The 2018 Toyota Corolla XSE is packed with features for the money. Starting at $22,730, the vehicle comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, heated color-keyed side mirrors with turn signal indicators, a rear spoiler, a slick black mesh grille, and a sporty chrome-tipped exhaust. Inside, you’ll find a leather-clad steering wheel flanked by paddle shifters, heated sport front seats with a eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, power moonroof and an Entune audio system.
On top of all the interior and exterior refinement, standard safety features also abound. Included is Toyota’s Safety Sense with pre-collision warnings, pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist and auto high beams. On top of all that, my tester came with the optional Entune Premium Audio ($525) with integrated navigation system and the TRD Performance exhaust ($649).
The first thing I noticed climbing into the Corolla XSE was just how far the cabin has come. It features a stylish dashboard and a substantial sport steering wheel that felt great in my hands. Center on the dash is a large seven-inch touchscreen. I like that Toyota decided to mix traditional audio and climate controls with the touchscreen as it made quick adjustments to volume, tuning or climate easy without fumbling through non-tactile menus on the screen. When I did need to use the touchscreen, it offered up large buttons and clear graphics.
Connectivity features of the Entune App Suite include services like Bing, Facebook, Yelp, Pandora, and real-time traffic data. The Entune system is still far from perfect, but the implementation in the Corolla is the best of the bunch.
The Corolla’s front seats were very comfortable and had great support thanks to the firmer bolstering found in the XSE. The backseat provided enough leg and headroom for taller passengers and a rear facing car seat didn’t impede comfort in the front passenger seat. Trunk capacity isn’t ample at just 13 cubic feet, but the wide opening does make the space available easy to use.
Powering the 2018 Toyota Corolla XSE is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, producing 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft. of torque. Paired to it is a continuously variable transmission which helps the Corolla achieve its EPA estimated 28/35 city/highway and 31 combined mpg fuel economy. It’s not the most exciting pairing out there, but it is economical. And with the TRD Performance Exhaust on board it actually sounds pretty good too.
The Corolla’s four-cylinder engine is bulletproof when it comes to reliability. That’s good, because if you want the car to move quickly you have to push it. Pushing the car hard in order to pass slower traffic especially here at altitude was a regular occurrence during my week with it. And when you push the car, which you will often, it suffers from significant drone from the CVT. The TRD exhaust helped offset the less pleasant sounds, but they were there. Where the car shined was in city commuting. It’s nimble, easy to park in tight spaces and soaks up aging city streets quite well.
The 2018 Toyota Corolla XSE offers up a lot for the money. You get Toyota’s reliability, excellent fuel economy, great styling and a suite of safety features which usually demands premium package additions. The adaptive cruise control alone is an incredible feature at this price point. Add inhigh resale value and this a great pick for budget-conscious commuters.