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The Toyota Corolla Might Sell Well, But It’s Far From a Class Leader

The Toyota Corolla is one of the oldest cars around, which first debuted in the mid-60s. Despite this, it has evolved so well that it continues to dominate the sedan market. It’s not just in the United States either – one out of every five Toyota models sold worldwide is a Corolla.

Despite its popularity, the Corolla is not always the most popular among critics. According to U.S. News, it ranks toward the bottom of the site’s top compact cars list. However, it still has a good overall rating of 8 out of 10. Here’s why the Corolla definitely isn’t a class leader.

Get to know the Toyota Corolla

There’s a lot of variety in terms of which Toyota Corolla to get. Currently, it’s available in either a sedan or a hatchback body style. A performance-oriented hot hatch with the same engine as the GR Yaris will also be released in the future. The sedan has five different trim levels, while the hatchback only has two.

The two cheapest sedan trims come with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. It puts out 139 hp and is paired with a CVT. The other three trims have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine capable of 169 hp. This engine also has a manual transmission option. The hatchbacks come standard with this engine.

Both body styles seat up to five passengers, though getting comfortable in the second row isn’t always easy. The hatchback offers more headroom, but the sedan’s second row is better suited for taller drivers. The cabin’s design isn’t very exciting, but its materials are mostly of good quality.

The infotainment system looks basic, but it runs nicely and doesn’t have a steep learning curve. Smartphone integration, built-in Wi-Fi, voice recognition, and Bluetooth are all included in the base sedan. Higher trims can have a few fun extras like a premium audio system and built-in navigation.

Where the Toyota Corolla shines

In terms of sedan reliability, the Toyota Corolla is a clear winner. It has a perfect reliability rating from Consumer Reports and a 4.5 out of 5 from J.D. Power. It also got good scores in each of its safety tests with the exception of its headlights. If this is a big concern, you can opt for adaptive headlights on some higher trims.

The Corolla also comes with more active safety functions than the average sedan. Automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, cruise control, forward collision warning, lane assistance, and even traffic sign recognition are all included.

The Corolla is also a champion when it comes to fuel economy. Its base engine gets a combined score of 34 mpg. The hatchback with the 2.0-liter engine rates slightly higher at 35 mpg.

The Corolla’s problem areas

As you probably expected, the 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is slow and not even suited for everyday driving. U.S. News recommends buying a model with a 2.0-liter engine, which will cost a few extra thousand dollars. Other competitors like the Honda Civic offer similar engine options at a cheaper price. The Mazda3 is more expensive, but critics agree that it provides a better driving experience.

Reviews also said that the CVT feels unrefined and doesn’t provide smooth acceleration. While the hatchback has the better engine, its rear seat offers less room than what you would expect. Its cargo capacity, while better than the sedan’s, is also inadequate compared to the Honda Civic Hatchback.

Despite its shortcomings, there’s no denying that the Corolla is a best-seller. In the States, the car has managed to sell over 300,000 units every year for 8 years running. When it comes to fuel-efficiency and dependability, the Toyota Corolla is definitely one of your best options.