2017 Toyota Corolla Review: Absolutely Average

In automotive circles, the Toyota Corolla gets a bum rap surprisingly often, despite - or maybe because of - its reliability and predictability. Fifty years on after the Corolla was first introduced in Canada, the compact sedan is as popular as ever, even if there is a slew of competition today that wasn't around in 1967.

The Corolla gets numerous upgrades for the 2017 model year, because in this day and age, there's no such thing as updating your entry in this ultra-competitive segment once every four or five years. This constant revising can make even the most staid sedan seem a little more exciting. The Corolla is no exception. Sort of.

 

Pros

"Predictable" doesn't have to be a bad word - When you buy a Corolla, you know exactly what you're signing up for, and the 2017 model is no exception. It provides few surprises, and it will always be fuel efficient, comfortable, and user-friendly. This year's Corolla is all those things, and while it won't get your heart racing, I refuse to believe that appealing to the masses is always a bad thing. I've spoken to plenty of Corolla owners over the years, and being able to easily pair the bluetooth, change the radio station, and heck, easily view the clock are things the average driver of this car takes a lot of stock in.

Reaping the benefits of a safety obsession - Toyota has really put a high priority on safety in the years since the unintended acceleration issue that was all over the news back in 2009. When it comes to the Corolla, every trim gets every available safety feature, whether it's an entry-level CE with six-speed manual, or a more expensive SE or LE model with an automatic transmission. I'm not just talking airbags here - though the car has eight of those. There's more advanced safety tech including a pre-collision system that can warn the driver of an impending collision, automatic high beams, and adaptive radar-based cruise control.

Refresh gives a youthful appearance - The Corolla has rarely aged well in recent generations, but the 2017 version looks like it could still turn some heads even a few years from now. Yes, styling is subjective, but I dig the look of the redesigned front bumpers, and new headlamp and taillamp designs. In fact, I'd say it's right up there with anything in the segment in 2017. This bodes well for anyone who finances this year's Corolla, because in case you haven't heard, these cars have been known to last a long, long time.

2017 Toyota Corolla Review: Absolutely average
2017 Toyota Corolla Review: Absolutely average
2017 Toyota Corolla Review: Absolutely average

Cons

Toyota plays it safe - Look at many of the Corolla's direct competitors, and you'll see numerous examples of car companies fighting the status quo. Whether its the Honda Civic fitted with a new turbo engine, Chevrolet offering a diesel-powered Cruze, or Mazda bringing its advanced fuel-saving Skyactiv technology to the Mazda3, the choices in this segment are becoming more and more compelling. Toyota, on the other hand, finally - finally! - drops the four-speed automatic transmission from the Corolla lineup. I doubt that's something even the most average Joe or Jane Carbuyer will be wowed by. Same goes for the 1.8-litre powerplant Toyota has been using in the Corolla seemingly forever.

Surprisingly somewhat small - Although most cars in this segment have very similar numbers when it comes to overall passenger volume, I was surprised by just how little headroom there was in the Corolla, particularly in the rear. I get that this isn't a massive luxury four-door, but I can't remember the last competitor that made me feel so cramped, so quickly. Rear legroom is admittedly generous, but that's about it in regards to the Corolla.

iM could steal Corolla sedan's thunder - With the Scion brand being discontinued last year, the five-door iM has been rebranded the Corolla iM. It offers more of a "cool" factor than the four-door Corolla (seriously - when was the last time you ever heard someone call the Corolla "cool?"), along with better functionality. The sedan certainly isn't a bad choice in this segment, but there are more compelling choices out there - both from other automakers, and from within Toyota's lineup.

Competitors

Honda Civic
Mazda3
Chevrolet Cruze

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