2017 Toyota Corolla 50th Anniversary EditionPosted on December 19th, 2016
Best-selling compact sedan celebrates a milestone
By Nina Russin
For 2017, Toyota introduces a mid-cycle refresh on its Corolla compact sedan including new exterior styling, infotainment and active safety technology. The company also marks the car’s milestone anniversary with a special edition based on the volume-leading LE grade.
With its blacked out grille and custom dark red exterior, the 50th anniversary Corolla stands apart from the pack. The limited edition vehicle rides on 17-inch alloy rims. Special badging and interior trim complete the package.
Standard convenience features include keyless entry and start, LED headlamps, Entune audio with Siri Eyes Free and a rear backup camera. Base MSRP is $21,900.
Options on the test car add a tilt-and-slide moonroof, paint protection film, illuminated door sills and a tablet holder. Adding the $865 destination charge, final MSRP is $24,497.
Test drive in Arizona
This week I got behind the wheel of the newest Corolla to see how it would perform on crowded thoroughfares in central Phoenix, area highways and rural roads skirting the San Tan Mountains south of town.
Power for all grades comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable automatic transmission. A sport mode on the test car quickens throttle response for more aggressive performance.
The engine develops 132 peak horsepower: plenty to keep the pint-size Corolla chugging along on the highway with some extra boost to pass slower vehicles. Peak torque is 128 pound-feet, so the car can easily surge off the line and merge into highway traffic.
The continuously variable automatic transmission works well, with none of the rubber band feel that can make these units unpleasant to live with. The Formula-style shifter paddles on the steering wheel seem a bit out of place on this type of car as opposed to Toyota’s sporty 86.
The suspension consists of an independent MacPherson setup in front and torsion beam rear end. While solid axles don’t yield the ride comfort of independent ones, the unit on the Corolla has the advantage of compactness and durability, enabling engineers to maximize interior and cargo space. Since most of the front-wheel drive sedan’s weight is over the front axle, its impact on ride comfort is minimal.
Four-wheel disc brakes, an upgrade from rear drums on the standard LE, stop the Corolla in firm, linear fashion.
An electric power steering system saves weight and space under the hood. Its 35.6-foot turning circle makes the Corolla easy to maneuver around parking lots of park on the street. On-center response is on the soft side, but quick lane changes are not a problem.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. I had no problems monitoring traffic in adjacent lanes on the freeway, even at the height of holiday traffic.
LED headlamps project bright beams of light that are closer to daylight than halogen, yet have minimal drain on the battery. Daytime running lamps make the Corolla more visible in low-light winter conditions.
Engineers did a good job of minimizing engine and wind noise intrusion to the interior but there is some tire noise, most noticeable on the highway. It’s by no means excessive and shouldn’t prevent potential buyers from giving the car serious consideration.
Despite its small footprint the Corolla’s cabin has plenty of room for four adults. I found manual driver’s seat adjustments intuitive to use, but would have liked to have seen a lower lumbar adjustment.
Keyless entry saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob after dark, adding a measure of safety. I found audio controls intuitive to operate, and easy to reach from either front seating position.
Second-row seats fold flat to extend the cargo floor for long items such as golf clubs, skis or snowboards. Cyclists will need to add a rear hitch mount or opt for Toyota’s RAV4 crossover with a taller cargo bay.
New for 2017, Toyota adds a suite of active safety features that includes pre-collision with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist and adaptive cruise control. Other standard safety features include eight airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, daytime running lamps, rearview camera and tire pressure monitoring.
Toyota builds the Corolla at its Blue Springs, Mississippi assembly plant.
Like: A stylish, affordable compact sedan with a high level of standard safety features.
Dislike: Tire noise at higher speeds. Soft on-center steering response.
Model: Corolla 50th Anniversary Edition
Base price: $21,900
As tested: $24,497
Horsepower: 132 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 128 lbs.-ft. @ 4400 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 28/35 mpg city/highway