2019 Corolla New Car Test Drive
With a history dating back nearly half a century, the Toyota Corolla has been almost synonymous with the term compact car. Little has changed on the sedan for the 2018 model year, except for cancellation of last year's 50th-anniversary special edition. All 2018 Corolla models get lighted vanity mirrors, while 2018 Corolla XLE and 2018 Corolla SE gain a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Corolla added a new model for 2017: the Corolla iM hatchback. Sharing little more than the model name, Corolla iM began life in 2016 as a member of the Scion family. When Toyota's Scion division disappeared, prior to the 2017 model year, the iM became part of the regular Toyota lineup. Basically, the iM is a five-door hatchback, developed for European sale, with its own interior layout and a more sophisticated suspension. As a hatch, the iM represents a small fraction of Corolla sales in the U.S. (To learn more about the iM, see our 2016 Scion iM review.) In the iM hatchback, Toyota's 1.8-liter engine produces 137 horsepower and 126 pound-feet. A single trim level is offered, with the choice of CVT or 6-speed manual shift.
Corolla sedans come in six trim levels: L, LE, LE Eco, XLE, SE, and XSE. Each holds a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. The LE Eco is an exception. Tuned for fuel-efficiency, with special valve timing, its engine is rated higher than the regular version, at 140 horsepower. Like other current Toyota products, the Corolla gets an impressive collection of safety features as standard equipment.
Most Corolla sedans are fitted with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). A 6-speed manual gearbox is available only for the SE sedan.
Corollas might be short on personality, ranking as average all around. But they're refined in demeanor and fully capable of delivering common-sense satisfaction.
Not only do both body styles earn high scores for efficiency and comfort, they've earned admirable crash-test scores. Strong crashworthiness and superior standard safety equipment combine to make a compelling case for Corolla ownership.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2017 sedan a Top Safety Pick+. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave it five stars overall, with a four-star rating for frontal collision and four stars for rollover (a calculated score).
Every Corolla comes with LED headlights, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and automatic high beams. Sedans also contain adaptive cruise control.
All Corolla models are sedans except the iM five-door hatch. All come with front-wheel drive. All come with 1.8-liter four-cylinder engines, though tuning varies. Most come with a continuously variable transmission, though a manual is available for the Corolla SE and iM hatch.
Corolla L ($18,500) includes the CVT, 6.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, rearview camera, air conditioning, adaptive cruise control, power windows/locks, and Bluetooth. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
Corolla LE ($18,935) adds automatic climate control, an integrated rear armrest, 3.5-inch TFT screen, and keyless entry. Options include a moonroof and a navigation app or smartphones.
Corolla LE Eco ($19,335) has a specially tuned engine and low-rolling-resistance tires.
Corolla SE ($20,445) comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leatherette/fabric seat upholstery, and alloy wheels. Corolla SE is also available with a manual gearbox and 7.0-inch infotainment screen ($21,665).
Corolla XLE sedan ($21,825) includes a power driver's seat, heated front seats, and proximity key.
Corolla XSE sedan ($22,680) differs from XLE in exterior design and upholstery.
A full, integrated navigation system is optional on XLE and XSE.
iM hatchback comes with manual gearbox ($18,750) or CVT ($19,490) and includes a 7.0-inch screen, Pioneer-branded audio, rearview camera, and 17-inch alloy wheels.