2018 Toyota Corolla: How Safe? How Economical?


Corolla, the best-selling Toyota nameplate of all time, enters its 52nd year with minor upgrades following last model year in which it received sportier exterior styling and Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P).

All Corolla models come standard with TSS-P, a system that bundles the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD); Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA); Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC); and Automatic High Beams (AHB).

Having standard TSS-P puts Toyota four years ahead of the model-year 2022 industry target for standard automatic braking supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

For 2018, all grades gain driver and front passenger illuminated visor vanity mirrors. The XLE and SE grades feature a leather-trimmed 3-spoke steering wheel with controls for audio, Multi-Information Display, Bluetooth hands-free phone, and voice command.

Part of the Corolla’s ongoing success can be attributed to its wide appeal. The model line covers the gamut of tastes and needs with the L, LE, LE Eco, XLE, SE, and XSE grades. There’s a sporty, sophisticated look to all thanks to Bi-LED headlamps on the L, LE, and LE Eco grades, and Multi-LED headlamps come standard on SE, XSE, and XLE grades. The sporty SE and exciting XSE roll on standard 17-inch alloy wheels.

Comfort is another reason the Corolla remains so popular. Consider, for example, the Corolla’s 41.4 inches of rear seat legroom, which puts it in league with some much larger sedans. The LE, the most popular Corolla grade, offers quality fabric upholstery in a choice of Almond, Ash/Dark Gray or Black/Brown color schemes. The sporty SE shows off Corolla’s fun side with bold Softex-trimmed sport seats with Vivid Blue, Orange Zest, and Black premium fabric inserts.

Roominess isn’t the only similarity to larger cars. Quietness is also a hallmark of the modern Corolla. Its unibody, which makes extensive use of high tensile-strength steel, provides a rigid platform that forms a foundation for predictable handling and a comfortable ride. An extensive array of measures helps to keep outside noises out, including an acoustic glass windshield, floor carpet insulation, an instrument panel seal between the cowl and the windshield, fender insulators, and an inner dash silencer pad.

The rigid steering structure enhances the direct feeling coming through the electric power-assist steering system, making the Corolla a joy to handle. The high-strength structure allows the suspension to be tuned for agility without sacrificing comfort.

Corolla is a bona fide fuel economy champion within Toyota’s non-hybrid family. The LE Eco model leads the way with an EPA-estimated 40 mpg highway. As a testament to Toyota engineering, the Corolla LE Eco doesn’t compromise performance or comfort with such an expected exceptional fuel economy number. Its LE trim, for example, is the most popular in the Corolla line for its comfort and amenities.

The 2018 Corolla LE Eco is the most powerful Corolla in the line, as well, with a specially tuned 140 horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. This exclusive version of the engine features Valvematic technology, which offers a broader range of continuously variable valve timing (lift and phasing) than even the Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) in the standard Corolla engine.

A savvy combination of powertrain technology and aerodynamic features also help boost fuel economy in this model. The Corolla LE Eco cheats the wind with aerodynamic underbody covers and a color-keyed rear spoiler, which brings its coefficient of drag (Cd) down to an impressive 0.28 compared to 0.29 and 0.30 in other Corolla models.

Toyota programmed accelerator response to compensate for choppy driving habits and to control acceleration from a standing start in order to help reduce fuel consumption. However, when the accelerator is pressed past 50-percent, the Corolla LE Eco Premium responds as in Normal mode to provide the needed power for merging in traffic.

Selecting the ECO driving mode reduces power to the air conditioner compressor, although the system runs in recirculation mode to compensate for the longer cool-down time. Special low rolling resistance 195/65R15 tires help to reduce fuel usage. Larger 205/55R16 tires on aerodynamic alloy wheels are available as well.

Corolla’s advanced Continuously Variable Transmission with intelligence Shift (CVTi-S) also helps maximize fuel economy. It’s programmed to respond more like a conventional geared automatic using discrete stepped shift points for acceleration and deceleration. The CVTi-S even mimics the familiar characteristics of hydraulic automatics by creating a sense of positive shift engagement.

Over fifty years into its lifespan, Corolla is still an outstanding value in its segment – especially in its L grade. The Corolla L offers renowned Toyota quality, durability, and reliability in an affordable package. In addition to TSS-P, CVTi-S and air conditioning with a dust and pollen filter, the Corolla L grade includes as standard:

  • Monochrome 3.5-inch TFT Multi-Information Display
  • USB and iPod connectivity
  • Integrated backup camera with projected path guidelines
  • Bi-LED headlamps
  • Bluetooth for hands-free phone control, phone book access and audio streaming
  • 60/40 split fold-down rear seat
  • 3 spoke steering wheel with tilt and telescoping steering column
  • Power windows and door locks
  • Overhead console with map light
  • Entune Audio with 6.1-inch display screen and six speakers

The most popular Corolla grade, the LE, steps up comfort with:

  • Upgraded interior fabric trim
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Automatic Climate Control with dust and pollen filter
  • Color-keyed heated power outside mirrors

Standard Bluetooth and Entune Audio offer today’s in-demand features. Audio and connectivity upgrades abound, including available Entune Audio Plus with Connected Navigation (Scout GPS Link App) or available Entune Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite. Both the Entune Audio Plus and Entune Premium Audio systems feature a 7-inch touch screen.


In addition to the new TSS-P system, the Corolla continues to include, as standard, the Toyota Star Safety System. This comprehensive array includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), and Brake Assist (BA). The Corolla also comes equipped with the Smart Stop Technology brake-override system and an electronic tire pressure monitoring system.

The first Toyota Corolla went into production in November 1966 and made its United States debut in 1968. By 1970, Corolla was already among the more popular import cars in the country. The Corolla has evolved over the decades, becoming roomier, more powerful, more efficient, and gaining ever more advanced safety technology.

Approximately 1.5 million Corollas are sold globally each year in over 150 countries. Sixteen plants worldwide assemble Corollas, including at Toyota’s assembly plants in Blue Springs, Miss. (since October 2011) and in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada (since November 1988).

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