Known for its fuel-efficiency and dependability, the Corolla is the No. 1 best-selling car of all time, having hit the 40 million sales mark in 2013. After 11 generations, the Corolla is Toyota’s second-highest selling car behind the venerable Camry midsize sedan. It comes in five trim levels — L, LE, SE, XLE and XSE — plus the LE Eco, a sporty and more fuel-efficient variant.
This guide aims to help you make an educated decision about whether or not to buy the 2018 Toyota Corolla. We’ll touch on safety and reliability ratings, engine specs, horsepower, fuel economy ratings and pricing, and we’ll conclude with a summary of what the Autoblog editors who’ve reviewed the Corolla think of it.
Note that this guide does not cover the Corolla iM hatchback or its recently-announced replacement, the 2019 Corolla Hatchback. There are enough differences between these two and the regular Corolla to warrant a separate guide.
Toyota Corolla safety ratings
In crash tests, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2018 Toyota Corolla an overall five-star rating, the top rating possible for protecting the driver and passengers against injury. Diving deeper, the Corolla gets five stars in side-crash tests and four-star ratings in both frontal crash and rollover resistance tests.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which conducts its own comprehensive crash tests, gives the 2018 Toyota Corolla its “Top Safety Pick” award. It gave the Corolla “good” ratings for five of six crashworthiness tests but didn’t rate it for passenger-side small overlap crashes, which replicate crashes involving the front corner of a car. IIHS gives the 2018 Corolla a “superior” rating for front crash prevention and “acceptable” ratings for headlights and how easy it is to use the LATCH anchors for child seats.
Ratings may differ for Corollas from other model years, so be sure to visit the NHTSA and IIHS websites to review ratings on the specific vehicle you’re researching.
Is the Toyota Corolla reliable?
J.D. Power’s most recent review of initial quality in the Corolla was for the 2017 model year, which is part of the same generation as the 2018 model year and largely similar.
It gave the Corolla five out of five possible stars for overall quality, three stars — “about average” — for overall performance and design, and four stars — “better than most” — for predicted reliability. More detailed highlights include five stars for both powertrain quality and design, which looks at problems with the engine and transmission; four stars for both mechanical quality and features and accessories; and three stars on body and interior quality.
Autoblog has voiced some concerns with the way J.D. Power weighs serious and less-serious reliability issues, which you can read about here.
The Takata airbag scandal prompted Toyota in 2016 to issue recalls of 2008 through 2011 Corollas, among other models, to fix the inflators. You can head to the NHTSA’s recall site to check to see if your Corolla is covered under these or other recalls.
How much interior and cargo room does the Toyota Corolla have?
The 2018 Toyota Corolla seats up to five people. It offers 42.3 inches of front leg room and 41.4 inches in the rear. There’s 38.3 inches of head room in the front and 37.1 in the rear. Adding an optional moonroof shaves 0.3 inches off the former. Cargo volume is 13 cubic feet.
By way of comparison, the 2018 Honda Civic has 42.3 inches of front leg room, 37.4 inches in the rear, and tops out at 39.3 inches of head room in the front and 37.1 in the rear. The Civic beats it in cargo volume, however, at 15.1 cubic feet.
Toyota Corolla engine specs and horsepower
All trim levels come with a naturally aspirated 1.8-liter inline-four-cylinder, 16-valve engine. On the five standard trims, it generates 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. On the LE Eco, Toyota adds its Valvematic variable-valve timing technology, which nudges horsepower up to 140, shaves torque a hair to 126 pound-feet but increases fuel efficiency. More on that below.
How fuel efficient is the 2018 Toyota Corolla?
When configured with a 6-speed manual transmission, the 2018 Toyota Corolla gets 27 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway for an average of 30 mpg. Equipped with its continuously variable transmission, the EPA estimates the Corolla to get 28 mpg in the city, 36 on the highway and an average of 32 with 16-inch wheels, or 28/35/31 when fitted with 17-inch wheels.
Fuel economy tops out with the LE Eco, which the EPA rates at 30 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway for an average of 34 mpg when fitted with 15-inch wheels, or 29/38/33 with 16-inch wheels.
How much does the Toyota Corolla cost?
The 2018 Toyota Corrola starts at $19,495 for the L trim and tops out at $23,675 for the XSE. Both prices are inclusive of the $895 delivery, processing and handling fee.
Use Autoblog’s Smart Car Buying program powered by TrueCar to search out competitive local pricing and savings on the 2018 Toyota Corolla.
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Autoblog last reviewed the 2014 Toyota Corolla, which was the first iteration of the same generation as the 2018 model year, which has more safety features and sportier exterior styling but is otherwise largely the same car. Contributing editor Steven J. Ewing compared the compact car to his “unemotional” experience of buying a new toaster.
“It’s a perfectly fine appliance, and to a good number of people in the world, the bond between a car and driver is no more important than the connection I feel to my toaster. Does it seat four people relatively comfortably? Does it get decent fuel economy? Is it easy to drive? Reliable? Safe? The Corolla checks all of these boxes,” he wrote.