When Toyota last redesigned the Corolla it landed right on target, ranking among the top models in its class. The Corolla combines the practicality and frugal fuel economy that compact-sedan buyers want with a roomy interior, upgraded amenities, and a sorely needed shot of style.The Corolla is slightly larger than the old model, which allows for a surprisingly spacious rear seat with ample leg room. Despite the bump in size, the Corolla remains small enough for easy maneuvering and parking. And it's one of the best-riding compact sedans we've tested, absorbing bumps with only muted impacts.
All Corollas are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission -- except the sportier SE, which gets a six-speed manual transmission. With the CVT our Corolla LE delivered an excellent 32 mpg overall and stretched highway mpg to 43. Performance, though, was just adequate.
Though the CVT has a tendency to hold engine revs high under acceleration, the engine and transmission live in relative harmony. The Eco version gets a 140-hp version of the same 1.8-liter engine, which is tuned for even better gas mileage. Still, given the frugal performance of the standard Corolla LE, we don't see the need to spend the premium for the Eco.