Road Test: 2016 Toyota Corolla S

“Clearance sale!” “Discounts on last year’s model!” “Making room for new inventory!”

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You might see a few of those dealer-tactics attached to the 2016 Toyota Corolla. Even through we are still within the year, the mid-cycle update 2017 model is already out. In fact, you have to go out of your way to seek out information on the 2016 model from Toyota’s own website. The industry moves fast, I suppose.

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The good news is that with year-end tactics, you might be able to snag yourself a decently equipped Corolla S Premium for lower than what the $23,890 window-sticker suggests you pay. In 2015, a total of 306,693 people thought that buying a new Corolla was a good idea. So it certainly lacking in appeal, but what areas are appealing?

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Truth be told, the appeal is mostly due to a relatively trouble-free ownership experience. Toyota reliability is as steadfast as ever, and the car simply exists at the precise moments that you need it. It also doesn’t like to rummage around your wallet for money to spend on repairs, or gasoline, or insurance premiums, or maintenance. As a car, it’s a quiet church mouse.

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Now as you folks know, I write about the experiences behind the wheel, rather than the experience on the other side of a dealer’s finance desk. So here goes the truth: I found it to be a lot better than expected. Normally, CVT’s disable the smile muscles in my face (better than Botox), but the CVT in the Corolla S actually did the things that I wanted it to do. Simply in drive, it would plug along like a CVT should, staying low in the rev band. Move toward manual mode though and it has a total of 7 simulated ratios. This means you hardly drop any revs between chances. And those changes, while not exactly rocket fast, were entirely acceptable.

Everything else about the car could be described as “average.” That’s not a bad thing, but for the enthusiast, you won’t be going out of your way to blast down your favorite back road any time soon.

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For the rational among us, the Corolla sells itself exceptionally well. It exists as a car for the people who don’t have an interest in cam lobe profiles or the differences between mineral oil and synthetic oil. Its a car for college students, and despite its advertised aggressiveness, aggressive it is not. What it actually is, is a well-built, compact sedan. And I like that description a bit more.

Stats: 
2016 Toyota Corolla S Premium
Engine: 1.8L 4-cyl
Horsepower: 132
Torque: 128 lb/ft
MPG city/hwy/combined: 29/37/32
Base MSRP: $23,055
As tested: $23,890

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