Odometer at pick-up: 1,744 km
Odometer Current: 9,859 km (8,115 by Autos.ca)
Fuel Consumption: 7.3 L/100 km
Costs: $713.38 ($647.33 Fuel; 66.05 oil change)

Reliable. Trustworthy. Efficient. Practical. Affordable.
These are the qualities that have drawn owners to the Corolla for generations now. A simple car for basic needs. Few cars have been so bland for so long, so it is all the more shocking that I sound like a marketing brochure when I say they’ve brought the visceral excitement after many long years of cerebral appeal.

Now, the Corolla hasn’t turned into a Miata overnight, or even a GTI, but you can now add stylish, modern, high-tech, and engaging to its description.

We love cars. We love the Corolla.

It is most definitely a car. We love cars. We love the Corolla. Despite the many that will buy it purely for the pros outweighing any cons on the balance sheet, they will be experiencing a well-conceived, well-executed car that is competent in all aspects, rather than simply fulfilling the function of travelling from A to B.

Styling is, of course, subjective, but this generation has garnered far more compliments than derision, often with a note of awe considering its legacy. While the styling is far more adventurous, it has not come at the expense of roominess or visibility to any great degree.

Seating is spacious and comfortable, with wide door openings that making entry and exit and child seat installation easy, and the front sport seats of the upgrade Corolla S being truly excellent. Along with the 17-inch wheels and navigation, it offers reasonable value even at the top of the trim ladder at $26K before taxes.

Cargo space is impressive for a car in the compact class, proving its capability on our summer camping adventure, and the rubber trunk liner makes it easier to shake out any debris that accumulates on a road trip. I only wish it were as easy to clean my children.

While sound quality is acceptable for this class, it checks off all the basics with AM/FM radio, CD, Bluetooth and USB connection, and even offers satellite radio. More impressive was the touchscreen, which was quick to respond and never missed a beat; our only criticism that some of the onscreen ‘buttons’ were a bit small for my fat fingers, and that is even without gloves on. The customizable homescreen was a particular favourite that showed small windows of the map, audio info and phone shortcuts that often saved time flipping between screens.

Complete 2015 Toyota Corolla S Long-Term Test: Arrival, Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

The powertrain doesn’t sound terribly sexy on paper or under acceleration, but it certainly gets the job done and maintains the reputation for efficiency that the Corolla has long promised. The 1.8L four-cylinder 132 hp and 128 lb-ft may not satisfy those who prefer some gusto in their ride, but the CVT works well to compensate for its shortcomings. Throttle is fairly quick, so you do get a bit of jump off the line (nothing like the hyper-aggressive Subaru Impreza though), and the CVT’s responsiveness means you are getting peak power very quickly when you give it gas for passing on the highway or low-speed acceleration. However, the initial burst tapers off fairly quickly, its horsepower running out before you might like.

Curiously, we also found that the previous Corolla, a 2010 model, was capable of accelerating it off the line with its simple four speed automatic, affirming that this generation was engineered for efficiency above all else. And over our 8,000 km through the balmy summer months, we were well pleased with that efficiency, returning a low 7.3 L/100 km overall, with low to mid-sixes attainable for longer highway stretches, closely matching the government estimates of 7.9/6.1/7.1 city/highway/combined. In the years we’ve been conducting long-term tests, this is second only to the Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI’s 6.6 L/100 km, which, it turns out, came at the expense of meeting emissions requirements.

Whether driving slow or fast, the Corolla maintains its composure. Its primary mission of a comfortable ride is achieved by simple MacPherson struts up front and torsion beam in back. Despite a lightly sporty 17-inch wheel and tire package, the ride is pleasant and settled, never unduly harsh even if you do feel the impacts over rough pavement. With the CVT varying ratios seamlessly and quick throttle response, driving in stop-and-go traffic is as smooth as you make it. This is as expected. Less expected is the crisp turn-in, neutral handling and absence of body roll in the corners. Like we said, it’s no GTI, but it’s eminently competent and even enjoyable for the odd burst of stringing together some corners.

Greatly improved over the previous generation are its highway manners, which is well controlled, tracking smoothly without any lane wandering, undue play from the steering or darty behaviour; however, it is fairly light, so you may feel the effect of crosswinds when driving in tempestuous weather.

3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 3 years/60,000 km roadside assistanceCompetitors:
Chevrolet Cruze
Dodge Dart
Ford Focus
Honda Civic
Hyundai Elantra
Kia Forte
Nissan Sentra
Subaru Impreza
Volkswagen Jetta

This is what we mean when we say it is a ‘complete’ car. It both serves its purpose and drives well, so there’s no penalty for those that want a reliable, efficient commuter without having to drive a soul-sucking appliance. Our previous tests hinted at this well-rounded character, and our several months behind the wheel confirmed that this is a car we heartily recommend for anyone looking for good value, expected reliability, efficiency, simple compact practicality – and now you can add fun to the Corolla playbook.

Pricing: 2015 Toyota Corolla S
Base Price: $19,600
Options: $4,900 (CVT transmission – $985; Technology Package, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, auto climate, premium sound system, navigation, 8-way power driver’s seat, SofTex leather seating surfaces, Smart Key System, power moonroof – $3,915)
Freight: $1,560
A/C Tax: $100
Price as Tested: $26,160