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First Drive: 2018 Toyota Corolla iM

Reliability and functionality hallmarks of new iM.

by on Nov.17, 2017

The Toyota Corolla iM is another of more than 800,000 hatchbacks sold last year.

The Toyota Corolla was one of the key building blocks of the auto giant’s great success during the past 50 years.

The fact remains the Corolla, even after half a century, is a best seller around the world and one of the most popular vehicles ever built. Millions of Corollas are still on the road and its dependability and durability have reinforced its value over the years for all kinds of buyers.

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But Toyota also has made the Corolla the model of its philosophy of continuous improvement, helping to keep it attractive for new customers. For example, one of the latest iterations of the Corolla is as a sporty hatchback – the Corolla iM. 

For starters, the Corolla looks better, I think, as a hatchback than as a sedan. The hatchback body style fits neatly on the Corolla platform and the hatchback design amplifies and underscores the vehicle’s underlying utility.

(Toyota scaling back new Mexican plant. For the story, Click Here.)

The cabin of the Corolla iM isn’t exactly quiet as road and wind noise tend to creep into the interior of the vehicle. But overall the noise intrusion is well within the bounds of acceptability for what is basically a small car. Visibility is good from the driver’s seat and lighting around the interior is well modulated for night driving.

The 2018 Toyota Corolla iM continues its tradition of delivering good value and utility with good looks and comfort.

The interior layout is simple and functional and Toyota’s designers have given the dashboard a bit of style that enhances the car’s emotional appeal.

Overall the interior of the Corolla iM is quite comfortable even on longer drives and while Toyota could get rid of the all the plastic inside the cabin, the touch points are well-above average in quality for the segment.

The versions of the Corolla that have appeared in recent years didn’t seem to keep up with competition in the critical area of ride and handling. However, Toyota turned the Corolla into a “hot hatch,” Toyota has upgraded the suspension, steering and brakes.

The improvements give the car a different character and feel on the road and the result is very good driving dynamics that bolster the car’s handling as it navigates a variety of driving situations such as broken pavement or tight curves.

For the entry into the hot hatch category, Toyota has outfitted the Corolla iM with a 1.8-liter engine DOHC engine that uses Valvematic continuously variable valve timing and phasing technology to offer a broad torque curve to make it more responsive in different driving situations. It also produces 137 horsepower and solid fuel economy numbers, 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway for a combined rating of 31 mpg.

(Click Here for details about Toyota’s “adventure concept” coming to the LA Auto Show.)

The rear cargo area in the new Corolla iM offers plenty of space.

I found the performance of the Corolla iM with the standard, six-speed manual transmission relatively easy to handle and responsive. The manual helped the car react well to different situations such a moving up a freeway ramp or moving around a slower moving vehicle. The iM also comes with “Hill Start Assist,” which helps prevent the car from rolling back as it pulls away from a traffic light or on an incline as its starts.

The Corolla iM is available with an optional continuously variable transmission along with the 1.8-liter engine for drivers who feel more comfortable with an automatic transmission.

The Toyota Safety Sense C, which features active safety technologies and combines a camera and laser beam to enhance the protection the car offers the driver and any passenger with lane departure alert, automatic high beam and pre-collision system to help the vehicle come to a stop if a collision in imminent. In addition to the driver assistance features, the Corolla iM is also equipped with eight airbags.

The list of standard amenities on the Corolla IM includes a 60/40 split seat as well as a cargo cover. Storage includes center console bins and pockets on the doors.

The Corolla iM also comes with multi-media features, including a six-speaker Pioneer sound system that will play music from a various of different devices. It’s controlled through a seven-inch display unit that also includes HD radio and shows the pictures from the rear back-up camera.

The iM also comes with a leather wrapped steering wheel with fingertip controls for audio and use of smart phone via a Bluetooth link. It also has a 4.2-inch screen between the instrument gauges to pass along information about the car’s features and other functions.

It also comes with dual-zone climate controls and heated folding, outside mirrors to clear way snow, ice or other sorts of condensation.

The Corolla iM comes to market with solid ride and handling in a package that historically been very dependable and inexpensive to operate. The package I drove with the manual transmission was also very affordable. The price tag on the vehicles tested was just under $21,000.

(To see why Alabama, North Carolina are the finalists for the new Mazda/Toyota plant, Click Here.)

No vehicle is perfect but considering the prices and the features available as standard equipment, the Corolla iM is an impressive value.

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One Response to “First Drive: 2018 Toyota Corolla iM”

  1. JAE says:

    Nice looking. Looks MUCH BETTER than the Civic and the Prius, which is bleh having those raked “speed streaks”