JBL Audio Upgrade, Factory XM Satellite Radio Make Sonic Impact For Entry-Level Buyers
The doormen and valets at the Olmstead Spa must have thought I was totally off my rocker as I scurried from one '09 Corolla to the next. Both were idling with their sound systems at pretty much full song. The spa, in Cary, NC, was the site of the press introduction for the all-new '09 Toyota Corolla and Matrix. I was curious to hear the difference between the base and the premium JBL Audio systems offered in the new-for-'09 Toyotas. There are buyers out there who think the only difference between a base system and an optional system is a few extra speakers, watts and a bump in price. I often wonder how many buyers actually testdrive the different audio systems offered in their target vehicle?
My "Chinese pit stop" testing was worth the workout. It really drove home how dynamically superior the sound quality of optional JBL system was compared to the stock offerings.
The standard issue setup is AM/FM/CD head unit and four speakers. A mid-level upgrade adds a six-disc changer and a total of six speakers. The big audio dynamite is the JBL Audio system with a 440-watt AM/FM six-disc CD changer head unit, eight speakers and Bluetooth connectivity. This setup, available on S, XLE and XRS models, features a digital tuner with MP3/WMA playback capability and XM Satellite Radio with XM NavTraffic capability. The JBL speaker setup was described as eight speakers in six locations and a visual inspection confirmed the JBL units featured profoundly better materials.
Sonically, the JBL system was light years better than the other offerings, generating enough bass to thump the mirrors but still possessing the finesse to hit the high notes. The standard offering couldn't tickle the mirrors as the sound quality fell off quickly.
Beyond the hardware, Toyota is making history with the '09 Corolla and Matrix, which will be the first Toyota brand vehicles to offer XM Radio as a factory-equipped feature. It will be a standard feature in models featuring the JBL premium audio system. XM NavTraffic, XM's real-time satellite information service for GPS navigation, will also be available as an option on all '09 Corolla and Matrix vehicles equipped with a navigation system. Every Toyota and Lexus equipped with factory-installed XM comes with a three-month trial subscription. Score one for the little guy as the entry-level Corolla and Matrix models get XM from the factory. So lucky buyers can testdrive XM, without running back and forth between cars, then decide whether to continue the service.