Since it was first introduced in the U.S. in 1968, Toyota
has represented quality and value. Those are two key ingredients that lead to success.
Thirty-eight years have passed since the first Corolla
landed on our shores and Corolla
has earned the distinction of being the world's all-time best-selling passenger car with more than 25 million units sold in 142 countries.
That's an impressive number and it says much about Corolla
's character. Now in its ninth generation, Toyota
is much more refined and it remains one of the most reliable compact cars offered.
Over the years, Corolla
has earned titles like 'Best Bet' and 'Best in Compact Car Segment' or 'Most Dependable Compact Car'. The signature combo of high quality, excellent reliability, a roomy and comfortable cabin, and exceptional fuel economy have made Corolla
tough to beat.
For 2006, Corolla
CE, LE and S models provide 32 mpg city/41 mpg highway with the standard five-speed manual transmission or 30/38 mpg with the optional four-speed automatic.
Those figures are very encouraging for motorists looking to spend less at the pump. But that doesn't mean you'll have to settle for a sluggish, underpowered engine.
All 2006 Corolla
s (except the high-performance XRS model) are powered by a peppy dual overhead cam (DOHC) 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 126 horsepower and 122 lb.-ft. of torque.
It may not sound like much, but I found the 1.8-liter engine in our Corolla
S tester to be more than adequate. The engine is quite sophisticated and employs Toyota
's advanced Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i).
As a result, Corolla
's engine provides at least 90 percent of its peak torque from just 2,000 rpm to the 6,000 rpm redline. I found that there was ample power for merging into traffic, even when loaded down with four full-size adults.
I should point out that the 2006 Corolla
offers advanced safety for its segment, including the optional Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system available in LE and S models in conjunction with the optional automatic transmission.
VSC helps maintain directional stability during cornering by manipulating engine torque and individual wheel-braking influence when it detects tire slippage. The VSC option also includes Brake Assist and traction control that helps reduce tire slippage during acceleration.
Brake Assist is designed to determine if the driver is attempting emergency braking and, if the driver has not stepped firmly enough on the brake pedal to engage the anti-lock brake system (ABS), the system supplements the applied braking power until pedal pressure is released.
Those are features one would expect to find on a luxury car, certainly not a compact car. Corolla
's cabin is equally impressive. It's roomy enough for four large adults or a family of five.
has eliminated the traditional notion of a "base" model by equipping the Corolla
CE grade with extensive standard equipment and quality seat fabric and trim materials.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning with a cabin air filter, an AM/FM/CD sound system with four speakers, anti-theft engine immobilizer, power mirrors, tilt steering wheel, intermittent wipers, tachometer, digital clock, a driver's seat-height adjuster, a trunk lamp and a dome light with delay.
even comes with a standard digital outside temperature gauge, a feature generally seen on more expensive cars.
Design details contribute to the high-quality/high-value feel, as well. For example, the exterior door handles are color-keyed to the body, and the steering wheel and dashboard are color-keyed to the upholstery. In contrast, some lower-priced cars keep these items one color to reduce costs. Both the S and LE grades add map lights and color-keyed body side moldings.
I really liked the white-faced gauges in my Corolla
S tester. Along with a 3-spoke leather steering wheel, 6-spoke alloy wheels and a rear spoiler, the Corolla
S provides a sporty look for those that demand attention.
While the current Corolla
differs dramatically from the first-generation model of nearly four decades ago, it remains true to the ideals that have made Corolla
the world's all-time best-selling passenger car: affordability, high quality and reliability.
2006 Toyota Corolla
Engine 1.8-liter (126 hp) I4
Transmission 4-speed automatic
Drive Type FWD
Fuel Economy 30 city/38 highway
Base Price $15,850
As Tested $18,597 (including $580 for destination)