2016 Toyota Corolla SE – Winter Drive Review
Call me old fashioned, but when wintry weather arrives, I like a big heavy truck or car, wide rubber tires and a large engine. I know, ice is ice, but still I just feel better driving in those conditions. Yet, this time, I had the light, 18.L four-cylinder 2016 Toyota Corolla SE with special tires in my driveway. All my talk about needing the heavier vehicle was mostly proven wrong. The Corolla SE did pretty well and even carried my family of 5 around town.
When thinking about writing this review, I initially considered writing a standard one about the car, changes, powertrain, fuel economy, etc… Yet, I really didn’t think about these things much during my week of driving it. Instead, right after they dropped it off, the temperature plummeted, snow fell and the winds kicked up. For the past 6 days, the weather has been anything fall like actually. Temps have never gotten above 30 degrees and roads have consistently had icy spots. These conditions really made me question the Corolla SE with its skinny tires, front-wheel drive, small engine and continuously variable transmission. This configuration is more a “looks” package to me with the blacked out wheels and special accent interior trim lines. And it certainly gave me pause before I drove it.
While I strongly considered driving something else, I also was really curious how the car would really perform in the wintry conditions. I mean, if I were to buy this vehicle or if I were a parent buying this vehicle for my child, winter driving ability would be high up on my priority list. Frankly, I also wanted to know how my bias thoughts against skinny, “looks” P215/45R17 tires would do in the challenging conditions.
During the week of driving it, I really drove it. I mean from trips to family gatherings to a long highway trip, I put more miles on this press loan than I typically do. Not really aiming to do so, just the result of a holiday week of travel. How did it do? It did pretty well. While, I am a big V8 kind of guy, the smaller engine held its own into the wind and facing piles of snow. Now, it didn’t excel in those conditions – to be fair, the list of vehicle that would is fairly short – yet I didn’t have to manually shift or really work the powertrain to get where I needed to go.
On ice and snow-packed roads, the Corolla only engaged the anti-lock brakes a handful of times and slipped very rarely. While I wasn’t pushing like I would in other vehicles, I drove cautiously and it handled the elements.
Another area it surprised me was in the seating. Officially, Toyota says the Corolla will hold 5 people. However, it is a compact vehicle and I have concerns with such vehicles and my family of 5. In our family, we have one car seat, one teenager and one kindergartner. On numerous occasions, I drove with either another person, several people and even once with the entire family. Much to my surprise, the Corolla held everyone and we were all cozy. Not at a lot of space left over to be sure, but enough.
The only real issues I had with the Corolla was how it handled the road. I found the road bumps to be quite harsh, steering to be a little sluggish and throttle response to be slow. Yet, I was carrying quite a bit of passenger weight and mostly driving in challenging conditions.
While I had some issues, other items really surprised me like the fuel economy. On my long highway drive, up and over Cheyenne, I averaged 34 MPG. This is pretty good considering the Corolla is rated at 29/37/32 city/highway/combined MPG and my driving was combined with some around town miles thrown in. Plus, and probably the best part, I filled it up from empty to full for $20. Yep, only $20. This was really nice.
In the end, this special edition Corolla has the bells and whistles to attract a younger buyer. While the look created with the gloss-black wheels, red accents, paddle shifters and other SE trim pieces aren’t appealing to me so much, I can see where Toyota is going with this. This car would definitely be appealing for someone looking for an economical car with more flare especially considering it retails for only $23,520 and returns 37 MPG highway. A lot of bang for the buck really.
Model: 2016 Toyota Corolla SE
Engine: 1.8L Four-Cylinder
Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Fuel Economy: 29/37/32 city/highway/combined
- Entune Premium Audio – $1,200
- Power Tilt/Slide Moonroof with Sliding Sunshade – $850
Price: $23,520 with $835 delivery processing and handling fee
Filed Under: TundraHeadquarters.com