Toyota Corolla Review

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finder score: 80.25%

Avg. critics score: 80.25%
4 critics
How did we calculate this? We analysed and aggregated the scores of Car Advice, CarsGuide, WhichCar and Drive to bring you the finder.com.au score. This is a comprehensive score that brings together the four different expert ratings you see below.
finder.com.au is personal finance comparison site that provides you with the tools you need to make better decisions. Learn
how we work and how we make money.

Critic reviews

Website Rating Notable quotes
Car Advice 82% "The new Toyota Corolla should remain the market's most popular passenger car, but it doesn't follow the established script. Perfect? Not quite. But we admire the boldness." Read more
Additional review
CarsGuide 80% "Safety is a big focus in the Corolla, and with the all-new, fourth-generation Mazda3 ready to raise the category bar for standard active and passive safety tech when it arrives next month (April 2019), the SX's specification becomes even more critical." Read more
WhichCar 80% "The 12th-generation Toyota Corolla brings all the necessary ingredients that have long made it the world's most popular car, but in a stylish package that's considerably more fun to drive than its 'beige' predecessor." Read more
Drive 79% "In some ways this is a topsy-turvy take on an icon, one that improves the dynamism, design and tech levels out of sight, but also offers compromised cabin space, infotainment and entry pricing. What a world!" Read more

How does the Toyota Corolla compare with its peers?

Updated October 21st, 2019
Name Product Boot displacement ANCAP rating Price (from) Finder Score Read review
295L
5 stars
$24,990
83%
280L
5 stars
$17,190
82.6%
250L
5 stars
$14,990
82.5%
378L
5 stars
$19,990
82.2%
380L
5 stars
$22,840
82%
341L
5 stars
$25,990
82%
445L
5 stars
$21,490
81.2%
333L
5 stars
$22,870
80.25%
414L
5 stars
$22,390
78.6%
345L
5 stars
$23,080
77.75%
242L
5 stars
$15,990
76%

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A comprehensive review of the Toyota Corolla hatchback

Toyota Corolla hatch pricing

We applaud car makers that keep their ranges simple and clear-cut. Toyota typically does a good job of this and it certainly helps buyers when choosing which model they'll take home. There are three Corolla trim levels now available: Ascent Sport, SX and ZR. Each grade can be purchased as either a hybrid or non-hybrid variant.

Click on the model you're interested in to compare Corolla finance options.

Ascent Sport SX ZR
FWD 6-speed manual, 2.0-litre petrol engine: $26,445
FWD CVT automatic, 2.0-litre petrol engine:$27,990
FWD CVT automatic, 1.8-litre hybrid petrol engine: $29,535
FWD CVT automatic, 2.0-litre petrol engine: $30,565
FWD CVT automatic, 1.8-litre hybrid petrol engine: $32,110
FWD CVT automatic, 2.0-litre petrol engine: $34,170
FWD CVT automatic, 1.8-litre hybrid petrol engine: $35,715

The only free paint colour is Glacier White.

Metallic and pearlescent finishes are $515 extra. 2019 Corolla colours are:

  • Crystal Pearl
  • Silver Pearl
  • Peacock Black
  • Eclipse Black
  • Eclectic Blue
  • Oxide Bronze
  • Volcanic Red
The above costs are Toyota's recommended driveaway prices for the NSW postcode 2000. They are based on the vehicle being garaged and include 12 months' rego and third party insurance, the maximum dealer delivery fee and stamp duties.

Overview

Can you believe this is the 12th-generation Corolla? The Corolla is a staple like hot chips, but journalists have said it is finally an exciting essential – more like loaded fries. It offers good value, steady resale prices, cheap servicing, excellent fuel efficiency and a respected reputation for reliability. If you're looking for a hatchback, the Corolla sets the standard other car makers aspire to achieve.
Website Pros Cons Notable quote
CarAdvice
  • Cutting-edge design
  • Mass market hybrid
  • Safety tech
  • Ride and handling
  • Poor back seat space
  • Boot smaller than competition
  • Higher entry price point
  • No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
"By making hybrid technology more affordable and taking a leading position in both active safety technologies and rounded driving dynamics, Toyota has launched a Corolla you might want to buy for reasons that go beyond basic common sense."
CarsGuide
  • Stellar ride
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Low noise levels
  • Elegant
  • Boot dimensions
  • Small rear doors
  • CVT hum
"Despite a slight power deficit to its 2.0-litre petrol-only counterpart, and limited cargo space, the unique characteristics of the Corolla SX Hybrid's drivetrain make it a pleasure to steer in the urban jungle."
WhichCar
  • Exterior styling
  • Ride dynamics
  • Spirited petrol engine
  • Hybrid is uninspiring
  • Confined rear passenger room
  • Boot size
"The 2.0-litre petrol Corollas with CVT auto are the best performers, with the mid-priced SX being our pick of the bunch in terms of value and features."
Drive
  • Smooth ride
  • Safety tech petrol performance
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Shallow boot
  • Rear passenger leg/head and knee room
  • Price increases
"Further denting the practicality is the shallow boot, which is demonstrably less accommodating than what's offered in any competitor we can think of."

Engine and performance

Toyota gives buyers the choice of two engines: a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder "Dynamic Force" petrol engine and a 1.8-litre hybrid borrowed from the fourth-gen Prius.
The 2.0-litre engine produces 125kw and peak torque measures 200Nm. Toyota states this engine's design is more powerful thanks to innovations like mirror polished pistons to reduce friction and more aggressively angled valves for improved airflow combined with optimal combustion. The engine also uses both direct and port injection based on driving load, which Toyota says helps save even more fuel. Unlike most of the Corolla's rivals, there's no turbocharged engine option on offer.

The 1.8-litre hybrid engine is borrowed from the Prius. In the Corolla, it produces a maximum of 72kW and a peak torque rating of 142Nm. The electric motor provides up to 53kW and 163Nm of torque when engaged. Interestingly, Toyota engineers created this engine to be able to switch between the conventional Otto cycle of combustion and the less powerful but more fuel-efficient Atkinson cycle. Put simply, when needed, the Atkinson cycle keeps open the intake valve slightly longer. This gives the gas a greater area to expand and means the rising piston has less pressure to work against. The benefit is added fuel efficiency.

An Ascent Sport-only option is a 6-speed intelligent manual gearbox. The name refers to Toyota integrating a system that can automatically vary engine speed for easy and smooth cog swaps that are more performant.

The rest of the Corolla range uses either a direct-shift continuously variable transmission (CVT) or a normal CVT. CVTs don't typically have gears; instead, they have conical pulleys and a belt. The pulleys can contract and expand in order to change the effective gearing of the car. The result is a vehicle that doesn't ever really change gears, which improves efficiency. Technically, Toyota's design actually uses an adjusting planetary gear arrangement instead. The direct-shift transmission has a launch gear, for taking off from a standstill. It disengages around 25-40km/h. Toyota says this makes acceleration smoother and more responsive, wasting less energy. The direct-shift CVT is only packaged in 2.0-litre Corolla models. Hybrid Corollas have a conventional CVT, likely due to their lower power output.

Car reviewers' impressions of the Toyota Corolla engine and gearbox combo

A motoring expert stated that in their opinion, the 2.0-litre engine trumped the hybrid model. They said they felt a little surge in the gut under acceleration, with a captivating response. Another writer spoke of how they felt it was a characterful power plant and their peers wrote that it had a solid mid-range.

Normally, CVTs attract a lot of flak for being noisy and lethargic. However, reviewers actually praised the direct-shift gearbox, describing it as responsive and sharp. Another journalist wrote that while they normally dislike a seamless automatic, the Corolla's direct-shift CVT design actually won them over. They appreciated that Toyota integrated 10 faux gearshifts and managed to almost eliminate the trademark droning noise associated with these transmissions. Another writer contested that there was still some whirring from the set-up, especially when accelerating hard, but otherwise it's a great execution. Something else that reviewers liked was the inclusion of a manual override via paddle shifters.

That said, the more conventional CVT used on the hybrids was described as having a less dynamic response.

Toyota Corolla engine and transmission statistics

2.0-litre Dynamic Force Petrol 1.8-litre VVT-i Petrol Hybrid
Engine type Naturally aspirated, direct injection, dual VVT-i Naturally aspirated VVT-i engine with Toyota hybrid system
Drivetrain FWD FWD
Engine size/displacement 1,986cc 1,798cc
Fuel type Petrol (91 RON) Petrol (91 RON)
Cylinders Four inline Four inline
Fuel tank capacity 50 litres 43 litres
Max power 125kW at 6,600rpm 72kW
Max torque 200Nm at 4,400pm 142Nm
Fuel consumption (combined) 6.3L/100km (manual)
6.0L/100km (auto Direct-Shift CVT)
4.2L/100km
Acceleration (0-100km/h) N/A N/A
Emissions standard Euro 5 Euro 5
Top speed (km/h) N/A N/A
Security Engine immobiliser
Transmission Six-speed intelligent manual or
Direct-Shift Continuously Variable Transmission
Continuously Variable Transmission
Towing capacity (unbraked/braked) 450kg/1,300kg -

Fuel efficiency

The many design and engineering changes made by Toyota have resulted in the new Corolla being decently fuel-efficient.

On the government's Green Vehicle Guide website, figures given for the 2.0-litre Dynamic Force engine are:

  • Combined: 6L/100km
  • Urban: 7.5L/100km
  • Extra-urban: 5.1L/100km

Based on these figures, if you covered 14,000km each year of two-thirds urban driving and the rest on highway runs, you'd spend $1,388 with this Corolla.

For the hybrid Corollas, with their onboard battery regenerator and electric motor working along with a smaller capacity engine, the fuel efficiency improves greatly:

  • Combined: 4.2L/100km
  • Urban: 4L/100km
  • Extra-urban: 4.4L/100km

That means based on the same driving usage as above, you'd spend around $828 annually on fuel. As the hybrid models tend to cost roughly $1,500 more than non-hybrids, it'd take three years to offset the extra outlay in petrol station bills alone.

With a 50-litre tank installed on the 2.0-litre petrol Corollas, you'd have a theoretical range of 670km driving only in urban areas and 980km on a mix of rural roads and highways. The hybrid, despite having a smaller 43-litre petrol tank, could travel 1,250km around the city and 1,136km under mixed conditions.

Car manufacturers have to adhere to stringent testing protocols when logging fuel usage numbers. Because the procedures are so strictly mandated, there are few variations to skew the result. On public roads, as you're aware, there are many variables. Factors like traffic conditions, the local terrain, car and road maintenance condition and vehicle payloads all carry noticeable penalties on fuel economy. So use the brochure figures as a way to compare different models and manufacturers.

How much fuel did the journalists use on public roads? One saw a dash reading of 5.1L/100km on the hybrid, while another experienced the 2.0-litre's promised 7.5L/100km rise into the eights in urban driving. One automotive reviewer recorded 5.6L/100km, averaged over 300km of city, suburban and highway driving. In practice, these margins are pretty reasonable.

Handling

It's not unfair to say that the Toyota Corolla has never been an exciting car to drive. One automotive writer even likened previous-gen Corollas to a fridge on wheels, because like a refrigerator, it's a large appliance than most people have and isn't terribly thrilling.

Generally, our sample reviewers found the new model to be much more engaging. That's partly thanks to the Corolla running on the TNGA architecture, which is a modular design and is also the base for vehicles like the Prius and C-HR. The set-up now uses independent front suspension, coupled with a trailing-wishbone damping configuration at the rear. Toyota isn't setting its sights on the hot hatch segment, but one writer equated the ride to a rather famous hatchback from VW. Apparently, the journos even had fun throwing it around a little bit.

Don't think that in order to create an agile car, Toyota has given this thing teeth-shattering, rock-solid shock absorbers either. Automotive experts compared the ride in everyday driving to a magic carpet. It would seem the Corolla just glides over potholes and bumps with self-assurance.

Backing up the much-approved ride is power-assisted steering. Toyota's is supposedly very easy to manoeuvre, with a precise feel to it. Overall, the Corolla is very well balanced, both in weight distribution and chassis design, as well as adapting to how you want to drive. If you want to have a bit of fun and chuck it into corners, you could and at the same time if you want a minimum-fuss trip down to the shops, it'll do that just as readily.

Interior and features

For front vehicle occupants, the Corolla gathered heaps of endorsements from motoring writers. But in the rear, the reverse was true. Toyota has made the back row too tight, both for getting in through the doors and also the general head/leg/knee room. This was a complaint that we noticed across the board. Behind the rear seats, space isn't much better either, as the boot has a diminutive capacity of 217 litres on 2.0-litre models, while the hybrid's smaller fuel tank gives an increased 333 litres. For reference, the Ford Focus hatch has 373 litres of cargo space and a VW Golf hatch has 380 litres.

The rear space issue put to one side, reviewers lapped up the cabin. They said it was streamlined and modish. All models have a large 8-inch infotainment touchscreen positioned centrally on the unfussy dash.

The ZR interior is formidable according to journos. This model has part-leather-part-Ultrasuede sport bucket seats, as opposed to the run-of-the-mill fabric-covered bucket seats used by the SX and Ascent Sport. Sitting in them for a long journey isn't any drama as the bolsters give passengers great support, so say testers.

The Corolla also impressed with its far-reaching active safety assists; they're the reason the model scored a maximum ANCAP rating of five stars when tested last year. Stock features across the range include lane departure alert, lane trace assist (CVT models), pre-collision with pedestrian detection (day and night) plus cyclist detection (daytime only), road sign detection (speed limits), automatic high beam and active cruise control, as well as active cornering assistance. There's also a reversing camera on all models. That's quite an arsenal.

Ascent Sport

The Ascent Sport can be bought as a 2.0-litre Dynamic Force manual or direct-shift automatic. It sports 16-inch alloys, has crisp Bi-LED headlights and LED DRLs. The door mirrors are heated helping to keep them clear at all times, a manual handbrake is replaced by an electronic park brake and the infotainment system uses the large 8-inch touchscreen display. You can pair your phone via Bluetooth and use the Toyota Link app.

Hybrid models obviously use the fuel-sipping 1.8-litre and electric motor combo and have dual-zone climate control (in place of a manual A/C system) plus smart entry and starting.

SX

SX models get bright LED front fog lamps, automatic power-folding door mirrors, rear side window privacy glass, a premium steering wheel and gear lever as well as paddle shifters on petrol Corollas. Dual-zone auto climate control will keep you perfectly comfortable and Toyota's sat-nav system is included, along with live traffic updates where coverage is available. This model also has a blind-spot monitor and wireless phone charging for compatible handsets.

Several journalists singled the SX out as the pick of the Corolla range thanks to its feature set and value.

ZR

The Toyota Corolla ZR looks like it should be a hot hatch, but it comes with the same 2.0-litre or 1.8-litre hybrid power sources that other Corollas use, with unchanged performance specs. The upsized 18-inch alloys really make this model stand out and they don't adversely affect handling or ride comfort said reviewers.

You have the option of traditional black or a more racey red-leather-accented upholstery and the standard bucket seats are dropped in favour of sports bucket seats. The pews also have heating elements, in the front. The driver's seat also has lumbar support. The interior is illuminated by intelligent ambient lighting that looks very Star Trek-esque. Drivers behind you with crazy-bright lights will be toned down a bit thanks to the auto-dimming rearview mirror and the multi-information display is increased to 7 inches. There's even a head-up display with your speed and sat-nav graphics. Toyota additionally amps up the speaker system to a JBL eight-speaker premium product. In some of the optional pearl and metallic paint finishes, the ZR really stands out.

Servicing and warranty

Every new Toyota model comes with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. If you follow the annual scheduled servicing, the company will also extend your engine and driveline cover an extra two-years. Likewise, so long as annual maintenance recommendations are adhered to, the hybrid's battery is guaranteed for up to 10 years. Toyota Australia also includes seven years of emergency assistance.

Servicing gets capped at $175 for the first five services, or until the odometer ticks over to 75,000km (whichever elapses first). The price is the same for both the hybrid and conventional petrol models.

Toyota Corolla safety and driver assists

Ascent Sport SX and SX Hybrid ZR and ZR Hybrid
Lane trace assist Auto-CVT and hybrid
Lane departure alert with steering assist
Pre-collision safety system with day/night pedestrian detection and cyclist day detection
Road sign assist (speed signs only)
Automatic high beam
High-speed active cruise control Manual only - -
All-speed active cruise control Auto-CVT and Hybrid
Blind spot monitor ✖️
Reversing camera with fixed guidelines
Anti-lock braking system with electronic brake-force distribution and braking assist
Vehicle stability control and traction control
Hill-start assist control
Active cornering assist
7 SRS airbags – front, front side, full-length curtains and driver's knee
Seatbelt warning
ISOFIX child restraint rear seats anchor points
Engine immobiliser
Five-star ANCAP rating

Toyota Corolla interior and comfort features

Ascent Sport SX and SX Hybrid ZR and ZR Hybrid
Premium steering wheel and gear lever ✖️
Front bucket seats ✖️
Sports front bucket seats ✖️ ✖️
Heated front seats ✖️ ✖️
Leather accented and Ultrasuede accented interior ✖️ ✖️
Driver's seat lumbar support ✖️ ✖️
Intelligent ambient illumination ✖️ ✖️
Auto-dimming rearview mirror ✖️ ✖️
Front and rear power windows with auto operation
Privacy glass (rear side and rear windows) Option
60/40 split-fold rear seats
Folding rear seat centre armrest
4.2-inch multi-information display ✖️
7-inch multi-Information display ✖️ ✖️
Head-up display ✖️ ✖️
Drive mode select Auto-CVT and Hybrid
Paddle shift controls - Non-Hybrid models Non-Hybrid models
Smart entry and start system Hybrid-only
Manual A/C Manual and automatic 2.0-litre models ✖️ ✖️
Dual-zone auto climate control A/C Hybrid
USB charging point ✖️
Centre console tray and storage box
Door pockets for front occupants
Illuminated glove box
Front occupant sun visors with illuminated mirrors
Four cup holders and four bottle receptacles
8-inch colour touchscreen display
Sat-nav with live traffic updates Optional
Auxiliary input and USB input
DAB digital radio Optional
Bluetooth connectivity
Voice recognition with Siri, Mobile Assistant, Eyes Free, Miracast and Toyota Link
Wireless phone charger ✖️
Six audio speakers ✖️
Eight-speaker JBL sound system ✖️ ✖️
Steering wheel controls for multi-Information display, phone and audio

Toyota Corolla exterior styling features

Ascent Sport SX and SX Hybrid ZR and ZR Hybrid
Alloy wheels 16-inch 16-inch 18-inch
Full-size spare Full-size alloy on non-Hybrid model. Hybrid has temporary or tyre repair kit Temporary Temporary on non-Hybrid. Hybrid has repair kit
Bi-LED headlights
LED daytime running lights
LED tail lamps
Front LED fog lamps ✖️
Rear LED fog lamps
Heated door mirrors
Electronically retractable door mirrors ✖️ ✖️
Automatic retracting door mirrors ✖️

Verdict

Toyota says every 15 seconds, a Corolla sells somewhere worldwide. Since you started reading this comparison review, 120 have found new owners. In Australia, the car is often one of the most popular passenger models sold nationwide. There's a reason it's such a sought-after model. It offers class-leading safety assists, a responsive and compliant ride and heaps of passenger comforts. The Corolla also has a sound reputation for reliability and high build quality. The latest model, in our opinion, is easily one of the best-looking hatches on the market, and the most stylish Corolla to date. In the eyes of some motoring writers, it's the first Corolla they've actually thought was good-looking. And with the option of a hybrid, there's a Corolla model for every buyer.

Compare car financing now and you can save yourself hundreds over your ownership of the vehicle.

Compare some options to finance a Toyota Corolla

Updated October 21st, 2019
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From 4.79% (fixed)
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A flexible loan to help you finance a car, motorbike or boat up to five years old.
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Pictures: Toyota

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