Perfectly average in every way, the Toyota Corolla is thoroughly competent, but not at all interesting.
MSRP: From $19,445
Horsepower: 132 hp to 140 hp
MPG: Up to 30 city / 40 highway
Dimensions: 183” L, 70” W, 57” H
Curb weight: 2,840 to 2,885 lbs.
The 2018 Toyota Corolla is the white bread of new cars. Satisfying sustenance without much excitement; a car that does its job with only the occasional hint of flair.
That’s not an insult. Toyota has sold more than 40 million Corollas globally over the last few generations and the car is as much a household name as is Wonderbread. And about as thrilling, which is why we’ve scored it a reasonable but not top-notch 6.3 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The latest Corolla rolls into 2018 largely identical, aside from the deletion of a 50th anniversary special edition (51st anniversary doesn’t have quite the same ring). Illuminated vanity mirrors are now standard on all models, while XLE and SE models add a leather-wrapped, three-spoke steering wheel to their roster of equipment.
An important note: Toyota offers two different versions of the Corolla, each with its own story to tell. We’ve grouped them together—the Corolla sedan and the Corolla iM hatchback—since they share a name and a basic outlook on life. The Corolla iM, known briefly as the Scion iM before that brand was folded into Toyota’s portfolio, is essentially a European-market 5-door hatchback. It has its own interior design and, underneath, its suspension is considerably more sophisticated. Our rating is based on the sedan, which significantly outsells the iM, but we’ll make note of differences between the two designs as necessary.
The Corolla sedan is available in L, LE, LE Eco, XLE, SE, and XSE trim levels, all with 4-cylinder power and a commendably high level of standard safety equipment. The Corolla iM is only offered in one configuration that slots in about equivalent to the Corolla SE sedan.
Regardless of body style, the Toyota Corolla scores well for its comfort and efficiency, as well as its crash-test record, but it loses some points for a chintzy feel inside, its questionable value, and because many rivals deliver more personality without diluting the practical nature that makes the Corolla so appealing.
The 2018 Corolla range is fitted with a 1.8-liter inline-4 engine rated at 132 horsepower in most sedans; the Eco sedan, as its name implies, is tuned for efficiency and, oddly enough, its version of the 4-cylinder engine offers 8 more hp. Most Corollas are equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), although a 6-speed manual is available on the SE sedan and the iM hatchback. Make no mistake: the Corolla’s underpinnings and steering are tuned for comfort and not performance, although the iM’s multi-link rear suspension endows it with a little more curvy road tenacity.
All models are well-equipped from the get-go, although none is a particularly stellar value in terms of their lists prices. Similarly, the Corolla range scores in the 30 mpg combined neighborhood, which is on the high side for compact cars—but not quite class-leading.