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The Corolla quietly makes its way into its 45th year of production as we enter the 2013 model year. Toyota, not one to mess with success, chose to let the Corolla’s 45th anniversary pass with no fanfare. In fact, the 2013 model year pretty much carries all of the same trimmings from the 2012 model year, save for a few minor changes.

The Corolla can carry on unchanged and not lose any steam because it is only two model years removed from a slight refresh and that it has a very specific role: draw in young buyers with a low price and high quality. It is not in Toyota’s lineup to dazzle anyone out of $30K. It is happy providing basic amenities at sub-$17K prices.

The goal in this is to get buyers impressed with the entry-level `Yota sedan and that should eventually lead to these buyers snagging up a top-line Avalon – so theory says.

The 2013 Toyota Corolla comes in three trim levels: L, LE and S. With each level comes a little more luxury and the S model actually makes the Corolla fairly bearable for even picky buyers.

Click past the jump to read our full review on the 2013 Toyota Corolla

  • 2013 Toyota Corolla
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Transmission:
    Five-Speed Manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    132 @ 6000
  • MPG(Cty):
  • MPG(Hwy):
  • Torque @ RPM:
    128 @ 4400
  • Displacement:
    1.8 L
  • 0-60 time:
    10.1 sec.
  • Price:
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:


2013 Toyota Corolla Exterior
- image 486806

The Corolla’s refresh in 2011 made it about as stylish as it has ever been, but still left a little bit to be desired. With the 2013 model year carrying over this body style means that this compact sedan stats off behind the eight ball relative to other new compacts running around.

The Corolla rides on a 102.4-inch wheelbase, giving it surprising room on the inside. Additionally, Toyota took great care in engineering the A-pillars, glass and the glass frames to keep wind noise to a minimum – a constant gripe about entry-level cars.

Standard Exterior Features

2013 Toyota Corolla L

  • Multi-reflector halogen headlights
  • Daytime running lights
  • Color-keyed grille surround
  • Chrome rear license plate garnish
  • Color-keyed power outside mirrors
  • Color-keyed outside door handles
  • 15-inch steel wheels with covers
  • 195/65R15 89S tires
  • Intermittent windshield wipers
  • In-glass AM/FM antenna

2013 Toyota Corolla LE

  • All L trim features
  • Chrome beltline molding
  • Heated outside mirrors
  • 16-inch steel wheels with covers
  • 205/55R16 89H tires

2013 Toyota Corolla S

  • All LE features
  • Fog lights
  • Color-keyed grille surround with chrome accents
  • Color-keyed underbody spoilers, ground effects, rear spoiler and “S” badges
  • 16-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels
  • Chrome exhaust tip


2013 Toyota Corolla High Resolution Interior
- image 486794

The Corolla’s interior has long been a thorn in its side, as other models continued using upgraded materials, but the Corolla maintained its cheap workmanship. Well, the 2013 model year is a lot of the same, as the el cheapo stinko interior makes itself known. Toyota really tried to doctor it all up with a sporty-looking steering wheel, swooping lines and a silver outline around the center stack. Unfortunately, no dice there, as a quick touch reveals rock-hard plastic that’s due for a bad case of “the squeaks” in about five years.

Now, the Corolla’s interior is not a complete waste, as Toyota’s simplicity makes for easy use. Pretty much anyone can plop down in the driver’s seat and start tinkering with controls without worrying about messing anything up. With other automakers getting more complex and therefore adding more gizmos to their interiors, the basic feel of the Corolla is a breath of fresh air.

2013 Toyota Corolla Interior
- image 486799

The seats are adequately comfortable, but the lack of lumbar support is noted by just about anyone that drives it. This makes it great for driving across town, but across anything longer may require some serious lower-back aches. In fact, Edmunds is quoted saying “The seats lack support, however, so some may find long-distance comfort troublesome.”

The Corolla gives ample space, for a compact sedan. The front occupants enjoy 38.8 inches of headroom, 41.7 inches of legroom and 54.8 inches of shoulder room. In the rear you get 37.2 inches of headroom, 36.3 inches of legroom and 54.7 inches of shoulder room. At the very least, everyone inside the Corolla has plenty of room, which somewhat makes good on the subpar interior. If you’re looking to haul tons of groceries of luggage around, the Corolla is not the car for you, as it only has 12.3 cubic-feet of cargo room.

Standard Interior Features

2013 Toyota Corolla L

  • Air conditioning w/ cabin air filter
  • AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA stereo system with four speakers
  • Multi-information display
  • Cloth seating with manual seat adjustment
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seat
  • Tilt/Telescoping wheel
  • Keyless entry
  • Power windows and door locks
  • Day/night rearview mirror
  • Center console with storage compartment
  • One 12-volt outlet
  • Front map lights
  • Front- and rear-door storage pockets
  • Four cup holders
  • Digital clock

2013 Toyota Corolla LE

  • All L features
  • Display audio with 6.1-inch LCD screen, six speakers, USB port and iPod interface
  • Accented steering wheel with audio controls
  • Cruise control
  • Driver-side auto-down power window
  • Automatic-locking doors (auto transmission only)
  • Sculpted bottle holder in front door packets

2013 Toyota Corolla S

  • All LE features
  • Sport front seats with fabric trim
  • Sport instrumentation
  • Metallic interior accents and chrome door handles


2013 Toyota Corolla Drivetrain
- image 486803
"With other compact cars gunning for the 40-mpg highway mark, the Corolla remains behind the pack."

The Toyota Corolla pulls 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque from its 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, but horsepower is a secondary goal in this class. Fuel economy is the name of the game in the compact sedan class and the Corolla comes up pretty short. It is rated at 26 mpg city and 34 mpg highway with a manual transmission, and 27 mpg city and 30 mpg highway with an automatic transmission. According to Edmunds, these are “respectable numbers, but they pale next to newer competitors that achieve 40 mpg on the highway.”

The Corolla continues to come up short by accelerating to 60 mph in a snail-like 10.1 seconds with an automatic transmission.

Driveline specifications:

Engine 1.8-liter four-cylinder VVT-i
Engine Horsepower 132 horsepower at 6,000 rpm
Engine Torque 128 pound-feet at 4,400 rpm
Standard Transmission 5-speed manual
Acceleration (0-60 mph) 10.1 seconds (automatic transmission)
Top Speed Not Rated
Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Combined) 27/34/30 (manual) and 26/34/29 (automatic)

Driving Impression

When it comes to buying a new car, horsepower, torque, suspension and brake specifications are all well and good, but what really matters is how the thing drives. The 2013 Corolla is a mixed bag of nuts when it comes to how it drives, as it has its good points and bad points.

AOL autos took the Corolla for a test drive and the author noted “Acceleration performance is adequate but not overly peppy with the 4-speed automatic transmission” and that “The ride was not harsh or uncomfortable, but our Corolla didn’t really like sharp bumps.”

The American Daily Herald went on to say “The optional four-speed automatic may be technologically dated – but it works just fine, shifting unobtrusively, with a wide enough spread between gears such that the engine usually doesn’t sound like it’s working too hard” and that “Cruising at a steady 75, even 80-plus MPH, is no problem.”

Motor Trend, like us, has a mild issue with the Corolla’s fuel economy, stating “With other compact cars gunning for the 40-mpg highway mark, the Corolla remains behind the pack."

2013 Toyota Corolla High Resolution Exterior
- image 486823

And lastly, Automobile Magazine had this to say about the Corolla’s overall fun-to-drive factor “You certainly won’t be eager to get in and drive it, what with its loose and sloppy steering. And even by coldly rational measures, the aging Corolla is beginning to slip. That’s particularly the case in fuel economy, where fresher competitors with more modern, 5- and 6-speed transmissions, direct-injected and/or turbocharged engines now leave the Corolla behind.

Overall, you can see that the Corolla has some positives and negatives, just like you would expect from an entry-level sedan. It is well behind the eight ball in terms of technology, but Toyota has been doing it right for many years, so it figures not to rock the boat until the seas go completely quiet. Since the Corolla still sells well, it will just keep on keepin’ on...


2013 Toyota Corolla High Resolution Exterior
- image 486805

Pricing is where it’s at for entry-level sedans and the Corolla sets the stage nicely with a base MSRP of $16,230 for the L trim level. From there it moves up to $18,180 for the LE trim level, then onto $18,230 for the top-line S trim level.


2013 Honda Civic Sedan

2013 Honda Civic Sedan High Resolution Exterior
- image 484541
"Where the Corolla just can’t hang with the Civic is at the top end. The Civic caps off with the EX-L trim level"

As we all know by now, the 2013 model year was a mulligan for the Civic, as Honda attempts to bury the failure of last year’s model. The new Civic has been fully redesigned, but still features the same “blah” mechanics, which include a 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter 4-banger mated to a five-speed manual transmission as standard. This combination makes for some awesome mpg – 28 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, to be precise. The cheapo bug hit the Civic’s interior too, as it is a sea of plastic just awaiting its chance to start squeaking at you.

In terms of standard features, is pretty much on the same level as the Corolla: power windows and door locks, 4-speaker sound system, A/C, keyless entry and so on. Where the Civic loses our interest is the price tag, which shows a base price of $18,165. That’s a huge increase over the Corolla, but when you buying the class leader, you can expect to pay a little more.

Where the Corolla just can’t hang with the Civic is at the top end. The Civic caps off with the EX-L trim level, which carries a hefty $22,265 MSRP, but it includes things like leather interior, six-speaker sound system and 16-inch alloys.

2013 Kia Forte

2010 Kia Forte
- image 285338
"A slimy, sneaky little bugger in the entry-level compact sedan field is the Kia Forte."

A slimy, sneaky little bugger in the entry-level compact sedan field is the Kia Forte. We don’t mean that it’s a bad car, it simply plays dirty, given its array of standard features and low base price. At the base end, the Kia Forte comes with a peppy 2.0-liter engine with 156 horsepower that mates up to a class-leading six-speed manual transmission. It performs okay in fuel economy, but nothing great, as it gets 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway in its base format.

Inside, you get some decent standard features, including: AM/FM/SiriusXM radio with a USB input, Bluetooth connectivity and A/C. On the outside, believe it or not, but the Forte comes standard with 15-inch alloy wheels, not those cheap-looking steelies with hubcaps. All of this comes in at just $15,400. The downer is that it is still a Kia and the jury remains out on its quality.

For those that need a little extra something from the gas pedal, the Forte actually offers the SX model, which comes with a 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine. This adds a little extra zip to the sedan and you also get a slew of additional features, like: 17-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension, LED daytime running lights, paddle shifters, sport seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear-shift knob. The SX trim comes in for just over $19K. Not bad at all.


2013 Toyota Corolla Exterior
- image 486819

We hate to say it, but the beloved Corolla may be a little overmatched this time around. It is bracketed by two stout competitors in the Civic and Forte, and it just doesn’t have the benefits to outweigh the negatives of either one.

"The beloved Corolla may be a little overmatched this time around."

Sure, the Kia may have had issues in the past, but recent years have been relatively issue free and the features it packs in at its base price are astounding. With the Civic, sure you’re paying more money, but you are getting one of the most well-known vehicles for reliability on the road, plus if you want premium features, the EX-L has about everything you could ever want.

We say skip the Toyota dealership and hit up Honda or Kia for your next ride.

Driving B- It has its issues, but overall a good drive for the money
Performance C- Hey, it’s an economy car...
Look B- It’s not too shabby for and econo-buggy
Value C Up there in the Honda Civic range in price, but far off in value
Overall C It’s time for Toyota to do something different with the aging Corolla, it’s just not working any more. Maybe a high-performance model can shake out the cobwebs.
Justin Cupler
Justin Cupler
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