After a refresh in 2011, Toyota's venerable Corolla returns pretty much the same for 2012. It's available in only three trims: base, LE and S. All three are powered by the same 132-horsepower 1.8L engine. The base transmission is a 5-speed manual, but a 4-speed automatic is available. With the 5-speed manual transmission, the Corolla achieves an estimated EPA fuel economy rating of 27 city, 34 highway.
All Corollas get electric-assist power steering, which helps provide better responsiveness at high speed plus lighter effort at low speeds, while also enhancing fuel economy.
Refinement is better than expected in such a small car. The new Corolla incorporates many noise reduction measures not common to small cars, such as a 5-layer acoustic-glass windshield and partially shielded wiper blades.
Inside, the Corolla gets various enhancements intended to increase comfort and convenience. For instance, the steering column tilts and telescopes, and the seats are designed to better fit taller drivers. All Corollas have a bench seat in back with space for three adults across. Back seats fold forward for a flat load floor that connects through the trunk. Center console side pockets, front-door pockets, an overhead console, a rear-seat center armrest and an extra storage space above the glovebox are offered.
The list of standard features on the Corolla is impressive for the Corolla's price. It includes power mirrors, power locks, power windows, remote keyless entry, a CD/MP3 stereo with audio input, wheel, air conditioning, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. Safety equipment also includes six airbags.
LE models add heated mirrors, upgraded seats, 16-inch wheels and an anti-theft system. The S trim adds alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, a chrome exhaust, fog lamps, sport seats and sporty Optitron gauges.
Options on both the LE and S include navigation and a power moonroof.
The base model gets power locks and windows and keyless entry as standard equipment. There's a new upgraded stereo available on the base corolla as well-- it includes a USB port with iPod support, Bluetooth and steering wheel audio controls.
The LE's standard wheels are 16-inch ones over last year's 15-inch ones. The LE and S optional stereo now includes navigation, a 6-inch touchscreen display and satellite radio.
The Toyota Corolla has a longstanding reputation for being one of the most affordable small sedans available. It's known for being reliable, inexpensive and for offering a strong list of safety features. The base level Corolla is simply equipped, but still includes air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power windows, anti-lock brakes, stability control and six airbags. EPA estimated mileage is an impressive 34 mpg on the highway.