Engine: 1.8L 4-cylinder
Output: 132 hp, 128 lb-ft of torque
US Fuel Economy (MPG): 28 city, 35 hwy, 31 combined (CVT)
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 8.3 city, 6.7 hwy, 7.5 combined (CVT)
US Price: Starts at $19,495, $24,070 as tested
CAN Price: Starts at $16,790, $25,470 as tested
(all pricing includes destination)
The Corolla managed to be the third most popular car in the U.S. last year and continues that trend in 2018 as well. Why?
The nameplate is a legend filled with memories of first cars, ultra reliable rides, and excellent value. How can anyone argue with that? For years, the Corolla has been the go-to affordable car because of all the stories of it being universally good. Good means all kinds of things to many people, but the car has been in almost every family’s garage at some point. If not that, it’s been used for driver’s lessons, a rental ride somewhere, maybe your babysitter drove one… basically, if you’re a human, there’s a good chance you’ve had an interaction (and probably a good one) with a Corolla.
The 2018 model continues to deliver what Toyota started more than 50 years ago. It looks a bit different now, with a spottier edge that’s exaggerated a bit more with the XSE trim model that we tested.
Inside and Out
There are funky whiskers flanking the lower grille that is accented with flashy LED daytime running lights. On the mirror caps, there’s additional lighting, this time for turn signals, which are always a nice touch. The wheels also get an upgrade, with 17-inches of stylish metal wrapped with rubber. There’s a chrome exhaust tip, trunk lid spoiler and power moonroof to finalize the exterior features.
Inside, the XSE model gets more features than other Corolla models, like power adjustable and heated seats featuring Toyota’s not-quite-leather upholstery with nice blue stitching. There is also a proximity key with push-button ignition and a touchscreen navigation system. There’s no Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, but Toyota is beginning to change its tune on the subject with the upcoming Avalon that debuted at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show.
The interior is geared more towards familiarity, comfort, and practicality than style. Looking at the Corolla’s cabin and comparing it to the likes of its competitors like the Mazda3, Honda Civic, or Hyundai Elantra, and you’ll notice that the Toyota is lacking a lot of polish and appeal. It’s about on par with what you’d find in a VW Jetta (which is now being replaced for 2019 with a swankier cabin) and the Nissan Sentra. I’d call it midpack at best, but the Corolla is easy to get accustomed to. All the controls are predictably placed and easy to find, and outward visibility is wonderful.
You’ll find 13 cubic feet of space in the trunk, which is more than useable for most loads, but for additional space, the rear seats can fold down with a 60/40 split for extra practicality. When those seats are up in place, passengers will find the car reasonably comfortable, but the car never feels much larger than a compact sedan, in the way the Honda Civic does. The Corolla is a small car, and you can feel it in every corner.
Under the Hood and on the Road
Under the hood, there’s a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. In the XSE model, it makes 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque and is paired to a continuously variable transmission that can be switched into a sports mode and a manual mode that will allow you to change between pre-set gear ratios. With the whole car weighing under 2,900 lbs, it’s more efficient than sporty and that shows in terms of fuel economy. It easily earned 31 mpg during testing, and that was in the cold temperatures with winter tires equipped. Careful driving can probably get more miles per gallon, meaning that if fuel usage is a top concern for your car, the Corolla should be near the top of your list.
On the road, the car won’t win any fans with its performance, but it does eventually do what’s asked of it. The car will get up to speed when you bury your foot, but it will make a lot of noise in the process. Making a pass, especially on the freeway, not only requires time and patience but the kind of advance planning that defines ancient civilizations (and all their predictions of the end of worlds, etc.).
Indeed, it’s not for drivers who are in a rush all the time, and the handling characteristics aren’t going to give you any kind of adrenaline rush. Steering is predictable and works as expected — turn the wheel and the car will go over there. It’s well filtered for noise and bumpiness, a smooth operator that will leave you without any complaints. The suspension is also perfectly suited to the small car, threading the needle between sporty and completely vague.
Adding to the car’s value is the array of driver assistance technology that’s standard equipment. There’s adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, lane keeping assistance, and a forward collision warning system that can also sense wayward pedestrians.
The Verdict: 2018 Toyota Corolla Review
Coming in at $24,200 in the U.S. ($25,470 in Canada) the Corolla is a great deal, doing everything you want without having to spend too much. In all its years on sale, the Corolla has always had a lot of value and buyers are typically eager to recommend them because they’re so reliable and easy to live with. The best quality of the Corolla is just how accessible it is with such a low price tag, and that it offers an experience that is not likely to offend anyone.
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