By Eric Peters- Only two cars rival the success of the Toyota Corolla. They do not exceed it.
They’re the Model T Ford and the Volkswagen Beetle — the original Beetle (the one made from the mid-1930s through the early 2000s … Hecho en Mexico , which is on a continuous production run of 70-something years.
Toyota has sold twice as many Corollas — 46 million of them — over the past 50 years. Impressive.
What It Is
The Corolla is the world’s perennially best-selling entry-level compact-sized sedan, which is now available as a sporty hatchback, too, with a new larger and much stronger engine, for those who want some pep to go with the Corolla’s legendary practicality. That includes a stupendous 41.4 inches of back-seat legroom.
Prices start at $19,500 for the base L trim sedan, which comes standard with an updated 1.8-liter engine that was last year’s only available engine, paired with a continuously variable (CVT) automatic transmission.
A top-of-the-line XSE with the same engine but paired with the CVT automatic, heated leather seats, an upgraded (8 inch vs. 7 inch) tablet-style LCD touch screen and an 18-inch wheel/tire package lists for $25,450.
The hatchback Corolla, which comes standard with the 2.0-liter engine/manual transmission combo, starts at $19,990 for the SE trim.
A top-of-the-line XSE with the 2.0-liter engine and CVT costs $24,090.
Both versions of the Corolla are new. They are styled more aggressively and sit much more suggestively.
All Corollas come standard with Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa.
For the first time, you can get a configurable LCD main gauge cluster in a Corolla, as well as turns-in-the-curves adaptive LED headlights and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, features that, as recently as 10 years ago, were only available in a Lexus — and not for $22k or so.
The safe bet is no longer stodgy.
The new larger/stronger engine gets better mileage than the previously standard engine.
The sedan’s back-seat legroom is comparable to what you’d find in a full-size six-figure luxury sedan.
What’s Not So Good
If you want a manual transmission, you have to buy the larger/stronger 2.0-liter engine.
The hatchback’s back seats are much tighter than sedan’s — and rivals’.
Under the Hood
The sedan still comes standard with the familiar 1.8-liter engine that used to be the Corolla’s only engine, but it’s not quite the same.
Horsepower is up a bit — to 139 now versus 132 last year — and the mileage it manages rises to 30 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, a significant 2 mpg uptick from last year’s 28 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.
A 2.0-liter engine is now available in the sedan and standard in the hatchback.
This engine produces 169 horsepower, which makes it the strongest engine ever offered in a Corolla.
There’s newness under the floorpans, too. The previous torsion-beam rear suspension has been replaced with a multi-link design that improves the car’s handling and ride.
Equipped with the optional 18-inch wheels (largest ever offered by the factory) and the new 2.0-liter engine and six-speed manual transmission, this Corolla lives up to its looks.
The Bottom Line
There have always been plenty of rational reasons to buy a Corolla. Now there are other reasons, too.