2017 Toyota Corolla

Test Drive: 2017 Toyota Corolla

Look up the hashtag #Corollattack on Twitter and you will find a long list of tweets poking fun at Toyota’s compact car – all in good fun, or course. At least for the most part. The Corolla, now in its eleventh generation and celebrating its 50th anniversary, is clearly doing something right by consumers to have such staying power even if it can be the butt of jokes at times.

But all kidding aside, the Barcelona Red Metallic Corolla LE tested recently isn’t all that bad. In fact, it could be argued that the Corolla is a solid choice in a very competitive segment.

This generation of the Corolla debuted as a 2014 model and, for 2017, receives some tweaks that include a modified grille, as well as LED headlights and daytime running lights.

The Corolla has a starting price of $16,390, but reaches the mid $20,000 range when fully loaded. The LE tester – one level below the top rung – checks in at $23,708.47.

That price includes a $1,500 upgrade package that adds features like a heated steering wheel, 16-inch alloy wheels, a power moon roof and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

I especially appreciated that heated steering wheel in early January!

The three lowest trims – CE, LE and SE — share the same 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, with its 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque.

Those numbers are a little disappointing when looking at what some competitors offer.

A six-speed manual transmission is offered on the CE and SE trims, but not on the LE tested. It is equipped with a Continuously Variable Transmission with Intelligent Shift (CVTi-S) and I have to admit that I didn’t dislike this CVT.

In fact, you would be hard pressed to tell it was a CVT most of the time. Thanks to some fancy engineering, it feels more like a traditional automatic. So that’s a win in my books, even if it does sacrifice a little in terms of fuel efficiency.

Speaking of which, fuel consumption on the Corolla LE is rated at 8.3 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 6.5 L/100 km on the highway, for a combined average of 7.5 l/100 km.

My average after a week with the Corolla was a disappointing 9.3 l/100 km.

A lot of the derision the Corolla faces is often related to its “boring” design and colours.

Well, that isn’t the case so much any more.

2017 Toyota Corolla

Heck, Toyota doesn’t even offer that boring beige on the Corolla anymore.

Instead, you get colours like Blue Crush, Slate, Falcon Grey and the Barcelona Red we drove.

(The Corolla iM goes even more exotic with hard to miss colours like Spring Green and Electric Storm Blue).

The front end of the Corolla has a two-tone look, with a rather large lower fascia in black that definitely stands out in contrast to the red. In certain trims, the front fascia gets an even more aggressive look, accompanied by LED fog lights. The Corolla’s interior gets some refreshing for the 2017 model year as well, with a new instrument panel and trim designs.

It’s still a sea of black plastic, but at least it’s of the soft-touch variety. And there’s contrasting stitching and accents that break up the black a little.

There’s a two-tier effect to the dash thanks to the division between the air vents and infotainment screen.

Back seat passengers get a fair amount of legroom, thanks in part to the sculpted backs of the front seats.

The infotainment screen is a good size at 6.1 inches and the touch controls worked well for me.

It comes standard with Bluetooth and voice recognition, and has six speakers. And thankfully it still uses knobs for volume and tuning despite the soft-touch functions for other features. (Honda Civic, I am looking at you.)

Is the Corolla a heart-pounding car to drive? No. But it is reliable and efficient at what it does, which has appealed to the public for years.

2017 Toyota Corolla

And the 2017 model has a lot of standard safety features that will also appeal to the masses, including some you wouldn’t expect at this price point.

On top of the Star Safety System, the Corolla also has Toyota’s Safety Sense system.

This includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, dynamic radar cruise control and automatic high beams.

So while some people may poke fun at it, the Corolla remains a vehicle you should look at if you are in the market for a compact car.

2017 Toyota Corolla LE CVT

Price as tested: $23,708.47
Freight: $1,590
Configuration: Front engine/front-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 1.8-litre four-cylinder/ Continuously Variable Transmission with Intelligent Shift (CVTi-S)
Power/torque: 132 horsepower/ 128 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): Regular (50 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 7.5 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/60,000 kilometres (basic)
Competitors: Mazda3, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus

Related links:

Toyota Canada
Toronto Star

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