2013 Toyota Corolla Review and Prices

Last Updated: Jun 8, 2013

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2013 Toyota Corolla Buying Advice

The 2013 Toyota Corolla is the best car for you if the senior citizen of the compact class speaks to your automotive comfort zone.

The 2013 Toyota Corolla gets a revised grille and new Special Editions and Premium packages to mark the final iteration of this model-year 2009-2013 design generation. Coming autumn 2013 is an all-new 2014 Corolla with racier styling and more interior room, but no major mechanical changes. That leaves the lame-duck 2013 Corolla to fend off a flood of younger and more exciting rivals, including the Honda Civic, Ford Focus, and Hyundai Elantra.

Should you buy a 2013 Toyota Corolla or wait for the 2014 Toyota Corolla?  The 2013 Corolla relies on play-it-safe styling, a proven powertrain, and a reputation for reliability. It’s a good value if those are your priorities -- and you plan to keep it long enough to overcome the depreciation-accelerating stigma associated with the last of an outgoing generation. Waiting for the 2014 Corolla would deliver to you a new era of Corolla design, but with an almost-inevitable model-year price increase.

2013 Toyota Corolla Changes back to top

Styling: The 2013 Toyota Corolla gets a slightly revised chrome-accented grille and one of the new Premium package includes 17-inch alloy wheels. But the ’13 Corolla is otherwise a stylistic carbon copy of the 2012 model.

This is essentially the same compact sedan introduced for 2009. Since then an onslaught of redesigned rivals has invigorated the compact class. These include the aforementioned Focus and Elantra, plus the Chevrolet Cruze and new versions of the Honda Civic and Volkswagen Jetta. They were joined for model-year 2013 by the redesigned Nissan Sentra and the Dodge Dart, a new small sedan based on an Alfa Romeo from the stable of Dodge’s Italian corporate parent, Fiat.

That leaves the 2013 Corolla looking dated and feeling cramped compared with shapelier young rivals that use their space more efficiently. And various competitors offer versatile hatchback or sporty two-door-coupe alternatives to their basic four-door sedan body style. Corolla, however, has remained among the compact-segment’s best-selling cars by rewarding loyal buyers with a conservative personality and a largely trouble-free ownership experience.

That doesn’t change with the 2013 model, though Toyota does mark the conclusion of this Corolla design generation with two Special Editions and several Premium Packages that combine popular features. They build on the volume-selling LE and sporty-looking S models, while the base L continues as the entry to Corolla’s three-model lineup.

The 2013 Corolla LE again comes with 16-inch wheels versus 15s on the L. But the 2013 line’s main styling distinction again lies with the S model. It wears aerodynamic exterior trim and has standard fog lamps, a chromed exhaust tip, and 16-inch alloy wheels. The S model also repeats as the only 2013 Corolla with specially bolstered front seats, metallic-style cabin details, and sportier-looking dashboard gauges.  

Most of the new Special Edition and Premium Package additions are to interior trim and features. But visual changes include 17-inch five-spoke alloys for the S Premium Package, plus some black detailing that slightly alters the headlight appearance. The LE Premium package adds 16-inch five-spoke alloys and fog lamps.  

Mechanical: The 2013 Toyota Corolla is unchanged mechanically. It’s only powertrain again consists of a reliable but unexciting four-cylinder engine and a pair of antiquated transmissions.

Relatively strong sales suggest Corolla buyers don’t demand more. But model-year 2013 rivals offers base engines that get markedly better fuel economy, optional turbocharged variants with far more power, and gas-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and even pure-electric alternatives.

All 2013 Corollas return with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated at 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. A seldom-ordered five-speed manual repeats as the standard transmission. A four-speed automatic is included on the LE model and optional on the L and S. That four-speed automatic is perhaps the most glaring telltale of the 2013 Corolla’s hidebound mechanical specifications. Nearly every competing compact car features an automatic transmission with six speeds for a smoother delivery of power and greater fuel efficiency.

Many also emphasize a degree of handling agility Corolla has thus far avoided. The 2013 version of this Toyota suffers languid steering response and suspension settings that stress a soft, almost floaty ride.

Like all its main competitors, the 2013 Corolla has a front-wheel drive layout. Front-wheel drive locates the mass of the engine and transmission over the tires that propel the car, contributing to good wet-surface traction and space-efficient packaging.

Features: Toyota moved Corolla closer to its newer competitors with a model-year 2012 upgrade that included more connectivity features and an available navigation system. The 2013 Corolla again offers most of the amenities its buyers expect. But it doesn’t challenge rivals for bragging rights to gee-whiz features such as lane-departure warning, pushbutton ignition, or automatic self-parking.

However, leather upholstery is available for the first time as standard equipment on the new-for-2013 Special Edition versions of both the LE and S.  

All 2013 Corollas return with a nice selection of basic essentials. These include air conditioning, a tilt/telescope steering wheel, height adjustable driver’s seat, and split-folding rear seatbacks as standard on all models. Power mirrors -- heated on LE and S versions – also are standard. And every 2013 Corolla is equipped with dashboard readouts for outside temperature and average and instant fuel economy.   

The model-year 2012 upgrades made power windows and locks standard on the L model. But Toyota continues to make cruise control unavailable on the base Corolla, reserving it for LE and S models, where it’s standard.

The LE and S also continue as the only 2013 Corollas with steering-wheel audio controls and an optional power moonroof. For model-year 2013 they gain as standard Toyota’s Display Audio system with a 6.1-inch dashboard touch screen that controls some audio functions.

A USB iPod interface and Bluetooth mobile-phone connectivity are standard on the LE and S models and optional on the price-leader L; the L again comes with an auxiliary audio jack.

Also reserved for LE and S models is an optional navigation system. It’s part of Toyota’s Display Audio with Navigation and Entune multimedia system. This includes a 6.1-inch dashboard touchscreen, Sirius XM satellite radio with a free 90-day subscription, iTunes Tagging to save songs for later purchase, text-message-to-voice capability, Pandora Internet radio access, and music streaming via Bluetooth compatible devices. 

In addition to the 17-inch wheels, the S Premium Package upgrades 2013 models with the power moonroof. The S Premium Interior Package adds automatic climate control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. The S Premium Complete Package adds to that the Display Audio with Navigation and Entune system. The S Premium Complete Package bundles all these features.

In the 2013 Corolla LE, the available Premium Package includes the 16-inch alloys and fog lamps, plus the moonroof. It’s augmented by the new Premium Interior Package, which shares the features of the S Premium Interior Package while also adding an eight-way power driver’s seat. The LE Premium Complete Package includes all that, plus the nav-Entune system.

The LE and S Special Edition versions essentially bundle the Entune audio component with leather upholstery and heated front seats. 

2013 Toyota Corolla Prices back to top

Base-price range for the 2013 Toyota Corolla is $17,025-$21,345. Some rivals offer less costly entry-level models, as well as far-more expensive top-trim versions. But starting at $18,975, the volume-selling Corolla LE occupies the heart of the compact-class price spectrum. And adding some of the new Premium packages can push it over $21,370. Note, however, that Toyota will be discounting the 2013 Corolla to make way for the redesigned 2014 model.

Also note that base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandatory destination fee. Toyota’s fee for factory-distributed 2013 Corollas was $795. Toyotas in some Southeastern and Gulf states are distributed independently and may carry different destination charges.

The 2013 Toyota Corolla L model starts at $17,025 with manual transmission and $17,855 with automatic.

The Corolla LE’s $18,975 base price includes the automatic transmission. Its Premium Complete Package retails for $2,395, the Premium Package for $860, and the Premium Interior Package for $505. The 2013 Corolla LE Special Edition is priced at $21,345.

Base price for the 2013 Toyota Corolla S is $19,025 with manual transmission, $19,855 with automatic. Its Premium Complete Package is $1,900, its Premium Package $570, and its Premium Interior Package $300. The 2013 Corolla S Special Edition is priced like its LE counterpart, at $21,345.

Among noteworthy 2013 Corolla options, the Display Audio with Navigation and Entune system option costs $1,030.

2013 Toyota Corolla Fuel Economy back to top

EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2013 Toyota Corolla are unchanged from model-year 2012. That means the 2013 Corolla can count fuel economy among its assets but that it continues to lag behind comparable versions of top rivals.

The 2013 Toyota Corolla fuel economy ratings are 27/34/30 mpg city/highway/combined with manual transmission and 26/34/29 mpg with automatic transmission.

2013 Toyota Corolla Release Date back to top

The 2013 Toyota Corolla went on sale in the fourth quarter of 2012.

What's next for the 2013 Toyota Corolla back to top

The 2014 Corolla launches the next fully redesign edition of this popular Toyota and goes on sale in autumn 2013.

It has flasher styling designed to appeal to more up-to-date tastes. The look is radically different for a Corolla -- although not so distinctive within the context of modern compact-car design.

More significant is a substantial stretch of its wheelbase – nearly 4 inches. Wheelbase is the distance between the front and rear axles and key to a car’s passenger legroom. The 2014 Corolla’s wheelbase advances from among the shortest in the class to just a fraction of an inch briefer than the longest. Overall body length grows 2.6 inches, giving the 2014 Corolla more athletic proportions – and far greater rear seat legroom.

The 2014 Corolla retains the 1.8-liter four-cylinder with only the slightest alteration in horsepower and torque. But LE and S models substitute a continuously variable transmission for a conventional automatic. And Toyota adds an LE Eco model tuned for maximum fuel economy.

Note that the 2013 Toyota Matrix is essentially a four-door Corolla wagon with a raised roof and available all-wheel drive. It will not advance to the all-new 2014 Corolla engineering and is expected to continue on the 2009-2013 platform for several more model years.

2013 Toyota Corolla Competition back to top

Chevrolet Cruze: Cruze debuted for model-year 2011 as one of the more conservative-looking among the crop of new compact cars. In that, it’s close to the spirit of the Corolla. This solid sedan has a 2013 base-price range of $17,925-$24,345. On the road, it feels livelier than the Corolla, with crisper handling and a more controlled ride. All Cruze models have a 138-horsepower four-cylinder engine but top-line versions get a turbocharged variant with 148 pound-feet of torque versus 125. Fuel-economy ratings range from 22/35/27 mpg city/highway/combined with automatic transmission to 28/42/33 for the manual-transmission Eco model. Daewoo, General Motors’ South Korean subsidiary, was the origin of Cruze’s design, which is also used by GM’s well-regarded Opel Astra in Europe and by Buick’s new upscale compact, the Verano.

Honda Civic: This is the compact-class sales leader but nonetheless gets a revamp for model-year 2013, just one year after its model-year 2012 redesign. Honda responded to critics who blasted the 2012 for dull styling and poor interior materials quality. The 2013 changes tart up the styling and upgrade the cabin, though there’s no change mechanically. The result is a terrific compact car that’s remarkably roomy, rewarding to drive, and boasts consistently high scores for reliability and resale value. The Corolla-rivaling Civic sedan has a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 140 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. With the five-speed automatic transmission, it rates 28/39/32 mpg, or 29/41/33 for the HF “high fuel-economy” model. Manual-transmission versions start at $18,995. Base-price range for automatic-equipped Corolla counterparts is $17,755-$24,555. Corolla has no counterpart to the impressive 2013 Civic Hybrid, which rates 44/44/44 mpg and starts at $25,150.    

Hyundai Elantra: Elantra had less visual pizzazz than the Corolla until a model-year 2011 redesign transformed it into a styling leader. This compact sedan from South Korea’s largest automaker is now a commercial success, though demanding drivers will be happier with a Civic, Ford Focus, or Mazda 3. Shapely, spacious, and thrifty, Elantra comes in coupe and four-door hatchback body styles. But the best-seller is the sedan. It starts at $17,470 with the six-speed manual-transmission and has a base-price-range of $18,470-$21,720 with the six-speed automatic. Every Elantra uses a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 148 horsepower and 131 pound feet of torque. Sedans rate 28/38/32 mpg, regardless of transmission or trim level. Standard-equipment lists are relatively generous and so is warranty coverage.

2013 Toyota Corolla Next Steps