The Toyota Corolla is synonymous with affordability and dependability. Produced for more than four decades and with 33 million sold, it ranks as the best-selling car of all time. But is this enough to get you to buy a 2012 Toyota Corolla? With ever-increasing pressure from newer rivals, the current Corolla might have been caught resting on its laurels.
In the three years since the current-generation Corolla debuted, other automakers such as Chevrolet, Ford and Hyundai have dramatically stepped up their game. As a result, the 2012 Corolla feels comparably outdated and outclassed. From the outside, the Toyota lacks personality and excitement, while inside the hard plastics and dull design give it a definite economy car vibe.
Even in the areas where the Corolla once ruled supreme -- affordability and dependability -- it has been surpassed. While many of its newer rivals are boasting 40 mpg highway fuel economy estimates, the Corolla rates 34 mpg. In terms of dependability, the Toyota is still rock-solid reliable, but other cars have improved to challenge it while also offering longer warranties to reinforce that point.
At the end of the day, we think you can do a lot better than the 2012 Toyota Corolla, and suggest that potential buyers check out the front-running competition first. We rank the Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra highly for their sharp designs, welcoming cabins and high fuel economy. Meanwhile, the Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic and Mazda 3 are also excellent choices that surpass the Corolla in just about every regard.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Toyota Corolla is a five-passenger compact sedan available in L, LE and S trim levels.
Standard features on the base L model includes 15-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, keyless entry, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, trip computer and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The LE adds 16-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, cruise control, Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio controls and a six-speaker stereo with iPod connectivity (optional on the L). The S adds foglights, a sport-look body kit, a rear spoiler, upgraded cloth upholstery and metallic interior trim.
Optional on the LE and S is a sunroof that includes an overhead console with map lamps and a sunglasses holder. Also available is a touchscreen navigation system with voice control, satellite radio and Bluetooth streaming audio.
Powertrains and Performance
All 2012 Toyota Corollas are powered by a 1.8-liter inline-4 that produces 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual is standard and a four-speed automatic is optional.
In Edmunds performance testing, an automatic-equipped Corolla went from zero to 60 mph in 10.1 seconds, which is a second slower than the class average. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined with the automatic and 27/34/30 with the manual. These numbers are respectable but pale in comparison to newer competitors that are capable of attaining 40 mpg highway.
Standard safety features on all 2012 Toyota Corolla models include stability and traction control, antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum), front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the Corolla came to a stop from 60 mph in 127 feet, which is a bit longer than average.
In government crash tests, the Corolla received an overall score of four stars (out of a possible five), with four stars for overall frontal-impact safety and five stars for overall side-impact safety. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the Corolla earned a top "Good" rating in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2012 Corolla's cabin is a bit dull to the eye, and the materials used to construct it are mediocre at best. The cabins of the Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus feel like they belong to a more sophisticated market segment by comparison. On the upside, the Corolla's controls are quite simple to use.
As with most Toyotas, the Corolla's seats are soft and comfy, and will likely bring words like "recliner" and "La-Z-Boy" to mind. The seats lack support, however, so some may find long-distance comfort troublesome. The front seats offer a decent amount of space even for taller drivers (a revelation for a small Toyota), while the backseat also boasts decent room and a cushy bottom.
With 12.3 cubic feet of space, trunk space is average, but the trunk boasts a usefully wide opening.
The 2012 Toyota Corolla's softly sprung ride is perfect for commuting, and wind and road noise are nicely quelled, even at highway speeds. However, handling is unimpressive -- even if you don't profess to be a driving enthusiast, a back-to-back drive between a Corolla and any number of its competitors will reveal that the Toyota feels less responsive to inputs and therefore makes you feel less involved with the driving experience.
The Corolla's lone engine choice delivers the sort of languid acceleration typical at this price point, but Toyota makes a smooth engine, so at least your ears won't be paying for it. However, given that the car's fuel economy isn't as impressive as it once was, you may be less willing to put up with such lackluster performance.
Standard Equipment at time of original manufacture release.
Convenience & Comfort
Adjustable Steering Wheel
Driver Vanity Mirror
Front Reading Lamps
Passenger Vanity Mirror
Power Door Locks
Power Folding Mirrors
Remote Trunk Release
Drivetrain & Engine
Front Wheel Drive
Auxiliary Audio Input
Child Safety Locks
Daytime Running Lights
Driver Air Bag
Emergency Trunk Release
Front Disc/Rear Drum Brakes
Front Head Air Bag
Front Side Air Bag
Passenger Air Bag
Passenger Air Bag Sensor
Rear Head Air Bag
Seat & Trim
Pass-Through Rear Seat
Rear Bench Seat
Tires & Wheels
Temporary Spare Tire
Tire Pressure Monitor
Featured Equipment below have been confirmed on vehicle today. Additional equipment not listed may still be available.
(4) cup holders
1.8L DOHC SFI 16-valve VVT-i I4 engine
12V aux pwr outlet
4-wheel anti-lock brakes -inc: brake assist, electronic brake force distribution
60/40 split-folding rear bench seat
Air conditioning w/air filtration
ALR/ELR 3-point front & rear seatbelts -inc: front adjustable shoulder belt anchors, pretensioners, force limiters
Center console -inc: side pockets, storage
Child protector rear door locks
Child restraint system w/LATCH anchors
Chrome rear license plate garnish
Color-keyed door handles
Color-keyed front grille
Daytime running lamps
Direct tire pressure monitor
Driver seat height adjustment
Dual front airbags w/occupant sensors
Dual front map lights
Dual glove compartments
Dual visor vanity mirrors
Electric-assist pwr steering
Energy-absorbing steering column
Front & rear door pockets w/bottle holder
Front & rear side curtain airbags
Front & rear stabilizer bars
Front seat active headrests
Front seat-mounted side airbags
Front ventilated disc & rear drum brakes
Front wheel drive
Front/rear crumple zones
HD rear window defogger w/timer
Independent MacPherson strut front suspension
Internal trunk release
Multi-information display -inc: average fuel economy, driving range, average speed, travel distance