$12,703 - $17,054

2016 Toyota Corolla Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Toyota Corolla was new.


Performance: 7.1

Professional test drivers think the 2016 Toyota Corolla’s powertrain is up to the task for normal in-town and freeway driving, with a capable four-cylinder engine and optional continuously variable transmission (CVT), a type of automatic. Critics lament the Corolla for uninspired handling, though they note that ride quality is comfortable. Fuel economy is good compared with that of competitors.

  • "The new CVT is better executed than most, and it does a fairly convincing impression of a regular automatic with its simulated shift points. Although acceleration is basically unchanged from the previous Corolla, the CVT does make the car feel quicker. For this reason, as well as the fuel economy gap, we'd stay away from the archaic 4-speed automatic that's offered in the L trim." -- AutoTrader
  • Driving enthusiasts and die-hard car junkies probably won't like the way the Corolla corners and accelerates. But, for the remaining 90 percent who simply want a comfortable, competent and credible car to get them to work on the weekdays and away on weekends, the 2015 Toyota Corolla sedan is more than up to the job." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Just keep in mind that if you value driver engagement, the Corolla remains one of the least inspiring options in this class." -- Edmunds
  • "There's no easier way to improve a placid car than by adding a clutch pedal and stir stick, and that definitely applies here. The manual raises the engagement factor about 80 percent, and through normal rounds it removes concern about how the transmission will respond from the real-time decision making process." -- AutoWeek (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Toyota Corolla has a 132-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The LE Eco trim has a four-cylinder engine that produces 140 horsepower. A four-speed automatic transmission and a CVT are available. With a CVT, the Corolla earns an EPA-estimated 29/38 mpg city/highway, which is good for a compact car.

Reviewers say the 2016 Corolla has adequate power for daily driving, but most agree that its base engine isn't quite as strong as those of some rivals. Several reviewers recommend opting for the available CVT, which they agree makes the best use of the engine's power.

  • Both iterations of the 1.8-liter engine deliver up enough power to safely merge or pass slower traffic, but they lack the ample torque found in many competitors. When equipped with the CVTi-S automatic transmission, the Corolla gets its best fuel economy and horsepower. The trade-off, however, is more engine noise under hard acceleration due to the high-revving engine." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • Although acceleration is basically unchanged from the previous Corolla, the continuously variable transmission does make the car feel quicker. For this reason, as well as the fuel economy gap, we'd stay away from the archaic 4-speed automatic that's offered in the L trim." -- AutoTrader (2015)
  • Acceleration is adequate but nothing more. The LE Eco's version gets some tweaks that add a few horsepower, but we couldn't detect a difference. We do like the CVT, as it has computer-simulated 'shifts' to mitigate the typical CVT's constant-rpm drone during acceleration. Skip the archaic four-speed automatic in the base L unless the price is simply too good to pass up." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • Around town, it never feels particularly slow accelerating from a stop, and while the inline-four can feel a bit lifeless during freeway passing, the smooth-acting CVT does a nice job of keeping the revs in the powerband without being overly wheezy." -- Autoblog (2014)

Handling and Braking

Automotive writers report that the Toyota Corolla has a fairly comfortable ride overall. However, critics say there is a good amount of body roll in turns. Meanwhile, they note that steering is very loose and provides little road feedback.

  • On the road, the 2015 Toyota Corolla lets a fair amount of road noise into the cabin at speed, but its ride is pleasantly smooth on most surfaces. Handling is sharper than in past models, and we like how the compact 3-spoke steering wheel feels in our hands." -- AutoTrader (2015)
  • The Corolla's handling, too, is familiar. Sporty S-trim touches notwithstanding, there's no playfulness to be found here; instead, enthusiastic driving around turns is met with a lifeless steering feel and pronounced body roll. Instead, this car is all about no-hassle commuting comfort, with a quiet, compliant ride that makes the daily grind seem less onerous." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • We can pretty much guarantee the vast majority of Corolla buyers aren't interested in sporty dynamics, and for them, driving this new Toyota is a non-event, just like its predecessors. Want something more involving? Direct your attention to the sleek new Mazda3. Or a Ford Focus. Or even a Honda Civic." -- Autoblog (2014)
  • "It's difficult to sugarcoat it - the steering in the Corolla is not good, even by commuter car standards. There is excessive 'slop' in the steering system, which means you can saw the wheel from side-to-side without the car deviating from a straight line. Needless to say, there is no steering feel to speak of." -- Left Lane News (2014)

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