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QUALITY | 8 out of 10
The overall length of the Corolla is now up to nearly 183 inches—placing it at what, just a few years ago, would have made it one of the more compact mid-sizers. Wheelbase is up a significant 3.9 inches, which translates almost entirely to back-seat space.
For those in front, the range of adjustment has been improved and the lower seat cushions are a bit longer—a change that’s welcomed especially by long-legged drivers; and the rake of the steering column has been reduced by two degrees compared to the outgoing Corolla, so altogether it also feels closer to a ‘big-car’ driving position.
By the numbers, Toyota says that rear legroom has gone up a whopping 5.1 inches. For real-world purposes, we’ll call that two or three inches. Rear headroom has gone down just a tenth of an inch; but sitting in new versus old models it felt more pronounced.
Toyota’s choice to stick with a relatively simple dash design that pushes out at the corners pays dividends when you look at passenger space—because it means that front occupants (the front passenger in particular) might be happier with their seat in a more forward position than otherwise, altogether adding to rear legroom.
What betrays the Corolla as a compact is twofold: first, the back seat still feels narrow—too much so to comfortably fit three adults across, even if there is enough legroom. Secondly, headroom is still tight; six-footers will find their heads mashed up against the ceiling.
Ride quality is great, whether you're looking at the base L, the LE or LE Eco, or the sporty S. All but the S tend to be on the soft side, with a little more rebound motion over major bumps and railroad tacks. The S feels completely different, with a more sophisticated, tight, and controlled feel—although it's not at all harsh.
Engine noise is isolated away from the cabin a bit more than in previous Corollas. Although from an NVH standpoint, we were surprised to notice the A/C compressor cycling sharply on and off in a way that we haven’t heard from many other new cars.
There are cupholders in front and rear door panels, along with center-console cupholders for those in front. Trunk space is about as you'd expect for a compact in this class; there are 13 cubic feet, officially, but the opening is wide and the floor is low and flat. Rear seatbacks are split 60/40 and flip forward, too, on all models.
More back-seat space, improved materials, and better front seats are among many improvements in the new Corolla.