First off, I liked it a lot more than I though I was going to.
Disclaimer: Toyota wanted me to drive the latest gen Corolla so bad. They contracted professional hit men to steal my Integra. My insurance policy paid for me to have a rental for two weeks, so they contacted the local enterprise manager and threatened him with a convertible ride in Dallas unless they gave me a Corolla.
The Good- Interior and Transmission
Two tone! with piano black and blue accents! And this is the second lowest trim model. Now yes, apart from the center console and area you rest your elbow on the door card. It’s all hard plastic. But it’s an $18k (freedom dollars) econo box. Can’t really fault it for that. Plus it comes with bluetooth, so I mean what can you complain about really.
One of my favorite parts of the interior is the gauge cluster. More so the lights.
Now I know you can see them pretty well in the first shot, but that was sticking my phone behind the steering wheel and angling it down. When your sitting back in the drivers seat you can’t see the lights at all when they’re off if you’re not looking for them and just barely if you’re really looking (less so than in the pic.)
Also all the HVAC and radio controls are physical knobs and buttons. For basic stuff the only thing you have to use the touchscreen for is selecting whether you want the audio to come from AM, FM, or your phone. Also the knob that controls the temperature on the auto climate control, gives you a nice little “click” every degree you move it up or down. So adjusting it while driving is easy. On a similar note, I still don’t understand the point of auto climate control. One time the car was saying it was 65 out and I had it set on 72 and the thing was still blowing out cold air -_-
The seats are perfectly comfortable. There’s basically no bolstering, but it’s not like you really need it. Plus it just adds to the “slow car fast” feel.
Now about the transmission. (And yes this is still “the good”)
Much like the car overall. I also liked the CVT transmission more than I though I was going to.
Although it does “shift” rather than CVTing. It’s not like they just programmed specific gear ratios in for it to use. It’ll shift into whatever ratio it sees fit and hold it for at least a little while. Sometime it’ll only shift down 500rpm other times it’ll shift down thousands. Anyway, in normal driving mode there’s not really anything to complain about really. If you don’t pay attention to how much rpm it gains and loses during “shifts” you probably wouldn’t be able to tell it was a CVT.
As you can see it also has a S and B mode. Basically S mode just keeps the revs 1,000 rpms higher than normal. B (Which I like to imagine they were going to call “Super Sport” before Chevy had a word with them.) Holds rpm yet another 1,000 rpms higher especially off throttle, so you can get a fair amount of engine braking (Which I imagine is what the B stands for.)
The S mode actually makes the car feel a little bit peppier. Although it unfortunately doesn’t really help from a stand still when the engine is at idle. Which is a little of a disappointment since it could use a little more power pulling out into traffic. The reason it doesn’t help from a standstill, is that even in the normal drive mode the transmission will let the engine rev out all the way if you get on it. Really the modes mostly affect power at partial throttle. If I had to guess, I’d say the normal driving mode probably dulls throttle input for better fuel economy and the S and B modes probably make it normal or something. Also the B mode doesn’t seem to be any quicker than S, but you do get engine braking and S and B are easy to shift between.
Also something I’d like to add my two cents on. Lot’s of journalists like to mock the flappy paddles on this (Mine didn’t have them.) Although it’s silly, I think it’s equally silly to even option up a Corolla that high. I looked at the trim levels for this a while ago and to get the flappy paddles you have to go up a couple of trims and the only other things you get are upgraded headlights (the base one’s are stupid good too btw), a different grill, and alloy wheels instead of steelies (which are bigger which means worse ride). So I really don’t know who is even going to buy a Corolla with flappy paddles. Apart from those people who walk into a dealership having no idea what they want and the salesman just plops them into whatever they wanna get rid of. Like a fully optioned Corolla.
Well that about wraps it up for The Good now it’s time for....
The Bad- NVH and Torsion Beam rear suspension
My first, and probably biggest, complaint about the car was the wind in road noise. The first few time I drove it I pressed up on the window switch to make sure the windows were shut all the way. It’s not terrible, but the fact that NVH is worse in this than both my previous ‘95 Integra and ‘92 Civic is worth mentioning. I find it kind of disappointing that the second cheapest Toyota on sale to day is more noisy than the cheapest Honda from ‘92 over twenty years later. Idk if that’s because of the plastic dash (both Hondas had this rubber stuff over the dash) or if it’s the torision beam rear versus the independent suspension of the Hondas.
That being said. Although being softer sprung than the Integra. It gets upset more over rough pavement; and speed bumps and such jostle the car around more than the ‘Teg. Really the only benefit to the rear suspension is that it leaves more room for rear legroom and the trunk. How much I don’t really know or care, but more on that later.
Also I’ll just tack on that there’s a crazy amount of lag on the infotainment system. I used the bluetooth while I had it, but even when you used the physical buttons there’s a good 2-3 seconds from when you press a button, to when it actually does it. For literally everything except the volume. It’s pretty frustrating.
The Ugly- Handling and Performance
So first of all, the engine. Even though I got into the car with low expectations, it still kind of disappointed me. The 1.8/6? liter feels about as powerful/weak as the Integra did under about 4k. However it hardly builds any power as it revs out, even my non-VTEC Integra you could feel it producing significantly more power over 4k. But not the Corolla, it just makes more noise and goes a wee bit faster.
Handling...... So first of all the steering. It’s acceptable for an economy car. It’s EPS so there’s very little feel. However once you get on back roads and get up to speed, there’s a little bit of feel. Still poor overall, but at least it’s not completely lifeless and you can kind of tell what the front tires are doing. However I think it’s worth noting that the last few days I had it, it got really cold which triggered the TPMS. It actually improved steering feel considerably, although I couldn’t recommend you deflating your tires for better steering feel. Perhaps it means that with a little sticker (like regular ones, instead of the max fuel efficiency one’s that are probably on there) it might not be a completely boring car to drive.
As for the suspension. It’s kind of hard to characterize. As you would expect it’s fairly soft, however with the rather crude suspension there is some ride harshness as I mentioned earlier. Which feels kind of weird, because you have this soft suspension yet the rear lets in shocks and jolts like a stiffer car would. When cornering you could probably time how long it takes from turn in to the time the weight shifts with a stop watch. It’s really not too bad for what it is, you can still push the car quite a bit on curvy roads and still feel confident in it, but it’s not something I’d want to really push hard at AutoX or something.
Also the brakes, I don’t remember if I talked about them already and I’m too lazy to go back through and see if I did. But they’re pretty powerful, they feel like they were meant for something bigger like a Camry. They’re more progressive than the Integra, however they still have a lot of initial force. It certainly took me a little getting used to. The whole time I had it, I could never quite come to a stop with out the car “popping up” as I came off the brakes. Something that I can do in pretty much every other car I’ve driven. Not sure how much of that is the brakes or suspension, but I imagine it’s more the brakes since they behave more unusual for a car of this class as opposed to the suspension. As for fade, I didn’t push it that hard lol.
And that’s it I guess...