All-new for 2014, the 2015 Toyota Corolla presents a fresh, contemporary exterior design, a roomy cabin and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that considerably improves fuel efficiency. The 11th-generation design updates the best-selling car model of all time, yet despite the newfound styling flair, the Corolla continues to be the default choice for no-nonsense, economical transportation.
The LE Eco model is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at an impressive 42 miles per gallon on the highway. The Corolla S model is available with a Sport mode that simulates a more direct steering feel and offers seven gear steps in the CVT, which the driver can upshift and downshift manually. Standard is Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes Smart Stop Technology, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control systems, anti-lock brakes, dual front airbags, front-seat side airbags, roll-sensing head-curtain airbags, a new driver’s-knee airbag and a front-passenger side-cushion airbag.
The 2015 Corolla is a sensible choice for entry-level sedan buyers looking for a car with good safety ratings, legendary reliability and a top-notch resale value. See the 2015 Toyota Corolla models for sale near you
What We Like
Contemporary styling; the Toyota Star Safety System with eight airbags; good fuel economy; generous rear-seat room
What We Don’t
Excessive road and wind noise; mushy handling; small trunk; lazy acceleration; vague steering
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The 2015 Corolla L, LE and S models continue to use a version of the well-proven 1.8-liter double-overhead-camshaft 16-valve 4-cylinder engine, accompanied by Toyota’s patented Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) technology. Output remains a modest 132 horsepower with 128 lb-ft of torque. The 4-speed automatic versions are EPA-rated at 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Models with the 6-speed manual transmission achieve 28 mpg city/37 mpg hwy, and Corollas with the CVT get 29 mpg city/37-38 mpg hwy. The 6-speed manual is standard on the Corolla L and Corolla S, the 4-speed automatic is available on the Corolla L only, and the CVT is available on the Corolla LE and Corolla S. This engine burns regular unleaded gas.
The Corolla LE Eco model is the fuel economy-optimized version of the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder with Toyota’s Valvematic system, a more efficient update of VVT-i. Output rises to 140 hp, although torque dips slightly to 126 lb-ft. With the standard 15-inch low-rolling-resistance tires, it achieves an EPA rating of 30 mpg city/42 mpg hwy. It also uses regular unleaded gas.
All Corollas are equipped with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is not available.
Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Toyota Corolla is available in L, LE, S and new LE ECO trims.
The Corolla L is pretty basic, including standard air conditioning with a pollen filter, power door locks, power color-keyed mirrors, power windows with a driver’s-side auto-down feature, a conventional small-screen 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with iPod/USB jacks, hands-free phone connectivity, a split-folding rear seat, cloth seats, a center armrest, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, an outside-temperature gauge, a trip computer and 195/65 tires on 15-in steel wheels.
The LE trim adds a standard CVT, a backup camera, automatic climate control, cruise control, remote keyless entry, auto power locks and an upgraded 6-speaker display audio system that brings an Entune 6.1-in touchscreen, MP3/WMA playback and USB and auxiliary input ports. The LE also features Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, metallic and piano-black interior trim, variably intermittent wipers, heated side mirrors and 205/55 tires on 16-in steel wheels.
The sporty Corolla S upgrades with a chrome-ringed black grille, fog lamps, a rear spoiler, sport-bolstered fabric-trimmed seats, sport gauges, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel with paddle shifters and audio controls, a chrome exhaust tip and a Sport driving mode for the available CVT.
The LE ECO model features the Valvematic-enhanced engine, aerodynamic underbody panels, a rear spoiler and special low-rolling-resistance 15-in tires. Sportier-looking 16-in tires are optional.
Plus packages typically add plus-size alloy wheels, a power moonroof, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, push-button start and Entune premium audio with navigation and an app suite. The Corolla S Plus adds 4-wheel disc brakes. Premium packages typically bring heated front buckets and a power driver’s seat.
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.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced no recalls for the 2015 Corolla.
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
NHTSA issued the 2015 Corolla a 5-star rating overall, with five stars for front and side impacts and four stars for rollover performance.
The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2015 Corolla a Good rating for moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, roof strength, head restraints and seats, but a Marginal rating for small-overlap front impacts.
Toyota covered the 2015 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 must have 85,000 or fewer miles on the odometer and 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
2015 Honda Civic — The Civic is nearly as roomy and practical as the Corolla, but its handling is better, and it’s generally more fuel-efficient, too. Civic buyers can choose from a wider variety of models, from the 143-hp 1.8-liter base sedan to a hot 205-hp Si sedan or a Civic Hybrid that yields 47 mpg hwy. It’s available in a sporty coupe body style as well.
2015 Hyundai Elantra — The Elantra sedan also offers the same stylishness as its Sonata cousin, as well as nicer interior amenities than the Corolla. Hyundai’s vaunted 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty is less of a deal for used-car buyers, however. Second owners get 5 years/60,000 miles of coverage.
Even though the 2015 Corolla sports more up-to-date styling and interior room than its predecessor, it’s still not the most exciting car to drive in the small-car segment. As practical compact sedans go, a Corolla is a good choice to buy used because a lot of its durable and reliable service features will likely remain for subsequent owners. A reasonably well-equipped LE with display audio, cruise control and a backup camera will be easier to live with than a more stripped-down L model. Try to find a CPO model if possible, and although none were announced when this was written, check with the dealer for any applicable safety recalls.