Used Toyota Corolla (Mk12, 2019-date) review
A full used buyer’s guide on the Toyota Corolla covering the Corolla Mk12 that has been on sale since 2019
While the Corolla has a reputation for being bland, Toyota has really raised its game in recent years. Its cars have become more interesting to look at and engaging to drive. This is typified by the Mk12 Corolla, which scooped the Affordable Hybrid of the Year crown in our 2019 New Car Awards, just a few months before DrivingElectric announced that the Touring Sports was its Best Medium Hybrid Car. The following year Carbuyer named the Corolla its Best Company Car due to its low running costs, generous kit levels, refinement and engaging dynamics. The Corolla Touring Sports was our 2023 Estate Car of the Year, because the multi-talented all-rounder is not only easy to own, but it’s enjoyable to drive, too.
It seems incredible that the Corolla was one of Toyota’s core products when the firm arrived in the UK in the mid-sixties – and nearly six decades on it’s still part of the line-up. Only the name remains, of course, but with more than 50 million sold worldwide so far, you can’t blame its maker for sticking with something so instantly familiar.
Whereas the Corolla has been sold continuously around the planet for more than 50 years, that’s not so in the UK, because the Auris took over for a while. That was a capable but ultimately rather uninspiring car, and when the Corolla picked up the baton once more it was just what buyers wanted, the 12th-generation version representing a big leap forward over the Auris.
The Corolla Mk12 arrived in spring 2019 with a 114bhp turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol engine and a manual gearbox, or 120bhp 1.8 and 178bhp 2.0-litre hybrids with a CVT automatic transmission. These came in five-door hatchback or estate (Touring Sports) forms, or as a four-door saloon only with the 1.8 hybrid powertrain.
Car group tests
- Toyota Corolla GR Sport long-term test: a high-quality but slightly cramped hybrid
- Toyota Corolla Commercial: long-term test review
The 1.2T petrol engine was discontinued in December 2019. The Corolla Trek estate appeared at the same time, alongside the GR Sport in hatch and Touring Sports guises with 1.8 or 2.0-litre hybrid engines. January 2022 brought improved infotainment with voice control, extra exterior colour options plus a limited-run Trek Touring Sports.
A year later a facelifted Corolla arrived, with refreshed styling and infotainment, extra driver-assistance systems and a much-improved fifth-generation hybrid powertrain.
Which one should I buy?
Only you can decide which bodystyle suits you best, and you’ll almost certainly buy a Corolla hybrid; the 2.0-litre is perkier than the 1.8, but the latter is much more common. All Corollas are well equipped, with the entry-level Icon featuring 16-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, LED headlights, heated front and outer rear seats, reversing camera, seven-inch touchscreen and adaptive cruise control.
The Icon Tech adds navigation, front and rear parking sensors plus voice recognition, while Design also adds 17-inch wheels, electrically folding mirrors, auto wipers, ambient lighting and privacy glass. The GR Sport has 18-inch rims, part-leather trim and a head-up display, and the Trek adds a powered tailgate and keyless go. Leather trim enhances the range-topping Excel.
Alternatives to the Toyota Corolla
The market for small family hatches is very competitive. One of the most appealing options is the Volkswagen Golf, with its wide range that includes petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains. It’s also user friendly, tough and good to drive. Related to the Golf are the SEAT Leon, Skoda Scala and Audi A3, and these share much the same attributes.
The Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra are plentiful and good value, and far better than their humdrum reputations might suggest. The Kia Ceed and Hyundai i30 are keenly priced, well equipped and come with long warranties, while the Peugeot 308 looks smart, has an impressive interior and is dynamically very capable, just like the Mazda 3. Also worth considering are the Honda Civic, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class.
What to look for
The GR Sport has sporty styling cues but is mechanically identical to the regular Corolla. It has 18-inch alloys and a bodykit.
On the pull
While the scarce 1.2 turbo can tow up to 1,300kg, the hybrid versions have a limit of only 750kg, regardless of bodystyle.
The 2.0 hybrid has a bigger battery than the 1.8, and a more powerful electric motor, so it’s noticeably more perky – but boot space is reduced.
The 2.0 hybrid Design came with a spare wheel; all others had a tyre-repair kit. A spare wheel was optional for all models except the Excel.
The Corolla maintains Toyota’s reputation for superb reliability, with no fault patterns yet established. We expect things to stay that way for a while yet – something that will be helped by the fact that all Corolla Mk12s can be had with up to 10 years of warranty cover if they’re serviced at a participating Toyota franchise.
The Corolla’s dash is appealing enough, just like the cabin’s general fit and finish, but the infotainment lets it down with its outdated graphics. Things were improved in spring 2020, yet it didn’t really get competitive with the class leaders until another upgrade in summer 2022. Seat comfort up front is good, but space in the back is tight and it’s not as though the boot is huge to compensate. The hatch has an unexceptional 361 litres, or 1,052 litres with the back seats folded (the figures are 313 or 1,004 litres for the 2.0-litre with the bigger drive battery), while the estate can carry 581 or 1,606 litres.
We found more than 1,500 used Corollas, of which only 19 had the 1.2T petrol engine. Hatchbacks outnumber estates two to one, with Design, Excel and Icon Tech each accounting for about a quarter of the cars available. Just 20 saloons were on sale.
To check prices on a specific model head over to our valuation tool.
The Corolla must be serviced every 12 months or 10,000 miles; garage visits alternate between minor and major, which are priced at £230 and £350 respectively. A separate hybrid health check is available for £45, although this is included in the price of the major service. Also included within this service cost is fresh brake fluid every other year, along with fresh coolant as and when it’s needed; there’s no set schedule to replace the latter.
The fitment of a timing chain to all Corolla engines means there’s no cambelt to replace, and to help manage your costs all official dealers have service plans available. The standard warranty is three years or 60,000 miles, and each time an official dealer services your car an extra 12 months’ warranty is included, up to 10 years/100,000 miles. In addition, the hybrid battery pack warranty can be extended by to up to 15 years.
This generation of Corolla has been recalled three times so far. The first was in May 2019, because the e-call emergency system hadn’t been activated on 3,484 Corollas and RAV4s made between October 2018 and April 2019. Only a software update was needed.
The deflector for the panoramic roof wasn’t secured properly on 19 Corollas made in January and February 2019, which led to a recall in June of that year. The most recent campaign was launched two years later, in June 2021. This time the problem was because of potential issues with the high-pressure fuel pump, which could be damaged over time. All of the cars affected – 5,440 in total – were built up to October 2019, and included some Auris and C-HR models. The solution was to fit a new fuel pump.
Driver Power owner satisfaction
The Corolla Mk12 made its Driver Power new-car survey debut in 2020, coming seventh out of 75. By 2021 it had dropped to 32nd, in 2022 it came 38th and it fell to 41st in 2023. Corolla owners like the ride and handling, reliability and performance, plus the brakes and fuel economy. They’re not so keen on the infotainment, lack of rear-seat legroom, or the design inside and out.
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