KBB Logo Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.

Editor's Overview

The Toyota Corolla is a sales leader that truly reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the Toyota brand. It’s a car that delivers complaint-free daily commutes with excellent reliability and impeccable resale value, while simultaneously displaying a near absence of style and fun.

You'll Like The 2012 Toyota Corolla If...

If you’ve been burned in the past by promises of "great reliability" and "bullet-proof resale value," the 2012 Toyota Corolla should help rebuild your faith that some promises do come true.

You May Not Like The 2012 Toyota Corolla If...

If you’re looking for cutting-edge style or the latest engineering features, the aging Corolla platform with its 132-horsepower engine and 4-speed automatic transmission probably won’t impress you. A Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3 or Ford Focus is likely a better match.

What's New

The 2012 Toyota Corolla L gains color-keyed power side mirrors, power windows with driver’s auto-down feature, power door locks, and keyless entry. The LE trim gains steering wheel audio controls and 16-inch alloy wheels. The LE and S trims also get a new audio unit with MP3/WMA CD playback capability, a USB iPod interface, and Bluetooth connectivity for cell phone and music streaming.

Interior Features

While the 2012 Toyota Corolla sedan’s interior is highly functional and very roomy, it falls far short of the styling and color offerings of its competitors. Dull gray or beige plastics, and gauge faces with fonts that look two decades old don’t inspire much enthusiasm. Again, if you want to see a great looking interior at a sub-$20K price, look inside a Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus or Mazda3. The Corolla’s rear seat offers good hip and shoulder room, but the all-important headroom and legroom figures come up a bit short. We do like the S and LE trim’s 3-spoke steering wheel with touch controls, and the new audio unit is a definite step in the right direction. Standard gauges include a tachometer, fuel and coolant temperature, as well as a multi-information display that offers a clock, outside temperature, fuel economy, range, average speed and elapsed time. The 2012 Toyota Corolla sedan includes multiple storage bins, a split upper/lower 2-compartment glove box and four cup holders (two in front and two at the rear). Cargo volume in the trunk is a generous 12.3 cubic feet, but can be expanded thanks to the 60/40 split folding rear seats.

Exterior Features

It’s not hard to see where Toyota went for inspiration when restyling the Corolla. The 2012 Toyota Corolla sedan bears an uncanny resemblance to its big brother, the Camry. Beyond its racy front grille and swept back headlights, the 2012 Toyota Corolla sedan is still rather pedestrian when viewed from the side, although less so in S trim guise. Features such as color keyed power side mirrors that appear on the base L trim are a nice touch. But, unlike its competitors, upper level Corolla trims don’t afford owners such high-tech options as high-intensity-discharge (HID) adaptive headlamps, 17- or 18-inch wheels, or rain-sensing wipers. While the base and LE cars might not do much to raise your pulse, the S trim offers enough visual pizzazz to at least get your attention.

Driving Impressions

While the S trim is the most enjoyable to drive, all of the 2012 Toyota Corolla sedans deliver a solid, comfortable ride and no rude surprises. The S trim’s larger wheel-and-tire package and available manual transmission allow it to at least attempt some fun on twisting back roads, but don’t look for a lot of zip coming out of the turns, because the Corolla’s 1.8-liter engine can’t provide it. Again, as a standard mode of transportation, the Corolla does just fine, but any attempt to run with likes of a Mazda3 or even the new Honda Civic fall short. The bottom line is that the Corolla is a good, solid, front-wheel-drive commuter car geared toward those whose automotive choices are made with a more pragmatic viewpoint. Those who demand more from their ride than just solid transportation, however, will likely find more to like from the Corolla’s many rivals.

Pricing Notes

The 2012 Toyota Corolla starts at a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of around $16,000, and the Fair Purchase Price, which represent what people in your area are paying for their Corolla, should hold very close to MSRP. An automatic transmission adds about $800 to the Corolla’s base price. At nearly $17,000, the Chevrolet Cruze is a bit pricier, but the Kia Forte is nearly $800 less than the base Corolla. The S trim starts a bit over $18,500. On the resale side, the Corolla should hold an above-average value after five years, similar to the Honda Civic but substantially better than the Chevrolet Cruze and Nissan Sentra.

Notable Equipment

Get ready for the lists: The 2012 Toyota Corolla L sedan comes with standard air conditioning a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, 60/40-split folding rear seat, color-keyed power mirrors, AM/FM/CD (SiriusXM satellite-ready) radio, outside temperature gauge, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry, a driver’s-seat height adjuster, and driver and passenger front, seat-mounted side airbags, traction and stability control and side-curtain airbags. The LE adds an MP3-compatible CD player, USB and auxiliary input jacks, Bluetooth, cruise control, and color-keyed heated side mirrors. The S has fog lights, front and rear spoilers, sport seats and a leather-trimmed steering wheel.

Notable Options

The 2012 Toyota Corolla sedan offers only a few options. A power moonroof can be added to the S trim, while both the LE and S versions can be equipped with a navigation radio and Toyota’s Entune multi-media system. The LE can be equipped with the Premium Package, which simply combines the power moonroof with 16-inch, 5-spoke wheels, and fog lights.

Favorite Features

Tilt/telescopic steering wheelThis much-appreciated standard feature helps drivers of all sizes find a comfortable position.USB iPod inputStandard with the new audio head unit on LE and S, this feature allows for control of your iPod via the car’s steering-wheel controls.

Under the Hood

With the loss the XRS trim last year, there is only one engine offered on the 2012 Corolla: a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder good for 132 horsepower. This engine is great for reliability and economy, but, as would be expected, only so-so for performance. Driving through a choice of either a 5-speed manual or old-fashioned 4-speed automatic transmission, it delivers a respectable 26 city and 34 highway EPA-rated miles per gallon (automatic model). 1.8-liter in-line 4132 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm128 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/34 (manual), 26/34 (automatic)

Editors' Notes

The 2012 Toyota Corolla sedan continues to be one of the best known, best selling compact sedans in America. The 2012 Toyota Corolla’s reputation for longevity is legendary, as is its high resale value and fuel economy figures. Yet over the years, Toyota has become complacent with the Corolla, allowing the front-wheel-drive sedan’s design to stagnate, its features to become antiquated, and its core audience to grow much older. A major refresh in 2011 brought a more aggressive face and better wheels, but placed next to a 2012 Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra or Chevy Cruze, the 2012 Toyota Corolla still looks a bit frumpy. With cars like Elantra and Forte offering more features for the same or less money, and new performance models such as the VW Jetta TDI and Mazda3 Skyactiv delivering both excitement and 40-mpg fuel economy, the 2012 Toyota Corolla sedan will have to rely heavily on its merits, as well as the faithful legion who return to Toyota showrooms time and time again.

Road Test Video Reviews

2012 Toyota Corolla Owner Reviews

4.3
448 Reviews
45% 42% 11% 1% < 1%
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Best all around small car.

2012 Toyota Corolla LE

I really have no problems with the car. It might just need a new battery or tires after a few years. The car performs well on many different surfaces and under various weather conditions. I took it up to Ohio during one of their worst winters and it was below zero most days we were there. It was also snowing a lot. My corolla had no problems with the outside temperatures or driving in the snow. I never had a problem with it starting or stalling. The car is very reliable, which really I just explained when describing its performance. As far as comfort, for a small car it is very comfortable. The seats are nice and there is plenty of space inside. It does not feel like a small car when you are in it. Some of the best features are the Bluetooth capability, the radio/CD player, USB plug-in, cup holders and storage compartment. It also has controls for the radio/CD player on the steering wheel which makes it very easy to change tracks or stations or adjust volume. The backseat has a lot of room and the seats fold down to give extra trunk space. The interior has a dual-color theme, with black and silver on the dashboard area, glove compartment, and doors. There is a button to lock the automatic window controls which comes in handy when my dog is in the backseat standing on the door handles and steps on the automatic window button. I have had corollas for many years and I probably would never own anything else because they never break down, they run great, get good gas mileage and perform well always.

- B R

It's reliable when you maintain the vehicle. I have not had an issue yet 6 years and nearly 80,000 miles in to using the Corolla.

2012 Toyota Corolla

I bought my Corolla new and have tried to treat it well in the 6 years I've had it. It has almost 80 k miles on it. I've gone from MI to GA in it and it's been very reliable. I have discovered a few things I dislike about my vehicle though. First, it doesn't accelerate in a reasonable time. My husband and I both feel like we almost have the acceleration pedal to the floor getting on to the highway and it takes longer than it should to get up to speed. I feel like that's dangerous in certain situations. Second, I feel like the car should get better gas mileage. I probably get 28 mpg in town and 33 mpg on the highway. Both of those seem low of a small vehicle like the Corolla. Last, if you have anything in the trunk that is the right height, shape, etc to bump a cord you lose the use of your speakers until that item shifts or is moved. One time I drove 3 hours without sound, it was really annoying. Not a very smart design especially for people, like myself, who travel a lot so the trunk fills up or has a child so I frequently have a bulky stroller in my trunk.

- Ashley B

The most reliable car with both comfort and style.

2012 Toyota Corolla LE

The Toyota Corolla car is the most reliable vehicle created. This vehicle gives many miles per gallon, therefore saves the owner money and time. Typically, when filling the gas tank the car will give you 260 miles. Toyota Corollas are reliable because they will not fail or break quickly. As long as the owner keeps up with the maintenance any and every car needs regularly, this car provides security for years to come. Along with being reliable and efficient, a Corolla is comfortable. The 2012 Toyota Corolla LE has soft, cloth seats with removable headrests. Although it is a small sedan car, it provides comfortable space for all passengers. This model includes; cruise control, a powerful AC unit, Bluetooth pairing, double glove compartment in the dashboard, and adjustable seats. All features are easy to use and explain to a first time driver. When shopping for a new or used car, a Toyota Corolla LE is the perfect choice for any driver looking for good mileage, smart features, and comfort with style.

- Vanessa M

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