The least costly hatchback, the Ascent, rolls on 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, and has cloth trim in the cabin and a 6.1-inch touchscreen.
The first price step is to the Ascent Sport Hatch, which has nicer looking and lighter wheels made from an alloy of aluminium. Inside you get a nicer feeling steering wheel, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen that works with a smartphone to operate apps such as Pandora Internet radio.
Spend more for the SX Hatch and the alloy wheels grow to 17 inches and mount wider tyres that have a lower profile (from the side, the tyres look shallower). Many people find this look appealing, and the extra width adds some grip on dry roads. The SX also has satellite navigation. You can control the auto transmission from paddles on the steering wheel. There are sports front seats (which have more side-support, to hold you in place when cornering). Sporty visual elements include skirts on the lower body.
For a little more up front than an SX Hatch you could have instead a Hybrid Hatch, with its fuel-saving petrol-electric power. For trim and equipment, the Hybrid is effectively a more luxurious Ascent Sport, retaining its 16-inch alloy wheels and less sporty cloth seats but adding dual-zone airconditioning (which brings independent temperature control for the front passenger), sat-nav, and smart entry and start (which lets you unlock the car and drive away without handling the key). Headlamps and running lights use very bright and long-lived LEDs. And the Hybrid has a different rear suspension from other Corollas, a double-wishbone design that improves grip and stability.
Cough up for the most expensive Corolla hatchback, the ZR, and you get the sportier wheels, tyres and seats from the SX with the extra luxury of the Hybrid. In addition, the ZR’s seats are trimmed in a combination of real and fake leather, the front seats have heaters, and the driver’s seat has power-adjustable lumbar support (for the lower part of your back). As on the Hybrid, auto transmission is standard. Finally, the ZR has the active safety aids from the Safety pack that is optional on less costly Corollas, which include auto emergency braking and lane-departure alert.
On the sedan side, prices again begin with the Ascent, which has smaller steel wheels than the base hatch, at 15 inches, shod with slightly narrower and taller tyres, for a more comfortable and quieter ride around town. The Ascent Sedan also has the bigger 7.0-inch touchscreen with Toyota Link, as fitted to the Ascent Sport Hatch.
Spend more for the SX Sedan and you get alloy wheels in a 16-inch size, satellite navigation, and smart-key entry (but not sports-type seats). The SX also adds front parking sensors to the Ascent’s rear sensors.
Paying more for a ZR sedan brings you LED headlights, leather-accented seats, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. And you get the same active safety suite as the ZR Hatch. (The ZR Sedan has only single zone airconditioning, however.)