Odometer at pick-up: 4,532
Odometer Current: 5,275km
Fuel Consumption: 7.2L/100km
Recently, the long-term Toyota Corolla S tester made its way up to Sudbury for a few weeks in my custody, and a few stand-out attributes have made themselves apparent over the course of the past 12 days.
The CVT’s ability to operate without actual gearshifts translates into a smoother, more refined, and quieter driving experience.
First? The CVT transmission. Equipped with one, the Corolla’s engine can operate outside of the bounds of a conventional fixed-gear, stepped transmission, often holding its revs low and steady during light acceleration, and only revving up slightly, and with no kicking down, for hills. To the average driver, the CVT’s ability to operate without actual gearshifts translates into a smoother, more refined, and quieter driving experience. Fuel mileage should benefit as well.
Give the throttle a stomp, and the CVT reacts instantly, spiking the revs right now, allowing them to climb, and then to drop back off, thereby imitating the kick-down then shift-up of an automatic transmission, but more quickly, and smoothly. Press the throttle harder, and it pretend-downshifts again. Most Corolla drivers will drive the car gently, most of the time, where the smooth and gentle light-footed operation of this powertrain is sure to be please. My mother wouldn’t know it wasn’t just a smooth-as-glass automatic.
Second? The rough-road ride. Even the nastiest roads available to your writer did little to upset the Corolla’s composure. Though the body motions from the driver’s seat can approach abruptness as tightly-undulating pavement and badly chunked asphalt pass beneath, the suspension remains quiet, exhibits no unwelcome knocking sensations from beneath the floor, and feels tough and durable, not flimsy and delicate.
Notably, the steering is nicely isolated in such conditions as well. Many small cars feed plenty of unwelcome sensation from the road’s surface back to the driver’s fingertips, even requiring steering-wheel tug-of-war to keep it pointed straight as bumps knock the front wheels around. Corolla, instead, sees steering that stays straight with virtually no extra effort, and virtually no unwanted feedback.
Third? The LED headlamps. They’re bang-on. On dark roads, the Corolla’s LED low-beams come very close to premium-car territory in terms of lighting performance, with a razor-sharp beam cut-off apparent up the road, and thick, vivid light spread evenly up ahead, even into the culverts and tree-lines beside unlit roadways. Drivers can expect above-average after-dark confidence and reduced late-night eye fatigue with this lighting system.
And since the LED peepers are standard on all models, even those opting for a base model Corolla at $15,995 will enjoy lighting performance typically found in a big-dollar luxury car.