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The 2022 Toyota Corolla is easily one of the Japanese brand’s most popular models, helped immensely by the arrival of the Toyota Corolla Cross. It’s the face of cheap cars everywhere, and one of the best challengers to the 2022 Honda Civic. However, there’s a lot of trim levels to choose from. Some are worth it, and some just aren’t.

The 2022 Toyota Apex poses an interesting option for enthusiasts | The Straight Pipes

Now, we’re going to sort out what’s what with each trim level. Only one of these is the Goldilocks trim level, and the answer is half as complicated as you’d think.

Some Corolla trims are just a bit much

A grey 2022 Toyota Corolla Apex shot from the front 3/4 on a busy street
The 2022 Toyota Corolla Apex might not be worth the money | Toyota

Let’s start with the cream of the 2022 Toyota Corolla crop: the Toyota Corolla Apex Edition. Basically, this is the driver’s ‘Rolla. Honestly, it’s a bit of a tough sell from a value standpoint. Sure, enthusiasts are willing to pay more for the manual transmission experience, but this Corolla kind of missed the mark, at least in MotorTrend’s eyes.

Sure, the lowered suspension might help the looks out a little, as will some of the other more aggressive stylistic changes, but MotorTrend found the ride to be too harsh, even for a driver’s car. That said, the 2022 Toyota Corolla XSE Apex Edition edges up near the $30,000 mark. It’s just too much cash for not enough fast, unfortunately.

You’re better off in any big-engine 2022 Toyota Corolla

A blue 2022 Toyota Corolla hatchback shot from the front 3/4 while in motion
The Corolla hatch adds some more practicality to the small sedan | Toyota

That said, at least the new ‘Rolla Apex Edition got a nice little jump in power thanks to the 2.0-liter engine option. It’s not much more, at 170 hp vs. 139, but when the numbers are that low in a car this light, you’ll certainly notice. Thankfully, that also helps us narrow things down a little. That 2.0-liter only comes in two trims: the SE and XSE variants.

Given how woefully under-powered the other trims are, you’ll definitely want to stick to one of these two 2022 Toyota Corolla trims. Well, those or the hybrid if all-out economy is your goal. However, only one trim level is really the better of those two.

Which Corolla model is best?

A line of 2022 Toyota Corolla models, shot in profile on a Toyota dealership lot
2022 Toyota Corolla models | Artur Widak via Getty Images

Per usual, the Goldilocks trim level is the best. A Corolla is about value, and the XSE trim is just a little too much, and therefore not really in the spirit of the Corolla name. It’s only $3,000 more, however, so if extra goodies like a sunroof and heated seats mean a lot, then by all means.

The 2022 Toyota Corolla SE strikes a nice balance between affordability and features, all without breaking the bank, which both the XSE and Apex versions do. Plus, you can get that 6-speed from the Apex Edition Corolla if you’re so inclined. Expect pricing to come in around $23,000 with some options. You gotta treat yourself, right?


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