Toyota Corolla & Corolla Hybrid Review

By Alexi Falson on 04 Oct 2021
image for Toyota Corolla & Corolla Hybrid Review Chances are, you’ve either owned a Corolla in your lifetime or you’re good friends with someone that has. Toyota’s little Corolla is one of the world’s favourite cars, offering Toyota’s famed reliability, in a compact hatch that still offers some genuine family-friendly practicality.

Toyota has produced no less than 50 million units of the Corolla over 12-generations, meaning that it has spent considerable time at the head of the pack, showing its competitors just how competent compact cars can be. Over that time, we’ve seen different shapes and sizes, features lists and even the addition of new hybrid engines to the mix to make the Corolla more appealing for younger Australians. 

The problem with being on the top of the food chain and effectively setting the bar for your competitors, however, is that those competitors can overtake you with a single release, which leads us to one central question: is the Toyota Corolla still one of the world’s best compact vehicles, or has it been overtaken by the same pack of hungry competitors it led for so long?

Let’s find out. 

Starting Price: $23,895

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Toyota Corolla (ASCENT SPORT) Specifications


Model Date 2021
Series MZEA12R
Drive FWD
Engine MPFI
Engine capacity 1987
Engine configuration DUAL OVERHEAD CAM / 16 valves
Engine RPM 6600 / 4400
Cylinders 4
Torque 200
KW 125
Fuel tank size 50.0
Fuel usage specs 6.0 / 0.0
CO2 137
ANCAP security rating 5

For more details and other variants, check Toyota Corolla car page.

How Much Does It Cost?

The Toyota Corolla range kicks off from $23,895 for the entry-level Ascent Sport with a manual gearbox, packaged in either a hatch or sedan body shape. Opting for the Corolla Ascent Sport automatic brings the bring to $25,395 for both the hatch and sedan. The range then moves to the Ascent Sport hybrid, which comes with a price tag of $27,395.  

Moving to the SX-grade trim brings the price to $28,795 for the automatic hatch and sedan, while the SX Hybrid hatch and sedan receive a price tag of $30,795. Finally, Toyota’s flagship Corolla ZR is priced from $32,695 for the automatic hatch or sedan, while the ZR Hybrid is priced at $34,695. Keep in mind that these prices do not include on-road costs, and are subject to change. 

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What Features Does the Toyota Corolla Have? 

The base model Corolla Ascent Sport comes riding on a set of 16-inch alloy wheels, or 15-inch aerodynamic alloys for the hybrid variant, while receiving a set of automatic bi-LED headlights, LED tail lights & daytime running lamps, heated folding mirrors, air conditioning, adaptive cruise control, a reversing camera, 8.0-inch infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, as well as a 4.2-inch TFT display for the driver and a six-speaker stereo system. 

Stepping up to the mid-range Corolla SX variant adds a set of LED fog lights, automatic folding mirror, keyless entry and start, climate control, a leatherette gear lever and steering wheel with mounted paddle shifters, wireless smartphone charging, satellite navigation and DAB+ upgrades for the infotainment system, as well as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts. 

Finally, Toyota’s flagship Corolla, the Corolla ZR comes riding on a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, an upgraded 7.0-inch driver’s display, auto-dimming rear view mirror, ambient lighting package, heads-up display, leatherette interior upholstery with suede-like contrats, a set of heated front sport seats, eight-way adjustable driver’s seat and an upgraded JBL sound system with nine speakers for the sedan and eight for the hatch variant. 

Range Features: 

  • 16-inch alloys 

  • Automatic bi-LED headlights 

  • LED tail lights & daytime running lamps 

  • Adaptive cruise control 

  • Reversing camera 

  • 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto 

  • Six-speaker audio system 

  • Satellite navigation & DAB+ digital radio (SX) 

  • Leatherette-wrapped gear lever and steering wheel (SX) 

  • LED fog lights (SX) 

  • Blind-spot monitoring & rear cross-traffic alerts (SX) 

  • 18-inch alloys (ZR) 

  • Heated, power-adjustable sport seats (ZR) 

  • Heads-up display (ZR) 

  • Ambient lighting package (ZR) 

Toyota Corolla Colours

Ink Mica Lunar Blue Metallic
Saturn Blue Metallic Celestite Grey Metallic
Atomic Rush Metallic Jasper Red
Silver Pearl Frosted White Crystal Pearl
Glacier White Solid

Is it Comfortable to Drive?

It’s with great pleasure we can firmly assure you that Toyota has in no way become complacent after years atop the charts for the small car segment. The latest generation Toyota Corolla is a high-quality car to drive, and is extremely capable of meeting the needs of most Australian car buyers. The Corolla is famed for its adaptability, which means it is happy to call both country B-roads and tight city streets home, although it's difficult to ignore just how competent the Corolla is as an urban runaround. Its compact proportions mean that the Corolla doesn’t break a sweat when navigating tight car parks, completing tight three-point turns in a rush. 

It’s a simple car to pilot, and is not intimidating for new drivers, which makes it one of the perfect first cars currently out on the market. The Corolla also comes with a fairly tight turning circle, which means nipping through traffic and through tight spots is made easier by its swift and punchy steering design. 

As standard, the 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine in non-hybrid variants receives a modest amount of power for its size, which means that the Corolla offers an impressive amount of push from a set of traffic lights, although stretching out the engine for more power while you’re up and moving doesn’t offer much in return. 

The Corolla Hybrid is a particular highlight of the entire range when it comes to comfortable driving, thanks to its clever hybrid engine and smooth CVT transmission, which offers seamless shifts that you won’t even notice. The hybrid engine offers a little bit more of a push from a standstill, thanks to the added power of an electric motor. As you’re driving and take your foot off the accelerator, the Corolla is also clever enough to regather the energy lost during braking, and feed this back into the battery. 

In terms of the overall ride quality and comfort levels for the driver and passengers, the Corolla’s suspension is slightly biased toward the urban jungle, although it performs admirably when pushed on some of Australia’s rough surfaces. Toyota has no doubt designed it primarily as an urban commuter, but it’s nice to know that it’s built tough enough to handle Australia’s B-roads. Overall, then, the latest generation Corolla is an absolutely fabulous car to drive, offering a comfortable and user-friendly dynamic that will leave few buyers disappointed. 

Is it Practical and Spacious? 

While the Corolla is limited by its overall size and proportions, Toyota has still paid a lot of attention in designing a cabin that is comfortable and offers real-world practicality for its owners. For the driver, the adjustable steering column and seats - power-adjustable in higher-spec models - allows you to get comfortable with your preferred driving position, which can also be adjusted to allow more headroom for taller drivers. In the front of the cabin, you’ll find door bins that can accommodate full-sized drink bottles and a small amount of storage in the centre console, as well as two more cup holders. There’s more than enough room for the driver and front passenger to stretch out and get comfortable, which makes the front of the cabin a nice, spacious and comfortable place to sit. 

In the rear of the cabin, you’ll find a comfortable bench seat that offers just enough legroom for adults to stay comfortable on longer journeys, however squeezing three adults into the rear means you’re likely to come up against the Corolla’s lack of width. Overall, though, for a vehicle of this size, the fact that adults can get comfortable is a big achievement, but the Corolla isn’t the vehicle of choice for a long road trip with five adults. There’s also a fairly limited amount of headroom, which, combined with the lower-mounted windows, can make the rear of the cabin feel a little cramped, but this is only when you’re squeezing in passengers that it wasn’t necessarily designed for. In terms of families, you’ll have no problem squeezing children and teenagers into the rear of the cabin. 

The Corolla has easily-accessible ISOFIX anchor and top tether mounts for installing baby seats, however, the process of actually squeezing some of the larger seats on the market into the Corolla can be difficult, due to the fact that doors don’t open very wide. Thankfully, though, the Corolla makes up for this with a large amount of cargo storage in the boot. The hatchback variant is rated at between 217-333L of boot storage, with the sedan rated at 470L, which makes the Corolla a genuinely practical small car, but the entry-level variants lack the boot space of some of the Corolla’s competitors. 

Is it Safe? 

All Corolla variants, even the entry-level models are packed with a range of safety equipment, including autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, as well as lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, as well as six airbags. The higher-spec SX and ZR variants also receive blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts. 

As a result of its build quality and the amount of safety equipment included, the Corolla has been awarded ANCAP’s maximum five-star safety rating, scoring 96% for adult occupant protection, 83% for child occupant protection, 86% for vulnerable road user protection and 76% for safety assist technologies. 

Is it Fuel Efficient?

As we’ve mentioned, the Corolla is available with a naturally-aspirated petrol engine, as well as the option of a hybrid engine. The standard Corolla Ascent with an automatic gearbox is rated at 6.0L per 100km, while the manual returns a score of 6.3L per 100km for the hatch, and 6.5L per 100km for the sedan variant. 

Opting for the Corolla Hybrid brings the fuel economy to an impressively low figure, with the hatch and sedan rated at 4.2L per 100km and 3.5L per 100km respectively. This means that the Corolla Hybrid is one of the most economical cars available in Australia, a proposition made more exciting by its attractive starting prices. 

Our Verdict: Is the Toyota Corolla Worth it?

It should come as no surprise that in its twelfth-generation, the Toyota Corolla remains one of the best and most attractive options for buyers looking for a reliable, competent and practical small car. In terms of the question we posed at the start of this review, Toyota has not gotten complacent with the Corolla, and while its competitors are working tirelessly to close the gap, as an overall package, it’s a difficult one to beat. 

If you’re looking to add a dependable, safe and comfortable small car, your search isn’t quite complete without a test drive of the Toyota Corolla. The Hybrid option, in particular, is perhaps the pick of the bunch, packaging all the benefits of the Corolla with the super-efficient petrol-electric hybrid power and economy. With that in mind, if you’re in the market for a new car, you can get a free quote and see how much OnlineAuto can save you on your next car, or call us on 1300 719 925 

Five Specs You Need to Know

  1. Five-year, unlimited KM warranty 

  2. Petrol and hybrid options available

  3. Fuel economy 6.0L/100km for petrol, 3.5L/100km for hybrid 

  4. Five-star ANCAP safety rating 

  5. Five years of capped price servicing at $180 


  • Automatic bi-LED headlights as standard 

  • Generous safety equipment on even entry-level variant 

  • Attractive entry-level prices paired with packed features list 


  • Rear pillars create small blindspots 

  • Limited headroom in the rear of the cabin 

  • Lacks power of some competitors 

OnlineAuto Rating: 8.5/10

Toyota Corolla Competition

Toyota Corolla

Kia Cerato
Hyundai i30 Sedan
Toyota Yaris
Mazda 3
Kia Rio


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

Have any questions? Call us on 1300 719 925

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