Those wanting a compact car with attitude should take a look at the new Toyota Corolla. If you want a safe compact car, the Corolla gets a suite of safety features not typically found in this segment. Add in a dash of Corolla’s excellent fuel economy along with its high resale value, and you have all the ingredients for a car that will please budget-conscious consumers.
This weekend, we drove the top-of-the-line, 2018 Toyota Corolla XSE.
The 50th Anniversary Edition trim has been dropped. Otherwise, the Toyota Corolla goes forward unchanged.
Features & Options
The 2018 Toyota Corolla XSE gets you a lot of features for the money ($22,730). It comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, a black mesh grille, heated color-keyed side mirrors with turn signal indicators, a rear spoiler, and a chrome-tipped exhaust. Inside, we were treated to a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, sport front seats, power moonroof, and the upgraded Entune audio system. The XSE also comes standard with heated front seats and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.
Standard safety features include Toyota’s Safety Sense with pre-collision warnings, pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, and auto high beams. Our XSE tester came with the optional Entune Premium Audio ($525) with an integrated navigation system and the Entune App Suite. The TRD Performance exhaust ($649) was a nice touch. Total MSRP including destination: $25,337.
We slid into the XSE and saw the most up-to-date cabin yet for Toyota’s compact car. It features a stylish dashboard, a sporty steering wheel, and an automatic gear shifter that fit perfectly into our hands. We particularly liked the traditional audio and climate controls unlike some that are put in difficult-to-use touchscreen menus. When we did need to use the seven-inch touchscreen, it offered up large buttons, clear graphics, and quick responses. It could be one of the easier infotainment systems to operate in this class.
Various connectivity features came courtesy of the Entune App Suite with services like Bing, Facebook, Yelp, Pandora, and real-time traffic data.
The Corolla’s front seats hugged us from behind and provided adequate comfort, particularly with the firmer bolstering found in the XSE. We adjusted the telescoping steering wheel, came up with a comfortable driving position, and were able to see the gauges perfectly. Out back, there’s more legroom than most small compact sedans and headroom is a plus for taller passengers. Trunk capacity is average at 13 cubic feet, but the wider opening makes it fairly easy to load and unload any items you might need to transport.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2018 Toyota Corolla XSE comes powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, producing 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft. of torque. It’s mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission which benefits the Corolla in terms of gas mileage. With the larger 17-inch wheels, the Corolla gets an EPA estimated 28/35 city/highway and 31 combined mpg using regular unleaded fuel.
When we hit the push button start and powered up the Corolla, we could hear the louder growl from the optional TRD Performance Exhaust. When we pressed on the gas, it gave off a distinct exhaust note younger buyers will appreciate. Many go for this in aftermarket shops, but Toyota was wise to offer it from the factory.
The Corolla’s four-cylinder engine is bulletproof when it comes to reliability but it does lack in the performance department. We pushed it hard at altitude but were asking for more power as we tried to pass slower traffic. The CVT automatic gearbox has a distinct rpm drone and the TRD exhaust accentuates the sound even more. We tossed the compact car around the tight mountain curves too, but it’s really designed more for city commuting. On the upside, it handles city streets with ease and it won’t leave you tired after a long commute.
The 2018 Toyota Corolla XSE offers up a lot for the money. Add in Toyota’s reliability, excellent fuel economy, and the compact’s styling, and you’ve got a good commuter that should last for years. If you are looking for safety, the standard rearview camera, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control are as good as most luxury sedans.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy