The Toyota Corolla has been around for more than 50 years because it’s affordable and dependable. Many buyers who originally started with a Corolla remain forever faithful to the Toyota brand. However, the affordable compact car category has so many excellent offerings that the Corolla shouldn’t automatically be near the top of your list.
The five-passenger Corolla got redesigned for the 2014 model year, refreshed for 2017, and gets a few updates for 2018. It’s available in L, LE, SE, XLE, and XSE trims. Starting prices range from $18,550 to $22,730.
The front-wheel-drive Corolla is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. My tester has the six-speed manual transmission which is available on the SE trim. Other trims get a continuously variable transmission.
The Corolla is fine as a daily driver and it will get you from point A to point B. But it sure isn’t exciting to drive, even with the manual transmission. The engine can get a bit loud when pressed. The ride quality is pretty good most of the time but you’ll notice some bumps on rough roads.
The Corolla gets good gas mileage. EPA ratings for my tester are 27 mpg city and 35 mpg highway with a combined rating of 30 mpg. I got 28 mpg for my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior is pleasant and controls are logically laid out. My tester has comfortable and snazzy “SofTex-trimmed” front sport seats with blue fabric inserts and white top stitching. The back seat has enough space that kids or even a couple adults will be comfortable.
I’m a fan of Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. It’s user-friendly, the graphics look good and it responds quickly to commands. However, Toyota still doesn’t include Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which is hard to believe since more consumers want to be able to efficiently integrate their smart phones into their car’s infotainment system.
The Corolla comes standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense P-Suite of driver assistance technologies including pre-collision warning system, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. These features cost extra or aren’t even available on some competitors.
Other standard features include a rearview camera, Bluetooth, USB port, six-speaker audio system, a 6.1-inch touch screen for the Entune infotainment system, voice recognition and Siri Eyes Free.
Options include proximity key entry, push-button start, automatic climate control, moonroof, seven-inch Entune touch screen, navigation, satellite radio, and HD Radio.
The Corolla has 13 cubic feet of storage in the trunk which is about average for the class. The split-folding rear seats provide flexibility in hauling passengers and cargo.
The Corolla gets excellent safety and reliability ratings, which have made it a perennial favorite among parents who want to get a car for their teens. It gets an overall rating of five out of five stars in NHTSA crash tests and is named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Dependable transportation from point A to point B
Great fuel efficiency
Toyota’s Entune Infotainment system is user-friendly with good graphics
Lots of safety and driver assistance technologies are standard
Reasonably priced for the segment
Blah handling, even with the manual transmission
Interior on some trims not as nice as many rivals
AndroidAuto and Apple CarPlay not available
My tester starts at $21,715. TRD Performance Exhaust is $649. TRD Performance Air Filter is $80. Emergency assistance kit is $59. Rear bumper protector is $79. TRD Rear sway bar is $300. Mudguards are $129. Universal tablet holder is $99. Wheel locks are $67. Delivery fee is $895 bringing the grand total to $24,072.
The Corolla has stood the test of time since production began in 1966. It’s one of those cars that will be of interest to young drivers or for anyone who wants a Steady Eddie with an affordable price tag. At the same time, there are many worthy competitors in this segment so it’s worth doing your homework to find the model that’s just right for you, especially if you’d like to drive something with more get up and go.