Toyota’s Corolla has probably been the carmakers best selling compact sedan for many years. I have a friend who has a 1999 vintage with 161,000 miles on it and it’s still going strong. He loves it and he uses it to commute to his job from Allentown to JFK Airport and back several times a month.
We were privileged to test the new Corolla Hatchback SE, a base model that comes nicely equipped. Want more goodies, opt for the XSE trim.
Perhaps the reason Corolla is so popular is because it’s reasonably priced and fun to drive. And the newest hatchback version is stylish with LED head and taillights, impressive handling and miserly fuel economy.
Slipping into the cockpit your eyes are drawn to the 8-inch touchscreen that looks like an iPad perched atop the vertical stack. It offers a suite of apps such as Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa (no Android Auto), Siri Eyes Free and more, all through Toyota’s Entune that connects to a smartphone.
Then your eyes will be grabbed by the large and centered speedometer flanked by a smaller tachometer on its left and a 4.2-inch driver information display on its right.
Corollas’ console with shifter for the CVT automatic transmission, comes with paddles shifters, Eco and Sport modes, wherein the latter provides better throttle response.
There is a bin for small item storage at the base of the vertical stack that could have been used for a wireless phone charger. But one is offered on the XSE.
All HVAC controls are simple to use although some are on the petite side and may need a search for the desired selection, at least until acclimating to their position. They do give the stack a sleek look.
Long wearing cloth front seats are attractive, supportive and exceptionally comfortable. The rear seats are equally as comfy with marginal leg room, especially if the fronts are racked well rearward. But headroom is relatively spacious once in. The rear doors, however, could open a bit wider to make ingress/egress easier for adults, especially tall folks.
Back in the trunk, there’s 17.8 cubic feet of space with the rear seats upright. As such, it measures 28 inches deep, 40.5 wide and 24 high. Flip the 60/40 rear seatbacks and depth extends to 60 inches. And for loading, there’s a mere 28-inch liftover into the trunk. Beneath the trunk floor is the spare tire where some small items can be stored within the tires’ wheel or stuffed around it.
Corolla comes with but one engine. A 2.0-liter, inline 4-cylinder generates 168-hp and 151 lb/ft of torque for impressive EPA mileage estimates of 32 city, and 42-highway mpg. With these numbers, Corolla would make a great commuter car.
So powered, Corolla was independently 0-60 timed at 7.8 seconds. Not too shabby. It’d be interesting to see what a turbo would do on this engine. Probably make it a pocket rocket. And the CVT (a 6-speed manual is also offered, but why?) has a nifty launch-type gearing that boosts dead stop acceleration.
Ride wise on 16-inch Dunlop tires, was relatively smooth for a compact car. Most road was noise nicely muffled.
Handling too was impressive. This little hatch can be tossed in the turns with confidence and stability. Corolla was also easy to park and steering was quick and nicely weighted.
Corolla’s major highpoint is its price. It’s one of the truly all encompassing compacts with an affordable price. Especially considering the safety features and amenities that enhance it. With a very long list of standard features such as Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 that includes pre-collision w/pedestrian detection, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert w/steering assist, lane tracing assist and more.
The only option was for the SE Preferred Package that included the Entune infotainment, 8-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, blind spot monitor and more that added $1,400 to the base price of $21,090. The bottom line with delivery ($920) brought the bottom line to an extremely affordable $23,410. A rarity among its competitors. And as my buddy’s aging Corolla, Toyota quality shines in all their vehicles.