The 2016 Toyota Corolla sedan's 183-inch length and expansive rear seat area would have suited a mid-size sedan just a few years ago. Its 2014 redesign gained it almost 4 inches in wheelbase, and a whopping 5.1 inches more leg room in the rear. Four 6-footers can ride in relative comfort, which wasn't a feat possible in previous Corolla generations.
The front seats are more adjustable and have longer cushions than before, making them as comfortable as seats in rival compacts, perhaps more so. The driving position has a relaxed, "big car" feel, and Toyota has fitted cupholders in both front and rear door panels, along with a pair in the center console for those in front. All models except for the base L get a rear center armrest with two built-in cupholders as well.
In back, the practical increase in leg room is closer to 2 or 3 inches, and head room has actually gone down just a bit. Still, long-legged occupants can be comfortable in the back seat of a Corolla for the first time, without asking those in front to slide their seats forward. What betrays the Corolla as a compact is mainly the narrow back seat—which still won't comfortably fit three adults across, even if legroom is sufficient.
The 13 cubic feet of trunk space is about what you'd expect for a compact sedan. Its opening is wide, the floor is low and flat, and the 60/40-split rear seatbacks fold forward on all models. If you want hatchback versatility, though, there's no Corolla for that (unlike competitors like the Ford Focus). Instead, you'll have to drive the new Scion iM compact hatchback in the adjacent Scion dealership, if there is one—it's essentially a Corolla underneath.
Interior material quality is good, though clearly designed with cost in mind. The two-tier dash helps maximize perceived space up front, and the cabin almost seems to be trying to rival mid-size interiors.
Soft-touch material covers the dash surfaces, with pinstriped accents are strewn about the cabin on the dashboard and door panels. The only jarring note is the piano-black center-stack trim in LE and higher models—which gathers dust instantly and already looks somewhat dated. Sporty Corolla S models have leather-like Softex bolsters and more coarse, contrasting seat upholstery.
Refinement is good, though not necessarily best in class. The Corolla isolates its engine noise well, and the longer wheelbase provides admirable ride quality in any of the four models. The base L, the mid-level LE, and the LE Eco tend to be on the soft side, with some rebound motion over major bumps and railroad tracks. The Corolla S feels surprisingly different, with a tighter and more sophisticated suspension that feels more controlled—while managing to remain free of harshness.