2010 Toyota Corolla

Up until recently, I have owned just two cars in my life: the first, a 1985 Toyota Tercel and the second, a 1992 Honda Accord. My Accord is sitting pretty at 166,000 miles and could probably go about the same distance yet.

My father is 74 years old and recently took it upon himself to work like a dog (he’s a Professor of Music in Alaska and should be retired) and decided to teach voice lessons 7 days a week so he could surprise his 41 year old daughter with her first new car. Key word: surprise. No test drive for the daughter.

I’ve had this 2010 Toyota Corolla for about 5 weeks now and in many respects (gas mileage, air bags, etc.) it is a great car, but my question is this, WHY are the windows so much smaller in today’s vehicles? I measured them and they’re about 6 inches smaller than my Honda. I feel so much more on edge as a driver due to the blockage in my visibility, and the Corolla seems better than most. The other issue is the dead pedal which will not allow me to extend my left leg, which, I have to say, is causing some pain in my hip.

I went down the rabbit trail of seeing what it would cost for a trade-in and the dealer would not take it without my incurring a $7,000 loss.

The main issue here is that I feel rather caught in a bind. I don?t want to hurt my father?s feelings by seeing what I can do to get a car that works better for me, but, on the other hand, I live in my car quite a bit and I find these issues frustrating. I have already traded out the head rest for one in the back seat as the head rest was pushing my head too far forward and causing neck pain. However, I know that this set-up is probably not as safe and negating the placement of the driver?s side headrest.

Are there other new cars out there these days with good visibility, strong safety ratings and good gas mileage and, in your opinion, are they worth my seeking out or should I take a hammer to the dead pedal and see if my body will adjust to this change?! ; ) I feel like a princess (an odd one at that who prefers her 18 year old car to a brand new one), but, what can I say?

Many thanks?

Trying to be grateful in Seattle, WA

Is sounds like you are quite particular. I would simply take vehicles out for a test drive(extended) and see what appeals.

You’ll have trouble finding a good car that doesn’t have thicker A and B pillars (the supports between the body and the roof in front of and behind the front-side windows) because that’s where the side-curtain airbags go. They had to make them wider to fit all that hardware. I found that disconcerting at first too when I went from a 93 to an '07. You get used to it.

If you can’t extend your leg fully, it may be that your seat is too far forward, which is dangerous anyway. Of course it might also be because Toyota interiors tend to be a little quirky.

RE: the headrest - -check it. Some headrests are adjustable, and sometimes it’s hard to find the little button that lets you adjust them. Your owners manual should help with that.

Sounds like you have an awesome dad.

This is a plague afflicting amost all new cars, so you might try to get used to it. It’s a product of carmakers chasing the ‘5-star’ crash ratings, and styling too.

Without a doubt it was sure a nice thing your dad did for you but he should have let you pick out the model you wanted and fit you the best. Especially since this is a major purchase and you will have to deal with it for a long time. I think you need to explain to him about the problems you have with it and look for another model. Try to find a dealer that will work with you on a better deal though you are going to lose at lot of money still. You could also try selling the car yourself and not take such a large hit. Your old car may work ok but as time goes on parts are going to be harder to find for it when you do have a problem. Having a newer car gets you better safety features also.

On the 3 Toyotas I own, the headrest is adjusted by pulling forward on the top of it. Each tug will give you a click. Each one goes forward until the last click which returns it to the ‘all the way back’ position and starts over. Not sure if the Corolla does this or not but if you’re finding that another headrest fits you better then they are probably adjustable.

The steering wheel might also be adjustable. Most go up and down, some telescope in and out. Check the owner’s manual. This will allow you to move your seat further back.


Yes, there are such cars. And yes, they’re worth seeking out, assuming you can find a way to do so without making your dad feel bad. Perhaps if you have him over for a special meal, talk heart-to-heart with him, let him know how much you apreciate his sacrifice and his gift, and make him a part of finding a replacement, he’ll feel good about it. Take him on the test drives and then go back for the negotiations, so he doesn’t know the numbers and feel obligated to pick up the financial loss.

In 2005 I bought a new Corolla and it was crippling me. I traded after only two months for a Scion tC and I love it. I can drive that car all day in comfort. I’ve become convinced that the new Corollas, and many of the new cars, are terrible as far as comfort. The ergonomics are simply horrible. The economy cars I used to own, my '72 Vega, my '76 Corolla, my "82 Civic, my '91 Camry, all of them were far more confortable than the new Corollas. I have to wonder if this science of “ergonomics” hasn’t bred ergonomics engineers that try to force our bodies into shapes that the textbooks say we should be in rather than making things that are comfortable. And the molded foams that they use today are just plain too hard.

Almost every new car has the claustrophobic feel, for a number of reasons. Most deal with having the best aerodynamic shape for best fuel economy. The next consideration is pillar thickness to meet roll over strength.

Today’s cars also have very thick head rests, again for safety reasons. If you are the only one driving the car, REMOVE THE OTHER 4 HEADRESTS, and the car will seem less claustrophibic. I also have a Corolla, and we seldom use the back seat; I removed the 3 rear headrests. On a holiday trip I rented a Matrix, a Corolla based wagon. It was also claustrophobic.

You have been given a very good car by a wonderful dad. I would remove the unneeded head rests, sit on a cushion if you are short, and get used to the car. If backing up is a problem, you can install a rear view camera with your own money, since you saved over $16,000 already by not having to buy a new car.

The last cars I drove with truly large windows and great visibility were the 1966 Dodge and Plymouth sedans. These cars would not meet today’s minimal safety standards by a long shot. The also had awful seats with very low backs.

Several things:

You already know your dad is great, and I don’t need to go into that any further.

You are comparing a mid size car (Accord) with a Compact car (Corolla).
Everything is going to be smaller in the Corolla, so its really not fair to compare the two.

Is there a reason why he bought you a Corolla?
Were they on Fire Sale?
Does he own a small fleet of them already?
Were you complaining to him about the high price of gas, and that you spent $1500 recently on your Accord?
Something made him buy that very car for you, and I’m sure something the two of you talked about trigger his decision to get you a Corolla.

As for getting a different car, you say you want great visibility.
Do you need a smaller car?
Have you test driven the Nissan Versa?
It has incredibly good visibility. Its like a rolling greenhouse, in my opinion.
It also has great leg room, something just about every engineer at Toyota can’t seem to develop into their car product lines.

Dealing with trade in:

If you can sell the car on your own, do so.
Since it sounds like you still have the Accord, you can do this without any issue.
Just put a couple local ads online, and it should go pretty quick.

If you want to trade it in, first, find the car you want to buy.
Test drive anything and everything to find out the different things that you like and don’t like about cars.

When it comes time to negotiate on car pricing, remember that buying their car is one transaction, and selling your car to them is a separate transaction, and that there’s room to negotiate with both transactions.

If they say they are only able to give you $9k for your Corolla, tell them:

“Aww… Thats too bad. I was going to buy FROM YOU TODAY if you were going to give me $13k for the Corolla.”

I can almost guarantee they will change their tune, unless they are Scum of the Earth Sales.


It might have more to do with the increase of crossovers and larger SUVs/trucks getting more attention from designers than the smaller cars. It takes awhile for that research to trickle down to the real world.
If the Corolla’s seat is all the way back and still giving you problems with the dead pedal, you could either look for the bolts and remove it(most should be held on by a bolt at the top and bottom of the thing and SHOULD come off easily, or you could explain to dad that you loved the gift(and him for buying it), but the leg room is hurting you and you must, unfortunately, trade it in.