I recently had the opportunity to drive 600 miles in a 2016 Toyota Corolla S. The S model is probably the most common of all Corollas since it seems that almost all I see on the road are of the “S” variety.
The Corolla was redesigned for the 2014 model year which made it look much better than any previous generation, but this isn’t saying much from one of the blandest cars available for sale today. The model refresh has left a more sporty looking and appealing car, but at the end of the day its still a bland strange looking boring car. Some features I did enjoy was the “blacked out” grill and similar black accents around the car. The wheels on this particular car were upgraded darkened multi-spoke rims, if that describes them right. There is nothing remarkable about this car at the end of the day its a Corolla, meant to be nothing crazy looking.
The interior on the Corolla was actually nicer than expected, it had mostly leather seats, a capacitive touch screen, paddles, and some nice accents like exposed stitching. There are definitely some let downs though, the steering wheel while nicely sized is all hard plastic. Not a single part of that wheel is comfortable to grab and hold. The large metal looking piece in the middle of the wheel is probably the most cheap feeling part of it. The buttons on the wheel on the right side is a single circle button making pushing the correct one sometimes hard. The worst place (and most noticeable) with hard plastics is the door armrest area. It actually hurts your arm to have it rest there for periods of time. Overall better than expected but no means good.
I’m at a point where the FoST feels like a kind of slow car, 0-60mph in a I believe 5.3 seconds? The Corolla with its CVT and 132hp and 126 lbft of torque its 0-60mph is a extremely fast 9.4 seconds. When I was driving this car I initially thought something was wrong, how is it legal to have a car be so slow? I actually felt unsafe merging, passing, and leaving residential areas. Lets start with merging, in the FoST merging is no problem, you gas it and go, in the Corolla id be at maybe 55-60mph when at the end of the on ramp which causes issues when people are going 75+. Passing, forget about it, if you’re going 70mph and need to pass on the freeway you better have an entire empty left lane besides you or else it wont happen. Let me start by saying any major street in my area is 55mph and you have to merge from a stoplight usually so 0mph, with that context merging onto these streets I need have just about 8 seconds of free traffic to get to speed. You also hardly ever have that much free space between traffic so you are stuck waiting for quite some time, problems other cars don’t have. All in all I actually felt unsafe in situations where I needed more power, if you own the car though you will know that and adapt to it. I was initially driving like I had the torque of the FoST on tap.
The brakes are certainly not sporty and have a very spongy pedal with no bite until deep down into the pedal. You have to press down the brakes a surprisingly scarily amount at first when using the car. In most cars you can brake pretty late and come to a nice stop, in the Corolla I found myself trail braking probably an extra 50ft from where I otherwise would have in the FoST. The brakes once used to them aren’t bad. In any emergency braking situations I would not count on the brakes or the tires, but everyday driving they aren’t terrible.
The Corolla rides much better than the FoST (duh), but still not nearly as good as a Ford Focus(normal ones), or other cars in the same segment. I wont hate on the Corolla for the ride quality I actually quite enjoyed it on the freeway compared to the FoST, it was much more comfortable. The seats play a part in that, they have a little nice side bolstering and good padding, keeping you comfortable over long periods of time. The Corolla handles bumps quite well for what it is, don’t expect anything too crazy but its not bad.
Nothing is great in the handling department, but then again nothing is terribly bad. I cant comment too much on it since I was mostly highway driving. What I can comment on is how there is no steering feel, and the wheel has a million turns to lock. Hitting potholes, bumps, and even the little markers on the painted lines are barely communicated to the driver. i can now understand how Corolla drivers are so bad, there are plenty of times where I saw potholes and what not and run them over (only because no empty lanes next to me) and through the steering wheel I had no idea, the reason I knew was because the car moved, and I saw them. So I cant speak too much in general but I can speak on feel and it was poor.
Onto the CVT. The CVT in this car does not try to simulate gears while driving, it whines up, then slowly whines down there is no big RPM drop like a traditional transmission. The transmission is not that bad, I wouldn’t mind living with this transmission in a car like this. The manual mode wasn’t that bad, in manual mode it simulated shifts and dropped the rpm like a traditional transmission. The car also returned a average mpg of 37.1 for just about 600 miles.
The car did have decent sound at low volumes. The volume goes to 50 and anything past 17 or so was very muddy and not clear. Phone calls were horrendous, Toyota makes phone calls very quiet you need it to be at around 46 to hear the person and when its that loud its very unclear and hard to make out what the other person is saying.
The most impressive toy was the capacitive touchscreen, i’m used to My Ford Touch which has the annoying resistive touch screens. The Toyota entertainment system worked very well, it did nothing fancy, it looked boring, but it worked fast, and easily so no complaints there. I wish there was a digital speed readout, and a multi color display between the two gauges. Other than the screen there really isn’t any other toys or tech. It has standard things bluetooth, USB, Aux, CD drive, and radio so nothing that other cars in its segment all don’t have standard.
This Corolla for MSRP is not cheap at around $21,500k. For $21,000 I would purchase many cars over this one, but the owner of this vehicle purchased it for $15,500. At $15k I would say the Corolla for people who don’t like to drive is a good deal. You get leather, touch screen infotainment, 37mpg, and thats about it for $15k which from what I understand you cant really get on other cars that cheap.
Not A car I would ever purchase, there is nothing remarkable about it, and its just okay, perfect for a non car person.