The Corolla comes in five different grades, including a base model, the mid-range LE, the well-equipped XLE, the sporty S, and the performance-oriented XRS. The XRS gets the more powerful 2.4L engine, while the rest of the lineup has the 1.8L.
Both engines come with Toyota's variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) for improved response throughout their rev range while also improving fuel economy. With the 1.8L engine and 5-speed manual transmission (a combination only available on the base and S models), the Corolla brings estimated EPA fuel economy ratings of 26 city, 35 highway.
All Corollas get electric power steering, which helps provide better responsiveness at high speed plus lighter effort at low speeds, while also enhancing fuel economy. Refinement is said to be improved as well; the new Corolla incorporates noise reduction measures not common to small cars, such as a five-layer acoustic-glass windshield and partially shielded wiper blades.
Inside, the Corolla gets various improvements intended to increase comfort and convenience. For instance, the steering column tilts and telescopes, and the seats are designed to better fit taller drivers. All Corollas have a bench seat in back with space for three adults across. Back seats fold forward for a flat load floor that connects through the trunk. Center console side pockets, front-door pockets, an overhead console, a rear-seat center armrest and an extra storage space above the glovebox are offered.
XRS and XLE models include a multi-information gauge that includes readings for fuel consumption, driving range, average speed and elapsed time. These models also get bright white-lit Optitron gauges with red needles.
The list of standard safety features on the Corolla has been lengthened to include anti-lock brakes, traction control and vehicle stability control. Front seat-mounted side airbags and side curtain bags are also standard on all Corollas.
The base model includes air conditioning, intermittent wipers, a rear defogger, power mirrors, a 60/40-split folding back seat and a 4-speaker CD sound system. The LE trim adds power windows and locks, plus color-keyed mirrors. Stepping up to the XLE brings quite a bit more, including 16-inch wheels, keyless entry, a center console with armrests, woodgrain trim, and a six-speaker sound system with seatback pockets.
The S and XRS models give the Corolla a sportier emphasis. In the S, that includes fog lamps, front sport seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and a chromed exhaust tip. The XRS, in addition to the more powerful engine, adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a scuff plate, a leather-trimmed shift lever and shift knob, cruise control, and a strut tower brace to improve handling.
Options at the top of the model range include leather seats, heated mirrors, an 8-speaker JBL sound system with 6-disc changer and Bluetooth hands-free phone compatibility, a navigation system, and a moonroof. 16-inch alloy wheels are available on the S, LE and XLE models.