2021 Toyota Corolla Apex
2021 Toyota Corolla Apex
2021 Toyota Corolla Apex Interior
2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

In any of its forms, the Corolla is practical, solidly built, and economical.


The Hybrid only comes in one rather basic trim level, the hatchback body style prioritizes sporty looks over cargo room and rear-seat passenger space, and the new-for-’21 Apex Edition sedan suffers from a harsh ride.


The Corolla is built on Toyota’s TNGA (for Toyota New Global Architecture) platform, which also underpins the Toyota C-HR and the latest-generation Toyota Prius.


The Corolla is Toyota’s compact car, and it’s available in 4-door-sedan or 4-door-hatchback form. Sedan trim levels ascend through L, LE, SE, XLE and XSE models, while the sedan-only Hybrid comes solely in LE trim. The Corolla Hatchback comes only in SE and XSE form. A specially trimmed Nightshade model based on the SE trim level is available for both the hatchback and sedan. L, LE, and XLE Corollas are powered by a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder that makes 139 horsepower; SE and XSE get a 169-hp 2.0-liter four, while the Hybrid has a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder paired with two electric motors for a total output of 121 horsepower. The 2.0 engine offers the choice of a 6-speed manual or CVT automatic transmission; the others are CVT-only. Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 suite of high-tech safety features is standard on all Corollas; it includes forward collision warning and mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and mitigation, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, automatic high beams, lane-keep assist, and road-sign assist. Available features include Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa Connectivity, keyless access and starting, wireless smartphone charging, heated front seats, and adaptive headlights.


The Corolla sedan gets a sporty Apex Edition variant of its SE and XSE trim levels, with a sport-tuned suspension, unique wheels, and exclusive body kit. The Hatchback gets a limited-production Special Edition model with an exclusive body kit and Supersonic Red paint. On all Corollas, Android Auto connectivity is added as a standard feature, as are rear-seat side airbags.


The Corolla is EPA-rated at 30 mpg city/38 mpg highway with the 1.8-liter engine. The 2.0-liter engine is rated at 31 city/40 highway with the CVT and 29/36 with the 6-speed manual transmission. The XLE, XSE, and Apex Edition trim levels are 1-2 mpg lower, due in part to their larger wheels. The Corolla Hybrid is rated at 53 city/52 highway. During Consumer Guide® evaluation, an XSE sedan returned 36.5 mpg in a test that consisted of 70 percent highway driving, a manual-transmission XSE hatchback averaged 28.1 in 60 percent city driving, and a Hybrid averaged 53.4 mpg in 65 percent highway driving. Corollas use regular-grade gas.


The Toyota Corolla has long had a reputation for practicality and reliability, but excitement? Not so much. However, the current Corolla lineup is notably more dynamic than before, in terms of both styling and feel behind the wheel. Even though it is only offered in a single lower-line trim, the Hybrid model deserves special mention for its smooth powertrain, excellent fuel economy, and affordable purchase price—its MSRP of $23,500 is around $1000 cheaper than that of the entry-level Toyota Prius.

BASE PRICE RANGE $19,925 – $28,210
BODY STYLES 4-Door Sedan, 4-Door Hatchback
AVAILABLE ENGINES 139-HP, 1.8-Liter 4-Cyl.; 169-HP, 2.0-Liter 4-Cyl.; 121-HP, 1.8-Liter 4-Cyl./Electric
DRIVE WHEELS Front-Wheel Drive

Other Best Buys in this Class

Share this: