Since it began production in 1966, the Toyota Corolla has sold over 45 million units worldwide, accounting for one in five vehicles sold in the company’s 76-year history. It owes its ubiquity to having earned the title of default choice in its segment, and now two years into its twelfth generation, the Corolla continues to get better with age. One of the only compact sedan and hatchback category vehicles with a hybrid engine option, the Corolla is an amazing value backed with standard electronic safety features that are usually reserved for midsize and larger vehicles.
What’s New In The 2021 Toyota Corolla?
The sedan saw all new styling last year and as sporty hatchback the year before that. So, don’t expect a complete redesign or a body style refresh this year—the Corolla was just was redesigned in 2020. But the latest Toyota Corolla is its best iteration yet.
One of the most important upgrades is a feature you’lll hopefully never have to use. Toyota’s increased the number of onboard airbags from 8 to 10. This was accomplished by adding rear seat-mounted side airbags. The 2021 Corolla now include driver and front passenger airbags, driver knee, front passenger seat cushion, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side, and outboard rear passenger airbags—10 in all.
New for 2021, the Corolla features a fuel-saving engine start and stop feature that cuts power at idle—which can be disabled with the press of a button.
What’s Under The 2021 Toyota Corolla’s Hood?
The 12th-generation Toyota Corolla made its arrival in two flavours—the Corolla Hatchback, and the best-selling Corolla body style, the sedan. Both the hatchback and the sedan are based on Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA), so they share powertrains. That’s good news for both—the sedan inherits a little bit of the hatchback’s feistiness, while the hatchback enjoys some of the sedan’s comfort and refinement.
With the exception of the SE and XSE, the Corolla boasts an updated 1.8-litre inline-four that makes a modest 139hp and pairs with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The sportier trims (or ‘grades,’ as the Toyota press videos call them) will get you a 169 hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder that pairs with an optional six-speed manual, or the aforementioned CVT. Keep in mind, you’ll need that CVT to reach the Corolla’s potential as the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid in its class at 6.7 L/100 km.
Regardless, the Corolla provides a comfortable, well-mannered ride—but the larger engine’s greater power output definitely elevated its personality. That said, it’s easy to maneuver, with light steering and sturdy brakes.How’s The 2021 Toyota Corolla’s Interior?
Designed to delight and fitted with more standard features than ever, the Corolla boasts a smart interior that is brimming with value, offering a quality of materials a level of finish we’ve come to expect in more premium vehicles.
The interior has been redesigned for 2021; the front-row seats of the new Corolla are now designed in such a way that increases visibility for the driver and passenger. The dashboard controls are cleverly shaped to widen your field of view and outfitted with soft-touch controls for ease of use.. The SE and XSE offer sportier front bucket seats that are contoured to provide additional support, with an optional 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat. Passive entry and push-button start now come standard on every model.
Both Corolla body styles seat five passengers, but the sedan will do so in greater comfort. Whereas sedans offer 42/34 inches of legroom front/rear, hatchback examples provide the same amount of front legroom but just 30 inches in the back seat
How’s The 2021 Toyota Corolla’s Tech?
Along with standard Bluetooth capability, six speakers, audio auxiliary input, USB audio, and voice recognition, the 2021 Corolla sports an infotainment display (7-inches on the L trim, 8-inches on all other models) that works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Advanced electronic safety features like a backup camera, dynamic cruise control, a pre-collision system with pedestrian and bicycle detection, lane departure alert with lane-keep assist and auto high beams are also now standard fare. Integrated navigation and a JBL premium nine-speaker audio system are available on certain grades.
Our Take on The 2021 Toyota Corolla
The Corolla’s wider track, lower centre of gravity and highly-rigid structure—along with features like multi-link rear suspension and active cornering assist—combine to create a fun driving experience, especially with the optional 169 hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder (don’t even get us started on the six speed manual). The Corolla features a smartly designed suspension that results in excellent ride quality regardless of road conditions.
There’s a reason why the Corolla’s the best selling compact of all time. And its latest entry is better looking than ever, with a colourful styling that belies its ‘beige’ reputation, standard equipment where it counts, and an interior that feels more premium than you’d expect. Taken altogether, it’s no surprise that the Corolla is our pick for top all-around compact.