In the beginning, Tatsuo Hasegawa, the Corolla’s first chief engineer, said the mission was “to develop a car that brings happiness and well-being to people around the world.” Now, according to a Toyota press release, the Corolla has been around for 47 years with almost 40 million sales in more than 150 countries.
Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst for Edmunds.com, says, "You can't underestimate Corolla's importance to Toyota's success. Its legions of buyers continue to grow Toyota awareness and Corolla is a strong gateway into the brand. Toyota has had a successful formula with the Corolla, but the vehicle does need some improvement in order to capture the more discerning compact car buyer in this competitive environment."
Data from Edmunds show that the Corolla, thus far, is the best-selling compact car in the United States. Edmunds chalks this up to dedicated customers. Of all trade-ins for a new Corolla in May, 35 percent were older Corollas.
Another 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is standard on the L, LE and S trims and produces up to 132 horsepower, according to the Toyota press release. The L model comes with an automatic transmission or a manual transmission. The manual transmission is available in the S. The CVT mentioned in the LE Eco grade is available in the LE and S trims.
The CVT can be changed from Normal mode to ECO and SPORT modes in the LE Eco and S trims. The ECO mode in the LE Eco will control the air conditioning along with some driving changes to get better fuel economy. Toyota says that the SPORT mode in the S trim is supposed to “deliver a more dynamic driving experience with software tuning that alters shift points, creating transmission behavior during acceleration that enhances the sporty character of the S-grade.” Paddle shifters on the steering wheel are standard on the S trim with the CVT. The shifter in the S can also be used to manually shift in the M mode.
The 2013 Toyota Corolla is ranked near the bottom of our affordable small car rankings going up against vehicles like the Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra and Subaru Impreza. After reviewers test it, we'll see if it makes them happy enough to give it better reviews.