If you’re just out for a bargain, the LE Eco trim is your best choice thank to its low cost of entry and improved fuel economy. However, we think the Corolla SE is the pick of the litter.
It looks snazzier, has upgraded upholstery and your hands will be gripping a leather-wrapped wheel. Plus, you can get it with a manual transmission, which dodges the drony and annoying CVT, and brings with it some extra features like an upgraded infotainment system and a sunroof.
Overall rating – 6.5 / 10
Toyota has some excellent laurels on which to rest: a history of outstanding reliability and affordability are nothing to sneeze at, as are many of its past and current vehicles of high status. But that doesn’t change the fact that it feels like Toyota is resting on its laurels with the 2019 Corolla. The Corolla does a few things well — offering ample passenger space, comfortable seats, and a suite of standard accident avoidance tech — but beyond that, the Corolla is a conveyance, and little more.
That’s a problem when the rest of the compact car class has been making such strides in quality, drivability, and technology. Compared to its rivals, the Corolla is slow and dreary to drive, with fuel economy that lags behind class leaders. The interior feels a bit hollow and low buck, and it lacks the easy smartphone integration that’s become available in most other compact cars. A smaller-than-average trunk is another issue. Overall, there’s not much about the 2019 Toyota Corolla that impresses.
2019 Toyota Corolla models
The 2019 Toyota Corolla sedan is sold in six trim levels, and all are well equipped. The bargain-priced L comes with notable features that include LED headlights, automatic emergency braking and a touchscreen. The LE costs just a bit more and adds automatic climate control and keyless entry, while the LE Eco has a different engine and aero enhancements for improved fuel efficiency. The SE adds sporty touches, and can be ordered with a manual transmission, which also includes extra features. The XSE and XLE are luxury-themed versions of the SE and LE, respectively.
The 2019 Corolla is fitted with its traditional CVT engine
Driving – 6.5/10
Performance has never been a Corolla strong suit, and it still isn’t, especially given the current crop of compact cars. The engine hasn’t changed since 2009 and the CVT seems conflicted about its identity. If you value an engaging drive, there are better options, including the new Corolla Hatchback.
Comfort – 7.0/10
The available sport seats on the SE trim provide great support, even if they seem a bit misplaced. There’s nothing outstanding about the ride in the Corolla, but we did find the climate control to be more than sufficient in keeping cabin temps in check. The biggest sound ache is self-inflicted.
Interior – 7.5/10
Slipping in and out of the Corolla’s cabin is easy, and once you’re in there’s ample room to stretch out. All cabin controls are straightforward and the touchscreen is responsive, if not a bit small and oversensitive. Unfortunately, some will find an issue with the lack of steering column extension.
Utility – 6.0/10
Compact sedans aren’t sought after for their outstanding utility, but some do a better job of maximizing the space they have. The Corolla isn’t one of those cars. While we like the wide trunk opening and split-fold seats, the level change from the trunk prevented us from loading some longer items.
Technology – 6.5/10
The Corolla is just average across the board when it comes to technology. The driver aids are standard, but they don’t function to the standard of other competitors. Toyota’s smartphone integration, through its own proprietary app, is a poor substitute for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.