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  • The 2022 Toyota Corolla L starts at $21,200
  • An extra $740 lets you step up to a much, much nicer Toyota Corolla LE or SE
  • We’d go for the Corolla hatchback to help make the small sedan more practical

No matter how you cut it, Toyota’s Corolla is one cheap new car. Spanning a number of trims and special editions, it can be hard to choose. But let’s say you need a 2022 Toyota Corolla for as little as possible. Is the bottom-of-the-barrel Toyota Corolla L worth it? Or are you taking a huge L by not springing for a nicer version of one of Toyota’s cheapest cars?

A group photo of all the 2022 Toyota Corolla trim levels offered by the brand
The Corolla range spans a huge number of trims | Toyota

The 2022 Toyota Corolla L costs $21,200

For $21,200 you can leave your local Toyota dealer with a brand new Corolla L. For this small sum, you’re getting a host of standard features, thank God. Thankfully, that also includes some handy safety features. Adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and forward collision mitigation are all included in the 2022 Corolla L. Happily, given how old this thing’s infotainment is, your Corolla also gets standard Carplay and Android Auto.

Aside from that, however, there’s not much more to the 2022 Toyota Corolla L. It’s motivated by a 139 hp four-cylinder engine paired to a CVT automatic transmission and drives only the front wheels. You do get LED headlights, so there’s that. Finally, you get two USB ports for your devices. All in all, not so bad. Is stepping up worth it?

What’s the difference between the Corolla L and LE?

A steel blue 2022 Toyota Corolla sedan
Toyota has added a number of special editions to the Corolla lineup | Toyota

Generally speaking, the big difference between the Corolla L and LE is the addition of automatic climate control and keyless entry. Hopefully, Toyota isn’t going to make you pay for keyless entry. The LE also adds a USB for rear-seat passengers and a slightly larger 8-inch touchscreen. All this can be yours for $21,650.

Thankfully, unlike the Honda Civic’s trim levels, there’s some very small jumps in price between trim levels. Odds are, if you can afford a Corolla LE, you can also swing the Corolla SE, which adds one very important feature. That feature is a larger 2.0L 168 hp engine and an available six-speed manual. Additionally, you can also option the 2022 Toyota Corolla as a hatchback. A must, if you ask me.

$740 is all it takes to buy the right Corolla

A blue 2022 Toyota Corolla hatchback shot from the front 3/4
The Corolla hatch helps make a small car more practical | Toyota

For a small $750 price jump, the Corolla goes from a basal airport rental car to something you might actually want to spend some time in. Plus, an added stick shift (which makes the Corolla faster incidentally) and larger motor actually make the small now-hatchback a fun little car to zip about in. Just don’t tell GTI people your 169 hp Corolla is more fun than their Volkswagen.