In the fall of 1966, Toyota began building what would become the world’s best-selling nameplate – Corolla. Now forty-three million cars later, the automaker brings us its 50th Anniversary Special Edition model of the 2017 Toyota Corolla.
Corolla is on its 11th generation platform and for its 50th birthday, it receives some fresh styling upgrades along with new safety equipment. The aforementioned limited edition model arrives as an SE model in special paint along with moonroof, smart key, and Entune Audio Plus.
The styling upgrades are led by sportier new front grille and LED headlamps. There are new wheel designs to be had across most Corolla models and all 2017s now come with Toyota’s Safety Sense-P technology that includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, backup camera, dynamic radar cruise control, and automatic high beams.
The Corolla SE 50th Anniversary Special Edition production run will be limited to 8,000 units and arrives in classic silver, blizzard pearl, or, as ours arrived, black cherry pearl. Interior design elements include black mixed media seating with black cherry piping and contrast stitching. There is special badging on the floor mats and rear trunklid. The model includes 7-inch color touchscreen with Entune Audio Plus with connected navigation (Scout GPS link app) and drivers see a color 4.2-inch TFT multi-information screen in the center of the gauge display.
In order to reach a milestone such as this, Toyota has been doing something right with the Corolla over the past 50 years. They have been producing a value-based vehicle that is both reliable and trusted. None of that has changed with the arrival of the 2017 models. I was surprised to see how many fathers of teen drivers came up to me at work complimenting the special edition’s looks.
At the heart of all Corolla models is a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder DOHC engine. With the exception of the LE Eco model, this engine produces 132hp and 128 lb. ft. torque and is mated to six-speed manual gearbox or CVTi-S automatic transmission. Our tester arrived with the latter as most Corolla models will. Power is sent to the front wheels in typical CVT fashion with the engine winding up to about four grand on acceleration and easing off as the driver approaches desired speed. Toyota does a good job of isolating driver and passengers from the harshness normally associated with a four-cylinder engine winding up during acceleration and delivers a fairly smooth, fairly quiet on road experience with only a small amount of road noise entering from somewhere aft of the front seat area.
The Corolla grew in size and space when it was last fully remodeled (circa 2013) but it retains a key element to a vehicle in its class: Just get in it and go. This is a simple car to operate and it works easily and instinctively with drivers. Start, drive, stop…simple as one, two, three. Instruments are easy to read and controls are in their respective locations and can be operated with little to no difficulty or learning curve.
Pricing for 2017 Toyota Corolla begins at $18,500 with this 50th Anniversary Special Edition coming in at $24,498. Fuel economy is rated at 28 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. LE Eco model Corollas achieve 40 mpg on the highway and 30 around town.
Toyota has delivered 50 years of peace of mind with its Corolla model as well as ease of pocketbook. For 2017 it offers the most comfort and convenience yet on its best-seller that shows no signs of relinquishing its global sales crown. In the U.S. it comes in second to big brother Camry as Americans prefer midsize passenger cars over the smaller showroom companions. For those looking for a hatchback model, Corolla inherited the Scion iM into its line as Toyota mothballed the Scion division and rolled most models into Toyota badging. Corolla is looking “nifty at fifty” and the next half-century should see similar success.