The all-new 2021 Corolla is ready to rock the sedan world. Choose from the refined L, the sporty SE, the dynamic Corolla hybrid, or the head-turning Apex and Nightshade Edition. Fun. Smart. Value-packed. Get more out of life behind the wheel of a Corolla.
2021 Toyota Corolla
- Designed for exceptional comfort and convenience
- Built on the revolutionary TNGA platform allowing the Corolla to bring a new meaning to the concept of fun-to-drive.
- New 169 Horsepower, 2.0-litre Dynamic Force Engine
- Available Direct-Shift CVT or Six-Speed Manual Transmission
- Standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0
- Standard Entune 3.0 Audio with Apple CarPlay Compatibility
Get ready to do a triple-take. From bumper to bumper, wheels to roof, inside and out, the 12th generation Corolla sedan has been dramatically transformed in every way imaginable: design, comfort, performance, safety, and connectivity. That’s just the start. The new Corolla is also available as a high-efficiency hybrid — offering electrified power to go along with its electrifying personality. The Green Car Journal has named the 2020 Corolla Hybrid the Green Car of the year.
With more than 45 million Toyota Corollas sold globally since its introduction in 1966, it would be difficult to find a driver who did not recognize the name. Everyone, it seems, has a Corolla story. Many, though are going to be doing double takes when they see the re-imagined and reconfigured 2021 Toyota Corolla Sedan. And that’s exactly the point.
The 12th-generation Toyota Corolla made its arrival in two chapters: the all-new Corolla Hatchback arrived earlier this year, and now comes the best-selling Corolla body style, the sedan. Both are based on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), which is far more than a new body structure, also bringing together new approaches to engineering, design, assembly, and materials.
TNGA transforms both Corolla styles into drivers’ delights while also bolstering the model’s renowned value and reliability. Both draw from the same DNA and share powertrains. It’s no surprise, then, that the 2021 Corolla Sedan dramatically elevates this model’s focus on comfort and refinement while also infusing it with the Corolla Hatchback’s feisty personality.
The Corolla sedan’s bold new look is a perfect reflection of the bumper-to-bumper, wheels-to-roof transformation that has taken place. The TNGA platform means an available engine that produces more power than its predecessor yet delivers better fuel efficiency. TNGA imbues the Corolla sedan with greater agility, yet also with its smoothest, quietest ride. TNGA also means an elevated feeling of quality in every surface, switch and control the driver sees and touches. And, critically, TNGA delivers on Toyota’s commitment to driver and passenger safety with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of active safety systems – standard on every Corolla sedan model.
Toyota shook up the midsize sedan ranks with the new-generation Camry, and now the compact sedan segment is in for a jolt with the 2021 Corolla sedan. From every angle, the new Corolla looks lower and leaner, tauter and tighter. Powerful fender flares and generously curved fender top surfaces accent its sculpted, athletic core.
The design team called its working concept “Shooting Robust,” because they were shooting for a robust, confidence-inspiring stance. Yet, they had to maintain ample space for practical, real-world use. That’s why people buy sedans, after all.
The 2021 Corolla sedan rides on a 2,700 mm wheelbase, like its predecessor, yet any commonality ends there. Corolla’s dynamic performance and stance benefit greatly from wider front (+11 mm.) and rear (+22 mm) track dimensions. The front overhang was shortened by 33 mm, and the rear overhang extended by more than 15 mm. Height was reduced 20 mm, and the hood lowered 35 mm. for better forward visibility, made possible by mounting the engine lower. Those changes, plus many others, reduce the center of gravity by 20 mm. – a significant amount, as any racecar engineer can attest. That’s just one part of the transformation that has turned the Corolla sedan into a highly nimble, engaging machine to drive.
The bold front fascia details vary by model grade, with the SE and XSE putting on the sportiest face, including a body-color chin spoiler and aero stabilizing fins to emphasize the wide stance. The slim, J-shaped Bi-Beam LED headlamps wrap deeply into the front fenders and give the Corolla sedan a steely stare and a distinct nighttime signature. The sporty SE and XSE grades use triple J-shaped clearance lamps with LED light guides along with LED turn signals, creating a unique design signature.
The rear leaves a distinct lighting impression as well, with narrow combination lamps that wrap deeply into the fenders. All 2021 Corolla sedan models use LEDs, the type and style varying by model grade. The sporty grades feature smoked outer light lenses.
What better way to showcase the Corolla’s dramatic new sheet metal than with a dramatic new color? The new hue is a highly iridescent Celestite Grey Metallic. The rest of the palette includes Blizzard Pearl, Super White, Classic Silver Metallic, Black Sand Pearl, Barcelona Red, Blueprint and Blue Crush Metallic.
Big Wheels Keep on Turning
The Corolla sedan transformation continues where the rubber meets the road. For the first time, 18-inch wheels are on the menu, available on the SE and XSE grades. These multi-spoke alloys get their great looks from a complex machining technique paired with deep surfacing and dark accents. The LE grade rides on 16-inch steel wheels with covers. The XLE grade gets new 16-inch alloy wheels with three-dimensional twisted spokes.
Simple. Warm. Inviting. Sensuous. These descriptors, seemingly from the luxury car realm, inspired designers’ efforts when visualizing the Corolla sedan’s cabin. The result is called “Sensuous Minimalism.” It’s equal parts sporty and elegant, and, as always, Corolla-comfortable and durable.
A neat instrument panel lends an open, harmonious feeling thanks to its slimmer upper surface, with character lines that interlock with the door trim to convey an airy atmosphere. At the center of the instrument panel, within easy view for the driver and front passenger, sits a high-resolution 8-inch multimedia touchscreen for the standard Entune 3.0 multimedia system on all grades except the L grade, which gets a 7-inch multimedia touchscreen.
The center stack screen provides access to vehicle settings, audio controls, navigation, and Entune 3.0 apps. Climate controls, located below the multimedia portal, are fashioned in a bright, highly visible digitized configuration. The center stack flows into a wider console, with an armrest that’s nearly 20 mm longer than in the previous model, for greater comfort.
The cockpit provides an engaging interior space that surrounds the driver while offering a spacious environment for all passengers. Compared to the previous Corolla, the instrument panel, cowl, hood, and beltline height are all lowered to increase visibility and create the interior’s open feel.
High-gloss materials are paired with matte elements – silver accents with piano black and available contrasting stitching – to accentuate a premium look and feel. Minimized gaps between buttons and switches, along with the elimination of unnecessary lettering on switchgear, adds to the high-class ambiance. Consistency in all materials’ and elements’ shape, color, grain, and gloss maximize continuity and aesthetic quality.
Available ambient lighting illuminates the front door trim, console tray, and front cupholder. The tray can hold small items such as a smartphone or wallet, or, when so equipped, houses the optional Qi wireless device charging pad. Terraced cup holders adapt to various-sized beverage containers.
The Corolla comes standard with a 4.2-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) Multi-Information Display (MID), with an available 7-inch MID located between the high-grade tachometer and speedometer. With the larger display, the driver can switch between analog and digital speedometer styles.
Featuring rich graphics, the easy-to-read MID can be custom configured by the driver and offers intuitive operation to access information for the audio and multimedia systems, a navigation system, vehicle information including fuel efficiency and tire pressure, the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), and other important parameters and system settings.
Front Row Seating
From behind the wheel, the 2021 Corolla sedan feels quite different than its predecessor. Positioning the driver’s hip point 25 mm lower and 40 mm further rearward yields an optimized driving position. The result not only improves comfort but also helps to lower the vehicle’s center of gravity and improves front/rear weight distribution.
These changes, along with the reconfigured lower beltline, slimmer instrument panel, slimmer A-pillars, and repositioned side view mirrors, result in more expansive outward visibility.
The front seats of the XSE and SE grades debut a new design featuring a unique shape with a headrest that nestles into the shoulder area, while the XLE and LE grades offer a seatback with a new U-shaped pattern. This major departure from a conventional square seatback design creates a sense of youthful, sporty appeal while improving comfort. The SE and XSE grades’ front seats offer thin, yet broad shoulder supports, evocative of a competition bucket seat, which overlap solid and thick side bolsters to achieve enhanced holding performance.
Seating materials include standard cloth or, in higher grades, SofTex™. New interior color schemes include several striking two-tone accents. Choices include Blue/Black (black as the main color with blue highlights), Moonstone (light gray as the main color with dark gray highlights), and new Macadamia (a warm, inviting cream color).
Lots of Room, Not Noise
The Corolla sedan may break tradition in the styling department, but it keeps to Toyota tradition when it comes to passenger room and comfort. The rear seat area retains excellent headroom, despite the lower roofline. Legroom is also plentiful, fulfilling a basic mission of sedans.
What you don’t get in the 2021 Corolla is noise. Powertrain and road noise have been culled thanks to revised drivetrain efficiencies, plus the widespread implementation of sound-absorbing materials, including Thinsulate®, sealants, foams, and silencers. The TNGA structure utilizes additional seals in its body panel gaps to insulate noise penetration and enhance air-sealing performance. As one example, the floor silencer pad is now one large piece, instead of many smaller elements. The inner and outer dash silencers are thicker. Combine all that with Corolla’s quieter powertrain, and it’s one tranquil ride.
Cooler Where It Counts
Corolla sedan’s fully redesigned air conditioning system is more compact, more efficient, and more effective. One example of the smarter climate control is the innovative twin-layer recirculation/fresh air induction unit: In cold climates, it will automatically send dehumidified fresh air to the upper cabin to reduce glass fogging while promoting recirculation of warm cabin air in lower areas.
System controls, located below the multimedia portal, are fashioned in a bright, highly-visible digitized configuration. The climate control interface features a piano black background with satin and silver accents for a premium, high-quality look and feel.
The 2021 Corolla sedan comes ready to pair with the driver’s digital life. The standard Entune 3.0 Audio includes an available 8-in. touchscreen display; six speakers; Apple CarPlay compatibility; Entune 3.0 App Suite Connect; Safety Connect; Scout GPS Link Compatible; Siri Eyes Free; auxiliary audio jack and USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control; AM/FM; MP3/WMA playback capability; hands-free phone capability; voice recognition and music streaming via Bluetooth; customizable home screen; and weather/traffic info via Entune 3.0 App Suite.
The LE and SE grades get Entune 3.0 Audio with an 8-inch touch screen and 2 USB ports.
Entune 3.0 Audio Plus, standard on XSE, XLE and optional on SE CVT, adds an HD Radio and Weather/Traffic info; SiriusXM with Cache Radio; Entune 3.0 Connected Services; Service Connect, and Remote Connect.
Topping the range is Entune 3.0 Audio Premium which is optional on XSE and XLE. The package includes Dynamic Voice Recognition; Dynamic Navigation; Dynamic Points of Interest Search; and Destination Assist Connect.
Featured apps for Entune systems include:
In the event of an accident or other emergency, assistance can be dispatched directly to the vehicle’s GPS location. Other connected services available on the Corolla include airbag-linked Automatic Emergency Notification, Manual Emergency Notification (SOS button), and Stolen Vehicle Locator.
Destination Assist Connect
Directions and destinations delivered by a real person with 24-hour, en-route navigation assistance.
Provides the most up-to-date map data, routes, and POI on its embedded system. (Available with Entune 3.0 Premium Audio.)
Dynamic Force is with You
The 2021 Corolla sedan L, LE, and XLE grades will use the 1.8-liter engine (2ZR-FAE) found in the previous generation, yet with more horsepower and better fuel efficiency. The XSE and SE grades are powered by a completely-new 2.0-liter Dynamic-Force direct-injection inline four-cylinder engine (M20A-FKS). This new engine delivers more performance and using less fuel. Remarkably, the new Corolla engine is physically smaller and lighter, helping to lower the car’s center of gravity and improve its overall balance.
Here are some of the tech bits on Corolla sedan’s new available engine:
The new Dynamic Force engine gets its high power and efficiency from a combination of high compression ratio (13:1), Toyota D4-S fuel injection combining direct and secondary port injectors, high-speed combustion, VVT-iE intelligent variable valve-timing on the intake side, and VVT-i on the exhaust. VVT-iE uses an electric motor instead of oil pressure to control the variable valve timing.
A two-discharge port oil pump and a variable cooling system with electric water pump help maximize engine performance and efficiency. The more efficient cooling system also ensures quicker cabin heating on cold days and quicker cool-down when the air conditioner is used.
All of those technologies, along with ultra-low internal friction, yield a maximum thermal efficiency of 40 percent, among the highest in the world for a passenger vehicle engine. You can’t feel thermal efficiency, but you can feel the effects of 169 peak horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 151 lb-ft peak torque at 4,800 rpm.
Sedan buyer trends are shifting, and the 2021 Corolla sedan is right there with them. The new Direct-Shift CVT (continuously variable transmission) combines the smooth, fuel-efficient performance of a CVT with a more direct driving feel of a traditional geared automatic. The key to its distinct performance feel is a physical first gear used for start-off acceleration, before handing off to the CVT’s pulley system. Because the launch gear is handling the higher input load at launch, the size of the CVT’s belt and pulley components could be reduced, yielding shifting speeds that are 20 percent faster than in a conventional CVT.
High-speed, high-response gear-shifting technology, using a multi-plate wet clutch, switches power from the gearset to the CVT’s belt and pulleys. The Direct Shift CVT has simulated 10-speed Sequential Shiftmatic steps along with Sport Mode. Synchronization of the increasing engine revs and vehicle speed gives a linear acceleration feel.
For those who want to shift for themselves, the 2021 Corolla sedan offers an intriguing choice with the all-new 6-speed iMT (intelligent manual transmission). Like some premium sports cars, it features downshift rev-matching control, automatically detecting when the driver is shifting and quickly rev-matching to make any driver a stick-shift pro.
New control logic improves acceleration feel when starting off, and improved shift feel makes this a stick shift you want to use. Increased use of micro polishing on gear teeth reduces cabin noise. Standard Hill-start Assist Control (also on the CVT models), helps prevent the dreaded roll-back when starting off on an incline.
Platform: The Strong, Silent Type
A super-rigid structure, lower center of gravity, and highly refined suspension tuning endow the Corolla sedan with exemplary handling agility and ride comfort, along with a distinctive driving personality. This high-strength platform is fortified through the increased use of ultra-high-tensile steel as well as the application of new structural adhesive technology for enhanced body rigidity and occupant safety. Specifically, torsional rigidity is improved by 60 percent compared to its predecessor.
The new body uses a totally new multi-load path front structure to absorb frontal collision impact forces and disperses collision energy to help prevent the deformation of the occupant compartment. High-tensile steel in the rocker panel reinforcements and the upper kick panel; wider underbody side members; strengthened rear bumper reinforcements, and thicker dashboard panel, floor panels, and underbody tunnel all improve energy dispersion in the event of a collision.
A squared figure-of-eight reinforced ring-shaped structure around the door openings, along with larger-diameter impact beams for the front and rear doors, are designed to help in the event of a side collision.
Sport Sedan Handling, Sedan Comfort
The 2021 Corolla sedan looks the part of a fun-to-drive sport sedan, and the chassis delivers on the promise. The multi-link independent rear suspension is a major advance over the torsion beam setup used in the previous model, more adept at comfortably absorbing bumps while also ratcheting up agility.
The MacPherson strut front suspension, totally revised for this platform, uses sophisticated techniques, including a strut bearing mounted coaxially with the kingpin axis. This feature allows smoother upward suspension travel, especially while traversing bumps, resulting in a more comfortable steering feel.
Overall, front and rear suspension friction has been reduced by 40 percent. Newly developed shock absorbers have been tuned to provide optimal damping force for dynamic handling and stability with exemplary ride comfort.
Foundation for Safety
The 2021 Corolla sedan features eight standard airbags and Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology. All Corolla models come equipped with a standard backup camera.
Toyota Safety Sense 2.0
Significantly, all 2021 Toyota Corolla models are equipped as standard with Toyota Safety Sense™ 2.0, an advanced suite of integrated active and pre-collision safety features.
PCS (Pre-Collision System): Uses both a millimeter-wave radar sensor and a forward-facing camera sensor for highly accurate detection of objects such as a vehicle, a pedestrian, or a cyclist in front of the vehicle. If the PCS determines there is a high probability of a collision, or if it deems a collision is unavoidable, the system is designed to automatically activate the brakes to help avoid the collision entirely or mitigate the impact force.
DRCC (Dynamic Radar Cruise Control): Designed for highway use, has a vehicle-to-vehicle distance control mode that utilizes a millimeter-wave radar sensor and camera sensor to maintain a pre-set follow distance from the preceding vehicle. The Full-speed DRCC version, standard on CVT models, is also capable of low-speed following, including stop-and-go traffic. The Corolla is designed to stop when the vehicle ahead comes to a stop, maintaining an appropriate distance to it. The driver enjoys more relaxed driving in situations that can be annoying and fatiguing, while also gaining a measure of safety.
LDA (Lane Departure Alert) with Steer Assist: Provides the driver with audible and visual warnings (vehicle positioning warning image shown in the Multi-Information Display) and, if necessary, is designed to provide steering assistance if it determines the possibility of deviation from the driving lane. It is also designed to detect vehicle sway (excess weaving within the driving lane) that might indicate driver distraction, inattention, or drowsiness.
LTA (Lane Tracing Assist): LTA, standard on CVT models, is enabled when LDA and DRCC are both on and active. LTA employs a lane centering function that is designed to make constant steering inputs to help the driver keep the vehicle in the center of its lane. LTA is designed for uses on relatively straight highways to preemptively avoid unwanted lane departures and reduce driver fatigue.
AHB (Automatic High Beam): When enabled, the AHB system uses an in-vehicle camera to help detect the headlights of oncoming vehicles and taillights of preceding vehicles, then automatically switches between high and low beams as appropriate.
Blind Spot Monitor is a standard or optional feature, depending on model grade. When an approaching vehicle is detected, the system is designed to alert the driver using indicators on the outside mirrors.
Brake Hold, when engaged, is a convenient technology that helps reduce driver workload while waiting at a traffic light or while driving in traffic. When the driver depresses the accelerator pedal, Brake Hold releases.