Making memories in the Toyota Corolla

Born in 1966, the Toyota Corolla is now in its twelfth generation in Australia and for me it has been a car that I have grown up with. In 1989 my brother bought a new red Toyota Corolla and I thought it was the best thing ever. And when my future husband came to pick me up for our first date he was driving a brown 1972 Corolla station wagon that he had paid $500 for. It’s a long story, but I was expecting something a little flashier and modern, but I still went out with him and the rest is history. Fun fact, he sold it for $500, so it’s the only car we have never lost money on. So it was with fond memories that I recently drove the Corolla Sedan Hybrid SX.

The current model Corolla is available in a hatch or sedan with either a 2.0 litre petrol engine or a 1.8 litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine with the Toyota Hybrid system that has 72kW and 142Nm paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Like most CVTs, the one in the Corolla labours up hills and feels a bit lethargic between gear changes, but overall the drive is comfortable in the Corolla.

The Toyota Hybrid gearbox has a ‘B’ gear and if selective this enables greater brake regeneration for the hybrid system. You would assume that this would improve fuel economy, but according to the Car Manual you need to drive in ‘D’ to achieve the best fuel economy. I also found that  the adaptive cruise control does not engage when you have the transmission in ‘B’.

The advantage of the Toyota Hybrid System is that it charges the battery while you are driving and automatically deploys EV mode when the driving conditions permit. Apart from the fuel economy the other good thing is Toyota recommends running the Corolla on 91RON petrol. I was keen to see how close I could get to the claimed combined fuel consumption of 3.5L/100km and for my week I achieved an impressive 5.0L/100km. I did spend my time driving in Normal mode as I found that ‘Power’ mode didn’t live up to its name. You also have Eco drive mode and an Eco mode for the climate control if you want maximise the fuel efficiency from your Corolla.

The SX only comes with a single-zone automatic climate control system and cloth covered seats, with manual adjustment for the front seats. The passenger only gets recline and forward/back adjustment, while the driver has additional height adjustment also. The front and rear arm rest are also cloth covered, so may get dirty over time. Under the front arm rest there is one USB port and one 12V outlet. The cup holders in the centre console are rigid and at the front of the console there is a wireless charging pad for compatible devices and another USB port and an AUX inlet. But the charging pad is shallow and if you went around a corner too fast, your phone may slide off.

The 8″ colour touchscreen display comes with satellite navigation with SUNA traffic channel on the SX and ZR variants. Hybrid variants you can display a graphic on the screen that shows when you are using and charging the hybrid battery. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the Corolla range and my SX also had DAB radio in addition to the standard AM/FM, USB, AUX, Bluetooth and Miracast.

The voice recognition on the Corolla I drove was not working and it told me that ‘Voice recognition is currently initialising and is not available at this time’ and like many other manufacturers the symbol on the steering wheel to activate the voice recognition is a silhouette of a man’s face.

The rear seats in the Corolla sedan have enough leg room for adults, but I found that the head room was a bit limited. There are two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, but the width of the car would limit you to just two car seats. The centre seat folds down as an arm rest and contains two rigid cup holders. There are no air vents or USB/12V outlets for rear passengers, but on the plus side there is a mat that covers the entire rear floor meaning the carpet on the transmission tunnel would be protected from long-term wear from children stepping over it. The seats have a 40/60 split folding feature with the release on the shoulder of the seat.

The boot is a good size for a small car and would fit a stroller or small pram and the weekly shop in it and under the boot floor there is a temporary spare tyre. The boot has manual open/close, but there is a boot release button in the cabin. It also contains an emergency boot release inside the boot should you find yourself trapped in there. My son has always wanted to try this out, so while I was supervising him my son got in the boot and successfully released it from inside. He also informed me that the boot release lever glows in the dark.

Active safety features on the SX Corolla sedan include Lane Trace Assist, Lane Departure Alert with steering assist, Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian (day and night) and cyclist (day) detection, All-speed Active Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.  ANCAP tests of the Corolla’s Autonomous Emergency Braking system showed GOOD performance in highway speed scenarios, while Lane Support System testing showed ADEQUATE results and the overall score for Safety Assist on the Corolla was 76%. All Corolla sedan variants come with a standard reversing camera with fixed guidelines.

Passive safety includes seven airbags; dual front, front side, full length curtain airbags and driver’s knee airbag. The ANCAP safety rating for all Corolla Sedan variants from 2019 onwards is five stars (2018). The Adult Occupant Protection received a score of 36.67 out of 38 (96%) and a Child Occupant Protection score of 40.91 out of 49 (83%).

All new Toyota vehicles come with a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty and this can be extended for up to seven years with unlimited kilometres on Engine and Driveline if your vehicle is properly serviced and maintained as per the vehicle’s Warranty and Service book. Plus if a defect covered by the Toyota Warranty Advantage causes your vehicle to be undriveable, towing to the nearest Toyota Dealer and a loan car is covered.

For hybrid vehicle batteries the standard five year warranty can be increased to up to ten years with unlimited kilometres, subject to annual Hybrid Health Check. The service interval for the Corolla hybrid is 12 months or 15,000kms, whichever occurs first. Using Toyota’s website I calculated the first four services for the SX would cost $720 under the Toyota Service Advantage program.

At more than 50 years old, rather than proverbially rust into oblivion, the Corolla continues to reinvent itself and the advent of the hybrid Corolla is just the another example of this. Meaning that the next generation of drivers can make their own memories in this great little car. Prices for the Corolla Sedan Hybrid SX start at $30,795, plus on-road costs and as tested with premium paint my Corolla was $31,295 plus on-roads. Visit your preferred Toyota dealer for more information.

ProsCons
Excellent fuel efficiencyNo rear air vents or rear USB/12V ports
Toyota recommends the use of 91RON petrolShallow ledge for wireless phone charger
Low servicing costsLethargic CVT

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.