Story and photos by Lorne Drury
Metroland Media/WheelsTalk.com –
The Toyota Corolla is like the ‘Energizer bunny’— it just keeps going and going.
One of the best-selling cars in Canada year after year, the Canadian-built Corolla is now in its 11th generation and still going strong after 40 years on the market.
In fact, Toyota Canada just released its latest sales figures to show that 2,371 Corollas were sold in December, and a total of 40,906 for all of 2012 — an increase of 11.6 per cent over the year before and 43 per cent of all Toyota car sales for the year.
Not bad for a car with the current generation nearing the end of its shelf life and the 12th generation set to launch as a 2014 model.
So why still such strong sales numbers now for the Corolla?
There are many reasons, but styling is probably not a major one. In a compact market with ‘lookers’ like the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Mazda 3 in the mix, the 2013 Corolla still maintains the conservative styling that the model has always featured.
But what the Corolla does offer in spades is affordability, reliability and fuel efficiency. And although there are a great many impressive new entries in the segment, the Corolla continues to satisfy thousands of dedicated followers in this country.
It starts at $15,450 for the base CE trim level that even offers a moonroof package ($2,960), which Toyota says is the lowest-priced car with a moonroof in the compact segment.
My tester was the above-mentioned CE with moonroof package and four-speed automatic transmission ($1,000) that priced out at $19,410 ($21,010.20 with all taxes and freight and PDI).
What you get for that price is a solid, reliable compact car that is no longer all that compact. In fact, it is fairly spacious inside although rear seat legroom is at a premium when the front seats are in their rearmost positions.
The ride is comfortable and the cabin quiet except under hard acceleration. Power to the front wheels comes from a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine that makes 132 hp and 128 lb/ft of torque. This provides decent acceleration, but not a terribly exciting driving experience.
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy ratings for the Corolla automatic are 7.8/5.7/6.8 L/100 km city/highway/combined and 7.4/5.6/6.6 for the manual.
All Corollas are offered with the choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.
The base CE has features such as tilt/telescoping steering column, 60/40 split folding rear seat, outside temperature gauge, dual vanity mirrors, 12-volt accessory power outlet, dual power adjustable/heated exterior mirrors and lots more.
Available option bundles include the Convenience Package that adds steering wheel audio controls, air conditioning, upgraded audio system with Bluetooth, and power door locks with keyless entry. Move up to the Enhanced Convenience Package and you add heated front seats, power windows and cruise control. The Moonroof Package adds all these features plus the moonroof.
The Corolla S starts at $20,605 and offers more sporty features including a full skirt package, unique scuff plates, leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio controls, sport seats with special fabric, fog lamps and a rear spoiler. A Moonroof Package or Technology and Leather Package are available for the Corolla S.
At the top of the ladder is the Corolla LE, starting at $21,170 that has 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, metallic dash accents, steering wheel controls, cruise control, keyless entry, power moonroof and fog lamps. In the dash is a 6.1-inch display screen for the new-for-this-year six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth.
Optional is an Upgrade Package with eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, automatic climate control, automatic headlamp system and smart key with pushbutton start.
A Premium Package features an upgraded audio system with navigation and wood grain interior trim.
The cabin of the CE-trimmed Corolla is fairly basic with easy-to-use controls. The two-tone colour scheme is attractive and the seats proved to be comfortable, even after our four-hour drive to visit friends during the holiday season.
Trunk capacity of 348 litres (12.3 cu ft) is average for this segment. We had the car loaded up for a four-day stay at our friends’ home and ended up folding down the rear seat for even more cargo room.
On the highway, once up to speed the Corolla cabin is quiet and the ride is soft and cushy. We didn’t push the car into corners at all during our test period, but from previous experience in earlier Corollas, I know that this isn’t the car’s strength.
I could easily live with the Corolla on a day-to-day basis, but there are so many great vehicles in this entry-level class today, that the choice would be a difficult one if I were in the market.
But, no matter what you decide, be sure to put the Corolla on your shopping list because even after all these years, it still has a lot to offer in the way of basic, affordable transportation.
Toyota Corolla CE 2013 at a glance
- BODY STYLE: four-door, five-passenger compact sedan.
- DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, front-wheel drive.
- ENGINE: 1.8-litre litre four-cylinder (132 hp and 128 lb/ft of torque) with five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.
- CARGO CAPACITY: 348 litres (12.3 cu ft).
- FUEL ECONOMY: automatic 7.8/5.7/6.8 L/100 km city/highway/combined; manual 7.4/5.6/6.6.
- PRICE: $15,450 to $21,170, as tested $21,010 including $1,465 shipping fee