The Troubles with Toyotas: The silver lining behind the latest massive recall
Ho-hum. Another—the sixteenth this year—Toyota vehicle recall. This time for the bland-yet-popular, Canadian-made Corolla and Matrix models. If you happen to work for Toyota, at the corporate or dealership levels, this is yet another left-right jab to your company’s image. No doubt. And as Tony Alphen’s piece reads, “…the continuing negative publicity over the recalls and questions about the company’s longstanding reputation for quality and durability is a key reason why sales have slipped here this year while most rivals are recovering the recession.”
Historically, Toyota’s reputation for reliably (at the sake of styling, quality, and driving appeal) has kept its used car residual values at a higher-than-average value. But not any longer. The spate of recalls this past year has revealed what Toyota really is: Just another profits-first automaker, but with boring cars.
However this latest recall isn’t bad news for everyone. Especially if you’re in the market for a used compact car. If you’re in that group, and want to take advantage of a rare opportunity to get a leg up on a Toyota dealer, go in this weekend and shop for a used Corolla/Matrix in the 2005-2008 model years that fall under the latest recall. And make sure you bring in a copy of Alphen’s recall piece from today’s Star, just for added leverage.
Recalls aside, fundamentally, these cars are still good, basic pieces of transportation. Although they do drive like your dishwasher. And the interior plastics will remind you of your kid’s Lego. And their bland styling will make it difficult to find them in a crowded mall parking lot. But hey, at least they get descent gas mileage, there’s plenty of them on the used market, and the Matrix’s hatchback configuration means it can be a used as the sole ride for most one-car-only families.
And—most importantly for shoppers—the Corolla and Matrix will (or should) be on sale at a price that relates to their true value.