2019 Toyota Corolla
After years of marketing the Corolla as a safe, sensible and reliable choice, Toyota has changed course and now bills its compact sedan as a more exciting ride that appeals to the heart as well as the head. In truth, it still won't raise pulse rates, but the eleventh-gen model does offer a larger, more modern interior while retaining the traditional Corolla virtues of comfort, reliability, and efficiency.
To set it apart from stodgy Corollas of years past, the sedan boasts a prominent trapezoidal grille, standard LED lowbeam headlights and pronounced wheel arches. Sharply canted C-pillars and sculpted taillights give the rear a dash of flair, and a range of attractive 15-, 16- and 17-inch wheel designs are available.
Inside, the Corolla takes a page from Lexus' latest interior design language with a contemporary-looking, horizontally-oriented dashboard. With the exception of a few noticeably cheap trim elements, material quality is class-competitive, and secondary controls are logically arranged and easy to use.
With a lengthened wheelbase that translates directly into increased cabin space, the Corolla possesses sufficient space for four adults (five in a pinch) to sit in reasonable comfort, although rear headroom is limited.
Buyers can spec a 6.1-inch touchscreen display with Toyota's Entune infotainment system, which includes apps like Bing, Facebook Places and Pandora. Other notable options include "SofTex" leatherette upholstery, navigation, heated seats and a proximity key.
Underneath its fresh sheet metal, the Corolla shares many mechanical components with the last-generation model. These proven underpinnings should ensure that the Corolla's stellar track record of reliability continues, though they also entail less power and lower handling limits than many competitors.
Six different trim levels are offer: L, LE, SE, SE 6MT, XLE, and XSE. All come with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. It spins the front wheels through a continously variable transmission (CVT). In a bid to do away with the "rubber band" power delivery that such transmissions usually entail, Toyota programmed the CVT with seven virtual "gears" to provide the familiar experience of a torque-converter automatic. This solution doesn't fully eliminate the CVT's droning and rubber band feel.
The four-cylinder returns up to 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.
Standard and optional features
The entry-level Corolla L come standard with a piano black grille, bi-LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, 15-inch steel wheels with plastic hubcaps, 60/40-split rear seats, air conditioning, color-keyed door mirrors, power door locks and windows, Bluetooth connectivity, a multi-function steering wheel, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, cloth upholstery, and a 3.5-inch screen integrated in the instrument cluster.
Toyota doesn't offer options on the Corolla. Buyers who want more features simply need to step up to a higher trim level.
All Corolla models are fitted as standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtains airbags. Also included is a driver's knee airbag and passenger's seat cushion airbag as well as traction and stability control systems.
Finally, the Corolla boasts Toyota's Safety Sense-P (TSS-P) technology, which bundles Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Automatic High Beams.
Before putting a new Corolla in the driveway, shoppers should also check out the slew of other accomplished compact sedans on the market. These include the Volkswagen Golf, the Honda Civic, the Mazda3, and the Kia Forte.