When we first saw photos of the 11th-generation Toyota Corolla, it got us thinking about the AE86. To drifters and import hot-rodders, the twin-cam, rear-drive AE86 Corollas of the 1980s are venerated icons. Given the aggressive (for Toyota) styling of the new Corolla we felt a twinge of hope because when the Corolla went front-drive in the late 1980s, it also went to sleep. There's nothing wrong with a good afternoon nap, of course, and the 39-plus-million Corollas sold thus far have provided countless reliable miles to their owners. But few have been fun.
In the process of crafting the new Corolla’s sheetmetal, Toyota stretched it as well. Although width and height remain within an inch of the last-gen model’s, both the wheelbase and overall length are up by 3.9 inches, and that’s a big plus for rear-seat space. Toyota shifted the rear seat hip point back nearly three inches. Slimming the front seatbacks added more legroom for those in the second row, while Toyota claims denser pads and foam inserts in the rear seats add comfort. The rear seatbacks fold and are split 60/40.
The longer, sleeker shape looks best, of course, on the S version with its 17-inch aluminum wheels that give the car a proper stance, not the running-on-tiptoes demeanor of the base model with 15-inch steel wheels and hubcaps.
There is no stripper model per se, with even the base trim offering standard air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, eight airbags and today's requisite Bluetooth connectivity. Just as expected are the options, from an info/nav screen to heated seats to various sound systems and SofTex faux leather on the seats.
Where the current Corolla has an instrument pod and vertical center stack for controls, the redesign creates a more horizontal form. There are two gauge packages: the S models have two dials flanking a digital 3.5-inch readout panel, while the other models get three gauges, with the central speedometer featuring a small readout. The new horizontal one-knob-and-five-button control panel for the climate-control system doesn’t look as handy as the old three-knob layout, but it thankfully avoids the multiple menus of more elaborate setups in pricier cars. The center stack is decked out with high-gloss piano-black surfaces, which look quite nice when just cleaned, but not so long after. Toyota apparently spent considerable time quieting the new-gen Corolla's interior. Noise-attenuation measures include an acoustic glass windscreen, a seal between the cowl and windscreen, better floor-carpet insulation, fender sound insulators, and a silencer pad on the inner dash.
Thanks to: Car and Driver