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2018 Toyota Corolla Review

Compact Dimensions. Full-Size Personality.

At a Glance - Boasting a history that spans over 50 years, Corolla is unrivaled when it comes to defining the compact sedan. In fact, with over 43 million units sold across 11 generations, more Corollas have been sold over the years than any other vehicle – ever. With Corolla’s classic formula of safety, practicality and technology blended together in a fun-to-drive package that’s topped with Toyota’s reputation for quality, durability and reliability, it should come as no surprise that Corolla has found so much success over the years.

New for 2018 - Only one difference separates the new 2018 Corolla from the prior model year: all XLE models now come equipped with a leather-wrapped steering wheel for added comfort and style.

The Bottom Line - Corolla stands out from the crowd not just with its attractive design, but also with its long list of meaningful standard equipment. This is particularly evident in its Toyota Safety Sense™ P suite of advanced safety and driver assistance features, which comes standard on every model – a major advantage in this segment. Add to that its great modern features like LED lighting, Entune™ audio systems and available Smart Key System functionality – not to mention the ToyotaCare No-Cost Maintenance Plan – and it’s clear why Corolla is still the one to beat, 50 years and counting.

Trims

L
Starting MSRP $18,550

Key Features

  • Toyota Safety Sense™ P
  • 6.1-in. touch-screen
  • 8 airbags

As the first model in the lineup, Corolla L’s safety and value is practically unrivaled at its price point, thanks in large part to its standard suite of active safety systems.

LE
Starting MSRP $18,985

Key Features

  • Automatic climate control
  • 16-in. steel wheels
  • 28/36/32 mpg (EPA-estimated city/hwy/comb)

Corolla LE is the bread-and-butter model of the lineup, and builds on Corolla L’s excellent value by including some seriously noteworthy standard features both inside and out.

LE Eco
Starting MSRP $19,385

Key Features

  • 140 horsepower
  • 30/40/34 mpg (EPA-estimated city/hwy/comb)
  • Rear spoiler

Who said efficient couldn’t be exciting? LE Eco may be the Corolla for fuel-conscious buyers, but it also packs a noteworthy 8-horsepower advantage over the regular Corolla models.

XLE
Starting MSRP $21,985

Key Features

  • Entune™ Audio Plus with Connected Navigation App
  • Smart Key System with Push Button Start
  • 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat

Corolla XLE takes the idea that a compact economy car can’t offer a premium experience, and turns it on its head. This plush compact offers many features usually reserved for larger, pricier vehicles.

SE
Starting MSRP $21,715

Key Features

  • 17-in. alloy wheels
  • SofTex®-trimmed front sport seats
  • Gloss-black, mesh-pattern grille

Want even more personality from Corolla? Then the SE trim is the one for you, with its available six-speed manual transmission and high-impact styling both inside and out.

XSE
Starting MSRP $22,730

Key Features

  • Power moonroof
  • Available Entune™ Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation
  • Leather-trimmed steering wheel with paddle shifters

Corolla XSE offers the best of both worlds: the exciting style and performance of the SE combined with the high-tech features and premium materials from the XLE.

Competitive Comparison

Looks That Stand Out
Does a compact economy sedan have to be boring? One look at the 2018 Corolla lineup and it’s clear that answer is no. From the standard LED headlights of the L and the rear spoiler of the LE Eco, to the gloss-black mesh pattern grille and 17-inch gray-accented alloy wheels of the SE and XSE, there’s no doubt this entire lineup is designed to stand out in a crowd.

Seriously Useful Tech
You don’t need a luxury car to enjoy a cabin filled with modern technology and useful convenience features. Corolla makes this point loud and clear, with its six-trim lineup including standard and available equipment like automatic climate control, integrated navigation1, Smart Key System2 with Push Button Start, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.

Actively Safe
When active safety technologies are offered on other vehicles in this segment, they're usually extra-cost (or trim-specific) features. Toyota Safety Sense P™ (TSS-P), on the other hand, comes standard on all Corolla vehicles. This suite of active safety and driver assistance systems includes Pre-Collision System4 with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB) and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).

Bang for the Buck
With a starting price of just $18,550, the 2018 Corolla offers serious value for the dollar. There may be other compact sedans boasting competitive pricing, but few can go spec-for-spec with Corolla’s list of standard equipment, which includes modern technology like LED lighting and incredibly advanced safety features like Toyota Safety Sense P™ (TSS-P).

Model Review

2018 Chevrolet Cruze

What is it? In 2008, Chevrolet began marketing its Cruze compact sedan worldwide, although it didn’t reach U.S. shores until 2010. This model served as a replacement for various compact vehicles around the world – in America, the outgoing model was the Chevrolet Cobalt. With electric steering and standard four-wheel disc brakes, as callout callout-sm as the availability of a new 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, Cruze helped modernize the brand’s presence in the compact segment.

What's the latest? Although the Chinese market saw a second-generation Cruze for 2014, the rest of the world – including the United States – didn’t get a new Cruze until 2016. This new model offered some much-needed technology, including Chevrolet’s MyLink multimedia systems that include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. For 2018, Cruze is offered across multiple trims in both sedan and hatchback body styles. It’s also available with a diesel engine – a rarity in the U.S. compact segment.

How does it stack up? While Cruze's base price (MSRP $16,975) is over $1,500 lower than that of Corolla L (MSRP $18,550), it is only available with a manual transmission unless upgrading to the LS Automatic trim, which starts at $20,400. Despite costing more for a comparable trim, Cruze doesn’t offer a grouping of advanced safety technologies akin to Corolla’s standard TSS-P. Without expanding into Cruze’s considerably more expensive Hatch or Diesel options, Cruze tops out with the Premier Automatic trim (MSRP $24,395), which is more than $1,600 above Corolla’s XSE trim (MSRP $22,730).

2018 Ford Focus (Sedan)

What is it? In 1998, Ford debuted the Focus in Europe, ostensibly replacing the legendary Escort. Originally a compact hatchback, a sedan variant joined the lineup for the 2000 model year, which coincided with the nameplate reaching American shores. By 2001, Focus came in a quartet of body styles, including three- and five-door hatchbacks, a five-door wagon, and the four-door sedan. On its debut, Focus owed some of its success to its European development and consequent emphasis on driving dynamics – something many buyers didn’t expect from a Ford at the time.

What's the latest? Focus is currently in its third generation, which began in 2011. While the hatchback variant is available in no less than six versions – including an electric vehicle and two high-performance variants – the sedan plays a more conservative role in the lineup, offering four traditional trims: S, SE, SEL and Titanium. While Focus heads into 2018 unchanged, its fourth generation is imminent.

How does it stack up? Pricing for Focus’s sedan starts quite a bit lower than the hatchback, and Focus S (MSRP $17,860) does undercut Corolla L. Upgrading to Focus’s Titanium trim level, however, results in a price (MSRP $24,175) that’s nearly $1,500 more expensive than the comparable Corolla XSE. Further, while Corolla includes the TSS-P suite of advanced safety systems as standard equipment across all trim levels, a comparable suite is only available on Focus’s Titanium trim, and even then, only as an extra-cost option.

2018 Honda Civic

What is it? Like Corolla, Honda’s compact Civic needs no introduction. The first-generation Civic hit the scene in 1972, available as a coupe and three-door hatchback, as callout callout-sm as a five-door hatchback and wagon. Boasting an advanced CVCC engine, the Civic quickly joined Corolla as one of the world’s most popular compact models. A rivalry was born, and it’s one that continues to this day.

What's the latest? Civic is now in its tenth generation, thanks to a comprehensive update that launched for the 2016 model year. Available in five sedan models and five coupe models, this new generation was an instant success, thanks in part to its new turbocharged powertrain and lengthy list of standard equipment. All combined, Civic is currently available in 18 different models.

How does it stack up? Civic’s sedan body style starts out close in price to Corolla (MSRP $18,840), but that proximity includes only a manual transmission. The CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) option adds $800 to the price, making the equivalent Civic nearly $1,100 more than Corolla. Civic does offer Honda Sensing™, which brings safety technologies that rival Toyota’s Safety Sense. Honda Sensing™ is an extra-cost option (MSRP $1,000) on all Civic trims except the range-topping Civic Touring (MSRP $26,700) – which comes in at just under $4,000 more expensive than even Corolla XSE.

2018 Nissan Sentra

What is it? Although its heritage isn’t quite as rich or lengthy as that of Corolla or Civic, Nissan’s Sentra has maintained an important role in the segment since 1982. Originally based on the Japanese-market Sunny, Sentra replaced the Datsun 210 sedan as Nissan phased out its Datsun branding. On its original debut, Sentra set an EPA record for gasoline fuel efficiency, with 43/58/49 mpg (city/hwy/comb).

What's the latest? Sentra’s seventh generation was introduced in 2012 for the 2013 model year. Since then, it received a visual revamping for 2016, and two new performance-oriented models for 2017. It is currently offered across four core trims – S, SV, SR and SL – as callout callout-sm as SR Turbo, SR Midnight Edition and SR Turbo Midnight Edition variants. A high-performance Sentra NISMO rounds out the lineup.

How does it stack up? Sentra S (MSRP $16,990) starts at a price point that is over $1,500 lower than Corolla L, but opting for an automatic transmission adds $1,150 to that, bringing the base MSRPs closer to one another. From there, prices stay fairly close together as the trim levels increase, except for the sport-oriented Sentra NISMO (MSRP $25,790) for which there is no Corolla equivalent. Both vehicles feature automatic emergency braking as standard, but only Corolla also includes Pedestrian Detection and Lane Keep Assist.

Awards

2018 Toyota Corolla is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety TSP.

Toyota Corolla received a 5-Year Cost to Own Award from Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com for 4 years in a row

The (2017) Corolla received a 2017 5-Year Cost to Own Award from Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com

2017 Corolla is the only vehicle in its class to include a standard safety package that contains a collision avoidance system, lane departure warning system, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Nearly 40 million Corollas sold worldwide