Expert Review: Toyota Corolla

We’ve teamed up with the experts at CarAdvice to bring you honest, no holds barred reviews of some of Australia’s most popular vehicles. Here’s what they had to say:

"The new Corolla has gone from being the boring option to one of the top picks in the small car class. It's also ripper value."

But is Australia’s most popular car such a hit with those who’ve parted with their hard-earned? Or is the ownership experience not all it’s cracked up to be? Here’s why I think the Corolla is such a sales success story in Australia. 

The good things in a nutshell:

  • Stacks of equipment
  • Standard active safety kit
  • Excellent real-world economy
  • Cabin quality and ambience
  • Plush ride
  • Engaging handling
  • Cheap servicing

The bits that you might want to forget:

  • Tiny boot
  • Hard door trims don't match the soft dash
  • No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
  • Tight back seat
  • Chassis is begging for more power

I have a confession to make. I've always thought the Toyota Corolla was a boring car that people bought if they didn't know much about cars.

The all-new 12th-generation Corolla aims to change that, only just landing on the Australian market a month or so ago and claiming to offer a much-improved drive experience, more technology, and a higher-quality cabin.

It's comprehensively equipped, particularly for this price point, and it's not like Toyota has just thrown stuff in to compensate for a budget-feeling cabin either, because for the most part, the Corolla feels properly premium.

Arguably the Corolla's biggest shortfall, at least in terms of the interior, is the tiny boot. Toyota quotes just 217L with the second row in place, which is tiny for not only the small car class, but also the segment below.

So, practicality isn't the new Corolla's strong point, but what about on the road?

It may not set the world on fire in terms of performance, but the Corolla's hybrid system is seamless in its operation, with a smooth transition from electric-only to petrol power. Additionally, the system is able to run in full-EV mode at low speeds or for short distances as a coasting-style function.

It handles with a level of maturity and balance normally associated with something like a Volkswagen Golf, though still manages to offer a ride that is nothing short of fantastic, gliding over just about every imperfection without fuss.

Bryn Parrott, Uber driver and Corolla owner was also pleased with the driving experience; “My overall impression is that the car drives as well as its predecessor, and my fear concerning the reduction of power and a strange new gearbox proved unfounded. The car is well behaved and performs credibly and handles well on the road with good acceleration. It easily handles freeway speeds and acceleration at up to 110km/h is good.”

As for ownership, the Corolla is covered by Toyota's five-year/unlimited-km warranty, which still lags behind rival brands like Honda and Mazda with their five-year programs. However, the Toyota is dirt cheap to service, requiring maintenance every 12 months or 15,000km, with the first five visits asking for $175 a pop.

Those who have associated the nameplate with an uninspiring driving experience and a basic cabin – compared to its rivals – should definitely have a look at the new one, because you'll be as pleasantly surprised as this reviewer was. So too was Sunvi, another CarAdvice reader and Corolla owner; 

“On the open road and in the city it’s a pleasant drive. Compared to a Mazda 3 it may not feel as sporty, but the power output is close enough. The Hyundai Elantra is also another good candidate to be compared to, and they certainly are great cars, but I picked Toyota for its simplicity.”

Considering you can get into one for under $30K, it's great value for money too, and backed by one of the best reputations for reliability in the business.

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