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2021 Toyota Corolla Sedan Review: Expected Prices, Release Date, MPG and Performance

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John Bedrow

Automotive Journalist

August 06, 2020 at 11:14 AM

In spite of the fact that the market these days is going gaga over SUVs and crossover, the demand for compact sedans hasn’t gone down all that much. There still is a significant demand for sub-compact sedans and options are plentiful in this segment. The 2021 Corolla price starts at around $19,825 and goes all the way up to $25,725. For 2021, Toyota has introduced new Apex edition models that offer significant upgrades in comparison to the regular models. That said, reliability, practicality, affordability, and functionality have always been its hallmarks and that’s why the Toyota Corolla is immensely popular and has high sales numbers.

The Toyota Corolla has been in the market for almost over 5 decades now and it is one of the best selling cars not just in the United States but in the entire world. The Corolla nameplate is one of the oldest and the most popular nameplates in the world and after evolving for 12 generations, the brand is still going very strong. The price for the 2021 Corolla starts at around $19,825. The sub-compact sedan comes with three engine and powertrain options including a hybrid powertrain.

The smaller 1.8-liter powertrain makes 139 horsepower while the larger 2-liter engine makes 169 horsepower. The hybrid powertrain on the other hand delivers 121 horsepower. Popular Sedans like the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, Chevrolet Sonic, and Kia Forte give a stiff competition to the Corolla. With the recent upgrades in the design, we wish to see Corolla continue to emerge as the top-selling vehicle in the segment year after year.

What's New with the 2021 Toyota Corolla Sedan?

  • Base LE model gets standard Automatic Engine Shut-Off, Smart Key system control fob, and a new Convenience Package 
  • All Corolla models get Android Auto compatibility along with SiriusXM
  • Rear seat side airbags 
  • New Apex edition introduced with upgraded suspension and summer tires

What’s the expected price and the release date of the 2021 Toyota Corolla?

The 2021 Corolla will hit the showrooms late this year. The car was completely redesigned just last year in 2019 and hence doesn’t get any significant upgrades and changes for 2021. Prices for the 2021 Corolla sedan will start from $19,825.

What’s under the hood of the 2021 Toyota Corolla Sedan?

The 2021 Corolla can be had with a 1.8 liter 4 cyl engine or with a hybrid powertrain but we highly recommend you to get the new 2-liter engine. The 1.8-liter engine is not all that really great in terms of power and performance while this new engine is peppier and livelier. The 2-liter, naturally aspirated engine makes 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. The engine as standard comes mated to a CVT but you have the option availing a six-speed manual box in case you happen to be someone who loves to play between the gears. Power is sent to the front wheels only and there’s no all-wheel drive on offer.

The engine, like most other Toyotas, is extremely refined and smooth. The power unit blends extremely well with the CVT and we would recommend you opt for the CVT over the manual box. Most buyers would be using the car in urban traffic and the CVT makes just life simpler in tight bumper-to-bumper situations. There is a bit of rubber band effect on the CVT but it doesn’t make a huge difference in the overall driving experience and you can still live with it.

Models

2021 Toyota Corolla SE (Expected)

2020 Honda Civic

2020 Hyundai Elantra

2020 Kia Forte

MSRP

$22,275

$25,000

$23,800

$22,490

Engine

2.0L, inline 4 cylinder

1.5L, turbo intercooled, inline 4 cylinder

1.6L, turbo, inline 4 cylinder

1.6L, turbo intercooled, inline 4 cylinder

Drivetrain

FWD

FWD

FWD

FWD

Transmission

CVT

CVT

7-speed DCT

7-speed automatic

Power (hp @ RPM

169hp@6600 rpm

174hp @6000rpm

210hp @ 6000rpm

201 hp@ 6000rpm

Torque (lb-ft @ RPM)

151hp@4400 rpm

162hp @ 1700rpm

195hp @ 1500rpm

195 hp@ 1500rpm

0-60 MPH 

8.2 sec.

6.8 sec.

6.9 sec. 

6.7 sec.

Quarter-Mile 

16.3 sec.

15.3 sec.

14.4 sec.

15.2 sec.

*2020 data used for reference

The Corolla is the least powerful car in the competition and we would like to see Toyota offer more powerful engine options in the upcoming years. The Corolla isn’t a car that you’ll take on the race track and test it for lap times and acceleration numbers. This is a family sedan and acceleration timings do not make much difference and do not influence the buying decision all that much in this segment. 

How well does the 2021 Toyota Corolla Sedan handle?

Corolla hasn’t always been the plushest car in terms of ride and handling. However, Toyota has improved on it for the 2020 model year. Toyota has replaced its old, squeaky torsion beam suspension that it had on the rear with a brand new multi-link setup. The result- the driving dynamics have improved many folds. The car now feels firmer and settled on the ground. The amount of body roll that the previous generation Corollas had has gone down significantly which is a really good sign. You are offered with ample amount of confidence while throwing the car around the corners which just makes the overall driving experience of an otherwise bland car a bit more exciting.

The steering wheel of the 2021 Corolla has been tweaked and it now has more weight and feels like it compared to the outgoing model. The steering offers a good amount of feedback to the driver and is quick to react. The tweaked setup now enables the car to make sharp cornering maneuvers with ease. Overall, Toyota has done a pretty decent job of upgrading the ride and handling qualities of the 2021 Corolla.

How many miles to the gallon will the 2021 Corolla Sedan deliver?

One of the biggest reasons behind the Corolla’s success and popularity is its fuel economy. This is a sub-compact family car and most buyers in the segment are obsessed with the fuel efficiency figures and crave for a machine that has less running costs. 

Toyota has correctly tapped this buyer sentiment and has tweaked its engines to churn the maximum number of miles per gallon of fuel. The Corolla, in the city, goes for about 31 miles on a gallon of fuel while on the highway it goes for 38 miles on a gallon. The car gets a combined EPA rating of 34 mpg which is excellent for a car of this size.

Models

2021 Toyota Corolla SE (Expected)

2020 Honda Civic

2020 Hyundai Elantra

2020 Kia Forte

MPG (City)

31

26

23

27

MPG (Highway)

38

36

33

35

MPG (Combined)

34

30

29

30

Fuel Capacity (Gallons)

13.2

12.4

14

14

Range (City/Highway/Combined, in Miles)

409/502/448

322/446/372

364/462/406

378/490/420

*2020 data used for reference

While the Corolla disappointed us with its power figures and acceleration numbers, the car leaves us impressed with its fuel economy numbers. The Corolla has the best fuel economy numbers of the lots and is far better than all its rivals in the competition.

What to expect from the 2021 Toyota Corolla Sedan’s interior?

The Corolla isn’t a luxury car but Toyota has tried to give its cabin an upscale feel. The quality of materials used on the inside is great and is something you’ll find in cars a segment above it. The level of fit and finish isn’t the greatest but is good enough for a car in this segment. There are no loose bits on the inside and that starts shaking and rattling once you start driving and all the interior bits are firmly bolted in place. The use of hard plastics is extensive but the plastics don’t feel cheap like they tend to be in some other entry-level cars and are of decent quality. The overall ambiance on the inside is just fine and you couldn’t really expect anything better from a car in this category.

The Corolla does the job of accommodating 5 average size adults really well. However, the rear seats are a bit tight and not suitable for tall passengers. Six-footers won’t find the legroom sufficient at the back and the front seats are best suited for them. The space at the front is pretty decent and tall passengers wouldn’t have any problems sitting on the front seats. The amount of head, shoulder, and legroom at the front is ample while it is a bit scant at the rear. The seats are nicely cushioned and hold you well in place. Overall, the interiors of the Corolla are a nice place to be in.

Models

2021 Toyota Corolla SE (Expected)

2020 Honda Civic

2020 Hyundai Elantra

2020 Kia Forte

Seating Capacity

5

5

5

5

Front Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

38.0/54.0/42.0

37.5/56.9/42.3

38.8/56.2/42.2

38.8/56.1/42.2

Rear Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

31.7/51.7/34.8

36.8/55.0/37.4

37.3/55.3/35.7

37.5/55.3/35.7

Trunk Capacity (cubic feet)

13.1

14.7

14.4

15.3

*2020 data used for reference

The interior space on the Corolla isn’t the best in the competition. The Hyundai Elantra and the Kia Forte offer the highest passenger space in the competition. The Honda Civic has more passenger space than the Corolla. The Corolla swallows up to 13.1 cubic feet of luggage in its trunk. The trunk is large enough to carry luggage of 5 passengers on a short trip. However, the Corolla falls short in comparison to its rivals that offer larger trunks.

What about the infotainment system of the 2021 Toyota Corolla Sedan?

The Corolla gets a very basic infotainment system and that is a little bit disappointing. As a part of the infotainment system, it gets an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display that sits in the center of the dash along with other standard features like AM/FM stereo, Sirius XM radio, USB, connectivity and satellite radio. 

You get a 6 speaker audio system as standard while you have to pay extra to get the premium JBL 8 speaker surround sound system. The system however isn’t very intuitive to use and we would like Toyota to upgrade it soon.

Notable Infotainment features include:

  • 8-inch touch screen infotainment display
  • Standard 6 speaker audio system
  • Apple Carplay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa compatibility
  • AM/FM stereo
  • Sirius XM radio
  • Optional JBL premium audio system

Will there be any exterior changes in the 2021 Toyota Corolla Sedan?

The current Corolla looks very different from its predecessors. The car drooping nose and a sloping roofline at the rear give it a sporty and elegant look. At the front, you get those new fish-hook headlights to look interesting. Then there is the large blacked-out front grille that gives the car a smart yet mildly aggressive face. However, the car doesn’t really stand out in the crowd and won’t turn many heads. 

The compact dimension of the car comes handy in the city traffic when you have to zip through tight spaces in the traffic or even park at tight spots. The car has a ground clearance of 5.1 inches which is pretty decent for a car like this and you won’t scratch and damage the floor while driving on bad surfaces.

Models

2021 Toyota Corolla SE (Expected)

2020 Honda Civic

2020 Hyundai Elantra

2020 Kia Forte

Curb Weight (lb)

3150

2906

3131

3012

Length (inches)

182.5

182.8

181.9

182.7

Width (inches)

70.1

70.8

70.9

70.9

Height (inches)

56.5

55.5

56.5

56.5

Ground Clearance (inches)

5.1

NA

5.5

5.3

Wheelbase (inches)

106.3

106.3

106.3

106.3

*2020 data used for reference

All the cars are pretty similar in size and shape. Looks are subjective and so we won’t tell you what car looks the best. However, Toyota hasn’t somehow used its exterior dimensions wisely enough to offer more space on the inside. All its rivals offer more cargo and luggage space on the inside than what the Corolla has got on offer.

Will the 2021 Toyota Corolla sedan be worth it?

The Corolla might not outperform its rivals but it scores equally well on all fronts. The Corolla has earned such a great reputation over the years and is a tried and tested machine. It outsells all other cars in the competition even when they offer better features and performance. Now, if you are in the market looking for a reliable and practical sedan, then we would suggest you look at possible alternatives before buying the Corolla. The Corolla isn’t a bad buy but there definitely are cars in the market that offer better value than what this sedan does.

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