Toyota Corolla Review

The Toyota Corolla returns with familiar hybrid efficiency and practicality - but with style too

Toyota Corolla prices from £13,800.
Finance from £218.21 / month.

Used Toyota Corolla prices from £13,800   Finance from £218.21 per month

Reviving a once-loved, but long-gone brand doesn't always go to plan, but Toyota hoped that the return of the Corolla name will banish memories of its recent worthy but dull cars.

It replaces the Toyota Auris, which was efficient and practical but uninspiring to look at and a bit bland to drive. As part of Toyota's "no more boring cars" pledge, the Corolla promises style and driving fun, in addition to the practicality that Toyota buyers value.

The Corolla is available as a hatchback, an estate (branded as Touring Sports), and a saloon. The hatchback version measures 40mm longer and 25mm lower than the outgoing Auris hatchback, which amounts to more space inside for passengers.

The Touring Sports estate might look the same as the hatchback from the front, but every panel rear of the centre pillar is exclusive to the model and that elongated tail allows for additional boot space that, can swallow a large mountain bike when laid flat.

Finally, there's the Corolla Saloon, which we can't help but think looks a little dated compared to the more modern styling of the hatchback and estate. It's probably telling that the company doesn't expect to sell very many of these in the UK, a thought backed up by the small number of used models available.

Inside, the new Corolla feels modern and fresh, with a neat dashboard that wraps around the driver and front passenger, its chrome detailing and surrounds elevating giving it a nice premium feel.

However, the largest eight-inch Toyota Touch 2 system looks like it has been bolted onto the middle of the dash, rather than elegantly factored into the rest of the pleasingly symmetrical design. It also lacks Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and other advanced smartphone functionality, but Toyota says it will introduce more online services and apps in the months to come.

Space in the rear of all three body styles feels a little cramped, seeing as that the swooping roofline impedes on headroom for those taller passengers, but a clever multi-layered boot in the Touring Sports model ensures plenty of space for prams, dogs and other family appurtenances.

A relatively weedy 1.2-litre petrol engine powers the most basic Corolla models but Toyota's new range of hybrid powertrains is destined to be the most popular. This consists of either a 1.8-litre petrol engine or a more powerful 2.0-litre engine version, which team up with onboard battery packs and an electric motor.

Unlike plug-in variants, this hybrid system automatically switches between charging the onboard batteries and using any stored energy to boost performance or assist in low-speed traffic scenarios. No need to plug into an outlet to charge.

Despite featuring an EV mode, the pure electric system only lasts for a couple of miles (at very low speeds) before the engine kicks in and begins the process of topping up the small battery packs stashed beneath the bodywork.

In most driving situations, the system cleverly juggles between its internal combustion engine and electrical assistance without the driver knowing. According to studies carried out in Paris and Rome, 62% of Toyota hybrid journeys are completed in zero emissions EV mode, which results in an impressive fuel economy figure of up to 65mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 73g/km.

At snail's pace around town or at motorway cruising speed, it is quiet and extremely comfortable, but things get a bit wayward when the roads get more enjoyable and that's predominantly down to the noisy, droning CVT gearbox.
Keenly priced at £21,300 for the most basic 1.2-litre petrol Hatchback Icon models, the Corolla look set to compete with the likes of VW Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus in this guise, but finding a rival hybrid hatchback is more difficult.

Buyers will have to look towards options like the Kia Niro, Hyundai Ioniq, Mini Countryman or the much larger Ford Mondeo hybrid, for example.


  • January 2019 The first Toyota Corolla models roll off the production line

Toyota Corolla Engines

1.2 Turbo, 1.8 Hybrid and 2.0 Hybrid

There are two hybrid options available with the Toyota Corolla: a standard version with a 1.8-litre engine, which will be familiar to anyone who has owned a Toyota hybrid in the past.

There's an initial burst of power, but acceleration is generally slow. If you try to speed up proceedings and push the accelerator to the floor, performance will remain moderate, with the addition of a rather unpleasant droning sound from the engine.

That's mainly the fault of the gearbox, a type known as CVT, which is good at keeping the engine at an efficient speed, but can be jerky when you're looking for maximum power.

This Corolla is best driven without haste, which results in quiet, smooth performance and excellent fuel economy. It should also enable you to get close to the official fuel economy figure of 65mpg. Although the hybrid system is most effective in traffic when it can recover energy and use it to boost acceleration, the Corolla is also efficient at steady motorway speeds.

The 2.0-litre hybrid model brings more power, but this doesn't make the Corolla a sporty car, not least because it retains the same gearbox. However, it's better suited to motorway driving, as it's quicker to accelerate at higher speeds. It will also come in handy to move a Touring Sports model that's loaded with heavy luggage.

The 1.2-litre petrol engine brings the fastest acceleration (which is only average for this type of car) but a significant hit to fuel economy.



Official fuel economy


Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed

1.2 Turbo






1.8 Hybrid






2.0 Hybrid






Toyota Corolla Trims

Icon, Icon Tech, Design and Excel

The entry-level Toyota Corolla Icon comes well specified as standard, with bright LED headlights that turn on automatically in dark conditions, alloy wheels, heated front seats, a reversing camera and adaptive cruise control, which will accelerate and brake automatically to maintain a safe distance from any traffic in front.

There's an eight-inch dashboard touchscreen with digital radio, steering wheel controls and Bluetooth for connecting your phone wirelessly. There's also an extensive list of safety technology, including an autonomous emergency braking system that can detect objects and pedestrians, and brake automatically to avoid or reduce the severity of a collision.

Upgrade to Icon Tech for a sat-nav, a seven-inch instrument display behind the steering wheel, which replaces analogue instrument binnacles, and parking sensors.

Design predictably adds further styling elements, including 17-inch alloy wheels, bright LED front fog lights and an optional opening panoramic sunroof, while rain-sensing wipers and power-adjustable and heated wing mirrors are also included in the package.

Excel sits at the very top of the range and sees 18-inch alloy wheels added, as well as bi-LED headlights, keyless entry, sports front seats, part-leather upholstery and an optional eight-speaker JBL sound system.


Toyota Corolla Reliability and warranty

A five-year/100,00-mile warranty is above average for the car industry and comes on top of Toyota's reassuring reputation for reliability - particularly when it comes to the hybrid system available with the Corolla.

It's the same technology that's fitted to Toyota's Prius and C-HR models. Both of these cars were highly rated and should help reassure customers that they are purchasing a well-built and reliable product, while Toyota's reputation has long been recognised by both customers 2018 Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction survey. 

Used Toyota Corolla

The first Toyota Corolla models are appearing on the used car market, but it's going to be a while until they are substantially cheaper than a brand new or nearly new vehicle.

That's largely because the car is expected to hold its value better than a Volkswagen Golf. Industry predictions suggest that three-year-old cars will be worth around 44% of their new price, compared with 42% for an equivalent Golf.

While this will mean higher used car prices, it usually results in competitive monthly finance payments on a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) arrangement. 

A large proportion of the cars are expected to be hybrid models and, if the previous-generation Auris is anything to go by, there will be a mix of both hatchback and estate cars to choose from.

And if you're looking for a hybrid family hatchback bargain, then the competent Auris is worth a look.  BuyaCar prices for hybrid models start at , while finance costs from per month. Diesel versions are cheaper.