If you are looking at buying your first car, then you may be overwhelmed by the options that are available. After all, just about all automakers have a vehicle that can qualify as a good first car. The one first car that seems to be near the top of everyone’s list is the Toyota Corolla. That begs the question, is the Toyota Corolla a good first car?
The Toyota Corolla is an affordable and reliable compact sedan that provides a low cost of ownership. While the vehicle may be boring and underpowered, it is the ideal first car if you simply need to get around town.
Let’s take a closer look at some pros and cons of the humble Corolla.
With its affordable entry-level price and top reliability – along with excellent fuel economy – the Toyota Corolla can be an excellent choice for first-time car buyers. However, you should also consider that the Corolla has limited passenger space, is underpowered, and has generic styling.
The Toyota Corolla is a small size sedan that was introduced as a subcompact car in 1966 and became the world’s best-selling car in 1974. Since 1991, the Corolla has been classified as a compact car. Now in its twelfth generation, the Toyota Corolla continues to be one of the best-selling compact cars in the world.
As of 2021, the Toyota Corolla has a relatively affordable entry-level price of $20,075. This price is about $2,000 lower than the entry-level price of its bigger competitor the Honda Civic. The price of the top trim level XSE Apex Edition is $28,360. You can expect to get a well-equipped brand new Toyota Corolla for about $25,000 in 2021.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
The Toyota Corolla is powered by a standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produced up to 139 horsepower. This gives the standard Corolla a 0 to 60 mile per hour performance time of 10.2 seconds. There is also a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine available that produces up to 169 horsepower. This upgraded engine provides a 0 to 60 mile per hour time of 8.8 seconds. Needless to say, the Corolla is not designed for spirited performance.
Rating: 1 star out of 5 stars
All new Toyotas are now Hybrid vehicles. The Toyota Corolla shines in fuel economy. The hybrid petrol Corolla was introduced in 2020 and gives an mpg of 53 city and 52 highway. Pre 2020 the 1.8-liter engine provided a fuel economy rating of 31 mpg city and 38 mpg highway with a combined fuel rating of 34 miles per gallon. The fuel economy on the upgraded 1.8-liter engine is 29 miles per gallon in the city and 39 miles per gallon on the highway with a combined fuel rating of 33 miles per gallon.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars
Toyota has always been excellent with providing ample tech features on its standard models. The standard Toyota Corolla model comes with an excellent list of standard tech features including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera. Available tech includes an upgrade to an 8.0-inch touchscreen system and wireless phone charging.
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars
The Toyota Corolla has a rather conservative sedan design which may be good or not-so-good depending on your personal style. That being said, the Corolla has a nice shape that helps its fuel economy. On the inside, you will find a rather basic dashboard layout that makes it easy to manage the vehicle’s controls.
Rating: 2 stars out of 5 stars
All Toyota Corolla models come with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of features. This suite of safety features includes automatic high beams, a pre-collision system, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert, road sign assist, and lane tracing assist.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 stars
Toyota Corollas are known as one of the most reliable vehicles on the road. In fact, the Toyota Corolla receives a 4.5 out of 5 rating from the reliability review website RepairPal.com. It is not uncommon for Toyota Corolla sedans to get in excess of 200,000 miles without major repairs.
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars
Now that we have reviewed the major factors of a Toyota Corolla, let’s review the pros of purchasing such as vehicle as a first car.
With a Toyota Corolla, you are going to get top reliability that should keep you on the road for a long time. This is great since first-time cars usually have to be easy to maintain.
2). Excellent fuel mileage
The new hybrid Corolla that was introduced in 2020 has a phenomenal mpg of 53 city and 52 highway. On pre-2020 models the range is up to 40 miles per gallon on the highway, you are going to go a long time between trips to the fuel station. This will keep your overall fuel costs down over the life of the vehicle.
With excellent reliability and low fuel costs, the Toyota Corolla is going to give you one of the lowest overall costs of ownership.
Now let’s take a look at some of the reasons why a Toyota Corolla may not be one of the best choices as a first car.
If you are looking for a car that is going to make a big first impression, then you may have to look elsewhere. Toyota plays it safe with Corolla’s sedan styling.
As a compact car, you should not expect much passenger or cargo room. This would not be a great choice as a family vehicle.
With its small engine, you should not be expecting too much time in the passing lane. On busy highways, the Corolla makes you feel nervous around more powerful vehicles.
If you feel that a Toyota Corolla is right for you, then you have another decision to make – should you buy new or used. Here, we’ll take a look at which option is best for you.
You should consider buying a new Toyota Corolla if you intend to drive the car for over five years. With the proper maintenance, you should easily be able to drive the Corolla for well over 100,000 miles without any major issues.
If you are looking for a first car that you will only own for a couple of years, then a used Corolla is going to be ideal for you. Try looking for a four-year-old Corolla with about 40K to 50K miles on it for the best deal.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.