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#20

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $16,900 - $22,905
Invoice: $15,971 - $21,208
MPG: 28 City / 37 Hwy
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Toyota Corolla Performance

Test drivers say that the 2015 Toyota Corolla isn't fun to drive, but they report that it is a good choice if you're looking for a commuting vehicle. Some mention that opting for a model with a manual transmission makes the Corolla much more engaging to drive.

  • "Driving enthusiasts and die-hard car junkies probably won't like the way the Corolla corners and accelerates. But, for the remaining 90 percent who simply want a comfortable, competent and credible car to get them to work on the weekdays and away on weekends, the 2015 Toyota Corolla sedan is more than up to the job." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Just keep in mind that if you value driver engagement, the Corolla remains one of the least inspiring options in this class." -- Edmunds
  • "There's no easier way to improve a placid car than by adding a clutch pedal and stir stick, and that definitely applies here. The manual raises the engagement factor about 80 percent, and through normal rounds it removes concern about how the transmission will respond from the real-time decision making process." -- AutoWeek (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Corolla is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 132 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a four-speed automatic and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are available, depending on the trim. With a CVT, the Corolla gets an EPA-estimated 29/38 mpg, which is good for the class. The LE Eco trim has a 140-horsepower four-cylinder engine and gets up to an EPA-estimated 30/42 mpg.

Test drivers say the Corolla has sufficient power for commuting and merging on the highway, but most say it doesn't feel as sprightly as some competing compact cars. Several reviewers recommend skipping over the base Corolla’s available four-speed automatic in favor of the CVT, which they say livens up acceleration somewhat.

  • "Both iterations of the 1.8-liter engine deliver up enough power to safely merge or pass slower traffic, but they lack the ample torque found in many competitors. When equipped with the CVTi-S automatic transmission, the Corolla gets its best fuel economy and horsepower. The trade-off, however, is more engine noise under hard acceleration due to the high-revving engine." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Although acceleration is basically unchanged from the previous Corolla, the continuously variable transmission does make the car feel quicker. For this reason, as well as the fuel economy gap, we'd stay away from the archaic 4-speed automatic that's offered in the L trim." -- AutoTrader
  • "Acceleration is adequate but nothing more. The LE Eco's version gets some tweaks that add a few horsepower, but we couldn't detect a difference. We do like the CVT, as it has computer-simulated 'shifts' to mitigate the typical CVT's constant-rpm drone during acceleration. Skip the archaic four-speed automatic in the base L unless the price is simply too good to pass up." -- Edmunds
  • "Around town, it never feels particularly slow accelerating from a stop, and while the inline-four can feel a bit lifeless during freeway passing, the smooth-acting CVT does a nice job of keeping the revs in the powerband without being overly wheezy." -- Autoblog (2014)

Handling and Braking

Auto journalists say the 2015 Corolla has a compliant ride, though most agree that sharp handling is not its strong suit, as there is quite a bit of body lean while cornering. A few critics dislike the steering, which they say feels slow and offers very little feedback.

  • "On the road, the 2015 Toyota Corolla lets a fair amount of road noise into the cabin at speed, but its ride is pleasantly smooth on most surfaces. Handling is sharper than in past models, and we like how the compact 3-spoke steering wheel feels in our hands." -- AutoTrader
  • "The ride is smooth and well mannered, and while we think the Ford Focus offers a quieter interior, road and wind noise levels inside the Corolla are certainly on par with most other compact sedans." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Corolla's handling, too, is familiar. Sporty S-trim touches notwithstanding, there's no playfulness to be found here; instead, enthusiastic driving around turns is met with a lifeless steering feel and pronounced body roll. Instead, this car is all about no-hassle commuting comfort, with a quiet, compliant ride that makes the daily grind seem less onerous." -- Edmunds
  • "We can pretty much guarantee the vast majority of Corolla buyers aren't interested in sporty dynamics, and for them, driving this new Toyota is a non-event, just like its predecessors. Want something more involving? Direct your attention to the sleek new Mazda3. Or a Ford Focus. Or even a Honda Civic." -- Autoblog (2014)
  • "It's difficult to sugarcoat it - the steering in the Corolla is not good, even by commuter car standards. There is excessive 'slop' in the steering system, which means you can saw the wheel from side-to-side without the car deviating from a straight line. Needless to say, there is no steering feel to speak of." -- Left Lane News (2014)
Review Last Updated: 11/11/14

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