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  • 2018 Toyota Corolla XSE

    Posted on June 1st, 2018 ninarussin

    Compact sedan combines value with style

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Toyota Corolla

    2018 Toyota Corolla

    The Corolla is Toyota’s most enduring nameplate, with over fifty years on American roads. While many things have changed over the past five decades, the compact sedan’s mission- combining style, value and reliability- remains the same. At a time when commodities trend towards overcomplicated and overpriced, it’s a refreshing formula.

    The 2018 model is essentially carryover from the previous year, with the addition of Toyota Safety Sense with pedestrian detection and a rearview camera as standard equipment on all models. Pricing for the upscale XSE starts at $22,730 excluding the $895 destination charge.

    Standard equipment includes LED headlamps, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth interface, keyless entry and start, USB and iPod connectivity, automatic climate control, six-way power driver’s seat, thin-film transistor information display, Entune audio with Scout GPS link, 60/40 split folding rear seats and heated front seats. A standard power moonroof brings more ambient light into the interior.

    Options on the test car add a TRD performance exhaust, air filter and rear sway bar, premium audio system with navigation, seven-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, a first aid kit, mudguards and tablet holder. Final MSRP is $25,881.

    Test drive in Southern Arizona

    2018 Toyota Corolla XSE

    2018 Toyota Corolla XSE

    Over the past week I drove the Corolla around Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley including the cities of Scottsdale, Tempe and Chandler as well as along rural roads through the Gila River Indian community south of town. Power comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 132-horsepower and continuously variable automatic transmission.

    Torque for the engine is on the low side- 128 pound-feet- so acceleration off the line while adequate, is not robust. However, drivers should find the engine quite adequate for keeping up with traffic on both surface streets and highways. Average fuel economy according-to the EPA is 31 MPG; 35 MPG on the highway.

    The continuously variable automatic transmission seems nicely matched to the engine with good linear progression from low-to-high speeds.

    2018 Toyota Corolla XSE

    2018 Toyota Corolla XSE

    An electric power steering system delivers plenty of assist at low speeds for maneuverability. A 35.6-foot turning circle makes it easy to perform U-turns as necessary and parallel park on the street. The standard rearview camera solves the problem drivers in passenger cars now encounter when they try to back out of parking slots surrounded by high-profile vehicles.

    At higher speeds, on-center response is noticeably numb. However, drivers should find response during normal driving conditions pleasantly heavy and be confident in making an emergency evasive maneuver.

    The suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam in the back. Since the Corolla is a front-wheel drive car with most of the vehicle weight up front, the solid rear axle works fine and has the advantage of being both compact and robust. The TRD rear sway bar counters body roll should the driver decide to dig into the throttle.

    2018 Toyota Corolla XSE

    2018 Toyota Corolla XSE

    The performance exhaust might be a bit overkill for a sedan with such a small engine, but it does add a pleasant belch during acceleration. It also makes airflow through the engine less restrictive, especially when paired with the optional TRD air filter. This adds a small amount of power to the engine and improves its efficiency, hence fuel economy.

    Four-wheel disc brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.

    Visibility around the perimeter of the sedan is good. I had no problems monitoring vehicles in adjacent lanes on the highway and was-able-to make lane changes with ease. The standard LED headlamps project long beams of light close to daylight in intensity for good visibility after dark. Standard daytime running lamps make the Corolla more visible to other drivers during low light conditions or on winding canyon roads.

    Engineers did a good job minimizing wind and engine noise intrusion to the interior. On the highway, there is some noise from the optional 17-inch rims and tires, but nothing that owners should fine obtrusive.

    Spacious interior

    Toyota Corolla Interior

    Toyota Corolla Interior

    Despite its compact dimensions the Corolla feels quite spacious inside. Obviously rear hip and leg room are not as abundant as in the larger Camry and Avalon, but four occupants should be fine on short trips around town.

    Fit and finish throughout the interior is excellent, with attractive, yet practical materials used in the seating and instrument panel. I found both the gauge cluster and center stack screen easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions.

    Infotainment controls are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate. Basic controls such as power, volume and tuning on the audio system are knobs, eliminating the challenge of having to click through several screens.

    The Corolla trunk is large enough to hold weekly groceries, luggage and small camping equipment. Cyclists will need to add a rear hitch mount or go with one of Toyota’s crossovers that offer a taller, more spacious cargo bay.

    Standard safety

    The Corolla comes with eight airbags, Toyota Safety Sense with pedestrian detection, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, hill start assist, a rearview camera and tire pressure monitoring.

    Toyota builds the Corolla at its Cambridge, Ontario Canada assembly plant.

    Like: A stylish and affordable compact sedan with a high level of standard active and passive safety features and a reputation for reliability.

    Dislike: Lack of low-end engine power. Electric power steering system has soft on-center response.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Toyota
    Model: Corolla XSE
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $22,730
    As tested: $25,881
    Horsepower: 132 HP @ 6000 rpm
    Torque: 128 lbs.-ft. @ 4400 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: Optional
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 28/35 mpg city/highway

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