2013 Toyota Corolla Sedan - FROM $16,230
Among fresher rivals, the 2013 Toyota Corolla is no longer a class leader. Competitors offer advantages in key areas, and we suggest cross-shopping popular alternatives before making your decision.
What's New for 2013
For 2013 the Toyota Corolla receives a few minor changes including a revised grille and an upgraded audio system (with a touchscreen display) for the upper trim levels.
The Toyota Corolla has long been a top choice for those seeking inexpensive, fuel-efficient and reliable transportation. With more than 33 million sold since the nameplate was introduced 40 years ago, this compact has earned plenty of adoring fans. That's all dandy, but it doesn't make the 2013 Toyota Corolla an automatic choice for today's buyer.
The Corolla's competition is tougher today than it was even just five years ago. Carmakers including Chevrolet, Ford and Hyundai have dramatically stepped up their game in that brief span, and the Corolla feels dated and outclassed compared to the fresher competition. The Corolla's exterior styling also lacks excitement, while the interior similarly disappoints with drab design and unimpressive materials.
The Corolla has even been surpassed in affordability, fuel economy and dependability. While many newer rivals boast 40 mpg highway fuel economy estimates, the Corolla rates 34 mpg. The Toyota's dependability is still rock solid, but some competitors have improved on that score and offer longer warranties to reinforce the point.
A 2013 Toyota Corolla will provide steadfast transportation and low running costs for years to come. But all things considered, we think there are better choices including the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Mazda 3. All offer some combination of more engaging driving dynamics, better overall cabin quality and higher fuel economy.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Toyota Corolla is a five-passenger compact sedan available in L, LE and S trim levels.
Standard features on the base L model include 15-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, keyless entry, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, trip computer and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The LE adds 16-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, cruise control, Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls and a six-speaker sound system with a 6-inch touchscreen display, an auxiliary audio jack, iPod/USB connectivity and Bluetooth audio streaming. The S adds foglights, a sport-look body kit, a rear spoiler, upgraded cloth upholstery and metallic interior trim.
Optional on the LE and S is a Premium package that adds a sunroof and upgraded wheels. The Premium interior package for the Corolla LE adds automatic headlights, an eight-way power driver seat, automatic climate control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Also available is a touchscreen navigation system with voice control, satellite radio and smartphone app integration through Toyota's Entune system.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2013 Toyota Corolla is powered by a 1.8-liter inline-4 that produces 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is optional.
In Edmunds performance testing, an automatic-equipped Corolla accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 10.1 seconds -- one of the slowest times in the small car class. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined with the automatic and 27/34/30 with the manual -- respectable numbers, but they pale next to newer competitors that achieve 40 mpg on the highway.
Standard safety features include stability and traction control, antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum), front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the Corolla came to a stop from 60 mph in 127 feet, which is a bit longer than average.
In government crash tests, the Corolla received an overall score of four stars (out of a possible five), with four stars for overall frontal-impact safety and five stars for overall side-impact safety. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the Corolla earned a top "Good" rating in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2013 Corolla's cabin is a bit dull and the materials quality is uninspiring at best. By comparison, the cabins of the Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra feel as if they belong to a more sophisticated market segment. On the upside, the Corolla's controls are quite simple to use.
As with most Toyotas, the Corolla's seats are soft and comfy, and will likely bring to mind words like "plush" and "La-Z-Boy." The seats lack support, however, so some may find long-distance comfort troublesome. The front seats offer decent space even for taller drivers (a revelation for a small Toyota), while the backseat also boasts decent room and a cushy bottom.
With 12.3 cubic feet of space, trunk space is average, but the wide opening is particularly useful.
The 2013 Toyota Corolla's softly sprung ride is perfect for commuting, and wind and road noise are nicely quelled even at highway speeds. Handling is unimpressive, though. Even if you don't profess to be a driving enthusiast, a back-to-back drive between a Corolla and its competitors reveals that the Toyota feels less responsive to driver input and makes you feel less involved with the driving experience.
The Corolla's lone engine choice delivers the sort of languid acceleration typical of this price point, but Toyota makes a smooth engine, so at least your ears won't be paying for it. Given that the car's fuel economy isn't as competitive as it once was, however, you may be less willing to put up with such lackluster performance.