Do you even remember how these work?
Toyota recently introduced a taller, more practical version of the Corolla and called it the Corolla Cross. It's your basic, inoffensive and affordable crossover aimed at young buyers with families. As such, we were highly impressed with the list of standard safety features on the base model, which includes an old-school twist key.
All models in the range get Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 as standard, including adaptive cruise control, a pre-collision system with pedestrian/cyclist detection, lane trace assist, lane departure alert, and road sign assist. All models also get a touchscreen interface with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. Not bad for a crossover that retails for around $23,500, but why include all that and give us an old-school key?
Interestingly, a push-button start is not available on the base model. We thought this technology had reached a point where it's now as affordable as basic ABS, which is why manufacturers usually include it as standard.
But the base model uses an old-fashioned key with buttons to open and close the doors. And get this: To start the car, you have to put the key into the ignition and turn it. How old school is that? In all seriousness, push-button start buttons are now so commonplace that physical keys attract attention when they cross your path. We suspected it was a cost thing, but The Drive did a more thorough investigation following the recent launch.
If you take a closer look at the Corolla Cross, you can see the other cost-cutting measures. The base model has basic halogen headlights, a basic black grille, no engine cover, and 17-inch steelies with silver covers.
In short, it is a cost thing. It makes sense considering the car. When space and safety are the main concerns, you don't really mind the physical exertion of turning a key. The way cars are specified is the result of data aggregation. If an item isn't standard, there's a good chance buyers don't use it frequently. That's why so many large SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee offer a 4x4 system as an optional extra. If you're only going to be taking the kids to school, there's no need for 4WD.
The piece also explores the cost of replacing a key tied to a push-button start. In 2014, Edmunds reported on the cost of replacing such a key, which was between $75 to $125. Replacing one unit doesn't sound like much, but amplify that cost by thousands, and it's easy to see why the base Corolla Cross has a simple twist key.