It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why most play it safe and buy a Toyota Corolla; but is it the best choice in a sea of compact sedans that are just as reliable and more entertaining to drive?
Performance ****The Corolla’s sole engine is a 1.8 four-cylinder which is pretty flexible around town and on the highway. It’s not the most explosive of engines but it gets the job done, and that’s all you need in a Corolla. There are three transmission choices; four-speed automatic, 6-speed manual gearbox and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The base trim is the only trim that gets the four-speed automatic and its best to avoid it. Both the CVT and the manual gearbox are much better choices.
Ride & handling: ***Don’t expect the Corolla to be as fun to drive as a Mazda3 or a Volkswagen Jetta. Steering feedback is numb at best and the suspension is tuned more towards comfort rather than agility. There will be more body roll than some of its keen rivals, but the ride comfort is actually quite good even on the roughest of surfaces.
Refinement: ****Road noise and wind noise won’t be much of an issue here in the Corolla. However, the engine can sound a bit buzzy with the CVT transmission.
Behind the wheel: ****
The Corolla’s infotainment system is pretty simple to navigate through, while some of the menus can be a bit distracting. The touch screen layout is simple and logical but the graphics and some of the technology feel old school compared to its rivals and the backup camera could use improvements. Visibility all round is pretty good too.
Space & practicality: ***
Our biggest gripe with the Corolla is the old-fashioned hinges in the boot that eats into cargo space, but the boot space is decent and average in class. Front and rear passengers won’t really have much to complain about in terms of leg and headroom. The seats are comfy and offer plenty of support and adjustments.
Equipment: ****HID headlights with auto-off come standard on all forms, as well as Bluetooth for your mobile device. Air-con, CD-player and keyless entry are also standard across the range. Some forms you’ll have to pay extra for alloy wheels.
Buying & owning: ***There are nine different trim levels for the Corolla! LE Plus trim seems to be the most logical choice if you want a decently priced Corolla that comes with alloy wheels and few extra goodies that you won’t find on the entry-level L trim. We actually suggest skipping the base trim altogether unless you option for the six-speed manual gearbox. The four-speed automatic that only comes in that trim is dreadful.
Safety & security: ***Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes both come standard. Active safety features include side curtain airbags and anti-whiplash head restraints and engine immobilizer all come standard to give you a piece of mind in terms of safety and security. Reliability won’t be much of an issue either thanks to Toyota’s spotless reliability record.
The Corolla is one of those cars you’d buy because of the badge. It is bulletproof in reliability and seems to be the most logical choice for those looking for quality and dependability. However, there are many rivals that are more fun to drive and offer the same tricks the Corolla has been famed for. It’s not a tough sell but it really isn’t the best choice neither not with rivals that are more stylish and multi-talented in the areas the Corolla fall short.
Likes: Overall build quality is rock solid and reliability is outstanding. Low running costs thanks to efficient four-cylinder engine. Interior is roomy for five and the standard kit list is pretty good.
Dislikes: Dizzying number of trims to choose from and some contradict each other. Driving experience is dull. Old-fashioned boot hinges eat into cargo space. Four-speed automatic in base trim is best avoided.
Devon’s Choice: LE Plus trim adds alloy wheels which is something most buyers will want. The LE Eco is worth considering if you value running costs but don’t want to buy a more expensive hybrid.