Today we are driving the 2015 Toyota Corolla. The Corolla has been around a long time. This is the 11th-generation of this vehicle, and it’s the best selling nameplate of all time. The Corolla starts right around $17,000.
The model we are driving is the “S Plus” version, which starts just under $20,000. The S designation mostly boils down to some unique cosmetic features that give the Corolla a sportier look, a sport-tuned suspension for a sportier feel, and the Plus designation adds some equipment that is not standard when compared to the base model.
The exterior styling is sharp. The S dresses up the vehicle with what Toyota calls a “piano black” grille with chrome accents, integrated rear spoiler, 17” alloy wheels, and a chrome tipped exhaust. I think it looks a lot more aggressive and stylish than former generations. There are also LED headlamps and daytime running lamps, which is standard on all of the models.
Inside, the seats of the S have more bolster, and a special sport fabric insert. I think they feel really supportive, but for some people, the seats may fit a little tight. The dash is clean, modern looking, and kind of wide and flat across. And I mean that in a good way. It keeps the cabin feeling really spacious and open. The dash is trimmed in that same “piano black” from the grille, plus there is a small accent color in the door panel and dash piping. All combined, I think it helps the inside look really upscale and sleek, to me it looks like the interior of a more expensive vehicle.
Under the hood there is a 1.8 L 4-cylinder engine that delivers 132 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque. That is coupled with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), which many driving enthusiasts seem to dislike because it makes the car feel flat, without noticeable shifting. This new CVT on the Corolla is called a CVT-S, which stands for Shift. Toyota has added discrete shift points which essentially means it feels and sounds more like a traditional transmission. And with the S trim, you have the addition of paddle shifters for even more engaged transitions. I like it. And with the leather wrapped steering wheel, I love how solid it feels. I think it was a lot of fun to drive, it responded well, and it has a sport-tuned suspension that feels firm but still gives enough to not feel uncomfortable on the road. Plus, they’ve added some acoustic glass, so the ride is even quieter.
When it comes to interior space, overall the Corolla is mostly on par with the competition, but it excels in rear seat legroom. It is the best in class, and actually starts to creep into the next class size. It feels pretty roomy, even though the legroom is a little tight for me upfront. New this year are cup holders in the center arm rest. So perhaps this car could be more of a family car, depending on how tall your driver is.
When it comes to cargo space, it’s a respectable 13 cu ft, or five suitcases in our suitcase test. The back seat is a 60/40 split fold which helps when you need a bit more space.
As far as your standard features, the S is equipped with the Entune Audio system, a USB port, Bluetooth for hands free cell phone use and streaming music, the 6.1” touch screen with phonebook access, automatic climate control, and a back-up camera. New for the 2015 model year is an optional Premium Package that will add on Navigation, push-button start, and a moonroof. Or you can do what we have here, adding on the moonroof to the Plus model as a stand-alone option, which brings the price of our test car to just under $22,000.
Overall, I’m really impressed with this model. It’s been a long time since I drove a Corolla, and let’s just say this was tons more fun than I remember having. Perhaps the non-S versions don’t feel the same, but I loved how responsive this one felt, how upscale it looks inside, and how aggressive it looks on the outside.
Certainly not just a “basic” small car anymore, I give the Toyota Corolla, particularly this S package, a 5 out of 5 stars.
- What I liked most: Styling, especially the interior, and the fun drive of the S trim
- What I would change: Front legroom
- MSRP: Base price $16,950. As equipped $21,570.
- Fuel Economy: 29 City/37 highway/32 combined
- Weight: 2865 Pounds.
- Length-Width-Height: 183.1” long/69.9” wide/57.3” High.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gallons
- Towing Capacity: N/A
- 2015 Corolla in a few words: Stylish, delivering above expectations in performance feel
- Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain, plus Toyota Care no-cost maintenance 2-year/25,000 mile, and Roadside Assistance 2-year/unlimited
- Car Pro Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
- Dealers: Check out the Car Pro Certified Dealer list for one in a city near you.
- Manufacturer Website: Toyota