2017 Toyota Corolla iM Review

You may remember the Scion iM as the funky hatchback that was a part of the hipster-friendly Scion brand. 

Sadly, its time as a Scion was limited, since the brand closed up shop last year. The car, however, continues life as a Toyota, and not just any Toyota, but one with a shiny Corolla nameplate.

Now called the Toyota Corolla iM, this car is being thrust into a very contested compact hatchback segment. With new and updated entries like the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Volkswagen Golf and Mazda3, this is now a class of cars that aren’t just cheap runabouts anymore — they now offer good driving dynamics, tech-filled cabins, and practical dimensions. They’re basically jacks-of-all-trades and Toyota may have missed a few of those recent trends in the segment, as the Corolla iM just can’t compete with these hatches on many levels.

For example, unlike those previously mentioned cars, the Corolla iM’s steering is light and numb, with no feedback at all. It’s acceptable for day-to-day commuting, but on the highway, the car wanders quite a bit and requires a lot of corrections to keep it tracking straight.

The suspension is a bit tighter than the steering suggests, and the car is firm without being too sporty. While the Corolla iM is a sporty looking car, its handling dynamics don’t exactly live up to that look.

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Transmission and Engine

The manual transmission is also sloppy and completely offputting. If you’re getting this car, just forget that it’s even offered with three pedals. The clutch is light and vague feeling, while the throws are long and undefined. Instead, opt for the CVT, which is more fuel efficient, getting a decent 31 mpg (7.5 L/100 km) combined. Manual models like the one tested will get 30 mpg (7.9 L/100 km) combined, which isn’t a huge loss, but it comes with the added cost of your driving sanity. 

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My very lukewarm impression of the Corolla iM continued with the car’s engine. A 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 137 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque is nothing inspiring. It’s a far cry from the early 2000’s era Toyota Matrix XRS, the iM’s predecessor, which also used a 1.8-liter engine but was rated to make more than 170 horsepower. Even the more pedestrian Matrix hatchbacks from yesteryear featured 132 hp.

Other cars in this class have bigger engines or turbocharged units that put out much more power while managing to be fuel efficient as well. This is just another spot where Toyota seems behind the times with the Corolla iM.

Interior

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Fortunately, the interior is a bit of a saving grace for this car. There’s a nice amount of features that come as standard, like dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather steering wheel and shift knob, backup camera and a touchscreen infotainment system. There’s also a nicely finished leather-like dashboard, and the accents are pretty stylish without being tacky. Sure, there are still some old-school details, like the LED digital clock and the dull gauge clusters.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Toyota Corolla Review

Interior space is decent, and the Corolla iM is pretty much on par with another class favorite, the Honda Civic Hatchback. Trunk space is a nice 20.8 cubic feet, which is more than the Mazda3 hatch but less than the Civic.

There are also a decent amount of safety features here too. Called Toyota Safety Sense, it features Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beams, and a Collision Warning system. It’s not as comprehensive as what you can get in the Corolla sedan, which comes standard with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, but it’s clear that Toyota isn’t completely skimping in this department.

Pricing

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There’s another bright side to the Corolla iM and that’s the price. It starts at $19,635 USD ($22,540 CAD) and the only option you can choose is the CVT, which brings the price up to $20,375 USD ($23,375 CAD). Even the funky colors on the Corolla iM are free of charge. That means every feature, every sporty trim and piece of tech is standard equipment, which is a pretty decent bargain. 

On the other hand, there are no additional options or extras to choose from, which is a bit puzzling. If you wanted bigger wheels, a sunroof or leather seating, you won’t be able to get those.

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The Verdict: 2017 Toyota Corolla iM Review

It may be somewhat out of date and not a lot of fun to drive, but the Corolla iM has one silver lining, and that’s its affordable price tag. While there are no options or packages to choose from, the car you get for the price is a very good deal, especially if you just want a practical compact hatchback that gets you from A to B. That affordable price tag quietly erases the Corolla iM’s many faults, and that’s not a bad thing.

  • Jeff T

    Lol a pretty honest and accurate review. Let’s see if the Star publishes this one and then follows it up with a Jim Kenzie review a week later praising the car like they did with the Corolla.