Reviewed: 2016 Toyota Corolla LE Plus

If someone asked what the best selling vehicle in the world is, would you know?

Because you’re reading this review, it’s pretty obvious to assume it’s probably the car titled above: Toyota Corolla. The Corolla has been a world best seller since the late 90s; quite an achievement considering it often gets beat up as being the antithesis of what a car should be by all the performance publications.

After a week with a nicely equipped mid-level Corolla LE Plus, we can wholeheartedly agree that the LE Plus is not a performance machine. It’s never touted as that either.

But what it has been known for, and which rings true today, is that it’s a practical, versatile, comfortable, reliable and fuel efficient people mover.

Corolla is one of the few compact cars on the market that can actually seat five people comfortably, thanks to well designed seats that maximize space and comfort, and a flat rear floor that allows three people to sit side-by-side easily.

The two outer headrests are fixed but the middle one is adjustable to the height of the occupant’s head. Elbow rests in the doors are well-padded and bottle holders in the doors are a useful addition. A set of cupholders folds down from the back of the center console.

The rear seat is split 60/40 and folds down easily with release pulls in the trunk. The trunk is cavernous, with gooseneck hinges that do impede on large cargo inside, but they also allow for a wider trunk opening.

Up front, the seats are comfortable with six-way adjustment for the driver and a tilt/telescoping wheel. Headroom is phenomenal, even with the sunroof.

Entry and start is easy thanks to the Smart Key system with pushbutton start–a feature you can’t live without once you have it.

Toyota’s Entune system is part of the Driver Confidence package and includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen with integrated nav and an app suite that connects to streaming media, maintains maintenance logs for the Corolla, Siri Eyes Free, free traffic and weather info through the HD radio system and much more.

Our only complaint is the vertical position of the screen and the top screen layer, as it tended to wash out from sunlight coming in from any of the side windows or rear window.

Using the Corolla for commuting to and from work, we found the visors extended the full length of the door window to block incoming rays into our peripheral vision.

On the power front, the 1.8L four-cylinder engine did an excellent job producing enough gusto to get us flowing with traffic, maintaining speed, or any other scenario that called for quick power delivery. The continuously-variable transmission (CVT) doesn’t produce an annoying high RPM whine thanks to excellent calibration work by Toyota engineers, and good balancing of the Corolla’s power to weight ratio. The Corolla never feels strained.

A lack of engine noise means engineers had to work on quelling road and wind noises, of which there is a minimal amount.

At night, the standard LED headlights produce a broad, even distribution of white light that is further enhanced when the high-beams are switched on to throw intense light even further.

After a week of commuting, errand-running, people-moving and shopping, the Corolla returned an impressive 36.4 mpg.

Toyota continues to fulfill the Corolla’s mission, updating it with each generation but maintaining its core values which have led it to be the world’s best selling car. For the 2017 model year, Toyota is expanding their implementation of safety technology by offering a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist and automatic high-beams on the Corolla.

Facts
Make: Toyota
Model: Corolla
Trim Level: LE Plus
Engine: 1.8L 4-Cylinder
Transmission: CVT
Observed Fuel Economy: 36.4 MPG (mixed driving)
Available Packages: Driver Convenience Package, Moonroof, Protection Package
Base Price: $19,065
As-Tested Price: $22,803

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