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2018 Toyota Corolla iM: New Car Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer Toyota Corolla Hatchback, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Review

So, what’s the difference between the 2018 Toyota Corolla iM and the regular Corolla? Well, the iM is a hatchback, for starters, whereas the non-iM version is a sedan. There’s a bit less cargo space with its rear seats raised, but far more versatility when you lower them. The iM’s suspension is also tuned for relatively sharper handling (the iM originated as a European-market car) and its styling is different despite a clear family resemblance. Perhaps most notably, though, there is only one well-equipped trim level available and no options — the Corolla has six trim levels, two available engines and some option packages.

Really, though, the iM boasts the same advantages and disadvantages of the regular Corolla. It should be reliable, easy to drive and it stands out with standard accident avoidance tech that’s optional on its competitors. At the same time, those competitors are superior in most other ways. The Corolla iM is slow, its fuel economy is unremarkable, its driving experience is dreary and it suffers from a general lack of polish compared to top rivals — especially those from Honda and Mazda.

Much like the regular Corolla, the iM isn’t a bad car. You may find it’s the smartest buy for you, but doing a substantial round of cross-shopping is highly recommended first.

What’s New for 2018?

The Corolla iM is unchanged for 2018. See the 2018 Toyota Corolla iM models for sale near you

What We Like

Standard accident avoidance tech; lots of equipment with reasonable pricing; superior reliability reputation

What We Don’t

Slow acceleration; fewer available features and trim levels than regular Corolla; lower quality cabin compared to top rivals; aftermarket-style touchscreen; dreary to drive

How Much?

$18,900-$19,600

Fuel Economy

The iM offers only one engine: a 137-horsepower 1.8-liter 4-cylinder, which is available with a 6-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). It returns 28 miles per gallon in the city, 36 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined with the CVT. The manual lowers these figures by 1 mpg. These are off the pace of the segment best, as is the glacial acceleration.

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 Toyota Corolla iM is offered in only one trim level. You only have to decide on your desired color and whether you want a manual transmission ($18,900) or an automatic ($19,600). Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and highbeams, a forward-collision warning and automatic braking system, a lane-departure warning system, dual-zone automatic climate control, a backup camera, proximity entry with push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 7-inch Pioneer touchscreen, Bluetooth, a USB port, an auxiliary audio jack, HD radio and a 6-speaker sound system.

There are no factory options.

Safety

The Corolla iM stands out on the safety front. Besides its standard anti-lock disc brakes (the regular Corolla comes with rear drums), stability and traction control, front-side airbags and full-length-side curtain airbags, it also includes a driver-knee airbag, a front passenger under-cushion airbag, lane-departure warning and a forward-collision warning and automatic braking system. Only the regular Corolla matches it for standard safety features.

The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Corolla iM the best possible rating of Good in its moderate overlap frontal and side crash tests. The government has not conducted crash tests.

Behind the Wheel

Despite the iM’s sporty appearance, it’s a disappointment on the road. Its horsepower is leagues behind class rivals: The Honda Civic touts 174 horses, the Mazda3 offers 184 hp and the VW Golf offers 170. The result is that the iM is disappointingly slow, especially for a 2018 vehicle. We could tolerate 10-second 0-to-60 runs in the past, but no longer.

The same disappointment carries through to the iM’s handling, where steering is so light and over-assisted that there’s very little joy in driving the car at all. Indeed, with the iM, corners aren’t something you carve so much as something you float through, pointing the steering wheel in the general direction you want to go. While handling precision probably isn’t at the top of everyone’s wish list, we think you’ll still appreciate the sharper and well-rounded driving experiences offered by the Civic and Mazda 3 in particular.

Inside, like the regular Corolla, the iM falls short of those same rivals in terms of the quality of materials used. Admittedly, there are a few nice touches, but, in general, it feels like more of an economy car. The iM has a Pioneer-sourced touchscreen, which isn’t as user-friendly as the Toyota-sourced Entune systems found in the Corolla and virtually everything else the brand sells. It’s an unfortunate reminder that the iM used to be a Scion.

Other Cars to Consider

 2018 Honda Civic — The car to beat in this class, offering a superb combination of space, fuel economy, performance, quality, feature content, comfort and driver engagement. Its hatchback version boasts sportier suspension tuning and an available Sport model.

 2018 Mazda3 — The Mazda3 is possibly our favorite hatchback thanks to its combination of great looks, excellent engines, superior interior quality and a satisfying driving experience.

 2018 Volkswagen Golf — The 5-door Golf hatchback isn’t as roomy as the iM, but it offers a nicer interior, more power and a generally plusher level of refinement.

 Used Volkswagen Golf GTI — If you’re really seeking a sporty hatchback, why not opt for the one that’s arguably been the best one for years now? The GTI provides the same benefits of the Golf, but with a much higher level of performance. It’s costlier, so going the used or certified pre-owned route is recommended.

Autotrader’s Advice

Since there’s only one trim level, that’s the one we recommend. But if you’re into steering, handling and acceleration, you might want to consider one of the iM’s rivals, instead.

Find a Toyota Corolla iM for sale

 

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