2017 Toyota Corolla Review

The Toyota Corolla is simultaneously one of the most loved and most hated cars on the market. Millions of people buy Corollas, yet car snobs will go on and on about how much they hate it and how boring it is.

Here’s the truth: For what it is — a budget compact sedan — the Toyota Corolla is perfectly fine, especially because it has just been refreshed for the 2017 model year. There are a lot of misconceptions we have to clear up about the 2017 Toyota Corolla.

It’s Affordable, Not Cheap

The first misconception is that we’ve all heard Corolla drivers can’t actually drive, but everyone has witnessed Range Rover drivers and can attest to the fact that these luxury SUV drivers are much worse.

In all seriousness, people will tell you that the Corolla is garbage because it feels like a cheap car, and that’s just not true either. The Corolla obviously can’t match a Lexus or even a Honda Civic in terms of swankiness, but it’s not as bad as you’ve heard especially when you remember how affordable it is.

The 2017 Toyota Corolla gets a new look that gives the sedan some personality, so it doesn’t look as cheap anymore, both inside and out. LED headlights and a backup camera are now standard, but more importantly, the Corolla gets Toyota’s safety technology package as standard as well.

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Where most other cars in this class make you pay extra for that stuff, the Corolla includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic highbeams as standard equipment. That’s a huge deal, considering this car starts at $18,500 in the U.S. and $16,390 in Canada. Last year’s Maserati Quattroporte didn’t even have that stuff. As tested, this Corolla even comes with heated seats, a push-button start, keyless entry, auto-dimming rearview mirror, an eight-way power driver’s seat, leather-like seating, a sunroof, and navigation as options.

The adaptive cruise control system doesn’t work in stop-and-go traffic and is meant exclusively for highway use, but it’s user-friendly and smooth. It works just as well as adaptive cruise systems in cars that are much more expensive. One oddity is that blind spot monitoring is not offered on the Corolla, something drivers may find more useful day to day that should be thrown in with the standard safety package.

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The 2017 Toyota Corolla also gets higher quality materials for the seats, a redesigned instrument panel with a cleaner design that looks less cheap, and fancy new circular air vents. The interior is much nicer than the Chevy Cruze, and everything in the Corolla is intuitive to use. There is no ambiguity, and there’s plenty of room in the cabin especially in the rear seats.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Chevrolet Cruze LT Hatchback Review

In terms of value, the Corolla undercuts the Civic on price while still offering more important standard features at base level. Even fully loaded, the pricing isn’t out of whack, but topline models start to step on the toes of much better, more complete cars that might offer a better driving experience or feel more luxurious.

It’s Not That Awful to Drive

That said, another misconception is that the Corolla is awful to drive, which isn’t 100 percent true either. In the city, the Corolla is actually pretty great — remember, it doesn’t provide an engaging drive, but it doesn’t need to. It’s easy and fuss-free to drive and park, it has great sightlines, and off-the-line acceleration isn’t terrible either — it gets you where you need to go without any drama. The turning radius is also nice and tight so navigating tight spaces, parking, and completing U-turns is an easy task.

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It’s when you take the Corolla on the highway where it becomes a little depressing. The steering gets extra vague and twitchy, but even worse is that the engine is borderline unresponsive when trying to make a pass. The Corolla is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 140 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque (ECO trim), that’s great in the city, but just not very good at higher speeds. Other Corollas get a 1.8L engine with 132 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque that probably isn’t much better. It doesn’t help that the CVT isn’t one of the better ones. You really do get that rubber band effect with this one, but it’s still much better than the old four-speed automatic it used to have.

ALSO SEE: Honda Civic LX Review

The upside of that CVT and small engine is that it should net you about 31 mpg combined. I drove the sedan around every day for three-quarters of a week before the fuel gauge even twitched.

Room for Improvement

Although all the tech and the looks have been updated for 2017 to bring it up to speed, one area that could use some tweaking is the chassis. Both the torsion beam rear suspension setup and drum brakes in the back are pretty outdated, and the engine still uses electronic fuel injection instead of direct injection, which most of its main competitors use. Although those upgrades might make the Corolla a bit more expensive, it would also make the driving experience much better as well. The Corolla would also benefit from a slightly heavier steering setup.

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The Verdict: 2017 Toyota Corolla Review

Toyota has sold more than 43 million Corollas around the world since it first came out 50 years ago, and if that’s not proof that the car doesn’t suck, I’m not sure what is. The car isn’t the best or most exciting car in its class, but it’s roomy, it comes with a huge list of standard features, it will last forever, and it’s affordable. The lesson here is not to believe all the misconceptions out there and to start believing the millions of people who have voted with their dollars because the 2017 Toyota Corolla is everything someone could need in basic transportation.

Discuss this review on our Toyota Forum

  • Tex

    “I drove the sedan around every day for three-quarters of a week before the fuel gauge even twitched…”
    Drove it around the block?

  • George Bagorski

    No. 5 hours every day !

  • steveinglendale

    And you stayed awake? lol

  • Jonny_Vancouver

    I love the new Corolla. It’s anything but cheap, I just picked one up (2016 model) in “S” trim with upgrade package that has the moon-roof, rear disk brakes, 17″ alloys among other things, I love the leatherette trim on the seats, the attention to detail with the blue stitching, and the engine is smooth as silk -perfectly matched to the CVT, which is also anything but boring because the manual + sport mode works so well together. I will also never go back to owning a car without rear disk brakes, and the NVH is so minimal, it’s the quietest car I’ve owned. I drive my (Blue Crush Metallic) beast every day and only spend $25 CAD per week on fuel. It’s also faster than the spec sheet suggests, surprisingly so. Engage sport mode and leave it in auto and I can chirp the tires, lol. It’s no sports car, but the confidence in the quality alone one feels while driving it is enough of a reason to own one. If only people were this reliable.

  • Cody Beisel

    Drove one as a loaner car. The sport package looks cool, definitely had the Scion designers work on the front end. It was slow, boring and unresponsive but great on gas. Toyota needs to put a new engine in this thing and give it some more better driving dynamics to match its more aggressive styling.

  • George Bagorski

    Yes. Not around the block of course. City/Highway driving.

  • Jeff T

    Torsion beam rear suspension and an anemic motor. The car is fine but what I think most auto enthusiast are surprised by is how well in sells in comparison to other cars in the class which offer a way better setup. This car is features on top of 1990’s technology.

  • Duke Woolworth

    In a million and a half miles, I’ll bet I’ve been passed by no more than a dozen Corollas. They are inducers of road rage (not me: I finally grew up) by blocking lanes everywhere.

  • easy rider

    you are a fkin idiot

  • Jonny_Vancouver

    Don’t knock it till you tried it, and by try it I mean live with one for a few years. Most trouble free few years of car ownership you’ll ever have. The way people write in the comments … it’s like everyone is a race car driver, and yet you’ll never hear Germans talk this way, and they have access to the Autobahn. This car: 43 million sold in 50 years, why hate on that? Sure, there are some bad corolla drivers, but with that many on the road, it’s just statistics. We all want to ride fire breathing dragons to work or rip around on our days off, at least until the dragon breaks down and continues to break down and cost hard earned cash to fix. Personally, if I want excitement, I’ll ride my motorcycle or go to the gun range, but when I want a car to do what a car should, which is take me from point a. to b. safely, and not cost me a fortune to own, that’s where the Corolla shines, and honestly, it’s a good drive, it’s a really good drive. It’s smooth, comfortable, and refined. I don’t know why some people hate on it. I’ll agree that the stats don’t look great on paper, but in real life it’s a very different story and I don’t think people will understand until they actually own one. To help put things in perspective; if you look at European car specs, they look woefully under powered, but I can tell you from experience that driving a 60 hp hatchback through the streets of Paris is a blast, and I would not have understood that until I tried it. But good rebuttal, sir.

  • Love these cars.. You can get a fully loaded one with a manual transmission, they are rock stars of reliability, they handle fairly well, and are comfortable on long trips.. They don’t have all the electronic crap that new cars have, which i actually like.. I don’t need it, i hate cars that drive me, and that i can’t drive..

    That being said.. i don’t like the seating position, hate that the fit and finish was better in my 1999, and am not a fan of the electric steering pump.. But it’s a good car..

    My 99 went 367K miles without any issues..
    01 Sienna went 413K miles without any issues..
    1991 Previa 965K miles.. and you guessed it.. no issues..

    Say what you want.. But i have never owned a more reliable brand than toyota..

  • craigcole

    HOLY S***! Those are some long-lasting vehicles, but I’ve got to ask, do you live in your cars? That’s the only way I could see putting that many miles on them. 🙂

  • easy rider

    Worst car in its class. That is all that matters, built for cheapskate losers.

  • Jonny_Vancouver

    Don’t be jealous, you can have one too …

  • I honestly used to drive for IT on the East Coast of the USA, i would be in Maine on one way and three days later be in Florida.. So i drove A LOT.. there were weeks where i was doing 2 3k mile oil changes.. It was crazy..

    As a result i have owned nearly 19 Cars in the past 20 years..
    Not all of them were toyota’s.. but i would probably have only owned 8 cars if they were..