The 2013 Toyota Corolla brought a new CVT (continuously variable transmission), revised front and rear styling, and numerous new features — some seen, some unseen. The European and North American Corollas were essentially the same, other than minor cosmetic differences and federalization changes. The engine remained the 2ZR-FE, retuned.
Toyota put a great deal of effort into making the Corolla more competitive in handling, wind noise, and safety, with better underbody and floor-pan bracing, greater use of high-strength steel and computer simulations, and lower wind resistance, especially on the LE Eco model. The company dropped weight and complexity by moving to fully electric power steering, at the same time changing the steering column to cut vibration and, though it sounds contradictory, to increase steering feel. In the end, Toyota delivered a stronger, stiffer car that still weighed under 2,900 pounds.
To prevent crashes in the first place, Toyota equipped the Corolla with standard LED low-beam headlights, the first compact car get them, in the 2014 model-year. The front suspension kept MacPherson struts but moved to a more rigid control arm, for better cornering (the rear still has a torsion beam, though now it’s fastened at a diagonal for better grip and stability). The sport model, with 17-inch wheels, has a retuned coil, shock absorber, and bushing. Every Corolla had eight airbags.
On the initial run, the only Corollas with manual transmissions were the base L and the sporty S. The L had an optional four-speed automatic; other cars used the CVT. The company introduced two new drive modes, ECO (on LE Eco only) for less sensitive throttle response, and Sport (initially only on S), which made throttle response more sensitive and shifted at higher levels, while tightening the power steering. Eco users also have an air conditioner that takes longer to cool the cabin, and uses recirculation more, for greater economy; the accelerator control tries to smooth out the driver’s pedal inputs (when the throttle is less than halfway down).
The CVT itself was an impressive piece of work; the company achieved a ratio range of 6.3 by increasing the difference in size between small and large pulleys, without making the outside of the unit any larger. The forward gear ratio thus went from 2.480 to 0.396:1, with a 4.761 final ratio. For better performance in real-world use, the CVT had a fluid warmer to bring things to operating temperature more quickly; and to make the car feel better, Toyota put faux shift points into the programming so the transmission feels more like a traditional automatic and less like, well, a rubber band. Another efficiency gain came from dropping the hydraulic pressure to the minimum possible, and using a two-port design that dropped parasitic draw by around 25%. Using an underbody cover helped cut wind drag, also saving fuel.
The interior was magically made larger by slimming the front seat-backs; moving the exhaust made it possible to flatten the rear floor hump, while rear seats were changed to have denser pads and inserts.
The car ran without major changes, though the 2017 SE, XSE, and 50th Anniversary Special Editions had a front restyling and altered taillights. The 2017s also gained an optional seven-inch center screen and full color four-inch gauge-cluster display.
By the 2018s, Toyota was loading up their cars with safety systems, all standard. These include...
In their final year (2018), even the base L came with:
The LE and LE Eco both added automatic climate controls, six-way adjustable driver’s seats, 60/40 fold-down rear seat, an upgraded instrument cluster with a tachometer, 3.5-inch display, and other features, upgraded interior trim, and a remote. The XLE and SE added nicer front seats (with heaters), the 4.2 inch full-color gauge cluster display, Smart Key system with remote start, upgraded steering wheel, and voice commands; XLE also added lane departure alert, and dynamic (radar-based) cruise control. The SE allowed buyers to opt for a manual transmission or CVT.
The standard audio system on L, LE, LE Eco, and SE (CVT) had the 6.1 inch touch-screen, AM, FM, and CD player, USB ports with iPod control or thumb-drive playback, six speakers, voice recognition, and hands-free access. The XLE, SE(manual), and XSE added navigation, satellite radio, HD radio, and traffic/weather alerts (via subscription). The warranty was 3/36 bumper to bumper, 5/60 powertrain, and five years for corrosion. For more, see the specs and the 2018 Toyota Corolla review
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