It is impossible to name a car more fundamental than the Toyota Corolla. And you can even find a version listed for about $26,000, plus fees and taxes, not to mention the wait time that comes with a basic model that no dealer wants to sell, much less stock.

Let’s keep in mind that according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, the average transaction price of a new car in Canada is north of $50,000. So, 26 Large seems like a relative bargain, though certainly not an historical one. There was a time not so long ago when a Corolla could be had for something in the mid- to high-teens. If only that were the case in 2024.

Today, well, you can spend 40 grand or more on a Corolla if you want everything Toyota has to offer in its entry-level model. The XSE Hybrid AWD (all-wheel drive) lists for a staggering $37,845.08, while the lesser but equally durable XSE with the CVT (continuously variable transmission) stickers at $34,045.08.

Yes, it’s a car in a sea of SUVs.

Both stand out as 15-year purchases, in that you almost certainly will not need a replacement until nearly 2040. Perhaps later. The build quality, the reliability, the durability… I mean, a Corolla today will still be thumping along when EVs (electric vehicles) have finally become almost commonplace.

Don’t worry, though. You will still have plenty of places to fill-up with gas. There are more than a billion gas-powered cars on the world’s roads today, and a number almost that large will still be trundling about by the time you’ve grown painfully weary of a Corolla that just won’t break. This is the curse of a Toyota: you will have grown sick and tired of it, but it just won’t expire, giving you a reason to buy new.

The HSE Corollas have all the features you’ll find in any luxury car, short of truly entertaining driving dynamics and terrific, wonderfully

Disappointing seats.

supportive seats. The road manners are rather uninspiring here, and that is to be expected. The seats are borderline unforgivable – flat-bottomed, flimsy-feeling and simply not a place suited for long road trips. They are commuter-car seats for modest commutes.

And you must also remember that the Corolla is a car navigating a sea of tall crossovers and sport-utility vehicles. Toyota touts the Corolla’s low centre of gravity, arguing it’s the key to the car’s athletic sex appeal. The low stance, the bi-beam LED headlamps, and wheels pushed to the corners exude power and performance, argue Toyota types. Yeah, okay.

Nonetheless, you need to climb down and into a Corolla, rather than just slide your hips across, as is the case with an SUV. That will come as a shock to the scads of folks who have never been inside anything on four wheels that isn’t a tall station wagon or some such thing.

The rest of the story here is very positive. The cabin is obviously well constructed. The materials, though relentlessly black, are expensive looking and boast tight, uniform seams. I would be shocked if anything every squeaked or rattled in any Corolla.

A well-made cabin, that is mostly smartly designed — other than the screen, which looks like an after-thought.

I mostly like what Toyota’s designers have done to make the instrument panel driver-friendly, though the colour touchscreen looks a bit slapped-on, like it presented the stylists with a design problem they couldn’t solve – or forgot to plan about right up to the last minute.

The operational simplicity of Toyota’s multimedia system is a gift to technophobes the world over. It’s all so simple to manage, right down to the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The touchscreen works just like your typical mobile phone. The XSE models come with what Toyota calls Drive Connect, with its up-to-date navigation, live-agent navigation assistance and a seamless virtual assistant.

The standard HSE has a 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder engine which sends power to the front wheels via that CVT I mentioned. I hate CVTs. They are rubber-bandy and uninteresting, but deliver a small fuel economy boost, so carmakers like them. Power is rated at 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque.

I’d get the hybrid version.

If I were spending my money here, I’d bite the bullet and get the HSE Hybrid. It comes at a nearly $4,000 premium, but over the next 15-20 years you will get that back in fuel savings, and more – with combined fuel economy rated at an excellent 4.4 litres/100 km.

The deal-maker is performance. The Hybrid Corolla has quicker throttle responses, even though horsepower comes in at a modest 138. Add in electronic on-demand all-wheel-drive and you’ve got yourself a 12-month Canada car. Here, Toyota’s system uses separate, rear-mounted electric motors to power the rear wheels when needed.

I know it’s hard to wrap your head around a $40,000 Toyota Corolla. At least in this case, the hybridized HSE is a technological tour-de-force.







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