Toyota Corolla SE Review

Written by Anqoinette Crosby

Over lunch the other day, a friend asked about the best car to buy as a graduation gift for her son who was heading off to college in the fall. It was time to junk his jalopy, she said, and get something more reliable for the standout star athlete’s journey through higher education. After listening to her laundry list of criteria, I knew the Toyota Corolla SE was the only car that made the cut.


Having test driven the compact sedan for a week, I knew the SE trim, the sportiest of  Corollas, would be perfect for a student on the go. Her son would take one look at the mean-mugging front end’s wicked black mesh grille and nod his head approvingly. Working his way around the compact sedan,  the cool tail spoiler would move him to give his folks a big bear-hug when they handed him the keys.

Remarkably though, my friend still wasn’t quite sold. So I went on to bullet point some additional reasons the Corolla would be the right fit for her college-bound son.


•  Plenty of room for his school buddies

•  A 60/40 split folding rear seat

•  A sunroof

•  The latest tech

•  Great fuel economy

•  And, it won’t break the bank.

Another appealing feature of the Corolla is its well thought out interior treatment. Buttons and knobs are placed where they should be. There’s no hunting around or pushing the wrong buttons for audio, radio and climate functions. Using the infotainment system is easy-peasy; but if you’re looking for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, it’s not available.

Power comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. While a continuously variable transmission comes standard on most Corolla models, a six-speed manual is available as an option for the SE. As sporty as this sounds though, if the kid is expecting a souped up ride, he’s going to be sorely disappointed.  The Corolla doesn’t even pretend to have the most peppy acceleration. Which, actually, is yet another plus from a parent’s perspective.

Even more reassuring for mom and dad, Toyota made safety a top priority for the  Corolla. Standard safety features include a rear view camera, lane departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beams, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control.


You’d be hard pressed to get all of that on some luxury sedans. And ultimately, knowing their son would be driving one of the safest rides on the road as he heads into this exciting new chapter in his life is what sealed the deal for my friend and her husband.

I also had the opportunity to see firsthand how the Japanese car maker was taking safety advancements up a notch when I toured the Toyota Motor Manufacturing plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi. Toyota is spending $170 million to retool the factory to accommodate production of the upcoming 12th generation Corolla’s all-new platform.


“The Toyota New Global Architecture allows us to completely change how we design and produce vehicles,” said Sean Suggs, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi. He went on to promise Corolla drivers will get cars that perform even better, have more responsive handling and elicit greater comfort and enjoyment for the driver and their passengers.

Toyota Corolla pricing starts at $18,600. Corolla SE starts at $20,545.


Find Toyota Incentives, Lease Deals & Special Offers.