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2020 Toyota Corolla

I had an interesting experience recently when Toyota invited me to drive the all-new Toyota Corolla during their launch event in Savannah, GA. For some reason they were excited to make sure we experienced it while driving stick. While other manufacturers are promoting how they have 9 and 10 speed automatic transmissions and ever faster and more efficient technology, Toyota seemingly wanted to drag me back in time. What's even more shocking is that the model that featured a manual transmission wasn't even the cheapest base model. It was actually pretty well equipped with style and comfort. So why should you care about a manual transmission car in 2019? Let's take a look.

The simple answer is ... it's fun to drive!

That's it.

It's simply about having fun while driving ...

The rationale for having manual transmission in the past was that it was more fuel efficient, faster to hit shift points, and simply cheaper. Today though, none of that applies. That's ok though and I applaud them for not only embracing an essentially "retro" feature but also working to make it as easy to get into. While they aren't the only manufacturer offering a compact with a manual transmission - others essentially shun those that don't already know how to drive manual. Instead, Toyota welcomed those like me who were curious about the unique driving experience a manual transmission Corolla might offer.

Toyota hasn't forgotten about the folks that simply want to have a fun car to drive and that's a welcome attitude. 

What's cool for new stick drivers like myself is that they've made it super easy. As you saw in the video above it's almost idiot proof and I was able to pick up the fundamentals very easy. Corolla features a 6-speed Intelligent Manual Transmission that features close-ratio gears at the lower end for quick acceleration and then taller gears at the top to allow for optimized fuel economy while cruising on the highway. 

It also features an intelligent rev-matching feature to help reduce transmission shock when downshifting.

While I clearly was skeptical going in, I can see why this would be a fun option. This is especially true for someone looking for a fun "first car" or a guy who wants something that feels sportier than it actually is to drive back and forth to the office.

Manual or Automatic transmission, the all-new 2020 Corolla handles really well and has styling that belies its $20-25,000 price tag depending on trim levels. When you combine those factors with the reliability Toyota is known for and the fact that Toyota Safety Sense is standard on all models then this is an easy choice to add to your shopping list.