2013 Toyota Corolla

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
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Key Specs

of the 2013 Toyota Corolla. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    30 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    132-hp, 1.8-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    5-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Good visibility
  • Sensibly arranged controls
  • Height-adjustable driver's seat

The Bad

  • Numb steering
  • Mushy brakes
  • Tight backseat
  • Coarse engine

Notable Features of the 2013 Toyota Corolla

  • New front grille
  • 1.8-liter four-cylinder
  • Manual or automatic
  • Available iPod connectivity

2013 Toyota Corolla Road Test

Joe Wiesenfelder

For years, there have been better compact sedans than the Toyota Corolla, and that's truer now than ever before in the car's long history.

Fortunately, the 2013 Toyota Corolla's replacement will soon come and put this sub-mediocre car to rest.

I last reviewed the Corolla in 2010 (see the review) and deemed it minimally sophisticated and unstylish sedan, to coin a word. The model was particularly galling because it had been redesigned in 2009. I don't typically evoke my earlier predictions (possibly because my record is spotty), but I also said in 2010 that "the Corolla is sure to stay near the top of the sales charts, but that's more about what the car has been historically than what it is now." Nailed it this time. The Corolla has remained one of the best-selling compacts in the U.S. and beyond, despite being below average in several ways.

Has anything changed in the past few years? Along with its market standing, the Corolla itself hasn't changed much. For 2013, there's a restyled grille, a standard touch-screen audio system on LE and S trim, and chrome accents on the LE's belt line and grille. (See the model years compared side by side.)

Meanwhile, the rest of the class has bounded ahead. Redesigned since then are the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte and Nissan Sentra. The Corolla's archrival, the Honda Civic, has been redesigned twice (see the 2013 review). Dodge has returned to the market in this segment for the first time sin...

For years, there have been better compact sedans than the Toyota Corolla, and that's truer now than ever before in the car's long history.

Fortunately, the 2013 Toyota Corolla's replacement will soon come and put this sub-mediocre car to rest.

I last reviewed the Corolla in 2010 (see the review) and deemed it minimally sophisticated and unstylish sedan, to coin a word. The model was particularly galling because it had been redesigned in 2009. I don't typically evoke my earlier predictions (possibly because my record is spotty), but I also said in 2010 that "the Corolla is sure to stay near the top of the sales charts, but that's more about what the car has been historically than what it is now." Nailed it this time. The Corolla has remained one of the best-selling compacts in the U.S. and beyond, despite being below average in several ways.

Has anything changed in the past few years? Along with its market standing, the Corolla itself hasn't changed much. For 2013, there's a restyled grille, a standard touch-screen audio system on LE and S trim, and chrome accents on the LE's belt line and grille. (See the model years compared side by side.)

Meanwhile, the rest of the class has bounded ahead. Redesigned since then are the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte and Nissan Sentra. The Corolla's archrival, the Honda Civic, has been redesigned twice (see the 2013 review). Dodge has returned to the market in this segment for the first time since 2005 with the Dart. (See key competitors compared.) Fortunately for shoppers, Toyota has redesigned the Corolla for 2014 (see the early details) and will put it on sale by the end of 2013.

Sometimes a car is redesigned when it's still quite good; that was the case for the previous-generation Civic and Mazda3. The 2013 Corolla is the opposite.

Today's below-average cars aren't as uncompetitive as they used to be: They tend to do the job without being exceptionally chintzy — or unreliable. Quite the contrary, the Corolla's enduring achievement remains its top-rated reliability, not eye-catching trim details. Among compact sedans, only the Subaru Impreza matches it.

But there are differences, both quantified and aesthetic, between standout and straggler models in this car class. If you haven't shopped compact cars in five to 10 years, you could run out directly and buy a 2013 Corolla and be reasonably content with it. But doing so would be even more foolish than it was three years ago. The 2013 Corolla's theme is "good enough."

The Inside
With 92 cubic feet of cabin volume, the Corolla sedan is more snug than the Civic and Chevrolet Cruze — both with 95 cubic feet — and the Elantra, which has 96 cubic feet. The Corolla's front-seat legroom and headroom are slightly below average, too, but it's roomy enough for a 6-foot-tall adult. The bottom cushion could be longer for better thigh support.

The backseat is a strange story: With a rated 36.3 inches of legroom, it's a tenth of an inch ahead of the Civic, about an inch more generous than the Cruze and more than 3 inches ahead of the Elantra. But these specifications often don't tell the whole story, and I found the Toyota Corolla's backseat legroom more snug than the Civic's. My knees pressed far into the Corolla driver's seat's backrest. But I must say, it wasn't as uncomfortable as it looked. The seatback is super soft. The floor is nearly flat, similar to the Civic's, which gives passengers more places to put their feet and, thus, orient their legs.

The Corolla interior's greater faults are aesthetic ones. The gauges are simple and legible, but they're also low-tech; classier, illuminated instrument panels have moved into this car class. It's a similar story with the ceiling liner, which is a plain, feltlike material. Some competitors have adopted more upscale woven cloth. The vinyl visors have a cheap feel, as do the climate controls. The controls are very clear and easy to use, but when you turn the leftmost knob, you can feel and hear mechanical louvers operating within the dashboard. Electronic knobs and buttons have become the norm for this function.

Perhaps the greatest problem is the cabin materials, which are harder and seem cheaper than many in this car class. There should be more cushioning where you rest your arms — on the armrests and door panels.

The Corolla's trunk is relatively small, with 12.3 cubic feet of volume. The Civic is only two-tenths better, but the Elantra has 14.8 and the Cruze 15.4 cubic feet. While all the cars in this class have folding backseats, the Civic has a standard one-piece bench unless you upgrade to a high trim level. The Toyota Corolla and others have 60/40-split folding backseats.

Behind the Wheel
The Toyota Corolla's driving experience follows the theme. The steering is vague and the handling is competent in curves, but not very sporty or agile. If that's what you want, check out the Ford Focus, Dodge Dart or Civic.

While the Corolla's ride quality isn't refined, I found it softer than the 2013 Civic's, even with our test Corolla's optional wheels from Toyota Racing Development, which at 18 inches provide less bump absorption than the standard 15- or 16-inch wheels (depending on trim level) or the optional 17-inch alloy wheels. I'll add that, in our collective opinion, they look ridiculous on this car — as out of place as a wing spoiler or hood scoop would be.

The drivetrain is similarly adequate but outdated. The 1.8-liter four-cylinder compares to competitors' base engines, but the Corolla's automatic transmission is a four-speed when five- and six-speeds are now the norm. I urge shoppers not to fixate on the technology too much: The Corolla's four-speed is a reasonably well-behaved transmission, and I prefer it in some ways over the continuously variable transmission in the Sentra and the balky dual-clutch automatic in the Focus. (The 2014 Corolla will replace the four-speed with a CVT.)

However, you can't deny that there's a lot of space between the gears, and that makes for more drama and noise when you hit the gas to pass, for example. It helps neither acceleration nor fuel economy, which is an EPA-rated 26/34/29 mpg city/highway/combined. The combined figure is 3 mpg behind the Civic and Elantra. It's 2 mpg ahead of the base Cruze but 1 mpg behind the Cruze's upgrade engine, which is the volume seller. The Corolla offers only one engine.
Safety
The Toyota Corolla performed well in crash tests, earning the top score of Good in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's moderate-overlap frontal, side, rear and roof-strength tests. It also earned four stars overall, out of five, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Though the Corolla offers an optional navigation system, it doesn't provide a backup camera — a feature that's available elsewhere in this car class and is, like air conditioning and airbags, is standard in the Civic. 

Given the Corolla's size, child-safety seats fit in the backseat reasonably well. Get the details in our Car Seat Check. See all the safety features listed here.

Corolla in the Market
The 2013 Toyota Corolla is a case study in the power of reputation and perception. The Corolla has earned a stellar reputation over the course of decades, and the perception appears to be that the current model is just as good as ever, even though it doesn't compare to its classmates. Since its previous redesign in 2009, it has become less competitive with each passing year, and Toyota has risked harming the Corolla's reputation. The 2014 can't hit dealerships soon enough.

Send Joe an email  

 


2013 Corolla Video

We’d say the ever-popular Toyota Corolla is a leader in quality, comfort, style and driving – if this were 2003. But it’s 2013, and Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder says the past decade hasn’t been kind, as competitors have surpassed the Corolla.

Latest 2013 Corolla Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(4.4)
Interior Design
(4.3)
Comfort
(4.4)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Excellent car and has no mechanical issue at all

by Smiley Face from Dallas,TX on August 19, 2018

This a wonderful car , with no mechanical issue and drive smooth like new car, this car has everything you wish for that includes new tires and recently oil change .. registration is good for another ... Read full review

(4.0)

Nice car

by lovingmom from JACKSONVILLE on August 16, 2018

The Corolla is a nice car, stylish and comfortable. The only issues I am experiencing right now is it doesn't seem to have a good pick up and go....it does get up to speed but takes a bit to get there ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2013 Toyota Corolla currently has 2 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2013 Toyota Corolla L

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
acceptable
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
acceptable
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    24 months / 25,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Toyota

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption services, Carfax vehicle history report, travel protection and toll-free assistance line

  • Limited Warranty

    1 year / 12,000 miles

    Comprehensive: 12 months/12,000 miles from date of purchase. Powertrain: 7 years/100,000 miles from original in-service date ($50 deductible) Note: In AL, FL, GA, NC and SC, 7-year/100,000 mile limited warranty coverage begins Jan. 1 of the vehicle's model year and zero (0) odometer miles and expires at the earlier of seven years or 100,000 odometer miles. Hybrid: 8-year/100,000 mile warranty on Factory HV Battery for Toyota Hybrid Vehicles.
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 85,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 160 point inspection and reconditioning.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Corolla received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

B

Booster

(second row)

A

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

B

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

A
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker