By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.0
The Toyota Corolla is one of the best known and best loved cars in America. It's not a stellar beauty, nor is it lightening fast; it doesn't even have a third-row seat or all-wheel drive. What the Corolla does have collectively is millions of trouble-free miles, millions more loyal fans and a resale record that has the competition green with envy. Not wanting to mess with success, the 2011 Corolla arrives with some minor cosmetic changes and more standard equipment. Still, the small-car market has heated up dramatically since the Corolla first appeared, and it – along with long-time rival the Honda Civic – must now do battle with newer, sleeker and better-equipped cars such as the new Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruze and Kia Forte. Along with its new styling, the Corolla will rely on its time-tested strengths, a formula that combines great fuel economy, a pleasant ownership experience and a no-nonsense design.
If you're looking for a car that is as modest in appearance and performance as it is affordable, the 2011 Toyota Corolla will probably fit nicely into your life (and your garage).
If you don't think a small price tag should mean a small road presence, you'll find alternatives, such as the new Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra, that offer much more modern designs both inside and out as well as cutting edge audio, suspension and drivetrain technology.
For 2011, the Corolla receives new front and rear fascias, an upgraded interior, standard Smart Stop technology (a brake-override system) and the Toyota Care Complimentary Maintenance Program as standard. The XLE and XRS trims have been dropped.
Driving Impressions Of the three trims, we found driving the S model to be the most enjoyable. With its larger tire and wheel package and available manual transmission, the S just feels...more fun. We found that all the Corolla models feature a good ride and competent handling, with brakes that are strong and fade resistant, although we would prefer more feel than is transmitted through the electric power steering and more horsepower under the hood. The bottom line is this: The Corolla is a good, solid commuter car geared toward those whose automotive choices are made with a more pragmatic viewpoint. Those who demand more from their ride than just solid transportation, however, will likely find more to like from the Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic Si or VW Golf.
Tilt/Telescopic Steering Wheel
This much-appreciated standard feature, rare in this class, helps drivers of all sizes find a comfortable position.
USB iPod Input
Optional on the LE and S, this feature allows for control of your iPod via the car's steering-wheel controls.
The 2011 Toyota Corolla features a spacious and comfortable cabin that belies its compact car status. Though the rear seat is still a bit tight for the long legged, hip and shoulder room is impressive. The lowered roof line, however, somewhat cuts into head room, especially for those sitting in the rear seat. Attention to interior details includes new gauges with easier-to-read fonts, more color-contrasting materials on the doors and seats and a sporty new steering wheel on S trims. The instrument panel offers speedometer, tachometer, fuel and coolant-temperature gauges and an optional multi-information display that includes a clock, outside temperature, fuel economy, range, average speed and elapsed time. Storage bins and cup holders abound, and the glove box features a split upper and lower bin design. Cargo volume in the trunk is a generous 12.3 cubic feet, but can be expanded thanks to the 60/40-split folding rear seat.
For a Corolla, the new exterior is really quite edgy. Looking somewhat like a miniature Camry with Scion-inspired front and rear styling, the four-door 2011 Corolla is sporty and sleek, but still a bit stale when viewed from the side. A trio of character lines run along the door handles to the rear fenders, from the hood to the front pillars and from the front bumper to the front fender flares, while a low front-air intake adds visual width below the Toyota signature grille. The entire package is designed not only to look good, but reduce exterior drag, thus helping to quiet the interior and improve fuel economy. Those seeking the most extreme Corolla will likely be drawn to the S model, which features front and rear spoilers and rocker moldings.
The base 2011 Toyota Corolla comes with 15-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, power steering, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, 60/40-split folding rear seat, power mirrors, AM/FM/CD (XM Satellite-ready) radio, outside temperature gauge, a driver's-seat height adjuster, traction and stability controls and driver and passenger front, seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags. The LE adds an automatic transmission, MP3-compatible CD player, power windows and locks, cruise control, remote keyless entry and color-keyed heated side mirrors. The S has fog lamps, front and rear spoilers, sport seats and a leather-trimmed steering wheel.
The base Corolla offers no options this year, so if you want power windows and cruise control, you'll just have to move up to the LE trim. Individual options for the S are limited to a power glass moonroof and an audio package that adds a USB port with iPod connectivity and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and music streaming. The LE can be equipped with the Premium Package, which combines the power moonroof and upgraded audio option with 16-inch five-spoke wheels and fog lamps.
With the loss the XRS trim, there is only one engine offered on the 2011 Corolla: A 1.8-liter four-cylinder good for 132 horsepower. This engine is great for reliability and fuel economy but, as would be expected, is only so-so for performance. Driving through a choice of either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission, it delivers an excellent 26 city, 34 highway and 30 combined EPA-rated miles per gallon (automatic model).
1.8-liter in-line 4
132 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
128 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/35 (manual), 26/34 (automatic)
By Court on Saturday, March 28, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 180,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price, reliable, no mechanical problems"
Cons: "plain interior, not much "zoom zoom""
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Hi! I own a 2009 Toyota Corolla LE. I purchased it in the summer of 2008, my first brand new car! I wanted something sportier, however I needed something affordable, reliable with good gas mileage, so I bought the Corolla. Nothing fancy here, however Petunia has treated me very well over the past 7 years, I have a long commute to work, so I have racked up many miles (180,000), I have never had a problem with my car's functions. I have been very diligent regarding maintenance of Petunia as well. I chose the light beige interior, which was the standard, it is not very attractive like the black interior, and it shows dirt and stains easily. There is really no "get up and go" with Petunia, she takes her time when the light turns green, this can be frustrating, but then again I knew she wasn't a particularly sporty car. She has reliably taken me from point A to point B for 7 years and I am very grateful for her! I am dreaming of purchasing a new vehicle soon, I have my eyes on the Hyundai Elantra, purely for the body design…who knows? :) No matter what, Petunia is a dear to me and has transported me faithfully through the ups and downs of my life over the past 7 years. All in all, I recommend this vehicle…after all, it is a Toyota! :)"
By Natnat on Thursday, March 19, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've owned this car since 2008 when it was brand new. A friend and my niece were Corolla owners and they raved about theirs. This is the most reliable, trouble free car I've ever owned. I have the bright blue color and at the time of purchase, there weren't many of that color on the road. That sure has changed. The seats are comfortable and because of the fold down back seats cargo room is generous. The only complaint is that the shape of the back doors prohibit putting items in the back seats that would fit in there otherwise. I will always go for a Toyota. Hopefully a Camry next time."
By Snickers Eater on Monday, March 02, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 83,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "It has been fun as I enjoy driving a manual trans"
Cons: "The car is a little small for long trips."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This Corolla has been very dependable. I have not had any problems with it at all. I went with a 5 speed as previously I had a 2002 Rav4 which had computer problems that affected the transmission. So with a manual, I believe this eliminates the computer and transmission problem. The miles per gallon has been really satisfying especially if you can drive 60 mph or less. I have traveled to Chicago, about 180 miles, drove 60-65 mph and the estimated mpg was 43. It has the Sport package with lower front and rear bumpers which make it look very nice. It has a blue tooth option for the phone which makes it legal to talk and drive. A few drawbacks are the ride is like a small car because it is but it is not really terrible. The clock is in the sequence with the mpg est, range for fuel, engine run time, o/s temp, so you have to scroll through all these to just get to the time and only the driver can see it. Over all it has been a great car. Gas tank is only 12 gals so it does not break the bank when you fill up and range is almost always close to 400 miles per tank unless you only drive around town in the winter. RPMs are at about 3000 at 70 mph. This might be a little higher than the automatic. I assume this is so the engine will have enough power if driving on interstates in the mountains. Going up the hills an automatic will shift down a gear if needed but a manual will need enough power to go up the hill without shifting if the driver does not downshift. But I have never experienced any problems with this car when driving in mountains. It seems to be geared very well for the 4 cylinder that comes in a Corolla."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By KB on Friday, February 27, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great car"
Cons: "everything you'll ever need in a car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"serviced for oil change tire rotation and check up twice a year from the dealer purchased from, Dealer installed remote start and undercoating."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By SCQTT on Tuesday, February 24, 2015
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Traded for newer version
Pros: "Cheap to own & operate. Practical, & reliable"
Cons: "Possible finish issues, stereo glitches"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I did nothing but change the oil and rotate the tires in the 60K miles I owned this car. It delivered good gas mileage (hand calculated)even if the computer was a little optimistic. Mid 30's were normal on road trips with the car dipping down to 30 or so in town. I once got 41mpg on a 200 mile run on the Natchez Trace Parkway between Tupelo & Nashville. (no stopping, steady 50mph, no wind, no air conditioning) The car did have two little problems. When the car was brand new I could see rust forming behind the chrome plastic trim on the trunk. I assume one of the clips that hold the trim had not been properly coated. After two salty Ohio winters this caused rust to form UNDER the paint in the area. any rust in two years is unacceptable. The stereo started acting wonky. the funny thing is it seems like the simplest part. From time to time I would hear a loud buzzing while listening to FM. Sometimes the radio would cut off after the buzzing and would not recover until I turned off the car. The car did get lots of paint chips in 60K, but I am sure it is mostly due to the water based paint. The car had great resale value (perfectly in line with KBB) and I was not upside down even with 60K miles. I did not put down a down payment because I qualified for 0% I would have kept this car, but the incentives for the newer version were just to great to pass up & I am sure I was getting close to needing wear items like brakes & tires (yes, even the OE tires went for 60K)"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By WW on Tuesday, February 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 103,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"This car has been reliable for the most part. I hated the very tight steering. Having it aligned helped however. Ok now. Complaints--Cruse button had to be replaced. Water pump went out at about 65000. Later learned that this model had a recall for water pump. Overall--a very good reliable. It does not match up to a honda civic in my estimation after owning three of them and switching to the corola."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful