Used Car Review

2012 Toyota Corolla: Used Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Ron Sessions February 2015

As the latest iteration of the best-selling car model of all time, the 2012 Toyota Corolla continues to be the default choice for no-nonsense, economical transportation. For 2012, the compact 4-door sedan adds keyless entry and power windows, door locks and mirrors to the base L trim. The LE and S models are upgraded with a 6-speaker audio system featuring Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, and LE models get larger standard 16-inch wheels. The Corolla continues to offer as standard the Toyota Star Safety System, which includes Smart Stop Technology, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control systems and six airbags.

As always, Toyota's popular 4-door compact sedan is focused on low-cost operation, practicality, quality and refinement. While it's no Prius, the Corolla's base 132-horsepower 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine offers decent fuel economy with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 34 miles per gallon on the highway.

The 2012 Corolla is a good option for entry-level sedan buyers looking for a car with good safety ratings, excellent bang-for-buck, highly rated reliability, good resale value and backing by Toyota's extensive parts and service network.

What We Like

Toyota Star Safety System; good fuel economy; generous interior storage; minimal hump on rear-seat floor

What We Don't

Plain vanilla exterior; mushy handling of nonsport models; small trunk; lazy acceleration; vague steering

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

All Corollas are equipped with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is not available.

The 2012 Corolla has a single engine offering: a 1.8-liter double-overhead camshaft 16-valve 4-cylinder engine. Output is a modest 132 hp, and it develops 128 lb-ft of torque. It burns regular unleaded gas and has an EPA rating of 27 mpg city/34 mpg hwy with a 5-speed manual transmission, and 26 mpg city/34 mpg hwy with a 4-speed automatic. The 5-speed manual is standard on Corolla L and S, and the 4-speed automatic is standard on Corolla LE and optional on Corolla L and Corolla S.

Standard Features & Options

The 2012 Toyota Corolla is available in L, LE and S trims.

The base Corolla trim is renamed L and gets upgraded for 2012 with keyless entry, power door locks, power color-keyed mirrors and power windows with a driver's auto-down feature added to the standard equipment list. Other standard Corolla L fare includes air conditioning with a pollen filter, a satellite-radio-ready 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with auto sound leveling, a split-folding rear seat, intermittent wipers, a rear defroster, cloth seats, a center armrest, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, an outside temperature gauge, a trip computer, a color-keyed grille and exterior door handles, 195/65 tires on 15-in steel wheels, stability and traction control systems, dual front airbags, front-seat side airbags and roll-sensing head-curtain airbags.

The LE trim adds a standard 4-speed automatic transmission, 205/55 tires on 16-in steel wheels, an upgraded 6-speaker audio system with MP3/WMA playback and USB and auxiliary input ports, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, cruise control and heated side mirrors. The LE is also available with optional 16-in alloy wheels, a tilt-slide sunroof, fog lamps and a touchscreen audio system with navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio and HD radio.

The S is the sporty Corolla. Standard upgrades include larger 205/55 tires on 16-in alloy wheels, color-keyed front and rear spoilers, sport side rocker panels, fog lamps, sport-fabric-trimmed seats, sport gauges, metallic interior accents, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a chrome exhaust tip and the same Bluetooth and USB-enabled premium 6-speaker stereo as the LE model. The Corolla S can also be optioned with a 5-speed automatic transmission, a sunroof and the touchscreen audio system with navigation, SiriusXM and HD radio.

Pricing

The Corolla has been synonymous with affordable, reliable transportation for decades, and the 2012 version of Toyota's evergreen compact sedan is no exception. Clean, low-mileage models retain their resale value and command higher used-car prices. Supply is plentiful; the Corolla has been a top-selling compact sedan in the U.S. for many years.

For a better idea of the 2012 Corolla's price range, check out KBB.com, and then search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recall for the 2012 Corolla:

Accessory installed seat heaters or leather seat covers may affect the front-passenger seat-sensing system, preventing the front airbag from deploying appropriately in a crash.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car for free.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

The Corolla's NHTSA crash-test scores improved significantly for 2012, with the 4-door sedan upgraded to a 4-star rating overall. That rating includes four stars for frontal impacts and rollover performance and five stars for side-impact performance.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2012 Corolla a Good rating for moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, roof strength, head restraints and seats. The Corolla was once again listed as an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

Toyota covered the 2012 Corolla with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion-perforation warranty.

Toyota certified pre-owned (CPO) cars can't have more than 85,000 miles on the odometer and must be under 6 years old. Every CPO Corolla undergoes a 160-point inspection and gets a Carfax report. The Toyota CPO warranty covers the whole car, bumper-to-bumper, for 1 year or 12,000 miles, and extends the original powertrain warranty to 7 years/100,000 miles with a year of roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

2012 Honda Civic -- The Civic is all-new for 2012, with toned-down styling. But it's still as roomy and practical as the Corolla, its handling is better and it's more fuel efficient, too. Civic buyers can choose from a wider variety of models, including a hot, 201-hp Si sedan or a 44-mpg hwy Civic Hybrid.

2012 Hyundai Elantra -- With all the style of its larger Sonata cousin, the Elantra also offers nicer interior amenities and a roomier cabin and trunk than the Corolla. Hyundai's vaunted 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty is less of a deal for used-car buyers, however. The coverage shrinks to 5 years/60,000 miles for second owners.

AutoTrader's Advice

While it's not the most exciting car to drive in the small-car segment, the Corolla is still the car many parents would pack a freshman off to college in. As practical as compact sedans go, a used Corolla is a good used-car choice because a lot of its durable and reliable service will likely remain for subsequent owners. A reasonably well-equipped LE with power windows and door locks, better seat fabric and an up-level stereo will be both more livable for you and easier to sell when it's time to get something else. Make sure the Corolla you're looking at has had any applicable safety recalls attended to. Also, when available, look for a certified pre-owned model.

Find a Toyota Corolla for sale

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Used 2012 Toyota Corolla S
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Used 2012 Toyota Corolla LE Sedan
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Certified 2012 Toyota Corolla LE
Certified 2012 Toyota Corolla
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 Toyota Corolla: Used Car Review - Autotrader