With a low price tag and history of solid reliability, it's easy to see why the Toyota Corolla has become one of the world's best-selling vehicles the last 50-plus years. The 2018 Toyota Corolla builds upon the success of its ancestors with expressive styling, a surprisingly roomy cabin, plenty of advanced safety features and comfortable, supportive seats. But while the Corolla covers the basics well enough, a few deficiencies make its rivals better picks overall.
The Corolla's cabin is fairly plain and does little to make you think you've bought anything more than a basic small car. It isn't much fun to drive, either, because of its underpowered engine. Factor in a small trunk and poor smartphone integration and you have a car that is difficult to recommend in a class stacked with more desirable choices.
The 2018 Toyota Corolla sedan is sold in six trim levels. L, LE, LE Eco, SE, XSE and XLE. Every Corolla is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Most models produce 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque, though the LE Eco is a bit more powerful with 140 hp and 126 lb-ft. Power is routed to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) on all models, though the SE can be optioned with a six-speed manual.
Standard equipment on the base L model includes 15-inch steel wheels, LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, adaptive cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a driver information display, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth, a 6.1-inch touchscreen and a six-speaker audio system with 6.1-inch touchscreen, a CD player, a USB port and, for iPhone users, the Siri Eyes Free voice control system. Standard safety systems include a rearview camera, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist (to nudge you back into your lane) and automatic high beams.
The LE adds 16-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, remote locking and unlocking, metallic cabin accents, upgraded upholstery, a rear armrest and automatic climate control.
The LE Eco starts with the LE's features and adds engine and suspension tuning designed for maximum fuel efficiency, 15-inch steel wheels, a rear spoiler and enhanced aerodynamics.
The XLE builds upon the LE's set of features, adding 16-inch alloy wheels, upgraded headlights, LED taillights, bumper-mounted LED daytime running lights, a sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, simulated leather upholstery (Toyota's SofTex), a power-adjustable driver seat (with two-way power lumbar), heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an upgraded driver information display, a 7-inch touchscreen display, an app-based navigation system (Scout GPS Link), and satellite and HD radio.
The SE is the sporty Corolla, although we use that term loosely. It starts with the LE's features and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, unique front-end styling with a black mesh grille, a rear spoiler, steering wheel with paddle shifters (for CVT models), sport front seats, SofTex upholstery with cloth inserts, and a sport-style gauge cluster. Also included are the XLE's upgraded headlights, bumper-mounted LED daytime running lights and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Opt for the manual transmission and you'll also get a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, and the upgraded infotainment system.
The XSE has the SE manual transmission's extra features and adds heated front seats, the eight-way power-adjustable driver seat, the paddle shifters and full SofTex upholstery.
A few options packages are also available. LE and LE Eco models can select the Premium package, which adds 16-inch alloy wheels, bumper-integrated LED running lights and the upgraded infotainment system. A sunroof can be added to this package for the LE (it's included with the package for the LE Eco).
The Premium package for SE CVT models includes keyless entry and ignition, a sunroof and the upgraded infotainment system, while XLE and XSE models can opt for an integrated navigation system and smartphone integration via the Entune App Suite.