Toyota Corolla 2021 – Review, Specs, Photos

The 2021 Toyota Corolla is adding a sport package called Apex. It’s available for the sedan’s SE and XSE trim levels (pictured) and includes sporty appearance tweaks and available summer performance tires. Toyota will release full info on the Corolla Apex soon, and it should go on sale within the next few months. The Toyota Corolla hatchback will soon add a GR-badged performance model, and the sedan doesn’t want to be left out on the action. So for 2021, the Corolla sedan will offer a new sport package called Apex that includes some performance and appearance tweaks for the SE and XSE trim levels. Full review and all information about the car – 2021 Toyota Corolla.

New Toyota Corolla 2021

The Toyota Corolla is a front-wheel drive five-passenger compact sedan, reliable and economical, yet refined and comfortable. The Corolla is available in L, LE, Nightshade, SE, XLE and XSE trim levels. The powertrain for all trims except the SE and XSE is a 139 horsepower, 1.8-liter dual VVT-I engine. This is matched with a continuously variable transmission (CVTi-S). The SE and XSE get a 168 horsepower, 2.0-liter dual VVT-I engine with a continuously variable transmission (CVTi-S) or an available six-speed manual on the SE trim. Safety features include front, side-impact, side-curtain, and drivers knee airbags, Pre-Collision System with pedestrian detection, Road Sign Assist, Lane Departure Alert and Entune Safety Connect. All Corollas include adaptive cruise control, LED headlamps with auto high-beam, cruise control with traffic stop-go, Bluetooth, Entune 3.0, a USB port, backup camera and power windows. Available features, depending on trim, include heated side mirrors, heated front power leather seats, 16-inch or 18-inch wheels, Smart Key, tilt-and-slide power moonroof, SiriusXM satellite radio, navigation and automatic climate control. The Toyota Corolla is a carryover for 2021. Toyota Corolla 2021 – photos colors and price in this article!

Interior

Inside, the Corolla hatchback and sedan share a streamlined dashboard and soft-touch materials. Every model has passive entry and push-button start, but certain Corollas can be upgraded with ambient interior lighting, dual-zone climate control, and heated front seats. Those who regularly have back-seat passengers should consider the sedan over the hatchback since it has considerably more legroom behind the front seats. Every Corolla has a touchscreen infotainment system with a mobile hotspot, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa capability—Android Auto is surprisingly absent. The large touchscreen bezel dominates the dashboard, but its numerous hard buttons and rotary volume and tuning knobs help keep the driver’s eyes on the road during use. Top options include wireless charging and an upgraded JBL audio system. Toyota Corolla 2021 – see the photo in the gallery on our website.

Exterior

Buying a Toyota Corolla has always been an easy choice. Its proven reputation for reliability, efficiency, and affordability means that hundreds of thousands of Americans each year plunk down their hard-earned cash on new (and used) Corollas without thinking twice. There’s nothing about the new 2021 Toyota Corolla sedan that suggests any of this is likely to change, even if it represents the model’s biggest transformation in decades. Entirely new underpinnings are in the mix—Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA)—as are a new optional engine and an available hybrid powertrain. But the new Corolla still sets out to do what all Corollas have done, which is get people where they need to go, reliably and efficiently.

Colors

All Corollas — except the base L — feature a high-res 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa capabilities, as well as a six-speaker audio system. That can be upgraded to nine speakers and 800 watts of power with the available JBL Audio system in SE (CVT-only), XSE and XLE trims. The Corolla also comes standard with a slew of safety tech thanks to the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 package, which includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, pre-collision alert and pedestrian detection systems. Available wireless phone charging and embedded navigation round off the list of tech goodies.

Fuel economy

Along with two fuel-efficient four-cylinders, the 2021 Corolla sedan offers an immensely thrifty hybrid model. The EPA estimates the hybrid will earn 53 mpg city and 52 highway. Comparatively, the government estimates the nonhybrid sedan’s 2.0-liter engine will earn up to 40 mpg highway while the 1.8-liter is rated up to 38 mpg highway. The hybrid we tested exceeded its highway rating by 3 mpg on our fuel-economy test route, earning 56 mpg over 200 miles at a steady 75 mph. The only other sedan we tested—a Corolla XSE—saw 41 mpg. The 2021 Corolla hatchback (automatic transmission) earns up to 32 mpg city and 42 highway, according to the EPA. The manual version receives significantly lower estimates at 28 mpg city and 37 highway. We tested the hatch with both transmissions on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy route; the automatic earned 40 mpg, and the manual got 36 mpg.

Horsepower

One thing we don’t anticipate: More horsepower. Look for Apex-equipped Corollas to rely on the same 169-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-four as the standard SE and XSE models, the former of which is available with a six-speed manual gearbox. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) remains available on the SE and comes standard on the higher-spec XSE model.

Technical specifications

While the 2.0-liter engine is gutsy enough for day-to-day driving, it’s sure to leave performance-minded consumers wanting, as the 8.2-second trot to 60 miles per hour we recorded from a CVT-equipped Corolla XSE sedan attests. Regardless, we’re happy to see Toyota continue to push the Corolla’s performance envelope. Hopefully, the brand takes things even further and offers an even more powerful GR Corolla. The model will purportedly serve as a larger alternative to the not-for-North America GR Yaris.

Price

L sedan: $20,430; LE sedan: $20,880; SE hatchback: $21,070; SE sedan: $22,880; Hybrid LE sedan: $23,880; XSE hatchback: $24,070; XLE sedan: $24,880; XSE sedan: $26,380. Since every model has noteworthy infotainment and safety features, the best Corolla comes down to buyer preference. The hatchback has a smaller back seat and less cargo space, but it feels more nimble to drive and looks more sporty. While the XSE version has more bells and whistles, we’d save $3000 and choose the standard SE hatchback. The roomier Corolla sedan is best paired with the Hybrid LE, which delivers phenomenal fuel economy.

Safety

Both the 2021 Corolla hatchback and 2021 Corolla sedan earned a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). While the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) hasn’t evaluated the 2021 Corolla sedan, it named the 2021 Corolla hatchback a Top Safety Pick. The entire Corolla lineup also offers a host of standard driver-assistance technology. Key safety features include: Standard automated emergency braking; Standard adaptive cruise control; Standard lane-keeping assist. In terms of driver assistance tech, the newer Corolla Hybrid features Toyota’s latest Safety Sense 2.0 package. We understand this section is the vegetable of this particular review, important yet unexciting. But it’s really worth noting how much driver assistance kit you get in a $24,000 Corolla these days: Automatic forward emergency braking; Lane departure warning with steering assist; Automatic high beams; Traffic sign recognition; Full-speed adaptive cruise control; Lane tracing assist; Even in the loaded-out $33,000 Limited trim (the only option is a moonroof), the older Prius makes do with the pared-down Safety Sense P, lacking the Corolla’s traffic sign camera and lane tracing function plus enhancements to existing technologies like low light pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection for the pre-collision alert system. Corolla’s lane departure warning is also more beefed up than in the Prius. Admittedly, the pricier Prius Limited does offer blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a parking-assist feature, three options you can’t get on the Corolla Hybrid. Down in the mid-$20K range, though, the Corolla beats the Prius on safety tech. Toyota will be happy to hear that our time in Greensboro didn’t involve any situations in which the true effectiveness of these safety suites had to be put to the test. But for what it’s worth, they never became a nuisance either, which is more than you can say about some touchy auto-braking or lane-keep sensors out there.

Motors

Except for the sportier SE and XSE models, the Corolla sedan uses a 139-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder that sends power to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The zestier versions have a 169-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder that pairs with a CVT or optional six-speed manual. While all hatchbacks have the larger engine, only the sedan offers a hybrid powertrain. Our tests of the 2021 Corolla SE hatchback and the 2021 Corolla XSE sedan proved even the strongest engine doesn’t deliver adequate acceleration. The Toyota twins were prudent around town and steady on the highway. However, hard acceleration produced coarse engine sounds that diminished their refinement.

Configurations

In the 50-plus years the Toyota Corolla has been in production, it’s become the best-selling vehicle of all time. It has a well-deserved reputation for reliability and affordability, though in generations past, it perhaps relied too heavily on this reputation. The latest Corolla, introduced last year, signaled that Toyota would stop resting on its laurels. The 2021 Corolla earns its praise, with sleek new styling, a generous list of standard advanced safety features, an interior that exceeds expectations, and strong fuel economy. Coming off that successful 12th-generation launch, we don’t expect many changes for the 2021 Toyota Corolla. If anything, we’d like to see Android Auto offered alongside the existing Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, which would dismiss one of our feature complaints. It’s unlikely our lesser criticisms — it’s a little slow and lifeless to drive, and there’s a slight lack of rear-seat headroom — will be addressed, though. Perhaps we’ll see some cosmetic additions in the way of paint and wheel choices.

Review

The 2021 Toyota Corolla gets a full redesign that makes it more competitive against some very strong rivals. This time around, the Corolla sheds a lot of the uninspired personality and lackluster materials that held back previous generations. It now looks a lot sharper, and the interior exceeds expectations for the class. Joining this sedan in the lineup are Corolla Hybrid and Corolla Hatchback variants (each reviewed separately). Whichever Corolla you go with, there are plenty of features to make you feel like you’re getting the most out of your investment. These include advanced safety features, adaptive cruise control and Apple CarPlay on all models. This latest 2021 Corolla represents one of the most significant redesigns in its long history. It’s now a serious competitor against the Honda Civic and the Mazda 3, whereas previous generations often came across as though Toyota was simply phoning it in or relying on its reputation for reliability. If you’ve been turned off by the last round of Corollas, it may be time for you to come back.

Release date

The redesigned 2021 Corolla, which boasts a design based on the Corolla Hatchback and a more powerful 2.0-liter engine in the sporty SE and XSE trims, is still available alongside its hatchback sibling. The 2021 Corolla also includes a hybrid model that gets 53 miles per gallon city, 52 highway, and 52 combined. This month, most of the 2021 Corolla’s offers receive tweaks, including new cash rebates, updated promotional leases, and new low APR deals. The carryover 2021 Toyota Corolla is hitting showrooms now, but it has no offers yet. Toyota’s deals are regional and will expire JULY 6, 2021. All deals mentioned here are for Southern California unless specified otherwise. We could see a few new offers for the 4th of July, so check back for updates.

Video

The 2021 Corolla sedan is available in a single LE trim that starts at $23,880—cheaper than a 2021 Prius, which starts at $24,700. Standard features include 15-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, automatic high beams, heated exterior mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, three drive modes, adaptive cruise control, a virtual instrument panel, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, four-way manually adjustable front seats, and 60/40 split-folding rear seats. The redesign includes a 7-inch display under the speedometer arch replacing the gauge cluster.

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