A Closer Look at the Toyota Corolla

It’s been 52 years since Toyota first introduced the world to what would become their best-selling nameplate of all time: the Corolla.  Throughout the years, the Corolla has continued with innovation within the compact car category, proving that big things can come in small packages.  If you missed experiencing the Toyota’s compact at the Texas Auto Show this year, check out a few of the reasons why we like the 2018 Corolla (and the 2017 Corolla XSE too!).

Fun Fact: Corolla is Latin for “small crown,” a name derived from Toyota’s Crown logo.

Going Further

It’s the reason why many consumers purchase a compact car: fuel efficiency.  If you drive a lot (and who doesn’t in a state as big as Texas) then car shopping might revolve around which vehicles will get you further on a tank of gas.  That’s why Toyota’s Corolla LE Eco should turn heads – it manages to produce an EPA-estimated 40 miles to the gallon while driving on the highway.  Pretty impressive.  Toyota accomplishes this in a couple of interesting ways.  There is, of course, a specifically engineered 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that uses specific valve timing to make the most use out of fuel, but Toyota has also added things like aerodynamic underbody covers and a snazzy rear spoiler that brings down wind drag.  Toyota has even fine-tuned acceleration programming to compensate for choppy driving habits. That’s right, if you’re somewhat of an inconsistent driver – and seriously, who isn’t – the Corolla LE ECO adjusts to your driving habits in order create a smooth acceleration that’s easy on the gas consumption.

Toyota Corolla

Shhh. Listen. Can you hear it?

Sit inside a moving 2018 Corolla with the radio off and you’ll hear it…not much of anything. A quiet cabin is what Toyota has strived to create within the Corolla and each year the automaker adds new elements to create a smooth, quiet and strong ride.  So what exactly goes into creating a quiet cabin? The Corolla answer is an acoustic glass windshield, floor carpet insulation, fender insulators and an inner dash silencer pad.  Toyota has also placed an instrument panel seal between the cowl and the windshield to deflect noisy wind from sneaking into the cabin.  What’s the “cowl” you ask?  A car’s cowl is the front part of the automobile’s frame that supports the rear of the hood, windshield, dashboard, pedals and instrument panel.

Standards That Don’t Make the Corolla So Standard at All

As consumers, we may be accustomed to paying extra for add-ons, but Toyota bucks that trend by including an impressive list of features in the 2018 Corolla that come included as standard.  Back-up camera, Bluetooth connectivity, and LED headlamps are typically cost-rising additional features but in the 2018 model,  all these features come included, even in the base L model.  Did I mention that an Entune 6-speaker audio system complete with a 6.1-inch display is also standard on the base L model? Considering that the L model starts at $18,550 Toyota is taking strides in bringing lots of value to a small package.

Zipping Around in the 2017 Corolla XSE        

While the Toyota Corolla prides itself on bringing great value to the table, what should be expected when the automaker takes a few steps toward luxury, performance, and comfort? You get the Corolla’s XSE model.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about leaps and bounds here, but instead small, meaningful steps that bump up the Corolla experience just enough that it creates a wholly unique ride. I recently spent time test driving a 2017 Corolla XSE and while it is indeed last year’s model, only minor changes were made to the 2018 version so driving experiences should be very similar.  In fact, 2017 was the first year Toyota offered the XSE model trim so it’s worthwhile to look at what “version 1.0” brought to the table.

While not strikingly different from other 2017 Corolla models on the outside, the XSE instead brings some performance and creature comfort aesthetics to the interior and throughout the driving experience.  Something exterior to note however is the “Blue Crush Metallic” paint job that my test vehicle arrived with.  This shade of blue was deeply hypnotic and I got more compliments about the color from curious strangers than any other vehicle I’ve tested recently.

Opening the driver’s door, or the passenger side door for that matter, you’re immediately treated to trendy door sills that illuminate the Corolla branding and while not exclusive to the XSE model, the moon roof in the Corolla I tested was a welcoming feature.  The already spacious cabin is accentuated by the sport-inspired, SofTex trimmed seats throughout. SofTex is Toyota’s brand of synthetic leather that’s soft to the touch, but designed to withstand wear and spills.  (Check out this informative blog from a DFW dealership that dives deeper into SofTex and how it stands up against leather and cloth seats.) The SofTex seats both kept me firmly in the seat while rounding corners and were comfortable enough to make long drives enjoyable.

Speaking of driving, the XSE comes with a tempting Sport driving mode that makes use of this trim’s large rear disc brakes, wider low-profile tires and a TRD exhaust system that’s surprisingly louder than I was expecting.  The XSE model comes with the same engine mentioned above in other models, but the sport driving mode adds slightly tighter control and coupled with paddle shifters on the steering wheel, driving feels peppy and responsive. I drove the Corolla XSE around the winding roads of Fair Park – the ones usually designated just for fairgoers during the State Fair of Texas – and the car handled the sharp corners well and easily navigated the tight space in areas like the midway where the picture below was taken.

While the 2018 Toyota Corolla XSE has surely replaced the 2017 version in dealership showrooms, last year’s model is most certainly widely available elsewhere. If you’re curious about any model of the Toyota Corolla check out their website and make sure to stop by the Toyota exhibit at the 2018 Texas Auto Show to see more of Toyota’s lineup.

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