After receiving a full-fledged remodel for the 2020 model year, Toyota is taking an, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” approach for the 2021 Corolla sedan. The popular four-door carries over largely unchanged, adding only a $225 price hike to the window sticker. A Corolla Hatchback variant is also available, but for this overview, we’ll focus on the sedan.
Powertrain and specs
Three engine and two transmission options stay on the order sheet for the 2021 Toyota Corolla sedan. Start a Corolla L, LE, or XLE and you’ll wake up a 1.8-liter inline-four putting 139 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission. This combo garners EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 29 miles per gallon city, 37 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined.
Opt for the LE Hybrid, and you gain two motor-generators slapped onto the same engine/transmission combo, but you lose 18 hp and 19 lb-ft of torque , for final output figures of 121 hp and 105 lb-ft. The benefit, however, is fuel efficiency: The Corolla LE Hybrid rakes in a Prius-like (and, in some cases, Prius-beating) 53 mpg city and 52 mpg highway and combined ratings.
Choose a Corolla SE or XSE and you’ll procure the sedan’s spiciest engine option: a 2.0-liter I4 producing a sprightly 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. A fun, auto-rev-matching six-speed manual can also be paired to SE models at a $275 premium. CVT-equipped 2.0-liter models are slightly more economical at the fuel pump, however, delivering ratings of 31 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 34 combined. Manual models drop to 29 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 32 mph combined, respectively.
Toyota says the Corolla’s cabin employs a theme of “sensuous minimalism.” Black, beige or gray cloth seats are standard on L, LE and LE Hybrid models. Throw some extra cash at an XLE or XSE model and you’ll gain “SofTex” synthetic leather seating for added luxury. In the SE and XSE grades, the front seats feature additional shoulder and side bolsters to fit with the sportier aesthetic.
Available ambient lighting adds a dash of color to the front door trim, console tray and front cup holder. Rear occupants will also appreciate the sedan’s 34.8 inches of legroom — which, in fact, is almost 5 more than you’ll get in the Corolla hatchback. The Corolla sedan offers an EPA-rated 13.1 cubic feet of cargo in its trunk, which is less than the more functional hatchback (17.8 cubic feet), but at least it offers a standard 60/40 split folding rear seat for longer items.
All Corollas — except the base L — feature a high-res 8-inch touchscreen with, and Amazon Alexa capabilities, as well as a six-speaker audio system. That can be upgraded to nine speakers and 800 watts of power with the available JBL Audio system in SE (CVT-only), XSE and XLE trims.
The Corolla also comes standard with a slew of safety tech thanks to the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 package, which includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, pre-collision alert and pedestrian detection systems.
Available wireless phone charging and embedded navigation round off the list of tech goodies.
Toyota Corolla Hybrid packs the best parts of the Prius without the ugly
A base 2021 Corolla L sedan starts at $20,780. See a full trim price breakdown below. All prices include a $955 destination fee.
- Corolla LE: $21,230
- Corolla SE: $23,230
- Corolla SE Nightshade Edition: $23,930
- Corolla Hybrid LE: $24,355
- Corolla XLE: $25,180
- Corolla XSE: $26,680
The 2021 Toyota Corolla sedan is on sale now.