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Car reviews - Toyota - Corolla - sedan SX

Our Opinion

We like
Great ride and good handling, lots of rear legroom and a big boot, high level of standard features means great value for money, five-star ANAP rating.
Room for improvement
Lacks satellite navigation, seats could be more contoured, white goods appearance

Gallery

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Toyota logo12 Nov 2014

By RICHARD BERRY

Price and Equipment

THE SX sedan sits in the middle of the Corolla range and is priced from $22,990, plus on-road costs in six-speed manual form and $25,240 for the seven-speed CVT transmission.

A high level of standard features at this price point represents great value for money. The list includes keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, the new smartphone app-enabled Toyota Link multimedia system with 6.1-inch touchscreen and voice recognition, Bluetooth connectivity, six-speaker audio, front fog-lights, 16-inch alloy wheels and a full-sized spare.

Missing is satellite navigation which is standard on the top-of-the range $30,990 ZR variant.

The Corolla may have been king in 2013, but the small car segment under $40,000 is full of fierce sedan competitors such as the popular Mazda3 Maxx ($24,990), the Australian-built Holden Cruze SRI ($25,090), Hyundai’s mid-spec Elantra Elite ($26,840), the Mitsubishi Lancer LS ($22,990) or Subaru’s base-model Impreza all-wheel drive 2.0i ($25,990).

Interior

While it’s unlikely the Corolla’s interior will win any beauty prizes, its clean lines, modern look and well-designed functionality make the cockpit a pleasant place to be.

The slab-like dash with integrated touchscreen stands tall and the soft-touch top cocoons the instrument cluster.

While elements such as the air-conditioning controls appear a little down market, there’s a driver focus to the cabin with all buttons within easy reach of the pilot.

As the mid-range Corolla, the SX gets premium touches to the cabin such as chrome-effect trim and Toyota’s Optitron instrument cluster with LCD centre display.

The cloth seats are comfortable, but overly large and the lack of snugness means lateral support isn’t there to hold you tightly in the corners.

With a wheelbase 100mm longer than the previous Corolla sedan, interior space is ample and this 188cm writer can sit behind his driving position with legroom to spare. Large, wide opening rear doors make entry and exit easy, while boot space is a class leader at 470 litres.

Engine and transmission

The new Corolla sedan line-up is equipped with an upgraded 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol making 103kW and 173Nm, which is up 3kW but down 2Nm on the previous 1.8-litre unit.

A new seven-speed CVT replaces the four-speed automatic, increasing fuel efficiency by 11 per cent with Toyota claiming an average combined fuel consumption of 6.6 litres per 100km.

In our test we actually bettered this without even trying, with a reading of 6.4L/100km after submitting the CVT Corolla to a week of highway, city and country driving covering more than 400km.

Toyota claims the manual returns 7.0L/100km, but we came back with 9.0L/100km after 200km of combined driving due in part to some more spirited steering.

While sports car performance is not the Corolla’s goal in life, the improvements under the bonnet give it plenty of oomph to safely overtake on the highway, and potter happily and efficiently about town.

Ride and handling

Toyota overhauled the suspension for the 11th-generation Corolla sedan which was followed by two months of testing in Australia by engineers from the local arm of the company to tune it for our roads.

They have done their job well because the ride of the new Corolla sedan is superb.

Our repeatable test loop covering some of the worst roads in Sydney – and that’s saying something – never rattled the Corolla, which remained composed on patchy concrete, undulating dips and the most evil of speed bumps.

The 205/55/R16 Yokohamas underneath would be helping, too, for sure.

Sometimes handling is compromised if the ride is improved, but not here. A more rigid body with wheels closer to the corners and a ball joint stabiliser which reduces body roll work with the revised suspension to produce a car that handles well.

The recalibrated rack and pinion electrically assisted steering provides great feel and feedback.

While our test concentrates on the CVT which performed faultlessly, we also drove the manual, which pleased with its easy shifts.

Safety and servicing

The Corolla sedan has a five-star ANCAP crash test rating. There’s seven airbags including Toyota’s new twin-chamber front seat design to protect the hips and chest, while there’s one for the driver’s knee and full-length side curtain airbags.

Traction and stability control, ABS, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist add to what is an excellent safety package wrapped in an impact absorbing body of high-strength lightweight steel.

Verdict

The SX sedan is a worthy wearer of the Corolla badge, which has stood for reliable, practical and enjoyable motoring for decades in Australia.

The car has grown in size and the new looks, while not quite sexy, are modern and fresh.

The ride is excellent, the handling is good and the Australian engineers have done such a great job that this suspension set up has been used in another seven markets around the world, including the United States.

Rivals

Mazda3 Maxx, from $24,990, plus on-road costs
The Mazda3 is the Corolla’s worst nightmare, not only does it ooze good looks with it curves and lines, and have a great value-for-money package, but the sporty feel to its ride and handling makes this more a driver’s car.

Holden Cruze SRI, from $25,090, plus on-road costs
The Cruze is a good Australian-made alternative with locally tuned suspension and great standard kit. It’s a challenger to the Corolla, but can’t match its space and great functionality.

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