On the face of it, the Toyota Corolla seems to be lacking in a lot of areas when compared to its rivals, but is that really the case? Because it’s still one of the most sought after small sedans on the market, so surely, there must be a reason for its success. Well, while Toyota’s impeccable reliability and customer service might have something to do with it, it’s certainly down to the car itself.
On the exterior at least, you can blame the Corolla for looking uninspiring.
The recent updates it received for the 2017 model year bring it more in-line with Toyota’s current design language, as well as its competition. The front-end has been reworked and now features brand-new LED lights, as well as minor modifications to the lower portion. Inside, there’s upgraded upholstery and all trim levels get a rearview camera, including a bunch of other safety features which are unusual for a sedan of this size.
First things first, let’s start with the body models and trims. You can only have the Corolla in sedan form, as there are no coupe or estate versions. Trim-wise, there are several options: L, LE, LE Eco, XLE, SE, SE 50th Anniversary and XSE. You might be fooled into believing that the Corolla is poorly equipped, particularly in its lower trims, but that simply isn’t the case. See, even the cheapest trim, the L, offers bi-Led headlights, LED daytime running lights, air conditioning, power mirrors and even adaptive cruise control. Although it is a little lacking compared to its rivals, there’s really nothing to fault. We found that the midrange trims offer the best bang for your back. Think XLE, SE, and even LE Eco.
The hood hides a 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine available in two guises. In all trims bar the Le Eco, it produces 132 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque. The reason we think the LE Eco is one of the best trims is because of its engine, which thanks to more sophisticated valvetrains utilizes 140 hp and 126 pound-feet of torque. Although the added 8 hp don’t seem like a lot on paper, they are noticeable when you’re really pushing the little engine.
All engines are mated to a CVT, apart from the SE which can be mated to a six-speed manual, optional of course. No one ever expected supercar performance from the Corolla, but the performance is rather disappointing. It reaches 60 mph in 9.2 seconds, a second or more over most of its rivals. The lesson here is simple then. If you’re not that keen on performance, but want a good vehicle, with lots of space, nicely put interior and relatively good looks, the Corolla might be for you. Let’s not forget the small matter of fuel efficiency too, because the 2017 Toyota Corolla manages to return a great 32 mpg.
Base prices start at $18,500, but you will easily get into the early 20’s with a nicer trim and a few other options.