2021 Toyota Corolla XSE

Great car, fair price, fun to drive
By Durhl Caussey
Durhl Caussey
Durhl Caussey
November 24, 2020Updated: November 24, 2020

The new Corolla comes in both hatchback and sedan forms. My tester was a sedan, so that will be the focus of the review.

Corolla XSE is motivated by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Dual VVT-i engine driving power through Dynamic-Shift CVT. Sport suspension, Sport drive mode, and paddle shifters make a clear announcement of the XSE’s sports intention.

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Looking from the back. (Courtesy of Toyota)

Outside, my Corolla was covered in a beautiful Celestite Gray Metallic paint with gray accents. The sedan rests on 18-inch machined alloy wheels.

Fuel economy is rated at 31 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, for a combined 34-mpg average.

This Toyota was prudent around town. The ride was of quality, even on crowded roads and bumpy streets. Corolla XSE seemed to smooth out any real problems. The Toyota body sheet metal appeared agile with superb controlled body.

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Stylish headlight and honeycomb grille. (Courtesy of Toyota)

The steering was much above the average, and compared favorably against segment rivals like Mazda 3 and Volkswagen Golf.

I liked the streamlined dashboard and quality soft materials. Push-button start gets you going as superb interior lighting helps maintain visibility to controls and readouts. On the practical front, there is 12 cubic feet of cargo space.

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Corolla XSE interior. (Courtesy of Toyota)

There is a convenient tray in the front center console, and a larger, useful bin under the armrest between the front seats.

The stiffer sport-tuned suspension and the large 18-inch wheels help this Corolla to deliver quick-turn maneuverability for a premium ride.

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The instrument gauge cluster. (Courtesy of Toyota)

The Audio Plus with an 8-inch touchscreen is complemented by a 7-inch TFT Multi Info Display. I would like to have larger gauges to show larger lettering and numbers. There is also six speakers, Bluetooth hands-free, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay capability. A 10-month trial of SiriusXM Satellite Radio provides additional audio entertainment.

The XSE’s leather-wrapped steering wheel goes quite nicely with premium sports-trimmed heated front seats.

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Blue/black SofTex trim. (Courtesy of Toyota)

Some of the standard safety features include Forward Collision Warning and Automatic Braking, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control.

The most amazing thing to me was the build quality of the vehicle packaged with all the standard safety and technological features, plus the super mileage for a retail price just over $25,000.

There is one $1,715 Connectivity Package which transforms the XSE into a fully-connected tech vehicle. This package adds Premium Audio with Dynamic Navigation, which features 9 JBL speakers, subwoofer, and amplifier, plus a suite of connected services such as Dynamic Navigation with a 3-year trial, Safety Connect with an one-year trial, and Service Connect with a 10-year trial. Qi-compatible wireless charging is another nice addition.

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JBL speakers in the Connectivity Package. (Courtesy of Toyota)

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
3 years/36,000 miles Basic Warranty
5 years/60,000 miles Powertrain Warranty
5 years/unlimited miles Corrosion Perforation Warranty
3 years/25,000 miles Complimentary Maintenance

Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or [email protected].