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Affordable Comfort: 2011 Toyota Corolla LE

It is a time-tested hit. Proven, yet innovative. The Corolla continues to be one of the best selling cars in America for over four decades. If you are looking for a no-frills comfortable ride, you can’t go wrong with a Corolla, writes automotive editor Sally Miller Wyatt.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2011 Toyota Corolla.

If you want to feel old, here’s a helpful little factoid: Toyota has been making Corollas for more than 40 years! Who is going to admit they’re old enough to remember those very first models?

Even after four decades, Corollas continue to be a best-selling car in the subcompact category, and for a number of reasons. They get great mileage, are comfortable without feeling compact, and are equipped with top-flight safety features as well as a few creature comforts.

For 2011, Toyota Corollas get a new design for the front and rear, as well as some noteworthy safety enhancements as standard features. These include Toyota’s Smart Stop Technology and the Star Safety System.

The Star Safety System includes Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and Brake Assist, as well as a the Smart Stop Technology, which is essentially a brake-override system.

Other safety enhancements include front and rear crumple zones, an energy-absorbing steering column, six standard air bags including advanced front air bags, front seat-mounted side air bags and front and rear side curtain air bags. Front seats have active headrests, which come into play if the car is struck from behind with enough force. A cable mechanism is activated that moves the headrest up and forward to minimize movement of the passenger’s head and reduce the risk of whiplash injury.

(Above): Interior view of the 2011 Toyota Corolla.

As always, Corollas are available in three grades: The base model, the LE and the S. All have a 1.8-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine and you can pair that with either the five-speed transmission or a four-speed automatic. Corollas have earned a fuel economy rating of 28 mpg for city driving and 35 mph for highway driving with the manual transmission, slightly less with the automatic.

Some of the convenience features on our LE model included intermittent windshield wipers with a mist cycle; heated and power outside mirrors; a sound system that includes AM/FM/CD and six speakers as well as MP3/WMA playback ability; cruise control; keyless remote entry with a trunk release; tilt and telescope steering wheel with audio controls.

Step up to the S model and you get such additional features as 16-inch alloy wheels, halogen headlamps, integrated fog lamps, and sporty front seats, among other items.

If you want extras, they include such options as a moonroof, XM Radio, hands-free phone capability and music streaming through Bluetooth, to name a few.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2011 Toyota Corolla.

Behind the wheel, we found the cloth seats to be comfortable and supportive. In the rear, the floorboard is flat, making the rear middle seat just that much more accommodating. There is good room for two adults back here, and certainly three children.

The trunk is right-sized and easily accessed through a wide opening.

On the road, I found the Corolla handled very nicely, had a tight feel and a tight turning radius. The 1.8-liter engine delivered enough power when you needed hard acceleration, and without hesitation.

Visibility is good in all directions.

It’s hard to go wrong with Toyota’s Corolla. After more than 40 years and 30 million cars, they’ve worked out all the kinks. The car is comfortable, affordable and gets great gas mileage. And for 2011, they added some of the best safety features and made them standard. How can you beat that combination?

Sally Miller Wyatt is a freelance writer who writes family-oriented auto reviews for newspapers, magazines and the Web.


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