Buying Guide

2012 Toyota Corolla

Fair Market Price $9,316 L (Auto) Sedan


26 City / 34 Hwy

Safety (IIHS):

Best Pick

Horse Power:

132 @ 6000

The Corolla was one of the pioneers of the modern compact-car segment. It proved to American customers–and American carmakers–that a small car need not be an unreliable, unpleasant tin can. It has thus, deservedly, been one of the most popular products in its segment for more than four decades. Unfortunately for Toyota, competitors have taken the Corolla’s lessons to heart–many in just the last few years. And so, while the Corolla remains as good as ever, there are now several better, fresher options. The Corolla’s 1.8-liter engine, for instance, relies on a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual, whereas the Chevrolet Cruze and the Hyundai Elantra, among others, offer only six-speed transmissions. The interior is logically laid out and fits together well but doesn’t come close to the materials quality and pizazz of the new Ford Focus. The Corolla did receive some enhancements last year–namely, restyled front and rear fascias–but it still feels like a considerably older car than the best competitors, because it is. Having noted all its shortcomings, we think that the Corolla is still worthy of consideration, simply because it’s so dependable and well rounded. It’s also an easy and comfortable car to drive–keeping in mind that it has never been intended for an enthusiast audience.

Drive: Front-wheel

Trim levels: Corolla, LE, S

Body style: Sedan, 5-passenger

Engine: 1.8L I-4, 132 hp, 128 lb-ft

Transmissions: 5-speed manual, 4- or 5-speed automatic

Passenger volume: 92.0 cu ft cu ft

CARGO SPACE: 16.6 cu ft

Bluetooth and iPod connectivity are now standard on all but base Corollas, as are steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The midlevel, LE model now has sixteen-inch (rather than fifteen-inch) steel wheels. Base models, meanwhile, now have power windows and door locks.

Front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are all standard.

All: 26-28 mpg city/34-35 mpg highway

  • Comfortable
  • As reliable as the sun
  • Almost as old as the sun
  • Not as efficient as newer competitors

An aging champion.

  • Chevrolet Cruze
  • Ford Focus
  • Honda Civic
  • Hyundai Elantra

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