Used Toyota Corolla 2018-present review

Category: Family car

The Toyota Corolla is a smart and hugely reliable used buy. It's comfortable, well-equipped and great value.

Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech
  • Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech
  • Toyota Corolla driving
  • Toyota Corolla interior infotainment detail
  • Toyota Corolla rear
  • Toyota Corolla 2020 RHD front seats
  • Toyota Corolla boot
  • Toyota Corolla interior infotainment detail
  • Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech - interior
  • Toyota Corolla rear
  • Toyota Corolla 2020 RHD front seats
  • Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech - interior
  • Toyota Corolla 2021 interior rear seats
  • Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech
  • Toyota Corolla driving
  • Toyota Corolla interior infotainment detail
  • Toyota Corolla rear
  • Toyota Corolla 2020 RHD front seats
  • Toyota Corolla boot
  • Toyota Corolla interior infotainment detail
  • Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech - interior
  • Toyota Corolla rear
  • Toyota Corolla 2020 RHD front seats
  • Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech - interior
  • Toyota Corolla 2021 interior rear seats
Used Toyota Corolla 2018-present review
Star rating

What's the used Toyota Corolla hatchback like?

Buy a Toyota Corolla and you’ll hardly become part of an exclusive set: there have been more than 44 million of them sold over the last 50-odd years and 12 different incarnations, many of which in family car form. Welcome, in fact, to the world’s best-selling car.

After such world-wide success, it may come as a surprise to learn the Corolla nameplate actually disappeared from UK showrooms for almost 10 years, only re-emerging with this model in 2018.

Overview

The Corolla is a smart and potentially very reliable used buy. The hybrid versions are economical, too.

  • Great economy in the hybrid cars
  • Good to drive
  • Top-notch reliability record
  • Rear-seat space a little tight
  • Infotainment not the best
  • The 1.8 not as refined as 2.0-litre version

Filling in the gap was a reliable but rather bland car called the Auris - a Corolla by any other name. Unlike the Auris, its replacement here has been subjected to a healthy dose of the stylist’s pen and contains within its longer, wider, lower and stiffer bodyshell a wealth of new technology aimed at stealing sales from Europe’s finest family hatchbacks. You can also have it as a more practical estate, called the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports.

Under the bonnet, Toyota offers a 112bhp 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine along with two versions of the car powered by its petrol-electric hybrid system, both of which account for around nine out of every 10 sales. The 1.8-litre VVTi is pretty much the same as the unit in the Prius, in fact, and comes with 120bhp from its electric motor and petrol engine combined. The 2.0-litre engine has 178bhp and a 0-62mph time of 7.9sec.

In 2022 the Corolla received an update. As well as styling changes front and rear, and tweaks to the interior and the infotainment system, the engines were updated.

Updates to the Toyota Corolla's hybrid system mean that the latest version of the entry-level 1.8-litre engine has 138bhp at its disposal, and can match the 0-62mph time of the 128bhp 1.5-litre VW Golf at 9.2sec. In fact, it’s almost as quick as the 1.0 Ecoboost 155 Ford Focus.

The 1.8 has more than enough performance for everyday driving and getting up to motorway speeds without needing to mash the accelerator into the carpet. If you want more, the brawnier 193bhp 2.0-litre has you covered. That’s evident by the 7.4 sec 0-62mph time.

Trim-wise, entry-level Icon comes well equipped with dusk-sensing headlights, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, heated front seats and 16in alloy wheels. Icon Tech adds a lot of extra upgrades that include sat-nav and parking sensors. In fact, its only major omission is rain-sensing wipers – you’ll need to upgrade to Design trim if you want those. Design also brings 17in alloy wheels, heated door mirrors and privacy glass. Range-topping Excel adds part-leather seats and even bigger (18in) wheels.

On the road, even the earlier 1.8-litre hybrid's acceleration is plenty in most situations – even when joining motorways. However, the earlier 177bhp 2.0-litre hybrid is much punchier and responds far more eagerly when you squeeze the accelerator pedal.

The Corolla’s ride is most impressive, being quite soft, and this is definitely one of the most comfortable cars in the family car class. It has softer suspension than, say, the Focus, which means it smoothes off the rough edges of road ridges better and fidgets less on patchy sections of motorway.

It handles in a safe and secure manner, too, and it has a reasonable level of grip.

It can be quite refined, too. Because the electric motor can manage on its own in stop-start traffic, progress is virtually silent and the petrol engine doesn’t spoil the peace too much when it does cut in to provide assistance.

On faster roads, though, particularly those with inclines, the petrol engine begins to whine away noticeably. The blame for this lies with the Corolla’s CVT, which causes the revs to rise and hold on to them while the car catches up with your intentions. The 1.8-litre cars don’t get quite so much sound deadening tech as the 2.0-litre ones, so they are noticeably noisier.

Inside, it’s easy to find the right driving position, and visibility is good - every Corolla gets a rear-view camera as standard, too. The infotainment system is a little sluggish, and not of the highest resolution, but is positioned high up on what is a pleasing dashboard. There are plenty of soft-touch materials, too, so it all feels of a good quality.

There’s plenty of space up front, but things are a little cramped in the rear, especially in terms of leg room. The boot of the 1.8-litre car is of a good size and is easily accessible, but the 2.0-litre car gets a slightly smaller one, due to having to house the battery underneath its floor.

If you're interested in buying a used Toyota Corolla, or any of the other cars mentioned here, check out our used car classifieds site here.

Toyota Corolla driving

Ownership cost

What used Toyota Corolla hatchback will I get for my budget?

You’ll need around £14,000 to get behind the wheel of a Corolla, this for a late-2018 or early 2019 car bought from a franchised dealer and with a low mileage and full history. A lot of these may well be the 1.2-litre car, but it shouldn’t cost you too much more to hop into a 1.8 or 2.0 hybrid version. Spend £16,000 to £20,000 on either of the hybrids, on a 2019 or 2020 car with an average mileage from a franchised dealer. Spend between £20,000 and £22,000 on a 2021 or 2022 car, a little more for a 2023 model.

This is a reasonable saving on the price of a new one, even factoring in the Target Price discount you may have been able to achieve if you use our website to buy one.

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Toyota Corolla interior infotainment detail

How much does it cost to run a Toyota Corolla hatchback?

MPG

On paper, the most economical Corolla is the 1.8 hybrid version, with an official fuel consumption figure of 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of as low as 76g/km in Icon and Icon Tech versions. The 2.0-litre version returns a healthy 54.3mpg and the 1.2 a respectable 44.8mpg.

Road tax

All versions of this generation of Corolla will have been registered after the tax changes of April 2017 came into force, so all will be taxed for VED or annual car tax at the flat rate. This is currently £180 for petrol cars and £170 for hybrid examples. Cars registered after April 2022 will have road tax determined by CO2 emissions.

Insurance and servicing

Insurance costs are low, with groups ranging from 15 to 21, and servicing costs are low, too. There are a number of service options available for used cars that allow the owner to pay in instalments and by direct debit and plan ahead for costs. The hybrid-electric service costs no more than a regular one, and every service done annually adds another year of extended cover, up to a total of 15 years.

Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech - interior

Our recommendations

Which used Toyota Corolla hatchback should I buy?

Although it’s not as refined a car as the 2.0-litre model, we’d go for the ultra-economical 1.8 Hybrid. There should be plenty around and its purchase price will also be lower than the larger-engined car.

As far as trim goes, we’d look for the Icon Tech, which packs most of what you’d want and nearly all you’d need, and adds sat-nav and parking sensors to the otherwise well-equipped Icon version.

Our favourite Toyota Corolla: 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech

Toyota Corolla rear

Alternatives

What alternatives should I consider to a used Toyota Corolla hatchback?

The Hyundai Ioniq is perhaps the main rival to the Corolla. It’s available as a petrol-electric hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or as a fully electric car. For us, it works best as a hybrid, and on top of being good to drive and cheap to run you’ll get a good-quality interior, as well as some keen used prices.

Among more conventional family cars, the Mk7 version of the iconic Volkswagen Golf is of course a splendid buy. It has a comfortable ride, is well equipped, wonderfully refined and relatively cheap to buy and to run. It’s roomy, with a feeling of solidity few cars in its class can match.

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If you're interested in buying a used Toyota Corolla, or any of the other cars mentioned here, check out our used car classifieds site here.

Toyota Corolla 2020 RHD front seats