While its designers have been getting more daring, sometimes to peculiar effect, the 2016 Toyota Corolla sedan plays it safe. It has shed some of its old dowdiness for a few more touches of stylistic flair, but it's still recognizable as a Corolla—and also distinct from its predecessor, which the last one wasn't.
Toyota calls the look more athletic, and says it's an example of "Iconic Dynamism"—make of that what you will. We see bits and pieces of other compact sedans in both its overall shape and some of the finer details. Derivative Dynamism might be more accurate, but that's not really a put-down. The current model does what it needs to while avoiding the generic look of so many previous Corollas.
Its longer wheelbase brings the wheels closer to the corners of the car, which not only gives it more interior space but makes it a bit sportier. The design is finished off with new details like LED headlamps and running lamps. If the car comes with a blacked-out grille, it's the sportier Corolla S model. Similarly, the LE and LE Eco models now have a grille that's more distinct from the base Corolla L model.
The Corolla's interior adopts a two-tier dashboard design that also adds to the impression of interior space, pushing the corners further from the front-seat occupants toward the base of the steeply raked windshield. The dash surface itself is a soft-touch material with molded-in stitching, along with a handful of subtle pinstriped accents in contrasting colors on the dash and door panels. It doesn't sound all that effective, but somehow it comes across as fresh—at least for a Corolla.
Base models have upholstery in a Steel Gray Fabric, while LE and LE Eco models have an upgraded and nicer fabric. The seats in the S models combine leather-like SofTex bolsters with coarse, color-toned fabrics in between. Behind the steering wheel, a three-dial gauge cluster with silver accents is standard on all models except the sportier S. That model gets a cluster with two gauges flanking a 3.5-inch screen for various computer functions.