2018 Toyota Corolla Range Review

2018 Toyota Corolla hatchback

Overall Rating

0

4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
Expand Section

Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

5 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars

Technology

4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProAttractive styling, ride and handling, punchy 2.0-litre petrol engine

  2. ConLacklustre hybrid, tight rear-seat space, tiny boot

  3. The Pick: 2018 Toyota Corolla SX 5D Hatchback

What stands out?

Expand Section

The 12th-generation Toyota Corolla brings all the necessary ingredients that have long made it the world’s most popular car, but in a stylish package that’s considerably more fun to drive than its ‘beige’ predecessor thanks to an all-new dynamic chassis and locally tuned suspension. Available with a punchy 2.0-litre petrol engine, and hybrid powertrain, the Corolla comes standard with advanced driver assist technology including autonomous emergency braking and active cruise control.

What might bug me?

Expand Section

Having to pay more for an entry-level Corolla. The Ascent spec grade, which kicked off the previous model range, has been deleted with the line-up now starting with the Ascent Sport that costs about $2700 more.

Not being able to fit much in the 217-litre boot, which holds less than most smaller light-segment hatches including the Toyota Yaris. Only the ZR Hybrid gets a decent-sized boot, measuring 333 litres, but even that is undersized for the segment.

Complaints from the rear seats due to a lack of head and legroom, despite the new model having a 40mm longer wheelbase than before.

Getting lost in the Ascent Sport because there’s no in-built satellite navigation, or Apple Carplay/Android Auto to sync your phone maps to the touchscreen.

What body styles are there?

Expand Section

Five-door hatchback with front-wheel-drive.

A sedan version of the 12th generation Corolla has yet to be revealed. The sedan version of the previous model is still available.

The Corolla is classed as a small car, lower priced.

What features do all Corollas have?

Expand Section

Active cruise control, and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection.

A reversing camera with fixed guidelines, lane-keeping assist and speed-sign recognition.

8.0-inch touchscreen with voice recognition. An MP3 compatible sound system with an AM/FM radio, and Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and music streaming.

Height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel, with controls on the wheel for operating the sound system and your phone.

LED headlights with auto high beam, LED tail-lights and LED daytime running lights.

Rear fog-lamps, power-folding heated exterior mirrors.

Air-conditioning, and electric park brake.

Aluminium-alloy wheels.

Seven airbags. Electronic stability control, which helps you recover the car from a skid. All new cars must have this feature.

All Corollas are covered by a three-year, 100,000km warranty.

Which engine uses the least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

Expand Section

The hybrid Corollas naturally use the least fuel. On the official test, the Hybrid consumes just 4.2 litres/100km (city and country combined).

The Hybrid augments a 1.8-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine with a battery-driven electric motor. When you brake, it reclaims energy that is normally wasted, using it to recharge the battery and hence to propel the car. That makes a big difference to fuel use, and particularly around town where you’re braking a lot.

One reason you might not choose it is that you don’t want the cost or complexity of its petrol-electric drivetrain. And, unlike the previous model, the hybrid isn’t the best powertrain in the range in terms of driving pleasure.

Every other Corolla uses the new 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine that feels a lot more vibrant than the hybrid. In all versions it comes coupled with very good automatic transmission, with the Ascent Sport also available with a six-speed manual gearbox.

The 2.0-litre petrol has the highest thermal efficiency of any engine currently in production, which means it can extract 40 percent of the latent energy in every litre of fuel it burns, resulting in good power and frugal fuel consumption of 6.3-litres/100km with the manual gearbox, 6.0-litres/100km with the automatic transmission.

Automatic Corollas, including the Hybrid, use a CVT (continuously variable transmission). Unlike others CVTs, which sound like they are over-revving as they seamlessly cycle through the gears, the unit in the 2.0-litre petrol Corolla steps through gears like a conventional auto.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

Expand Section

The least costly hatchback, the Ascent Sport, with the 2.0-litre engine and manual gearbox rolls on 16-inch alloy wheels, has cloth seats, manual air-conditioning and a six-speaker sound system. The petrol Ascent Sport is also the only Corolla to come with a full-sized alloy spare wheel. Spending $1500 more brings the CVT auto.

The Ascent Sport Hybrid has all of the features found in the petrol Ascent Sport, plus dual-zone air-conditioning, and smart keyless entry that doesn’t require you take your key fob out of your pocket or bag. The Ascent Sport hybrid has a space-saving temporary spare wheel.

Spend more for the SX and you gain satellite navigation, digital radio (DAB+), and a fancier steering wheel, wireless phone charger and blind-spit monitoring.

Both petrol and hybrid SX Corollas have dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, smart keyless entry and start, and space-saver spare wheel.

The most expensive Corolla, the ZR brings sportier 18-inch alloy wheels with lower-profile tyres. The petrol ZR has a space-saver spare wheel, the ZR Hybrid a puncture repair kit.

The ZR’s seats are trimmed in a combination leather and fake suede. The sports front seats are heated, with the driver’s seat equipped with lumbar support.

The ZR also has a head-up display that shows information like your speed and sat-nav directions on the windscreen at eye level. Music is more enjoyable via an eight-speaker JBL sound system.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

Expand Section

The lower-profile tyres fitted to the ZR hatchbacks ride a little more roughly than those on the other Corollas, and may cost more to replace.

All Corolla versions apart from the Ascent Sport petrol miss out on a full-sized spare wheel. Most of the others make do with a skinny space-saver spare that has a recommended top speed of 80km/h, while the ZR Hybrid has a puncture repair kit.

The Hybrid versions aren’t as lively as the 2.0-litre petrol versions.

The only standard colour is Glacier White. The other seven colours cost extra.

How comfortable is the Corolla?

Expand Section

Toyota has put a greater emphasis on cabin design with its 12th-generation Corolla. The design is clean, handsome and ergonomically sound. Build quality is hard to fault and the materials used also have a high quality feel – even the harder plastics of the most affordable Corolla, the Ascent Sport. The cloth upholstery also feels durable and comfortable.

That said leg and headroom is pretty tight in the back seats, despite this Corolla having a 40mm longer wheelbase than its predecessor.

Infotainment is via an 8.0-inch touchscreen that covers all the basics, with satellite navigation available as standard in SX and ZR Corollas. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone syncing isn’t yet available in the Corolla, which is a particular issue in the Ascent Sport which doesn’t come with satellite navigation as standard, but is available for additional cost.

The new Corolla excels when it comes to handling variable road conditions. Its more advanced multi-link rear suspension handles lumpy rural roads in a composed manner. It’s also very stable around corners thanks to the well-balanced chassis and nicely-weighted and direct-acting steering.

What about safety in a Toyota Corolla?

Expand Section

Seven airbags, stability control, a reversing camera, and rear parking sensors, contribute to a respectable safety picture in any Corolla.

There are two airbags directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one beside each front occupant to protect their bodies from side impacts; and a curtain airbag down each side of the car at head level to protect occupants front and rear from side impacts. Finally, there is an airbag at knee level for the driver.

All Corollas have autonomous emergency braking, and other advanced driver assistance tech including lane departure alert, adaptive cruise control, and headlamps that dip automatically for oncoming drivers.

The SX and ZR also have a blind-spot monitor that lets you know if there are any vehicles on either side of your Corolla so you don’t cut them off when changing lanes.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has awarded the 12th generation Toyota Corolla a full five-star safety rating in August 2018.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

Expand Section

The Corolla’s reputation for bland driving dynamics doesn’t apply to this model. It has been re-built from the ground up on a new longer and wider and stiffer chassis with a sophisticated new multi-link rear suspension.

The well-balanced chassis combined with nicely-weighted and direct-acting steering to make cornering surprisingly good fun.

The highly-efficient 2.0-litre petrol engine is the most powerful engine for its size without a turbo and, coupled with the CVT automatic, is the pic of the Corolla’s powertrains. While CVT autos usually have a sluggish rubber-band feel, the Corolla’s has a ‘launch gear’ that steps through the gears like a traditional automatic gearbox. This helps the Corolla take-off sharply from a standstill, while also providing an urgent demands for acceleration while on the move, such as when overtaking.

The CVT also works well when putting the gearbox in manual mode and using the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles, should you feel like a little more hands-on driving.

That’s a good thing because the six-speed manual available with the Ascent Sport is a little disappointing. It has a nice shift action that’s undermined by an imbalance between the clutch and accelerator that makes smooth gear shifts difficult.

The hybrid, which uses a smaller 1.8-litre petrol engine and a different CVT unit with a view for greater efficiency, doesn’t feel as dynamic.

How is life in the rear seats?

Expand Section

The new Corolla has a 40mm-longer wheelbase, which would normally translate into a significant improvement in legroom. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in the back row. While the front seats are spacious and deliver superb comfort, the rear seats lack knee room and headroom. That’s a shame, because the rear bench is actually shaped very well and offers good support for a pair of adults.

The absence of rear air vents in the Ascent Sport and SX is also a negative, given they’re available in the ZR grade.

How is it for carrying stuff?

Expand Section

The new Corolla’s superior driving dynamics seems to have been achieved at the expense of practicality. Opening its lightweight plastic hatch reveals a tiny boot measuring just 217-litres in all but the ZR Hybrid. That’s 69-litres less boot space than the smaller Toyota Yaris!

The ZR Hybrid’s boot holds 333-litres because it is equipped with a puncture repair kit that does away with the bulky spare wheel under the floor. That’s still 27-litres less than the previous model Corolla, and smaller than key rivals such as the Hyundai i30 (395-litres) and Volkswagen Golf (380-litres).

Where does Toyota make the Corolla?

Expand Section

Corolla hatchback models – including the Hybrid – are built in Japan.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

Expand Section

Perhaps swifter overtaking from a turbocharged engine. The Volkswagen Golf, Holden Astra and Ford Focus offer this, for example.

A bigger boot and more rear legroom as found in the Golf, Astra, Focus and Hyundai i30.

The ability to display apps from your smartphone on the touchscreen and control them from there, via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The Golf, Astra, Focus, i30 and Skoda Octavia all have this. Toyota says this will eventually become available in the Corolla.

Possibly the all-weather security of all-wheel drive, standard on a Subaru Impreza.

Maybe a longer warranty. The Hyundai i30, Astra, Mazda 3 and Focus carry five-year warranties, as do the Honda Civic, Citroen C3, Peugeot 308, Renault Megane and Skoda Octavia. The Kia Cerato has a seven-year warranty.

Are there plans to update the Corolla soon?

Expand Section

The 12th-generation Corolla Hatch went on sale in July 2018 with the 2.0-litre petrol and hybrid versions. No updates are expected before mid-2019 though Toyota is likely to introduce Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to its infotainment system by then.

Toyota hasn’t revealed any plans about an all-new sedan. The previous model sedan is still available and is the subject of a separate review.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

Expand Section

The 2.0-litre petrol Corollas with CVT auto are the best performers, with the mid-priced SX being our pick of the bunch in terms of value and features.