The rush to small SUVs has been well documented, but it seems there’s still life in the old dog yet. By ‘old dog’ I mean our latest long-term steed, the 2015 Toyota Corolla. As I write this, the Corolla sits atop the sales charts in Australia for both its category and in terms of overall sales. That’s right, the Toyota Corolla is Australia’s most popular car.
It seems only fitting then that CarAdvice spends an extended period of time behind the wheel to take a closer look at what the Corolla is really like day-to-day and exactly what makes it so enduring with the buying public in 2015.
I wasn’t bowled over in the rush to take ‘ownership’ of the Corolla ahead of its arrival in the CarAdvice garage, but after spending 10 days trundling around town in a raft of large SUVs, I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel.
Our long-termer is the 2015 Toyota Corolla Levin ZR. Pricing starts from $27,990 plus on-road costs for the manual version. Our vehicle has been optioned with the automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) for $2000, as well as a panoramic roof ($1500) and premium paint ($450) for a total price of $31,940.
The Corolla range starts from $19,490 for the Ascent hatch variant, while the only model that costs more than our long-termer is the $30,990 Levin ZR sedan.
The optional CVT is a box plenty of potential buyers will tick, the panoramic glass roof you could easily live without if you wanted to save some cash, and likewise the premium paint. That said, our test vehicle does look attractive wearing its optional crystal pearl paint and the cost might not matter so much if you plan to keep your new Corolla long term.
The Levin ZR hatch gets a host of standard features befitting its range-topping status. These include auto HID headlights with auto leveling, LED front clearance lights, foglights with chrome trim, chrome lower radiator grille, heated and auto-folding mirrors, keyless entry and push-button start, dual-zone climate control, leather-accented interior and seats, heated front seats and an electric driver’s seat with lumbar support. There’s a space saver spare tyre liberating as much hatch space as possible, though at 280 litres, the boot’s smaller than some city cars.
Under the Levin ZR’s bonnet is a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine. Featuring double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, dual variable valve timing and all alloy construction it’s an up-to-the-minute unit technologically so far as the internal combustion engine goes.
If you’re chasing mind-blowing power figures, though, you need not apply here, with the Levin making 103kW and 173Nm. The official combined cycle fuel consumption rating of 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres is efficient enough to entice buyers who spend most of their time stuck in city traffic. The 50L tank means owners have a theoretical touring range of roughly 750km – not bad at all if you’re into longer drives in the country. A typical distance to and from work for the average Aussie means you’ll easily get a week out of one tank too.
I’m not too worried by the comparative lack of power in real terms. With the automatic transmission as fitted to our test vehicle, I see the Corolla more as a city runaround than a back-roads performance hatch anyway.
Thus far, I’ve only had a short run around town in the Levin ZR, but on face value, I like what it brings to the table. Toyotas, in any segment, might still be the safe choice for buyers, but there’s good reason for that. I’m looking forward to exploring why the brand remains such a safe choice.
Odometer reading at collection: 2724km
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