It may come as no surprise to you but the Corolla isn’t going to rock your world, at least, not in the way you’d like it to. Carrying the economical torch it has had since the early ‘90s, it’s now become far removed from the days when it actually provoked thoughts of RWD and mild performance (yes, we’re thinking of you, AE86). And yet, here it stands proud. This tiny sedan has the promise to over-deliver to the budget minded by coming with a wide range of fancy options for its various trim levels. Of course, we recommend the S model as it’s the only one that comes with the coveted 6-speed manual transmission (all CVT fans, please move on), which makes the S a more worthwhile buy if you have some yearning for performance.
On looks alone, you could easily mistake this for a Scion tC with two extra doors; the redesigned front end shows more aggressive lines that most Toyota products share today. You’ll either love it or hate it. Inside, they’ve done an impressive job of amping up the comfort and overall features; the seats hug your body nicely, your view to the outside world is wide open, the steering is solid and the audio has more high tech features than my iPhone 4 can even take advantage of. But no matter how great these niceties are, the Corolla is slow. You will do many things regardless. You will save gas. You will be able to dogpile a small army of friends with great ease. You can connect to Facebook while doing both of those things. You will never win a drag race unless it is against another Corolla. But if you’re a Corolla owner, what I’ve just said won’t even faze you. You appreciate the car for what it is and nothing more. You must, however, get the manual gearbox. You’ll enjoy the quaint 132hp that much more. Can’t drive stick? Use this car as your opportunity to learn. It will take the abuse and keep going.
There will be the select few who might opt to modify one of these. Toyota even offers a few accessories at the dealership. It’d be fun to drive some of your friends mad by getting this as low to the ground as possible and with a cheap set of aftermarket wheels, just to say you’re willing to break the norm (and because it’s fun to see your friends squirm). But don’t try to make it fast. Enjoy its economic value. The Corolla may never return to its former ‘80s glory days, but all is not totally lost. You can always trade up for an FR-S down the road…
The Sticker Starting from $19,000
Engine 1.8L DOHC with Dual Variable Valve Timing (VVT-i)
The Power 132hp at 6,000rpm; 128lb-ft at 4,400rpm
Scale Tipping 2,845lbs (6MT), 2,865lbs (CVTi-S)
Layout Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Transmission 4-speed automatic CVTi-S or 6-speed manual
Footwork & Chassis Front Independent MacPherson strut/rear Torsion Beam
Wheels & Tires 16x6.5" (optional 17x7")
At the Pump 28/37/31 (6MT); 27/36/31 (4ECT); 29/38/32 (CVTi-S)
Deep Thoughts You know damn well why you’re buying a Corolla: value. And in the end, it’s a much better car than its previous generation. If performance is on your mind, you might want to rethink your plan.