Toyota has redesigned their long-running small car. The name’s been around a long time, but it’s been a while since the car had any sporting pretense. We tested the Corolla LE Eco in dark green with a tan interior. It came well equipped—nav, satellite radio, automatic climate control, with a CVT automatic transmission.
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David S. Wallens
I went into this one thinking, Well, another plain Jane econobox. Know what? It's more than that.
First, the seats rock. Even though this is the non-sport model, the front buckets are deep and supporting. Nicely done, Toyota.
From there, it's a nice, quiet, competent compact. It's good on gas, big enough for daily use, and looks the business.
I'll also say that this is the best CVT I have ever experienced. I know that sounds like a damning praise, but it's good--really good for the masses.
Now, I just want to drive the S model, which is available with a six-speed manual.
This is a prime example of Toyota's reputation for absolute blandness. Forest green with a tan interior—the combination on our test car—is possibly even duller than if it were solid beige. If you need an appliance, this is a perfectly acceptable one. It should run reliably for far longer than you'll want it to, and get good gas mileage the whole time.
That CVT transmission puts the engine exactly into the middle of its thrashy rev range all the time. I swear you can hear every valve crash into its seat when the thing revs up. It's not exactly peppy, either, so don't expect serious acceleration in exchange for all that noise. As a driving enthusiast, I simply can't recommend this car to anyone who values good handling or steering feel.
The dashboard and interior are smartly laid out and it's fairly attractive inside, though, and the soft spring rates do make for a comfortable ride—albeit a noisy one, both from that engine and from the tires. If you want simple reliability and reasonable comfort, well, you're probably not the kind of person to read a review from Grassroots Motorsports magazine.
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