2016 Corolla S Review

April 1st, 2016 by

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The 2016 Toyota Corolla S Upgrade

Long Term Review

The Corolla is arguably the most well-recognized model in Toyota’s lineup. Along with its identity, a long-standing history announces the 2016 Corolla as the 12th generation and its 51st year on sale. That’s a lot of time on the front-lines of one of the toughest segments out there, and yet this compact still stands as the world’s best-selling car.

Your typical Corolla buyer is no secret shopper – they’re looking for dependability, fuel efficiency and a great price.  Of course, in this new era of compacts you’ll be expecting cutting edge tech, looks, convenience and performance – this long-term review takes a deeper look at all angles for anyone interested in the 2016 Corolla S Upgrade. Over the course of several months I fortunately had the opportunity to experience the vehicle from late summer all through the winter to get a real idea of how the Corolla’s performance, form, and functionality come together in Canada’s distinct seasons.

Starting from the outside, the 2016 Corolla S shares the same 12th generation updated styling seen across your Corolla lineup. Although unique to the Corolla S is the Sport Front grille that ads a piano-black shine and fog lights that really give a distinctive look compared to the other trim levels.  Paired with angular LED headlights in the front, a lip spoiler in the rear, 17” wheels, and integrated signals in the side mirrors, the Corolla S stands out as a slick little compact.

Where I wish the Corolla would stand out a little bit more is in the general profile and body shape. To your average buyer this will straddle the form versus functionality argument and what works best for them. Personally, I think with a lower profile stance and more aggressive body lines, the Corolla would wear the “S” badge proudly. Although, those looking for the functionality of an airy cabin won’t see issues with the look of the curvier dimensions.

Stepping inside, I still remember saying “wow” the first time getting into this Corolla. It’s not going to rival your entry-level Lexus or Acura in terms of the tech layout, but it will cover just about everything you’d need and more in a daily driver.

The layout displays an angular wide dash that matches exterior styling cues with a piano-black finish. A sleek 6.1” touchscreen looks clean, minimalist and is easy to use. Just below, digital climate controls give a high-tech look while being quick and intuitive. Special to the S trim, a multi-informational display in the gauge cluster shares your fuel efficiency info, distance to empty, and your vehicle settings. Add-in steering wheel controls, Bluetooth and hands-free calling, and this Corolla fits into 2016 perfectly. While the list of available tech features are nice, the crisp and clean layout is what ties everything seamlessly together.

Cabin comfort gets high marks with large front bucket seats, an airy cabin and high quality materials. One of the biggest selling factors of the Corolla with our Canadian winters didn’t go unnoticed– heated seats. Even starting the car up in -30C, the heat kicked in quickly and efficiently, warming both myself and my passengers in no time. To the rear, seating is very comfortable with ample headroom and a centre arm-rest with cupholders. Leg room isn’t stellar, but when compared to the competition it’s a full 10” longer than the Honda Civic, and 5” longer than the Hyundai Elantra and Subaru Impreza.

While I don’t have a family just yet and it’s not often I have passengers in the rear seats, the 60/40 folding rear seats and a generous trunk size became a huge perk during this review when I moved into a new apartment. While the max cargo capacity sounds impressive at 13 cubic feet, a trip to IKEA for a couple Hemnes bookshelves, some Bestås, and a Sinnerlig all in one go will tell you the real story.

Last but not least, the driving performance and feel of the Corolla is a combination of entry-level sport and practicality. My Corolla S was matched with a 6 speed manual transmission that delivered 132 horsepower, and while the S trim is given sport-tuned suspension, the manual transmission delivers an expected response and provides a decent amount of pep in the higher revs. My only real complaint about the 2016 Corolla S is the placement of the centre console being in-line with the stick shift – this creates an awkward placement of your right arm to shift efficiently for those with longer arms.  I did however appreciate having that 6th gear for those extra-long road trips or even just the Anthony Henday or Whitemud. Fuel efficiency is top-notch with my average mileage at 7.3L/100km in the city and 6.8L/100km.

Over Edmonton winter roads I found the ride to be smooth and concise, nothing jostling or overly soft like a town car. For the daily city driver, the Corolla’s ABS and traction control perform well whether you’re stopping or trying to get up and running on snow and ice. Add in ample ground clearance and heated side mirrors for those snowy days and you’ll always feel safe and secure.

Over 6 trips to Calgary during my review allowed for a great perspective of how the Corolla fares on the Highway. While the car doesn’t have any issues keeping up on the highway, it does need a little extra room for passing due to its economical engine. The biggest perks on these trips were fuel efficiency, a surprisingly low level of road noise, and seat comfort. So while we could use a little more pep in passing power, the tech layout, comfort and cash saved on gas will make up for it no problem.

Overall I had a blast driving the 2016 Corolla. I think the Corolla shines most in covering all the basics of what you would expect a car to be included with in 2016 plus the reliability, efficiency and pricing that’s synonymous with the Corolla heritage. Through a Canadian summer and winter, several road trips and hauling furniture, this little compact held up perfectly.

– Lowell

Marketing and Digital Development

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