I was putting out my garbage last night and as I was walking back to the garage from the end of the driveway two thoughts crossed my mind. First of all, I hate fortnightly garbage pickup – miss it once and you are storing garbage for a month. My second thought: my driveway was looking suspiciously like a Toyota/Lexus dealership parking lot with this week's tester in the mix with my personal vehicles.
This week I'm driving the 2015 Toyota Corolla 50th Anniversary edition. This is a package tacked onto a Corolla S in Canada to celebrate 50 years of Toyota operations in our country. It's a compelling package for sure, for just over $2,000 you get a moonroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes and unique red interior stitching and accents.
The Corolla S comes standard with heated seats, cruise control, leather trimmed seats and steering wheel, bluetooth, automatic climate control, 60/40 split rear folding seats and a six-speed manual transmission.
I've always liked the Corolla in manual form, not something you see very often but the Corolla seems to put out a good amount of torque that makes the manual easy to drive and, perhaps, dare I say fun?
Pricing: 2015 Toyota Corolla S 50th Anniversary
Base Price (Corolla S): $19,600
Options: 50th Anniversary package ($2,150)
A/C Tax: $100
Price as tested: $23,370
Sometimes it is a bummer to "have" to drive a compact-class vehicle when a lot of your time is spent driving fully loaded vehicles in the $40-$50,000 range and beyond. But I honestly got into this tester and thought it was pretty darn nice at pretty much any price, especially at just over $23,000 including delivery.
The red trim pieces along the dash add an extra flare and the red stitching on the leather edged seats looks great. The black painted wheels are not my style but they look okay on the bright red car, which by the way kind of looks like a Kia Forte now. For the class of vehicle there is nothing out of place or "cheap" feeling, except for perhaps the armrest that wiggles loosely when you open it, causing concern of breaking the hinge if one is not careful.
In terms of adjustability and comfort, the Corolla offers a height adjustable bucket seat with tilt and telescoping steering wheel. The clutch pedal is a little far to reach, causing me to sit perhaps a little more forward than I normally would. Rear legroom and headroom are on par for the class, because of the more forward driving position due to the clutch I actually found the rear legroom to be plentiful -- but I'm short.
Trunk space is okay but the hinge arms do interfere considerably when closing the trunk. I picked up a 20L tub of oil and dropped it into the trunk and was confused at first why the trunk wouldn't close -- it seems most manufacturers have moved away from these interference hinges, so I forgot they existed and how annoying they are.
So is the six-speed manual Corolla S fun to drive? Well it is more fun than the automatic or CVT version but it's still not super exciting. The clutch is easy to operate and light and the shifter itself works smoothly and is very positive and has a good feel to it. The clutch uptake is a little high, so I often find myself revving the engine a little too much before moving away.
What about the rest of the Corolla traits? Well, the 1.8L engine gets the car moving but not very quickly and the engine is noisy when revved. When cruising in sixth gear, the Corolla hums along between 1,500 and 2,000 rpm on the highway and is surprisingly quiet.
The steering and suspension are both soft, so you won't get your thrills carving corners, but the lightness of the car does make it somewhat fun to toss around. But hey, most people aren't buying a Corolla to carve corners. It excels in parking lots and is nimble and easy to park. Visibility is also great all around in the Corolla with large windows and well-placed mirrors.
The only downside is the high rear deck which makes it difficult to see backwards, but the back-up camera certainly eliminates most of that problem.
I didn't get much time during the week in the Corolla so I spent some time in it this weekend. Day trip today had me in the car a long time, and I found the seats aren't the best for the long haul, at least for me, a little too soft. But it is surprisingly quiet on the highway which does help keep you fresh.
I averaged 6.5 L/100 km over the week, not amazing by any means considering that was about 99 percent highway driving at around 105 km/h as I found out today the speedometer was off by 10 km/h.
I did find a few times today that either the gearing is too aggressive or there just isn't enough power as the Corolla feels sluggish at times, like merging onto 80 km/h roads at busy traffic periods, I felt like I had to wring the engine's neck or just deal with the slow buzz.
Overall, the Corolla proves to be a good daily runabout if you are looking for inexpensive transportation, basically exactly what it is built to do, but even with the S badge don't expect it to be much more.