The Toyota Corolla got its name from the Latin word meaning 'little crown'. For Toyota, it certainly has been that. The Corolla has been on sale in one shape or another since the mid 60's. Toyota has sold over 30 million Corollas worldwide, and it's fair to say they have figured out how to make an inexpensive, reliable sedan in the process.
Its palatable looks, impressive safety record and impressive reliability over the last couple of decades have given the Corolla a reputation as the ultimate A to B car; one of the best cars on the road if you're looking for something that will simply get you where you need to go.
This most recent design, the tenth generation since the Corolla's inception, went on sale in the 2009 model year and has undergone some changes to carry it through 2011.
Updates for 2011
The Corolla received a slimmed down set of windshield pillars, meant to increase visibility, and sound absorbing carpets that aim to reduce noise inside the car. Road noise still exists, but it's less obtrusive now than it has been in previous models.
The new model also received some styling changes in the update. Toyota says they have collaborated with some Italian studios while penning the new design. The changes are subtle, but the headlights, front and rear bumpers, trunk lid and grille have all been updated.
One major change from the 2010 Corolla is the decrease in engine options. The 2.4 liter four cylinder is gone, leaving only a 1.8 liter 132 horsepower engine to power the car. The Corolla accelerates to freeway speeds without issue, and has a comparable level of performance when compared to the Honda Civic or Chevrolet Cruze.
The 2011 Corolla received the title of 'Top Safety Pick' from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The car is loaded with safety features including six airbags, a slew of electronic traction and stability control systems and an accelerator override that disables the accelerator when the brake pedal is depressed.
Basic transportation in a few flavors
Inside, fit and finish can be questionable in some places, but there were no noticeable interior rattles. Some of the panels on the car we tested seemed poorly fitted, with seams from plastic molding jutting out from the panels.
The Corolla comes in three trim levels: a base trim, the S model and an LE. The base Corolla comes with very few options, while the S model comes with some extra flair that is intended to make the car look sporty. The LE looks more like the base Corolla but it has available options like sunroof and an upgraded stereo system.
The 2011 S model now gets a slightly flat-bottomed steering wheel, similar to those found in high-performance sports cars, and the seats for the driver and passenger have been modified so taller individuals fit more comfortably up front.
It may not have as many available features as some of the new contenders in the compact sedan segment, but when it comes down to it, the 2011 Corolla probably the perfect car for someone looking whose primary focus is on getting from place to place in a reliable vehicle.