With its unparalleled legacy via sheer numbers, the Toyota Corolla stands alone in the automotive industry. Now well into its 40s, the Corolla is the biggest selling car in history (approaching 40 million), with one new Corolla sold somewhere in world about every 40 seconds.
Now in its 10th edition, the car that received its name for the Latin word for crown may have reached its saturation point. Manufactured in 15 countries (but not the United States), the Corolla is facing increasingly difficult competition from several manufacturers thriving in the subcompact and compact car categories. They offer faster, more efficient and better equipment vehicles.
Still, the Corolla nameplate, now around since 1966 globally and since 1968 in the United States, has had success like no other vehicle. It’s a dependable offering, with few surprises. And that’s been just fine for legions of car buyers around the globe for a long time.
The Weekly Driver Test Drive
Then again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Corolla is good at what it does. It’s easy to maneuver around town en route to the local market. And it’s adequate in freeway driving, although it’s far from a performance car and limited in “tight” situations when some quick acceleration or maneuverability is warranted.
I drove the LE model, one of three trims (15 configurations), now that the sport XRS and LXE editions have been discontinued. The LE model included the optional sunroof, wireless cell-phone link and USB port.
Corollas are equipped with a 1.8 liter DOHC, 16-valve inline four-cylinder engine with 132 horsepower and four-speed automatic transmission. (A five-speed manual transmission is also available.)
Driving the Corolla is the automotive equivalent of eating vanilla ice cream. The Corolla, just like vanilla ice cream, is perfectly fine. But neither are risk-takers nor separate themselves from the crowd with frills.
The overall driving experience is satisfactory. Seats are comfortable and visibility is good all around. The Corolla has a tilt and telescopic steering wheel for drivers’ preferences, but taller drivers will likely require a rearward seat adjustment. As such, the rear seat room, while already snug, will be further restrictive.
All-around comfortable ride.
Quiet on the road.
Straightforward, no-frill dials, controls and dashboard.
Good vision, no blind spots.
Handsome exterior color — magnetic gray.
Uninspired interior design.
Luxury option features, like leather seats and navigation, are not available.
Facts & Figures: 2011 Toyota Corolla
Acceleration: 0-60 mph, not available.
Airbags: Front and rear head and dual front side-mounted.
Antilock brakes: standard.
First aid kit: not available.
Fuel economy: 26 mpg (city), 34 mpg (highway).
Government Safety Ratings: (IIHS), Frontal offset test, Good; Side impact test, Good; Roof Strength Test, Good; Rear crash protection/head restraint, Good.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $17,300.00
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.toyota.com.
Price As tested: $20,848.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 12 years, unlimited miles; Corrosion, 5 years/60,000 miles; Free Maintenance, 2 years/25,000 miles; Roadside: 2 years/25,000 miles.
What Others Say:
“It’s the perfect carpool-commuter and ideal for small families willing to ride in an efficient alternative to SUVs, minivans, and the Prius.” —- Motor Trend
“The Corolla boasts the popularity typical of a model sold for more than 30 years, but not the quality. Is this just more reactive Toyota bashing in the wake of the company’s many recalls? Another case of piling on? It is not. Dig back in the Cars.com annals and you’ll see we called out the Corolla, upon its 2009 redesign, as a missed opportunity for Toyota to maintain leadership in the small-car class.” —- Cars.com
“Disagree if you must, but we don’t think it’s entirely our fault that we don’t get all tingly over a new Toyota Corolla the way we do over, say, a new Honda Civic. Both are entirely capable people movers, but it has been a long time since Toyota offered up a Corolla that genuinely appealed to those of us who ask for a little panache with out people moving.” —- Car and Driver.
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
“Its hard to argue with the success of the biggest selling car in history. Lots of economy cars are vying for attention and rightfully so. But for a basic transportation vehicle with a long list of standard features, the 2011 Toyota Corolla is staid but dependable.”