KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 9/20/2012
The 2013 Toyota Corolla sedan is the current incarnation of the best-selling automobile ever. It continues to be one of the most familiar - if not exactly most popular - compact sedans in America. The Corolla's reputation is built on legendary longevity, low fuel consumption and high resale value. But has Toyota become complacent with it? Despite a major refresh in 2011 and new grille trim for 2013, placed next to a Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra or Chevy Cruze, the Toyota Corolla looks frumpy and plain. More features are available for comparable money, and the VW Jetta TDI and Mazda3 Skyactiv deliver more driving excitement plus 40-mpg fuel economy. The Corolla relies on the faithful shoppers who march into Toyota showrooms year after year.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you've been burned in the past by promises of "great reliability" and "excellent resale value," the 2013 Toyota Corolla should help rebuild your faith that some promises do come true.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're looking for cutting-edge style or the latest features, the aging Corolla platform with its 132-horsepower engine and 4-speed automatic transmission probably won't excite you. A Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3 or Ford Focus is likely a better match.
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Toyota Corolla gets a mild restyle of the grille (thin chrome strips) and some shuffling of equipment packages. It is offered in the same three trim levels: Base L, mid-level LE and top-line S.
While the S trim is the most enjoyable to drive, all of the 2013 Toyota Corolla sedans deliver a solid, comfortable ride and no rude surprises. The S trim's larger wheel-and-tire package and available manual transmission allow it to at least attempt some fun on twisting back roads, but don't look for a lot of zip coming out of the corners, because the Corolla's 1.8-liter engine can't provide much. As basic transportation for those with pragmatic automotive tastes, the quiet, soft-riding Corolla does just fine. But the lazy responses make a Mazda3 or Honda Civic seem quite sporty. And the Corolla's fuel economy, though good, is hardly class-leading.
TILT/TELESCOPIC STEERING WHEEL
This much-appreciated standard feature helps drivers of all sizes find a comfortable position.
USB iPOD INPUT
Standard with the audio head unit on the LE and S, and optional on the L, this feature allows for control of your iPod via buttons on the car's steering wheel.
While the 2013 Toyota Corolla sedan's interior is highly functional and very roomy, it falls far short of the styling and color offerings of some if its less-conservative competitors. Gray or beige plastics and dated-looking gauge faces don't inspire the same enthusiasm as the interior of a Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus or Mazda3. The Corolla's rear seat offers good hip and shoulder room, but the all-important headroom and legroom figures come up a bit short. Cargo volume in the trunk is a useful 12.3 cubic feet and can be expanded thanks to the 60/40-split folding rear seats.
The Toyota family resemblance runs strong in the Corolla, which may be good or bad. Swept-back headlights and a racy grille (with new chrome highlights for 2013) don't keep the side view from looking pretty pedestrian, but this car is not aimed at exhibitionists. The S trim level injects a little visual excitement, with 16-inch alloy wheels (17s optional), rear spoiler and lower-body add-ons.
Notable Standard Equipment
Get ready for the lists: The 2013 Toyota Corolla L sedan comes with standard air conditioning, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, 60/40-split folding rear seat, color-keyed power mirrors, AM/FM/CD (SiriusXM satellite-ready) radio, outside temperature gauge, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry, a driver's-seat height adjuster, traction and stability control, and driver and front-passenger seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The LE adds an MP3-compatible CD player, USB and auxiliary input jacks, Bluetooth, cruise control and heated side mirrors. The S has fog lights, front and rear spoilers, sport seats and a leather-trimmed steering wheel.
Notable Optional Equipment
The 2013 Toyota Corolla offers only a few options. A power moonroof can be added to the S trim, while both the LE and S versions can be equipped with a nav-screen audio system and Toyota's Entune multi-media system. Those two higher trim levels also offer Premium Packages that bundle such extras as the moonroof, bigger alloy wheels, fog lights, power-adjustable driver's seat, automatic climate control and halogen headlights.
Under the Hood
The lone engine fitted to the 2013 Corolla is a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder good for 132 horsepower. Transmission choices are a 5-speed manual or old-tech 4-speed automatic. Performance is only average in terms of acceleration, but noise and vibration levels are good, as is expected reliability. This engine delivers EPA fuel-economy numbers that are respectable, if not exactly standard-setting for the class: 27 mpg city and 34 mpg highway for the manual gearbox, and 26/34 for the automatic.
132 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
128 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/34 mpg (manual), 26/34 mpg (automatic)
The 2013 Toyota Corolla starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $17,000 for an L model, $19,000 for an S. The automatic transmission adds about $800. Our Fair Purchase Price, which represents what people in your area are actually paying, should hold very close to MSRP. At a starting price near $17,500, the Chevrolet Cruze is a little pricier; the Kia Forte is significantly less, at just under $16,000 to start. The Corolla should hold an above-average retained value after five years, similar to the Honda Civic and substantially better than the Chevrolet Cruze and Nissan Sentra.