I have extensively driven every model of the Toyota Corolla since 1993. This bread-n-butter sedan put Toyota solidly on the roads across America since the first Corolla rolled off the line in 1966. The Blue Springs, Mississippi assembly line has just manufactured the 1,000,000th Corolla in the 10th year of operation. Furthermore, a vast majority of these reliable and economic sub-compacts are still on the road. This year Toyota revealed the 50th Anniversary Special Edition Corolla in a new color and a unique grill. However, the real attraction comes in the solid sub-compact sedan we have come to know!
After a week in the newest 12th Generation Corolla, I can attest to the care Toyota has taken to improve upon this affordable four-door sedan. (There is a 5-door hatchback Corolla coming for the 2019 model year.) One of the issues the 11th Generation Corolla had was a touchy and notchy accelerator with a hefty spring load. The new set up and software is easier to use and smoother for the driver and passengers.
Our test car was the 2018 Corolla Eco model. Unlike most economy sedans these days, Toyota decided to make the "Eco" economy version the most powerful and efficient Corolla yet. The Corolla Eco trim level includes a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine with eight more horsepower (140 hp) compared to the other models and mated to a revised Continuously-Variable Transmission (CVT). This does not sound like much change, but the extra horses pump up the eco-car. The Eco version of the engine uses Toyota’s “Valvematic,” which is their newest version of a Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) system.
Acceleration is not sluggish, and mid-range power is adequate. However, passing a truck on a 2-lane road will take some calculations before pulling into on-coming traffic. The Corolla buyer will find affordability and dependability in this well-respected commuter car.
My 2018 Corolla LE Eco is the best of the models due to the included options and the highest miles-per-gallon. The EPA estimated fuel economy is 40 mpg on the highway, and I averaged 37.1 mpg in combined city/highway driving over 540 miles, which is surprisingly good for having been driven relatively hard through the mountains of California.
A few tweaks on the body and the undercarriage covers have improved the aerodynamics to an impressive 0.28. The other models measure 0.29 and 0.30. I am not sure why Toyota does not include these improvements to all the 2018 Corollas to achieve this higher mileage. Nonetheless, all models do get a standard back up camera and TSS-P safety systems. It is impressive that Toyota can offer such high-tech features on such an inexpensive car- way ahead of the 2022 government regulations.
This TSS-P system bundles together a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD) System to get the car ready for a potential collision. Meanwhile, the Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA) and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) do their best to keep a collision from happening.
These automated computer controlled sensors and cameras worked flawlessly, with one exception. When traveling on a mountain pass with a long curve in the road, the Corolla did not track a vehicle that was in my lane just outside of the view of the front camera. Thus, the car briefly accelerated for a moment and then registered the other car again and adjusted the speed. These safety systems are not a substitute for driver awareness and reactions.
The new front end revealed in 2017 is right in line with Toyota's design language- which I would sum up as "space trilogy masks." The Corolla frontend extension makes the car look like it is leaning forward with more attitude than the driving dynamics can deliver on.
The interior design is more in-line with the Corolla's purpose of transportation. It is simple, with accessible controls, an intuitive touchscreen, analog knobs, which is easy for younger (and older) buyers to operate. This provides a refreshing ease-of-use and fewer distractions while driving.
The 2018 Toyota Corolla continues to be practical with a large trunk, 60/40 fold-down rear seats, and room for 4 and 3/4 adults. The cabin and seats are comfortable enough, and the road noise is hushed over past generations but not as quiet as some competitors.
You can enjoy the standard Bluetooth and Entune Audio or upgrade to Entune Audio Plus. Entune Audio Plus adds navigation (Scout GPS Link App). The Entune Premium Audio offers Integrated Navigation and App Suite, while both the Entune Audio Plus and Entune Premium Audio systems garner a 7-inch touchscreen. There is still no Apple CarPlay available on this model.
None of this sounds very “sexy,” however, safety, reliability, economy, and venerable transportation can seem like a favorite pair of jeans- and that can be the best kind of romance there is in your life.
Toyota has made an effort to attract new consumers with a wide range of models, including L, LE, LE Eco, XLE, SE, and XSE grades. Corolla does gain a more modern look with Bi-LED headlamps on the L, LE, and LE Eco grades, and Multi-LED headlamps standard on SE, XSE, and XLE grades. The SE and XSE get standard 17-inch alloy wheels.
Toyota Corolla has been a successful vehicle for more than three decades and continues to sell well, in spite of the spike in small SUV sales. The controls are simple, and the touch screen is easy to reach, even for short drivers. The 2018 Toyota Corolla remains a strong choice for a reliable and economical 4 or 5-door sub-compact.