2013 Toyota Corolla Review

Consumer Reviews
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The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
July 31, 2013

The 2013 Toyota Corolla fits the transportation needs of those who want a comfortable, safe, and very low-cost vehicle that will be long-term dependable; those who crave any driving excitement should look elsewhere.

Simple and proven, the 2013 Toyota Corolla sticks to what it knows best: ease of use, reliability, and affordability. The Corolla has been left behind the rest of the market in terms of technology, refinement, and driving involvement, but a new model coming for 2014 hopes to change that.

The current Corolla, however, is one of the blandest-looking, most innocuous compact sedans on the market. A revised grille design for the 2013 model year tried, but failed, to change that. The Corolla isn't ugly, or off-putting, but it's also certainly not attractive--especially when parked next to its competitive set. The cabin is the same: simple and useful, but devoid of character or style.

People who choose to drive out of necessity and practicality are going to find everything they need from the Corolla's performance, but those who like to drive may find the experience too appliance-like. The Corolla's 132-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine feels a bit short on power on the highway--particularly with the four-speed automatic, which has widely spaced gears and hesitant responses that can together add drama to highway passes. In general, the Corolla is softly sprung and lacking a handling and ride sophistication that many rivals now have. The electric power steering is dull and overly light, and that combined with the suspension makes the Corolla feel out of sorts on a curvy road.

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Functionally, the Corolla hits all the marks--especially with respect to seating space and comfort. Front seats are a bit short and spongy and that's the only caution (really for taller drivers, who might not find them as supportive), but otherwise there's plenty of headroom and legroom as well as decent space for average-size adults in the back seat. Ride comfort is good in most cases, and the Corolla's cabin is well-isolated from road and wind noise; it's really up to par with mid-size cars in this respect. The only blemishes we see are the lack of detailing, the subpar look and feel of some of the materials, and a little more engine noise than is typical.

The Corolla remains one of the better picks in this class for the safety-minded. Safety equipment is typical within the class, with front side airbags, side-curtain airbags, and active front head restraints all standard. In addition to four-star federal results overall (plus top-notch five-star ratings in side impact), the Corolla has earned top scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in all test categories—resulting in a renewed Top Safety Pick accolade for 2013.

Some important new tech features have been added to the 2013 Corolla; a new 6.1-inch touch-screen audio system with Bluetooth hands-free calling, Bluetooth audio streaming, and USB connectivity are included in all but the base Corolla L. Across the lineup, there are three trim levels: base L, mid-range LE, and the somewhat sportier-looking S. Corolla LE and S models get improved audio systems, cruise control, steering-wheel audio controls, variable intermittent wipers, and heated mirrors. And S doesn't offer performance that's much sportier, it gets stitched seat accents on sport seats, fog lamps, alloy wheels, a spoiler, additional body cladding, and a sport gauge cluster.

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2013 Toyota Corolla

Styling

The 2013 Toyota Corolla is one of the blandest, most ubiquitous small-car picks--although its junior-Camry look may appeal to some.

The 2013 Toyota Corolla is, from a styling standpoint, one of the blandest, most innocuous compact-sedan designs. And even with last-minute substitution of a new grille design for 2013 (the Corolla is going to be all-new next year), there's very little visual excitement outside or in. 

Even though the Corolla's design is conservative to the bone, it remains quite attractive and well-proportioned, with a clear family resemblance to the larger Camry. It's smooth and reasonably handsome, but it lacks the modern panache, in the way of body creases and flowing sheetmetal, that's quickly become the norm for smaller cars especially.

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The Corolla bucks adventurous designs, cockpit-style layouts, and zoomy styling inside, too. Instead, the more shelf-like instrument panel feels like a slightly scaled-down version of the Camry's, with two-tone schemed flowing around into the door trim, and a center stack of audio and climate controls. It's not exciting, but it's straightforward and functional--and certainly no fashion victim.
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2013 Toyota Corolla

Performance

The 2013 Corolla is appliance-like and unexciting behind the wheel, although it's competent in every way.

The 2013 Toyota Corolla is a car that's built for efficiency, practicality, and necessity, and it drives that way.

Even if the Corolla's 132-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine looks up to snuff on a spec panel, it feels a bit short on power on the highway--particularly with the four-speed automatic, which has widely spaced gears and hesitant responses that can together add drama to highway passes. The five-speed manual is pleasant to use, on the other hand, and helps extract the most from the engine.

Drive the Corolla at a slower pace and it's more in its element, with the automatic transmission shifting smoothly and the engine seemingly in its element in the middle of the rev band.

The way the Corolla's steering and suspension are tuned also suits more relaxed driving; it's quite softly sprung, and the Corolla lacks the handling and ride sophistication that many rivals now have. Roads with tight esses can leave the Corolla feeling short on body control, while the electric power steering is dull and overly light.

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2013 Toyota Corolla

Comfort & Quality

Cut-rate interior trims and engine noise detract from what's otherwise a very spacious, comfortable, and functional cabin.

The 2013 Corolla has a cabin that's stark and basic, yet comfortable and well-designed. In that way, those who aren't as image conscious are going to be happy with what's inside the Corolla while those who demand a little more refinement and attention to detail might be left wanting.

Functionally, the Corolla hits all the marks--especially with respect to seating space and comfort. Front seats are a bit short and spongy and that's the only caution (really for taller drivers, who might not find them as supportive), but otherwise there's plenty of headroom and legroom as well as decent space for average-size adults in the back seat. Ride comfort is good in most cases, and the Corolla's cabin is well-isolated from road and wind noise; it's really up to par with mid-size cars in this respect.

Storage-wise, it's all here as well, with 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.

Its in the materials and the fine details that the 2013 Corolla fails to impress. Top Corolla LE models--and the Corolla S--are better-dressed than the base Corolla L inside; but even then the combination of a conservative design and lackluster materials mean that your passengers won't ever be fooled into thinking you're in anything but a very affordable sedan.

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Once upon a time the Corolla was at the head of the compact class in powertrain refinement; but today's model has higher-than-expected levels of engine noise, with an especially coarse note when pushed hard.
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2013 Toyota Corolla

Safety

If safety is a priority but you're on a tight budget, the Corolla remains one of the better picks.

The 2013 Toyota Corolla is safe and secure, with all the expected safety features for a sedan of this size and price, along with some excellent crash-test ratings.

In addition to four-star federal results overall (plus top-notch five-star ratings in side impact), the Corolla has earned top scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in all test categories—resulting in a renewed Top Safety Pick accolade for 2013.

The Corolla includes front side airbags, side-curtain airbags, and active front head restraints, in addition to electronic stability control, across the entire model line.

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Another noteworthy positive for the Corolla is its good outward visibility—made possible through a relatively high seating position and low beltline, relative to other compact sedans.
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2013 Toyota Corolla

Features

The 2013 Toyota Corolla comes with a rather limited feature and option list, but all the essentials are here.

In its last year before a major redesign, the Corolla isn't completely unchanged from 2012. In fact, for 2013 it gets some important new tech features, with a new 6.1-inch touch-screen audio system with Bluetooth hands-free calling, Bluetooth audio streaming, and USB connectivity included in all but the base Corolla L.

Across the lineup, there are three trim levels: base L, mid-range LE, and the somewhat sportier-looking S. The L model is no longer so basic, and it includes power windows, locks, and mirrors, along with keyless entry, air conditioning, a trip computer, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Also, LE and S models get improved audio systems, cruise control, steering-wheel audio controls, variable intermittent wipers, and heated mirrors. And S doesn't offer performance that's much sportier, it gets stitched seat accents on sport seats, fog lamps, alloy wheels, a spoiler, additional body cladding, and a sport gauge cluster.

A moonroof and XM satellite radio are among the few factory options, while there are many additional convenience- or appearance-related dealer-installed options, ranging from larger alloy wheels to cargo organizers. And integrated Bluetooth and an upgraded audio system are available in the base Corolla L for a modest (and worthwhile) $280.

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2013 Toyota Corolla

Fuel Economy

Standing apart from the Toyota's super-frugal hybrids like the Prius, the 2013 Corolla is merely average for fuel-efficiency in the crowded class of compact sedans.

EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2013 Toyota Corolla are just typical for the class, if you compare it to other compact sedans. In fact, its highway rating, of 34 mpg with either transmission, is a bit lower than the current class average. And this all comes as a little surprising, especially if you're acquainted with the brand's very fuel-stingy lineup of Prius hybrids, which range up to 50 mpg Combined.

Whether it has a manual or automatic transmission, the Corolla gets 34 mpg highway, according to the EPA, with city ratings of 26 or 27 mpg. But in this era of targeting 40 mpg on the highway, the Corolla lags most rivals.

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April 29, 2015
2013 Toyota Corolla 4-Door Sedan Automatic S (Natl)

economical,dependable car

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Very good on gas,stylish and cosy,but bland interior.Back seat more suitible for children.
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April 28, 2015
2013 Toyota Corolla 4-Door Sedan Manual L (SE)

Easy to drive

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It's a easy to drive car, not heavy wheel, but the not powerful enough when entering into the highways, or accelerating.
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Styling 5
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 8
Features 8
Fuel Economy 8
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