your stuff in.
The steering wheel of the new car also comes loaded with a bunch of buttons that can help you do a bunch of things without being distracted. On the left side of the steering wheel, you get your audio controls, from changing volume to changing tracks. Whereas on the right side of the steering wheel you get your multi-information display control buttons. From here you can choose and change all the information you see on the center dash. For example, your trip meter, your fuel average, inside/outside temperature, etc. The cruise control knob is also situated on the right side of the steering wheel. Since the Altis Grande comes with the paddle shifters, you will find them behind the steering wheel spokes. The steering wheel is telescopic as well as tilting.
Toyota has improved its Optitron meter as well that comes with a 4.2 inch TFT LCD multi information display.
Interior Build Quality
There was quite a hoopla when the 10th generation Honda Civic was launched mostly because it was a launch of a new Civic and it was a turbo, but also because of its subpar build quality. Looking at the interior of the new Altis Grande I must say it was not as bad as it was in the earlier model of 10th generation Honda Civic. I did notice a couple of plastic panels that were not properly aligned or had irregular gaps; like a straight plastic strip that runs down between front pillars on the dashboard, right at the bottom of the windscreen. It was not properly seated. And the plastic cover around the left A pillar was also not properly seated as well. But generally, the fitting of the interior panels was satisfactory.
As for the quality and feel of the materials is concerned, I would not classify it as premium, but it was still pretty nice. In short, the interior did not feel cheap or poorly built. The plastic material used in the door panel on the dashboard as well as the steering wheel felt nice to the touch. Usually, the cheap plastic used in vehicles either feels sticky or scratchy, but it was not the case in this car. The cream colored part in the middle of the dashboard felt nice to touch but I do feel that it will be going to be a dirt magnet.
You get a bunch of storage places here and there; like the storage slots in the doors as well as in the center console right behind the handbrake as well as a small storage area under the 12-volt power output.
The CVT gear lever comes in Toyota’s traditional gate-type shifter form with the new “Sport” button behind the lever. Lastly, the newly added engine start stop button is situated on the right side of the dashboard, and underneath that button, you will find the side view mirror retracting button as well as the mirror adjustment knob.
With the front seats fully move backward you get sufficient leg room in the front for anyone who is 6 feet tall. You will easily be able to stretch your legs straight if you are sitting in the front. However, things will get tight tighter if the seat if the front seats are fully moved backward. Other than that one great feature of the interior of the Corolla is that you can change the recline of the rear seats as well. I found the seats to be soft and comfortable, but I felt that they were not made to hold you in your place in case you are driving on bumpy roads. You will move around in the seats unnecessarily if the road is rough. But overall both sitting position and the comfort level of the new Altis Grande is pretty impressive. And one thing I must add here is that the new car is spookily quiet. Except for the faint engine roar at high RPM I could hardly hear anything inside the cabin.
Also, you get a sunroof in top of the line Corolla as well.
2017 Toyota Corolla Altis Grande CVT-i Performance
As mentioned above, Altis Grande comes with a 1.8L inline-4 water cooled engine. And in CVT-i model, the engine is mated to Toyota’s CVT gearbox. Manual Grande Altis comes with the same engine mated to a 6-speed gearbox. The 2ZR-FE engine is equipped with sequential multiport fuel injection system (SFI) as well as Toyota’s dual VVT-i technology. The engine makes 138 bhp, and 173 Nm of torque at 4000 RPM.
The car comes with pre-set seven speeds that you can change with the paddle shifter behind the steering wheel. Before I talk about transmission and car’s drivability, I want to talk about the new Sport button in facelift Corolla. Although Toyota says the car will perform better and sportier in Sport mode, I didn’t find any difference as such in the drive of the car. It is like they renamed the Eco mode button. When turned on, the car will perform regularly aka, the ‘Sport mode.’ And when turned off, the car goes into its eco mode. So I do think the button is a bit misleading. But I might be wrong here.
Secondly, those paddle shifters are not as snappy and quick as one would like them to be. When during spirited driving, the gear changes were sluggish, and you could feel the car taking its time to shift to next gear. CVT gearboxes are not supposed to be like conventional gearbox anyway. They don’t have those shifting points a traditional automatic gearbox with planetary gears has. So expecting it to give that feel is kind of naive. Also, the car wouldn’t hold the gear at high RPM in manual mode. Instead of RPM needle touching the redline, the car changed its gear on its own as soon it crossed 6000 RPM. The manual mode is not that manual, to put it simply. However, you can use them to slow down your vehicle on downhill descents.
But I must say, driving it just simply in normal automatic mode is fun enough. The car was quick and responded to the throttle input. You punch down the accelerator hard, and the kick down of the gear was similar to what you might feel in a car with the traditional automatic gearbox. The car was fairly rapid and fun to drive. Compared to Honda Civic 1.8, the Corolla CVT-i is quicker. Only at like a couple of places I felt like the car did not respond to as quick as I wanted it to. I was going through a roundabout between the speeds of 30 and 40 km/h and took the second exit, turned the car left, and gave it some gas. At that moment I felt the car had missed my input. It took a couple of seconds to catch up, and then the car started to speed up. There will be moments like these where you feel the car has gone numb. But I think it is natural in automatic cars, and especially those equipped with continuously variable transmissions.
The engine made a really nice bassy sound. And one thing I really liked about the new Corolla was its burbly sound from the exhaust. Overall, the car engine and exhaust note make it really fun to drive. It gives you a nice and heavy rumble. I feel like Corolla’s Acoustic Control Induction System is playing its part here in enabling the car to produce that baritone although ACIS is not supposed to do exactly that. But whatever the reason, the engine sounds nice.
Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS)
ACIS is available in some Toyota models. The purpose of the feature is to help improve performance at all speeds as well as improving fuel economy. Engine have different airflow needs at different RPM as well as engine load. ACIS accommodates those different needs by giving the engine the air it wants when it wants. It is to achieve greater power and better fuel economy. The ACIS system controls a valve inside the air manifold, creating an effect of two different manifold runner lengths. The ECU of the car adjusts the opening of the air manifold depending upon the throttle input, engine speed, and load. At low speeds with full throttle application, the valve is closed to increase the runner length and speeding up the air flow. At high speeds or with minimum throttle opening, the valve opens and shortens the runner.
New Corolla has a fuel tank of 55 liters, and if you trust the official fuel average figures of 14.8 km/l, you can get a fair amount of mileage. But the amount of time I was driving the car, I didn’t get more than 10 km/l. That included a few fast 0-120 km/h runs, as well as normal 60 km/h cruising. I highly doubt you can achieve 14.8 km/l in real life scenario.
2017 Toyota Corolla Altis Grande CVT-i Comfort & Handling
Wheels & Tyres
Toyota Indus has moved to 16” alloys and wider tires for its top of the line Altis Corolla models. So it was inevitable for the new shoes to have an effect on the handling and ride quality of Altis Grande. Previously, Corolla was available with a 15” alloys and 15” Euro Star General tires. In the new model, Toyota is offering 16” Yokohama tires instead. The new tire size is 205/55 R16 compared to previous 195/65 R15. So the immediate feel of the upgraded tires is that you will know how planted the car is at high speeds. Since the profile of the tires has been reduced, all the elasticity the extra cushion of the 65 profile tire was providing is gone. So swerving at high speeds in case of an emergency will not be as heart attack inducing as it might have been before. The new Yokohama performed exceptionally well. They are not only super quiet but provided excellent road grip in braking as well as cornering/turning.
But reducing the rubber cushion and increasing the alloy size has affected the ride quality of the new car. You will find the ride of new Corolla to be slightly bumpier. But considering the car was brand new, and the suspension parts have not broken in, it is quite possible the ride will soften a bit after 10,000 or so kilometers.
The seats and seating position in the rear is enough for three adults. You get a decent leg room in the front but with seats moved all the way back, if you are six feet tall or more, sitting in the back seats will be a hassle. Move the front seats a bit forward, and you can be a bit comfortable. The nice thing about Corolla’s rear seats is that you can recline them with 60:40 split. The boot can hold 470 litres of luggage. The boot is big, but not as big as the Honda Civic’s. As for the turning radius is concerned, both the Corolla and the tenth generation Civic has the same 5.4m radius.
Since it is just a facelift and not a generation change, the suspension setup is the same. You get MacPherson strut in the front, and Toyota’s tried and tested torsion beam in the rear. This kind of suspension is not particularly made for providing exceptional handling, but it is more for being comfortable as well as long lasting. These family sedans are not supposed to provide you the thrill of a sports car. So do not expect anything like that from the Corolla as well. But I am sure that if you compare the handling of this Corolla with the current generation Honda Civic, the Civic will outperform Corolla.
2017 Toyota Corolla Altis Grande CVT-i Safety
As expected from any modern vehicle, the new Corolla also comes with a host of safety features. Safety is becoming paramount for automobiles manufacturers and has become a selling point for many. Post-2001 Corolla (9th gen) was notorious for its skiddish behavior and accidents were a common thing. Toyota Pakistan has come a far way from that image of being an unsafe vehicle.
The Altis Grande CVT-i comes loaded with usual features like anti-lock braking system to advance structural integrity and rigidity. Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) helps prevent wheels from locking up when the brakes are applied suddenly. Or if the brakes are applied while driving on a slippery road surface. Braking aids like EBD and BA are also part of the package. Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) helps ensure vehicle stability under hard braking and when ABS unit kicks in. Brake Assist (BA) helps assist drivers who cannot press the brake pedal hard enough when braking in an emergency situation by supporting the driver with additional braking force. This allows for the generation of greater braking force, helping the vehicle to slow down.
Corolla Altis Grande also comes with dual airbags; for the driver and the passenger. SRS (Supplemental Restraint System) airbags inflate when the vehicle is subjected to certain types of severe impacts that may cause significant injury to the occupants.
Vehicle Stability Control & Traction Control
Besides, airbags and abs, new Corolla Altis 1.8 CVT-i also features Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRC). VSC helps subdue vehicle’s lateral skidding when cornering or during emergency steering manoeuvres on slippery roads to help achieve improved handling and stability. Whereas TRC helps to maintain the drive power and prevents the wheels from spinning when starting the vehicle or accelerating on slippery surfaces. Since it was a brand new car, and the owner was kind enough to lend it to us, I tried not to be too rough with the car and making its driver aids to kick in as a result. Although I did try its emergency braking and ABS and as you would expect from a new car, its braking system performed very well.
Toyota has also worked to improve the structural integrity of the vehicle in case of an accident. With the passage of time and improvement in the design and designing aids, the auto companies have come a long way from coffin-on-wheels of the 60s, and 70s, and even until 90s. Like Honda has its passive safety program, Toyota has GOA. Toyota’s GOA is a collision safety body consisting of an impact absorbing body structure and high integrity cabin ensuring the safety of the occupants in case of an accident.
And then you have your regular seat belts as well as ISOFIX. ISOFIX is an international standard for fitting a child seat safely and simply. The child seat is attached to the vehicle body securely using mountings located at the base of the seats of your car. Front seatbelts are 3 -Point ELR with pre-tensioner and force limiter.
If you are looking for a car that is going to last you for years, usually Toyota Corolla is the best bet. And after reviewing the new facelift Corolla, I would say the recipe has not changed much. You still get a car that is reasonably comfortable, has enough room for the occupants as well as the luggage, can be pretty quick on its feet, and lastly but maybe most importantly, will not lose its market value. Retaining its worth is the hallmark of Toyota brand especially in Pakistan.
Whether you should buy this or not? Well, there are a couple of things. For example, if you are upgrading from pre-facelift Corolla to this, then maybe not. The pre-facelift Corolla is a pretty nice car, and the upgrades are not as drastic that you must spend extra to get this facelift model. You can always opt for aftermarket face update. It will be much cheaper. But if you are after a new car, then do look at Corolla for your investment. Corolla is always going to be value for your money.
Honda Civic had a fair bit of problems when it was launched. The new facelift is not going to see even the fraction of trouble Honda Pakistan faced. Reason being, it’s not a completely new car. Also, people tend to be a bit forgiving towards Toyota in Pakistan. Even if it skids around like a cat on a shiny marble floor, people usually don’t have high hopes. But then there is the undying reliability of Toyota. Add that with Corolla’s value for money aspect, and you get lifelong fans of the brand.
It would be not wrong to say that the 2017 Toyota Corolla Altis Grande CVT-i is maybe the safest and most profitable choice among the vehicles available in Pakistan today.