Is the new Toyota Corolla any good? I rented the previous generation hatchback a few months back and thought it was sub-par, and nowhere near my current-gen Hyundai i30 in terms of quality. The CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) was awful too, especially in comparison to my Hyundai’s automatic. My mum is in need of a new car (probably her last one) and it would be a struggle to convince her to drive anything other than a Toyota Corolla, given she’s had Corollas pretty much her whole life. Her current Corolla is about two generations old I think, but I just want to make sure that the new one is actually decent before I help her shop for one. In case the Corolla is a no-go, what else would you recommend for an older lady that doesn’t need a lot of space but just wants something that’s comfy and easy to drive?
Tabetha, Williamstown VIC
You’ll be happy to know that the 10th-generation Toyota Corolla, which launched in Australia in early 2018, is indeed a return to form! Like you, we were never in love with its predecessor, but the new Corolla is a significant step forward. For one, it’s actually fun to drive. The base 2.0-litre petrol is the engine we’d choose (the hybrid can feel a bit dozy), and the new CVT is worlds better than the CVT of the last Corolla. It feels crisp, decisive and a lot more intelligent in its shift programming. There are some negatives, though, such as a tiny boot and a somewhat cozy rear seat. They may not concern your mother, though, if she just needs a car to get herself and her groceries around town.
Our pick would be the mid-range Toyota Corolla SX petrol automatic, which retails at $26,870.
Read next: 2019 Toyota Corolla sedan gallery
On the question of alternatives, we’d put forward the Volkswagen Golf, which is sophisticated, spacious and lovely to drive, and probably the most compelling alternative to the Corolla. However, if your mum is a long-time Corolla fan then convincing her to go with a German option may be difficult, especially as the turbocharged Golf range is more mechanically complex than the naturally-aspirated Toyota, and reliability is a huge reason for purchase for many Toyota buyers.
The Honda Civic is another option, and a very spacious all-rounder too, but its unresponsive CVT takes some of the sheen off what could otherwise be quite a fun car to drive. Does she want a big interior in a small hatch? The Subaru Impreza might be more appealing, in that case, and also comes with the bonus of standard all-wheel drive. As with the Honda, though, the Impreza’s CVT is nowhere near as polished as the Corolla’s, and its extra weight (due to the AWD system) means it feels significantly slower when driving around town.