The 2017 Toyota Corolla marks the enduring sedan’s 51st year. Through 11 generations, the former econobox-on-wheels has lifetime worldwide sales of 43 million through last year. Since 1997, when it surpassed the Volkswagen Beetle, the Corolla remains the best-selling car in history.
A new generation arrived in 2012, with yearly updates since. In 2016, Toyota began to offer a limited special edition to celebrate the car’s 50th anniversary.
While competition remains intense, the 2017 Toyota Corolla keeps up with new safety and driving improvements, some not standard on luxury sedans. A rearview camera, forward collision warning, lane departure intervention and adaptive cruise control are now standard on all models.
The Weekly Driver Test Drive
The compact sedan market may be the most competitive in the automotive industry. The Toyota Corolla is matched against the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf. All of the vehicles are strong all-around choices, with the Civic and Mazda3 the more sporting, fun-to-drive offerings.
The 2017 Toyota Corolla is available in L, LE, LE Eco, XLE, SE, SE, 50th-anniversary edition and XSE trim levels. Even the base L model has a healthy list of standard features, the XSE trim, my weekly driver, is an upscale version of the sport-oriented SE trim.
The SE trip features a continuously variable transmission (CVT) (a six-speed manual transmission is available), unique front-end styling with a black mesh grille, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, chrome-tipped exhaust, 17-inch alloy wheels, sport front seats, a sport-style gauge and an upgraded Entune audio system.
The XSE trim adds a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, heated front seats and an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat. A navigation system is part of an option package, but it wasn’t included in my review vehicle.
Like previous years’ models I’ve driven, the 2017 Toyota Corolla is a keen reminder of the definition of reliable transportation. Like many smaller sedans, the Corolla is rated to seat five, but it’s more comfortable for four adults. It’s front-wheel drive and powered by a 1.8-liter, 132- horsepower engine.
The Corolla isn’t as quick as many of its rivals, advancing from 0-60 miles per hour in a pedestrian 9.2 seconds. Still, the little sedan has more spunk than its acceleration suggests. It shouldn’t be mistaken for a sports car on any level, but the drive is smooth and steady, the overall vision is void of blindspots.
I like the layout and functionality of the gauges and dials. The levers to increase or decrease the air conditioning, for example, are touch sensitive and sleek, an upscale feature. In addition to its upgraded safety and driving components, the 2017 Toyota Corolla, has an edgy front grille and side vents. The LED headlights and upholstery have also been upgraded.
Much has been said about the Corolla’s lack of performance, but on a long haul on Interstate 5 in Central California, I advanced with the flow of the traffic. I was surprised when I was approached 85 miles per hour. The Corolla advanced with little noise, and a steady, comforting and confident ride I hadn’t expected.
Strong fuel economy.
Exemplary standard features list.
Facts & Figures: 2017 Toyota Corolla
Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 9.2 seconds.
Fuel economy: 28 mpg (city), 35 mpg (highway), 31 mpg (combined) six-speed continuously variable transmission.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $22,680.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.toyota.com.
Price As Tested: $23,520.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles.
What Others Say:
“If you’re looking for a small sedan that covers the basics well, the 2017 Toyota Corolla is a smart choice. Several competitors deliver more thrills from the driver seat, but a sensible blend of space, fuel economy and value give the Corolla broad appeal.” — edmunds.com.
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
“The 2017 Toyota Corollas has it all. It may not be the quickest, flashiest or most fun-to-drive compact sedan. But it’s hard to think of any other car that possesses such consistency and overall functionality.”
Article Last Updated: August 21, 2017.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.