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#18

in 2011 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $11,334 - $12,867
Original MSRP: $15,900 - $18,600
MPG: 28 City / 35 Hwy
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2011 Toyota Corolla Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Depending on what you’re looking for, the 2011 Toyota Corolla’s performance will be either perfect or underwhelming. If you’re looking for a sporty ride, the Corolla isn’t for you. It’s designed to be a commuter’s car, and doesn’t mesh performance and practicality like the Mazda3 or Volkswagen Golf. If you need a family car with good power and steering, the Corolla is a solid option.

  • "In any trim, the ... Toyota Corolla's softly sprung ride is perfect for commuting, and wind and road noise are nicely quelled, even at highway speeds." -- Edmunds
  • "With the 1.8-liter engine and automatic transmission, Corolla has enough verve for stress-free driving. Models so equipped have somewhat touchy throttle response from a stop, but merging and passing moves require planning and a deep stab of the throttle." -- Consumer Guide
  • "It's none too sporty to drive. My test car was an XRS, and while I found its performance adequate, it was far from spine-tingling. However, the Corolla XRS felt spunkier than the Matrix XRS (same engine) that I tested a week earlier, maybe because the Corolla is lighter." -- Dallas Morning News
  • "We found the lesser Corolla models to be perfectly acceptable if not outstanding." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Corolla lacks the sporty feel of the Civic and Mazda3." -- Cars.com

Acceleration and Power

Fitted with either a 1.8-liter or a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, most test drivers find the 2011 Corolla’s power adequate, but unexceptional. Still, most shoppers who buy the Corolla will use it for daily commutes or the occasional family vacation. The Corolla offers more than enough power for these trips. If you want to pack as much fun as possible into your daily driver, choose the manual transmission.

The EPA says the Corolla gets up to 28/35 mpg city/highway. 

  • "The Corolla's base 1.8-liter engine should satisfy most shoppers in the segment, delivering sufficient acceleration and very good fuel economy. The four-speed automatic on non-XRS models works adequately well, but rivals are increasingly offering five-speed automatics." -- Edmunds
  • "XRS has more than adequate power with the manual transmission. Toyota quotes 0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds, but it doesn't feel quite that fast. The manual shifter has long throws and vague clutch action, which are frustrating for both daily commuting and sporty driving." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Their performance is adequate with the five-speed manual, less so with the automatic." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "In normal driving, the power is adequate and you don't think much about the gearbox having 'only' four speeds. It doesn't upshift as smoothly as it might with an additional gear because the ratios are pretty far apart from one gear to the next." -- Cars.com

Handling and Braking

The Corolla's handling and steering capabilities are fine for daily driving, but compared with other cars in the class, the Corolla is only adequate. Understeer is a common complaint, as is a lack of steering feel. For a better drive, reviewers suggest the XRS trim which looks sportier and offers improved performance.

  • "Their brakes are strong and fade-free, their ride is good and their handling better than previous Corollas but not up to some of the best of the competition. We would prefer more feel than is transmitted through the electric power steering, and a higher level of interior materials. The top-of-the-line XRS has much more in the way of sporty looks, handling dynamics and get-up-and-go performance." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It's easier to steer when parking than some competitors, but at highway speeds the steering wheel has a dead range of a few degrees from the center position that allows the car to wander too much, requiring frequent corrections, which can be fatiguing over time." -- Cars.com
  • "An impressive entry-level car, even though its overall competence is overshadowed by particularly unsatisfying steering feel. Maybe buyers won't notice, but the Corolla's new electric power steering has gotten rid of most, if not all, of its feel." -- Car and Driver
  • "All models aim for smooth isolation and mostly achieve it. Bump absorption is among the best in class, and there's little bothersome float or wallow over highway dips and swells. XRS is noticeably firmer than other models, but it's not jarring." -- Consumer Guide

Next Steps: 2011 Toyota Corolla

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Used car average prices are provided by ClearBook™, a TrueCar™ product