Sedans & Coupes

Is the 2021 Toyota Corolla Apex Edition Actually Exciting?

The Toyota Corolla has always been known for being fuel-efficient and reliable, however, the term “fun to drive” was never really part of the compact car’s set of attributes. Numb steering, a soft suspension, and lackluster engine performance were always the Corolla’s drawbacks, but does that new Corolla Apex actually inject some excitement into the equation?

The Toyota Corolla Apex is very TRD-like

2021 Toyota Corolla Apex Edition | Toyota
2021 Toyota Corolla Apex Edition | Toyota

The 2021 Toyota Corolla Apex follows on the heels of its larger Camry and Avalon TRD stablemates by adding a sense of racer flair as well as some handling modifications to the existing SE and XSE trims. Much like the TRD enhancements the larger sedans received, the Apex package adds on a sport-tuned exhaust system, an aerodynamic black body kit with bronze accents, and a rear trunk spoiler. According to Toyota, the additional body kit upgrade to aid in high-speed vehicle stability.

While the Corolla Apex sure does look like it’s ready to hit some apexes on the track, what really makes it all happen are the modifications that you can’t really see, specifically, the suspension upgrades. Toyota added a set of coil springs that lowers the car by 0.6 inches and is matched to a set of specially tuned shocks to increase dampening force and better control the car’s roll movement. In addition to the springs and shocks, a set of solid stabilizer bars increase the car rigidity in the corners, which overall equates to increased stiffness of 47% in the front and 33% in the rear.

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2021 Toyota Corolla Apex Edition | Toyota
2021 Toyota Corolla Apex Edition | Toyota

There’s more to the Corolla Apex than meets the eye

2021 Toyota Corolla Apex Edition | Toyota

Aside from the aero and suspension upgrades, the Corolla Apex is also fitted with a set of 18-inch gloss-black, cast-aluminum wheels that provide a 2.2-pound unsprung weight reduction per wheel and also offer better cooling for the brakes. Either an all-season or summer tire can be chosen for better traction depending on where you live, and in case you’re wondering about the car’s steering response, Toyota also retuned the electronic power steering to match up with the Corolla Apex’s handling upgrades.

The Corolla Apex will be available in three different color choices: Cement with Black Sand Pearl roof, Super White with Black Sand Pearl roof, and Black Sand Pearl. On the inside, every Corolla Apex SE is outfitted with a black cloth interior while the XSE models will come with Soft-Tex trimmed fabric upholstery, with heated front seats, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat.

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2021 Toyota Corolla Apex Edition | Toyota
2021 Toyota Corolla Apex Edition | Toyota

Is there any added performance under the hood?

While the Toyota Corolla Apex shows a lot of promising performance in the handling and looks departments, it’s still powered by the same 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that you find in all of the other Corolla trim levels.

This engine is good for 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque and can be mated to either a six-speed manual transmission, if you want a more exciting experience, or a CVT, if you want a more normal experience. Either way, we think that this new Apex package will liven up the Corolla a bit considering handling upgrades typically outweigh the necessity for all-out speed, especially during regular everyday driving. But we’ll just have to get our hands one sometime and see for ourselves.