E Point Perfect

Toyota Corolla review: The best used small sedan

Since he threw down the gauntlet to his stylists and engineers, however, the company’s progress has been commendably brisk—we’ve seen new versions of the Camry and Supra, as well as the company’s bestseller: the Toyota Corolla.

Is the Toyota Corolla a good car?

When we compiled the MoneySense list of the 10 best used cars in Canada, the Corolla was the obvious choice for best used small sedan. We tested out the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback SE, and here’s what we thought:

If we hadn’t told you it was a Corolla, would you have known? It looks particularly slick in Blue Flame paint, which is about as far away from Corolla’s default livery of beige as you can get. Toyota front grilles can be pretty polarizing, but this car makes the design look cool. Even the silhouette is nice—it’s like a Japanese take on one of our favorite hatches, the Volkswagen GTI.

The excitement level has been ratcheted up on the inside as well—not as dramatically as the exterior, but what the cockpit lacks in pizzazz, the Corolla makes up for in function. Toyota’s expertise in build quality and ergonomics is on full display, and everything is tasteful in a nondescript kind of way. Corolla aficionados will run their fingers over the various surfaces and find nary a hard surface anywhere, at least in areas you can see. An eight-inch infotainment screen takes up residence in the central part of the dash, and while we aren’t huge fans of Toyota’s Entune suite of apps, everything works well enough.

You want driver aids? Toyota’s got you covered and goes all in with its best-in-class system, Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, a comprehensive suite of driver assistance and safety technologies including blind spot warning, collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane departure alert/steering assist, all-speed dynamic radar cruise control and automatic high beams.

This sounds like the Corolla is shaping up to be a fitting wingman to the flagship Supra. Not so fast.

The Toyota Corolla engine: What’s really inside this used car?

While the 2019 Corolla Hatchback is undeniably sportier than its predecessors, it isn’t ready for the big leagues just yet. Let us take a look at the engine, a 2.5-litre unit that Toyota calls “Dynamic Force.” We’ll start with the good points: It makes much more power than before and sports a lofty 13:1 compression ratio but still runs happily and efficiently on regular gas.

Now for the downside: The horsepower seems to be provided by Clydesdales instead of thoroughbreds (meaning it doesn’t really feel all that quick), the engine doesn’t sound thrilled to be revved past 4,000 rpm, and when we shift gears, its management software causes it to hang on to revs more dearly than an aging star quarterback desperately clinging to faded glory.

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