2017 Toyota Corolla iM Review

A competent hatchback worthy of the Corolla name


Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer



Positives: Agile and easy to drive, simple and comfortable interior, reasonably spacious, feels sturdy.
Negatives: Not very high-quality interior materials, numb steering, not as nice or fun to drive as the competition.
Bottom Line: The Toyota Corolla iM is the perfect car for anyone who favors simplicity. Toyota makes it very easy to pick the iM by not muddling up things with a long options list. In fact, there are no options to be had beyond a transmission choice. What you see is what you get, which is to say you get a compact five-door hatchback that's easy to live with but not all that interesting.
 View Our 2017 Toyota Corolla iM Overview
The car known as the iM made its shift from the failed Scion brand to Toyota’s lineup as a Corolla. Honestly, we couldn’t be happier. Toyota needed a hatchback that was larger than the Yaris, and the Corolla iM fits perfectly into the lineup. It’s the practical hatchback that can compete with other automakers like Mazda, Honda and VW. While the Corolla iM might not be as customizable nor as interesting as the competition, it does offer some things others don’t: simplicity and a number of standard features at a low price.

Sure, you can get a Honda Civic hatchback for about the same price, but it will be the base model and not come with nearly as many features and amenities the Corolla iM does. The iM might not be able to match the Civic for handling and performance, but you’ll likely forget about that when you’re utilizing the standard 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The same can be said for the Mazda3, the Ford Focus or the VW Golf. It’s the Corolla iM’s one-size-fits-all packaging that makes it enticing.
 

Driving Experience

7.1

 

Although the Mazda3 and Honda Civic hatchback are more engaging to drive than the Corolla iM, that doesn’t mean the car is unable to put a smile on your face. The 1.8-liter engine is smooth all the way up to the redline, and the car seems happy at any speed. The numb steering doesn’t help driving enjoyment. However, beyond that, there isn’t much to complain about the car handles well, rides decent and isn’t the slowest thing on the road.

Ride Quality: The ride feels reasonably refined and comfortable. You still want to avoid any large cracks or holes in the road, as you will feel them.

Acceleration: Hitting the gas hard off the line presents some hesitation. Then the Corolla iM shoots forward eagerly. The car isn’t fast, but the engine seems pretty rev happy. You have no problem getting up to highway speeds. The manual mode on the 7-speed CVTI-S can be handy in certain situations, like passing at high speeds.

Braking: The brakes are smooth and progressive. They do a fine job of slowing down and stopping the car.

Steering: Numb and not very precise. The Mazda3 and Honda Civic hatchback bury this car in terms of steering, road feel and precision.

Handling: There’s little body roll, and the car feels pretty stiff in the corners. It can actually be a little fun on the right road.

Technology

7.2

 

Because the Corolla iM comes with no optional technology package, you may think that the car has very little modern features. Fortunately, Toyota has decided it’s better to include them in the car from the get-go. The 7-inch touchscreen with AM/FM/HD radio and Bluetooth connectivity is standard. Also standard, are things like a backup camera, remote keyless entry, voice recognition for the infotainment system and a 4.2-inch multi-info display on the instrument cluster. While the offerings aren’t as robust as a Mazda3 with all the bells and whistles, the price isn’t nearly as high either.

Infotainment System: The 7-inch touchscreen functioned flawlessly during our time with the car. The infotainment system isn’t as feature packed as some cars out there, but with Bluetooth connectivity, you get access to much of what you need.

Controls: There’s a good mix of knobs, buttons and touchscreen controls. They are easy to use and nothing is out of reach. The steering wheel controls are also simple.

Bluetooth Pairing: Pairing a phone in the Corolla iM was easy. It took seconds and reconnected upon re-entry to the vehicle.

Voice Call Quality: Call quality was adequate but not amazing. We never lost connection or had trouble hearing people, but sound quality could be better.

Styling

7.6

 

The Corolla iM has an almost odd, wedge-like shape to it. The hood slopes down dramatically, and the rest of the car builds up from the front end. It’s not ordinary and is easily recognizable in a parking lot. In some ways, the car resembles other Toyotas. In others, it looks completely different. Overall, it’s not a poorly styled car.

Front: The thin grill and headlights are the most notable parts of the front. The bumper has a few interesting styling elements that serve to add a little more character to the front end.

Rear: The rear, much like the front, is different than the sedan Corolla. It features thin, horizontal wraparound taillights and a Toyota emblem as the main adornments.

Profile: From the side it’s easy to see what we mean by wedge-like shape. This quality is true for many hatchback models, but it’s especially true of this car.

Cabin: The cabin of the car, while not luxurious, is attractive. It’s a simple modern design with a couple small leather accents that class it up. There is a lot of finger-magnet piano black and other hard plastics, but beyond that, the cabin is a well-thought-out space.

Comfort

7.2

 

The Toyota Corolla iM offers a comfortable ride and interior for a car that has a price of about $20K. Some budget-minded cars don’t offer much in terms of comfort. Toyota did a good job making the interior of the Corolla iM inviting and reasonably spacious. It’s a nice place to be whether you just have to cruise up the block or across the state.

Front Seats: The cloth front seats have material that feels somewhat cheap, but they are well-supported and do a decent job of holding you in place as you navigate turns.

Rear Seats: The rear seats are a little flatter and clad in the same cloth, but they offer good cushioning and a decent amount of space for a car so small.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): In a car with a price tag at this point, you’re going to get some road and wind noise. However, the Corolla iM does an appropriate job of muting most noises out. Also, the car feels solid and well-built.

Visibility: Seeing out of the Corolla iM is no issue. The rear window isn’t huge, but you can see out of it well. The backup camera comes in handy when parking.

Climate: The dual-zone climate control has no issue heating or cooling off the small cabin.

Safety

7.5

 

The Toyota Corolla iM is a safe car. It comes with a substantial amount of safety technology standard. The NHTSA has not yet rated the 2017 Toyota Corolla iM. However, the IIHS has rated the vehicle and found that it is a safe car.

IIHS Rating: The Corolla iM received good ratings, although the car is not listed as a top safety pick as of the publication of this review.

Standard Tech: Toyota Safety Sense-C: Pre-Collision System, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, Star Safety System: VSC, TRAC, ABS, electronic braking distribution, brake assist and smart stop technology, airbags, LATCH-lower anchor and tether for children, tire pressure monitoring system.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

7.6

 

The Corolla iM being a hatchback may have you thinking it’s a real cargo hauler. You wouldn’t be too far off. The car is right in line with the competition with only a few similar models beating it out. The interior storage space isn’t amazing, but it certainly gets the job done.

Storage Space: The space beneath the armrest comes in handy. The cup holders and small tray in the center stack work well for everyday carry items. There’s also small door pockets and a decent-sized glovebox.

Cargo Room: With a little over 20 cubic feet of cargo room available in the Corolla iM, you’ll be able to move what you need. If you need more space, the rear seats fold down, revealing additional space.

Fuel Economy

6.9

 

The Corolla iM does tries hard to sip on gasoline, but it doesn’t do as well as some of the competition. Honda’s Civic hatch can lap fuel at a rate of 30 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway, which is higher in both respects than the Corolla iM. The iM does a decent job, though, achieving 28 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, according to the EPA.

Observed: We saw an average of 33 mpg.

Driving Factors: This included a mix of both highway and city driving. A significant amount of time was spent with cruise control on while driving on the highway.

Audio

7.1

 

The 6-speaker audio system provides ample volume for the small cabin of the car. However, the sound quality suffers when you really crank up the dial. Most drivers will find the speakers adequate, but some people may feel they need something more. As far as controls go, the radio functions and Bluetooth audio systems aren’t complicated.



Final Thoughts

The Corolla iM is an exercise in simplicity. Its one-size-fits-all configuration, is both its greatest attribute and biggest downfall. Some people will love this style of packaging from Toyota. Others will want to pick and choose what options and package are included on their ride. If you like Toyota’s approach, and you’re in the market for a competent five-door hatchback, the Corolla iM is a great car for the money. If you want something more customizable, turn to Honda, Mazda or any of the other hatchback options out there.
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