What it is: The Corolla is Toyota’s ubiquitous compact car that is now celebrating its 50th birthday! The reliable sedan received a refresh for the 2017 model year, and Toyota made some great improvements, but I’m not sure it is enough to make it my favorite car in the segment. 

While there are some slightly revised body features, like aggressive new headlights, the big additions come in the form of safety features. Every Corolla gets a backup camera and Toyota’s “Safety Sense P.” It uses a radar-based automatic emergency braking system, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and assist, and auto-on headlights. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation is requiring most cars to have an emergency braking system by the end of 2022, and it is admirable of Toyota to be pushing the implementation forward. The system continuously watches the road in front of you, and if you are slow to the brakes, it will automatically apply them to either prevent or greatly slow a collision. It works at high and low speeds and won’t just save lives but also help reduce insurance rates. 

Adaptive cruise control uses the same system to help space you behind other vehicles while using cruise control. If you are driving down the highway at 65 MPH, and the driver in front of you slows to 50 MPH, then the car will automatically slow down while maintaining proper spacing. When traffic speeds back up, the system will automatically increase your speed back to 65 MPH. The technology works wonderfully, and I once drove all the way to San Antonio without touching the gas or brake pedal once. 

Lane departure warning just notifies you that you might be leaving the lane you are traveling in, but the assist feature will actually steer the car slightly to direct you to stay in your lane. 

Unfortunately, the Corolla persists with the same, somewhat lethargic drive-train. The same, somewhat wheezy 1.8-liter 4-cylinder is paired with the same transmissions as offered before, so no new ground here at all. 

There is significant interior space, where decently sized adults shouldn’t have issues fitting in the backseat. The Corolla, along with all compact cars, has crept up in size, so you’ll find plenty of trunk space in the back as well. 

MPG: 28 city/35 highway.

Price: $18,500-$22,680 base MSRP.

Upsides: Lots of tech and safety for the price.

Downsides: Not much fun to drive. 

Wrap-up: The biggest personal complaint I have against the Corolla is that the steering doesn’t convey much control. Even with the car looking much better and the addition of the great technology, there isn’t much soul here. The car is firmly just transportation and not much fun, but it’ll likely last you a decade or more without any issues and keep you safe in a crash.

Wilson Calvert
Author: Wilson CalvertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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I am a long-time Houstonian and am obsessed with cars, soccer, traveling, bourbon and airplanes. I write a regular car review column for The Tribune and travel articles a few times per year.