2016 Corolla New Car Test Drive
The Toyota Corolla compact sedan offers reliable, inexpensive transportation. The Corolla delivers high value for its moderate price. It looks fresh, with crisp lines, it's quiet underway, and it boasts all the technology expected by today's compact-car shoppers. Though classed as a compact, it's not tiny.
Redesigned for the 2014 model year, the current model represents the 11th generation of the Corolla. A new Special Edition model featuring special trim joins the 2016 Corolla lineup. Otherwise, there are no significant changes for 2016.
Toyota Corolla is among the best-known names in the automotive world, following decades at or near the top of the sales charts in the U.S. The Corolla nameplate has represented basic, trouble-free, and relatively comfortable motoring for 40 years.
Two 1.8-liter four-cylinder engines are used with two different transmissions. Corolla L, LE, and S models come with a 1.8-liter engine is rated at 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. A slightly more fuel-efficient version for the Corolla LE Eco makes 140 horsepower (though, of course, it's more expensive).
Most buyers choose the continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is tuned to provide a nearly linear, reassuring feel when accelerating moderately. As a result, there's less of the droning common with CVTs. The CVTs offer the best fuel-economy estimates, led by the Corolla LE Eco.
The 2016 Corolla with CVT is EPA-rated at 29/38 mpg City/Highway, or 32 mpg Combined. Corolla LE Eco is rated 30/42 mpg, or 35 mpg Combined.
Corolla L and Corolla S offer a 6-speed manual gearbox. The transmission option for the Corolla L is Toyota's ancient, sluggish 4-speed automatic. In contrast, the CVT in the S model echoes a 7-speed automatic, with paddle shifters that can select virtual gearchanges.
Little has changed for 2016 except for a new Special Edition model, based upon the sporty Corolla S. Only 8,000 will be sold, in three exclusive colors.
Infotainment systems are among the better ones in the affordable-car class. In some models, the latest Entune system features navigation and apps.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Corolla a five-star overall crash-test rating, with five stars in every test except rollover. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2015 Corolla earned top Good ratings, except for a Marginal score in the small-overlap frontal test. Only a few active-safety systems are available in Corollas.
The 2016 Toyota Corolla comes in L, LE, S, and new LE Eco trim levels. All but the L also come in Plus or Premium form.
Corolla L ($17,300) comes with air conditioning, fabric upholstery, Bluetooth hands-free phone/audio, LED low-beam headlights, a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, power locks/windows, Entune Audio with 6.1-inch touchscreen, USB/iPod connectivity, and 15-inch steel wheels. A 6-speed manual is standard; a 4-speed automatic ($600) is optional.
Corolla LE ($18,735) comes with the CVT and upgrades with automatic climate control, steering-wheel controls, voice recognition, 16-inch steel wheels, heated power mirrors, remote keyless entry, cruise control, and a rearview camera. LE Plus ($19,135) adds integrated foglamps and 16-inch alloy wheels. LE Premium ($22,195) includes SofTex-trimmed heated front seats, a power driver's seat, and a moonroof.
Corolla LE Eco ($19,135) gets the more fuel-efficient 140-horsepower engine with CVT, 15-inch low-rolling-resistance tires, a rear spoiler, and aerodynamic underbody covers. LE Eco Plus ($19,835) and LE Eco Premium ($22,895) models are offered.
Corolla S ($19,295) features a Sport drive mode that firms up steering and quickens throttle response and paddle shifters for the CVTi-S, along with sport-bolstered seats, a multi-information display, and special trim. S Plus comes with 6-speed manual ($21,665) or CVT ($20,065). S Premium ($23,125) comes only with CVT. Special Edition ($20,635) features 17-inch black alloy wheels, black upholstery with red stitching, and red interior accents.
Eight airbags are standard, including a driver's knee bag and passenger seat-cushion bag.