Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A blue/gray 2021 Toyota Corolla is driving around a corner in a city.

Why the 2021 Toyota Corolla May Be Worth Your While

If you are giving some thought to purchasing a 2021 Toyota Corolla, you are not alone. The model is one of the most popular vehicles in the world and has a reputation for being reliable and affordable. In fact, it’s not uncommon to have Toyota Corolla’s, or Toyota vehicles in general, take you well over 300,000 miles. The 2021 Toyota Corolla is a great choice to look deeper into if you are seeking a long-term vehicle that achieves excellent fuel efficiency at a reasonable price. And you won’t find yourself shocked at the price tag compared to some other manufacturers that offer similar vehicle models.

History of the Toyota Corolla

In 1960, the idea of the average Japanese person owning their own car was pretty far-fetched. Most manufacturers were only creating cars that the middle and upper classes could buy and maintain. The president of Toyota realized that a lot of money was left on the table by excluding the general public, so he had the Toyota Publica created. It featured a 2-cylinder Boxer engine that squeezed out 27 hp.

Two main competitors emerged, Datson and Subaru. The competition crafted more powerful cars than the Toyota Publica, so Toyota was forced to respond with what we now know as the Toyota Corolla. The end result was Toyota sweeping the competition and moving its product to the United States.

The Toyota Corolla performed quite well in the United States due to its fuel efficiency. While it could not match other cars in terms of horsepower or torque, it was easily able to surpass its competition in miles per gallon. This is a trait that carries on into modern times; the Toyota Corolla is very cost-effective. This fuel efficiency was its claim to fame in the early stages of its introduction in America, eventually making the model climb to the top spot in sales domestically during the 1970s fuel crisis.

The Toyota Corolla’s history from that point on is marked with steady improvements in its design and aesthetics throughout the years. To this day, it has sold more units than any other car in history. It is often praised for being reliable and dependable while holding true to its original purpose; to be a dependable, affordable car for the masses.

Choices of Trim for the 2021 Toyota Corolla

A couple is leaning against a white 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

There are several different trim levels for the 2021 Toyota Corolla. This is not uncommon for the model, as it has been an extremely versatile vehicle dating back to the 1990s when the Toyota Corolla wagon models were introduced. In all, there are 7 trims for the 2021 Toyota Corolla; the Corolla L starts at $19,825 MSRP, followed by the LE, Hybrid LE, SE, SE Nightshade Edition, XLE, and finally the XSE at $25,725 MSRP.

Each trim will offer different performance specs and gas mileage. These are two important aspects to compare, depending on the need for your vehicle. If you are mostly interested in achieving maximum fuel efficiency, then maybe you should put more focus on the hybrid trims, but if you are more focused on power, then the SE and XSE trims are likely more up your alley.

The L, LE, and XLE, trims are powered by a 1.8L inline-4 engine that puts out out 139 hp and 126 lb-ft of torque. This supports, unsurprisingly, excellent fuel efficiency. You should expect to see 30 mpg city and 38 mpg highway.

Next up is the 2.0L inline-4 in the SE and XSE trims, which produces 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. This particular engine setup has paddle shifters as well. On this setup, on the SE trim level only, you are able to implement a 6-speed manual transmission available. 0-60 time takes approximately 8.2 seconds. This configuration runs at 31 mpg in the city and 38 mpg highway on regular, unleaded fuel.

The last configuration, belonging to the hybrid, hosts a 1.8L Hybrid 4-Cylinder, which produces 121 hp and 105 lb-ft of torque. For the hybrid, you can expect 53 mpg city and 52 mpg highway. As a final note to distinguish the trims, only the SE, XSE, XLE will be able to enter Sport mode, which downshifts the vehicle and holds the RPM’s at a much higher level, giving you more power-on-demand. It also adjusts throttle sensitivity and steering sensitivity to give you more control and power while driving.


Regardless of trim, when it comes to braking, it is the same regardless of trim level. It is able to come to a complete stop at 60 mph in 119 ft, which is completely respectable for its category. In terms of ride quality, the 2021 Toyota Corolla has a very smooth ride compared to its competitors in the compact car category. Cabin noise is limited, which is to be expected in sedans in this day and age, although some manufacturers have still struggled with this in light cars similar to the Corolla.

The suspension has been upgraded since the 2019 model year, which should result in better handling than Corolla’s manufactured in 2019 and previously. Another great upgrade from previous models is Toyota’s decision to lower the center of gravity for the 2021 Corolla and 60% more body rigidity. These enhancements are definitely important to take note of since many have viewed the Corolla as unwieldy cars in the past, but this cannot be further from the truth nowadays.

A gray 2021 Toyota Corolla is driving on a bridge at night.

The Exterior of the 2021 Toyota Corolla

Upfront, you will receive LED headlights on every trim. There are upscale features if you choose to upgrade to high-grade LED lights. For the XLE and XSE package levels, you can also add an adaptive front lighting system. LED daytime running lights are also standard on all trim levels. The front bumper designs will differ between the L and S trim levels as a final note.

Moving to the side of the 2021 Toyota Corolla, black window trim comes standard across the board. For the hybrid trim level, the side mirrors are heated. For the wheel setup, 15” steel wheels with covers come with the L trim level, 15” alloys come with the hybrid, 16” steel wheels with covers come with the LE, and 16” alloys coming with the XLE. All SE trim levels give you 18” alloy wheels.

As far as the back goes, you will receive a rear spoiler on all SE trim levels. Trim level badging is displayed on the right bottom corner of the rear trunk. LED taillights to come standard on all trim levels. On the L, LE, Hybrid, and XLE trim levels, you will notice a single exhaust. On the other trims, you will receive a single exhaust with dual chrome tips.

The Interior of the 2021 Toyota Corolla

The cargo capacity of the trunk comes in at 13.1 cubic ft. The rear seats are also a 60/40 split, meaning that they fold down if you need extra space for storage. In regards to rear legroom, the 2021 Toyota Corolla allows for 34.8” legroom. Rear passengers will find a rear center armrest with cupholders if you go with the LE trim and up.

On the L, LE, and hybrid trims, you will find manually adjustable cloth seats. But premium sport seats come with the SE trim level. Heated seats come with the XLE and XSE, and there is lumbar control on those trim levels as well.


The 2021 Toyota Corolla is an excellent vehicle for compact enthusiasts and commuters alike. It maintains excellent gas mileage, performance, handling, and comfortability. If you are considering a reasonably priced vehicle with a history of reliability and efficiency, this vehicle may be the one for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *