2011 Toyota Corolla Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 4, 2011

The 2011 Toyota Corolla is spacious, safe, and well-equipped; but if you're looking for excitement or inspiration, it's not here.

With the discontinuation of the sporty XRS model, the 2011 Toyota Corolla is all vanilla. While the current Corolla is much more attractive than previous generations, one of the car's biggest drawbacks remains its inability to excite the visual senses; Toyota has given the Corolla a refresh this year, but it's rather minor and mainly just brings this sedan in line with the Camry's look. Overall, the Corolla still lacks the sporty and modern panache of many of its rivals, but this may be ideal for those who don't want to stand out from the crowd.

Across the lineup, there are three trim levels: base, LE, and S. The LE model is offered only with a four-speed automatic transmission, while base and S models can be had with either an automatic or a five-speed manual. All Corollas come with a 132-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Compared to most other models in this class (like the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, or Honda Civic), the Corolla feels slightly down on power—especially at highway speeds. The four-speed automatic isn't too bad, although its gears feel widely spaced, but the five-speed manual is pleasant to use. Although our editors hadn't yet driven the 2011 Corolla at the time we published this update, we have found former—and virtually identical, mechanically—models to be too softly sprung and lacking a handling and ride sophistication that many rivals now have. The power steering—a newer electric system—is dull and overly light, and the Corolla resists quick changes in motions; it's not at all tuned for enthusiastic or responsive handling.

The interior of the 2011 Corolla is well designed, but rather stark and basic. In its LE and S trim levels, the Corolla gets a little more dressed-up, but even then its materials and execution feel subpar compared to rivals in the same price range. Seating in the Corolla is quite good overall, with plenty of headroom and legroom in front, and even decent space for average-sized adults in the back seat. But front seats are a bit short and spongy; they're not so comfortable for longer trips. Storage-wise, there's a double glovebox, along with a few cubbies, a console box, and large door pockets, but the trunk is on the small side, even among cars in this class, and has intrusive hinges.

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Since the Corolla is quite softly sprung, ride comfort is good on most types of roads, though it can become bouncy on broken freeway surfaces. The one area where the Corolla is a standout, however, is in interior quietness and refinement. There isn't a lot of engine noise, and the powertrain is smooth. The Corolla's cabin is also well-isolated from wind and road noise, and feels up to the standards of a mid-size car in this respect.

Safety is a bright spot for the 2011 Toyota Corolla; it performs very well in most crash tests and has a good set of features. For 2011, it's an IIHS Top Safety Pick. Anti-lock brakes; stability and traction control; front-seat side airbags; full-length side curtain airbags; and active front head restraints remain standard on the Corolla.

The 2011 Toyota Corolla comes well equipped, even in base form. Air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and a CD player are standard, in addition to a new trip computer. Optional features include a navigation system and XM Satellite Radio—rare features in this segment. However, if you choose a base model, you're going basic in a way you might not suspect; there are no power windows, locks, or even mirrors available; you have to step up to the higher trims for that. Major options on the Corolla are limited to a moonroof, an upgraded sound system with Bluetooth, and a Premium package that brings the S wheels, the moonroof, and Bluetooth/sound upgrades to the LE.

6

2011 Toyota Corolla

Styling

The 2011 Toyota Corolla gets a fresher face borrowed in part from the Camry—though it's not much more exciting.

Overall, the Corolla lacks the sporty and modern panache of many of its rivals, but this may be ideal for those who don't want to stand out from the crowd.

The Toyota Corolla has received modestly revised front and rear styling for 2011, but mostly the design is carried over. In general, the design feels safe and mainstream, with no significant nod toward the wave of individualism that's washing over the small-car market (that's left to Toyota's Scion brand).

The changes for 2011 include, up close, new bumpers, grille, headlamps, trunk lid, taillamps, and license-plate garnish. The effect isn't so significant, but if anything from some angles the Corolla looks even more like a mini-Camry.

Inside, the Corolla's cabin design isn't overt in any way, and it clearly prioritizes practicality above all else. for 2011, the Corolla gets a new seat fabric and color, along with a change in gauge lettering and slightly different instrument panel colors, along with a new steering wheel in the S model.

6

2011 Toyota Corolla

Performance

With the discontinuation of the sporty XRS model, the 2011 Toyota Corolla is all bread-and-butter—and very little butter at that.

In most respects, the 2011 Toyota Corolla has adequate performance, but not much more. And with the discontinuation of the sporty XRS model, you won't find driving excitement here.

Across the lineup, there are three trim levels: base, LE, and S. The LE model is offered only with a four-speed automatic transmission, while base and S models can be had with either an automatic or a five-speed manual. All Corollas come with a 132-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Compared to most other models in this class (like the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, or Honda Civic), the Corolla feels slightly down on power—especially at highway speeds. The four-speed automatic isn't too bad, although its gears feel widely spaced, but the five-speed manual is pleasant to use.

Although our editors hadn't yet driven the 2011 Corolla at the time we published this update, we have found former—and virtually identical, mechanically—models to be too softly sprung and lacking a handling and ride sophistication that many rivals now have. The power steering—a newer electric system—is dull and overly light, and the Corolla resists quick changes in motions; it's not at all tuned for enthusiastic or responsive handling.

8

2011 Toyota Corolla

Comfort & Quality

The 2011 Toyota Corolla has a spacious interior and a comfortable, refined ride, but its interior materials and details look and feel subpar.

The interior of the 2011 Corolla is well designed, but rather stark and basic. In its LE and S trim levels, the Corolla gets a little more dressed-up, but even then its materials and execution feel subpar compared to rivals in the same price range.

Seating in the Corolla is quite good overall, with plenty of headroom and legroom in front, and even decent space for average-sized adults in the back seat. But front seats are a bit short and spongy; they're not so comfortable for longer trips.

Storage-wise, there's a double glovebox, along with a few cubbies, a console box, and large door pockets, but the trunk is on the small side, even among cars in this class, and has intrusive hinges.

Since the Corolla is quite softly sprung, ride comfort is good on most types of roads, though it can become bouncy on broken freeway surfaces. The one area where the Corolla is a standout, however, is in interior quietness and refinement. There isn't a lot of engine noise, and the powertrain is smooth. The Corolla's cabin is also well-isolated from wind and road noise, and feels up to the standards of a mid-size car in this respect.

8

2011 Toyota Corolla

Safety

With a comprehensive list of features and an impressive set of crash-test ratings, the 2011 Toyota Corolla offers good safety.

Safety is a bright spot for the 2011 Toyota Corolla; it performs very well in most crash tests and has a good set of features.

The 2011 Toyota Corolla is a top performer in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, achieving top 'good' ratings in all categories, along with the agency's Top Safety Pick accolade for 2011. And while the federal government hasn't yet tested the Corolla in its revised (and more stringent) tests introduced this model year, in the previous federal testing system, the Corolla achieved four out of five stars overall and five stars in frontal impact.

Its safety feature list is very strong, too. Anti-lock brakes; stability and traction control; front-seat side airbags; full-length side curtain airbags; and active front head restraints remain standard on the Corolla.

Outward visibility is actually quite good in the Corolla—thanks to a high seating position plus a straightforward design in which the beltline doesn't rise too aggressively.

8

2011 Toyota Corolla

Features

The 2011 Toyota Corolla has a decent set of features in LE and S trims, while die-hard misers will be happy to hear that there's still a model with wind-up windows.

The 2011 Toyota Corolla comes well equipped, even in base form. Air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and a CD player are standard, in addition to a new trip computer. Optional features include a navigation system and XM Satellite Radio—rare features in this segment. However, if you choose a base model, you're going basic in a way you might not suspect; there are no power windows, locks, or even mirrors available; you have to step up to the higher trims for that.

The LE model includes quite a list of additional features, such as cruise control, steering-wheel audion controls, power heated mirrors, keyless entry and, yes, those power windows and locks. The top-of-the-line sporty S model adds larger 16-inch alloy wheels plus a long list of appearance extras, like a black housing for the headlamps, a chrome exhaust tip, fog lamps, sport seats, and badging and trim. The package does add some punch to the Corolla's look.

Major options on the Corolla are limited to a moonroof, an upgraded sound system with Bluetooth, and a Premium package that brings the S wheels, the moonroof, and Bluetooth/sound upgrades to the LE.

8

2011 Toyota Corolla

Fuel Economy

The 2011 Toyota Corolla is a very green choice, though you can do better with a hybrid like the Prius, or several other new non-hybrid models.

The 2011 Toyota Corolla remains among the most fuel-efficient non-turbocharged models on the market. But with the introduction of the 2011 Hyundai Elantra, which now gets 40 mpg highway, and special versions of the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Cruze that also get 40 mpg or more, the Corolla is no longer a car to single out for being frugal on fuel.

While the Corolla still comes with a four-speed automatic, at a time when many cars offer a six-speed, that doesn't seem to bring much of a mileage penalty. Automatic models return 26 mpg city, 34 highway, while five-speed-manual models get 28/35.

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April 28, 2015
2011 Toyota Corolla 4-Door Sedan Automatic LE (Natl)

Reliable, Low-cost Vehicle

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This car is not only reliable but easy to maintain (cost-wise). It may not be as fast as other vehicles with a more powerful motor but it has enough power to give you a comfortable ride.
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Styling 6.0
Performance 6.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 8.0
Features 8.0
Fuel Economy 8.0
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