As the world's best-selling name plate of all-time, Toyota Corolla fans welcome the 2017 editions, including our test vehicle, the Corolla XLE.
With its all-new 11th generation introduced in 2014, the current Corolla is the roomiest and most fuel-efficient ever.
Sales totaled 378,210 in 2016. The front-wheel-drive Corolla is on track to equal that mark in calendar year 2017.
Not much has changed from 2016 to 2017 for the Corolla. New are minor changes such as LED headlights, a rearview camera standard on all trim levels, more available safety features and 2016 prices start at $17,300, 2017prices at $18,500.
Its appeal can be traced to several factors including reliability, fuel economy and interior roominess.
For a small sedan, the Corolla excels at leg room. The rear leg room of 41.4 inches is just an inch less than that of the 42.3 inches in front. The front leg room is normal for a compact four-door, five-passenger sedan. The rear leg room is not. In fact, Corolla's rear leg room is comparable to that of a midsize sedan. The 13 cubic feet of trunk storage space is average for the compact car segment.
During the test weeks in a $21,825 XLE model (six models are priced roughly from $18,500 to $22,500), usage of regular unleaded gasoline averaged 33.3 miles per gallon. Two adults were aboard during the weeks. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the XLE model at 28 mpg city, 36 highway and 32 combined.
The 1.8-liter, 132-horsepower, inline four-cylinder engine is no torque demon on wheels, but it accelerates well from stop signs or while passing slower traffic on highways.
The manufacturer trusts the reliability of the engine which is mated to a continuously variable transmission. The powertrain warranty is five years or 60,000 miles. The CVT is standard across the Corolla line, with the exception of the base L car, which has a six-speed manual transmission as standard.
Among the XLE niceties is an Entune app, which means smartphone access to Pandora, Bing, Facebook and more.
Standard are Bluetooth, cruise control, backup camera, automatic climate control with pollen filter, power windows (driver's express up and down), door locks and exterior heated mirrors plus intermittent wipers and rear defroster, seven-inch touchscreen and a sound system including USB port, iPod connectivity, AM and FM radio and compact disc player. Front seats are heated. The driver's operates by power and the passenger's manually.
Also standard are remote keyless entry, smart start, hands-free phone voice command controls, leather cabin and seat trim plus a power sunroof.
Rear seats, complete with pulldown armrest and beverage holders, are split and fold for access to the trunk. The passenger-side seatback comes with a storage pocket.
Seats are firm and the ride is solid. Interior trim is soft to the touch and not a hard plastic. The sound system has two knobs for tuning and volume.
Besides a backup camera, Corolla has eight airbags (includes driver's knee), an antilock braking system, traction and stability controls, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, precollision system with pedestrian detection, seatbelts and headrests with whiplash protection, anchors and tethers for child seats and daytime running lights.
One aspect of the warranty is free scheduled maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles. Ask at a dealership for details as not all buyers qualify for this freebie.
In exterior looks the Corolla does have fog lights in front, a chrome exhaust tip and color-keyed exterior mirrors and door handles and at least one model, the S, adds a modest spoiler.
For the record, the Toyota Camry is designed and engineered in Michigan, and assembled in Kentucky.
Vehicle: Toyota Corolla XLE
Type: front-wheel-drive, four-door, five-passenger compact sedan
Engine: 1.8-liter, dual overhead cam 132-horsepower four-cylinder
Transmission: continuously variable
Fuel tank: 13.2 gallons
Weight: 2,865 pounds
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length: 183.1 inches
Width: 69.9 inches
Height: 57.3 inches
Ground clearance: 6.7 inches
Leg room: 42.3 inches front, 41.4 inches rear
Tires (P205), alloy wheels: 16-inch
Trunk: 13 cubic feet
Brakes: ventilated 10.8-inch discs front, solid 10.2-inch discs rear
Suspension: struts front, torsion beam rear, stabilizer bars
Turning circle diameter: 35.6 feet
Assembly: Blue Springs, MS
Warranty: three years or 36,000 miles, five years or 60,000 miles drivetrain, two years or 25,000 miles roadside assistance and free scheduled maintenance