2017 Toyota Corolla iM

Starting MSRP: $18,750 - $19,490

Estimated MPG: 27 city / 35 hwy

2017 Toyota Corolla iM Review

The new 2017 Toyota Corolla iM fills an important role in the Toyota lineup, which needed a compact hatchback to compete with similar models from the likes of Chevrolet, Ford and Honda. It does so with admirable flair, too, and that shouldn’t be very surprising.

By Charles Krome
Last Updated 11/16/2016

The Corolla iM is new to the Toyota stable, but it had a prior life as the 2016 Scion iM. As part of the Scion lineup, it was created with attention to the dramatic design that was a brand hallmark. When Scion was shuttered by Toyota, the iM was relocated to Toyota's roster, along with two of its Scion siblings.

The Corolla iM offers a single, well-equipped trim, and all models are powered by a four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is offered as an option.

Exterior

Exterior
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The Corolla iM has an aggressive hot-hatch appearance that gains much from its standard 17-inch alloy wheels and aero-style lower body extensions. The side sills are particularly sharp, as they have a “twist” midway through for added visual appeal. They definitely add some style to the Corolla iM’s profile, but they require some extra care near high curbs.

The front spoiler/lower intake extension is appropriately bold as well, although there is an odd omission: Fog lights are not available.

Standard exterior illumination includes LED daytime running lamps, LED brake lights and LED turn-signal indicators that are built into the exterior mirrors. Those mirrors are heated, too, and feature a power-folding function. The rear lighting treatments flow from the car’s upper side character lines to bring the eye back toward the smallish liftgate. Here, an integrated rear spoiler does a nice job hiding the hatch release mechanism.

Interior

Interior
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The cabin of the 2017 Corolla iM is an interesting mix of premium details and functional benefit. However, certain amenities offered in rival models - such as heated seats - are unavailable.

The seats have thick, comfortable bolsters to keep the driver and front passenger firmly in place. The fabric boasts clean stitching and a distinctive cross-hatched pattern for the inserts. Back-seat accommodations are enhanced by a fold-down center armrest and beverage holders located relatively high in the rear doors, where they’re easy to reach. The front doors, meanwhile, are distinguished by a large, piano-black structural element.

The iM’s 60/40-split folding rear seats were easy to manage. With rear seats in use, the Corolla iM has 20.8 cubic feet of cargo capacity available. Though the rear cargo space was generous enough for our needs, a comparison against the specs for the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze (22.7 cubic feet) and Honda Civic hatchback (25.7 cubic feet) indicates the Corolla iM is at a disadvantage for cargo volume.

A standard dual-zone climate system with easy-to-use, toggle-like switchgear is a high point in the cabin, as is a one-button front-defrost function and a contrast-color strip of soft-touch material that underlines the passenger’s side of the dash.

The list of standard features includes a six-way adjustable driver's seat, a four-way adjustable front passenger seat, a leather-trimmed tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power door locks, power windows with driver's-side one-touch up/down and a rear window defogger.

The small, covered storage space for your smartphone or digital device is a good idea foiled by poor execution. It’s located in front of the gearshift lever, which blocks the bin when the car is in Park.

Performance

Performance
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The 2017 Corolla iM comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission and 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 137 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque. Our test vehicle replaced that DIY gearbox with a CVT providing seven-speed manual shifting mode.

By taking advantage of the car's dedicated Sport driving mode, you can enhance the Corolla iM's performance. When this mode is activated with the press of a button, the Corolla iM adjusts the CVT's “shift” points, tightens steering and improves accelerator response.

In real-world driving, the Corolla iM felt light on its feet, serving up adequate acceleration and staying composed despite rough patches of road. The car's Sport mode had a noticeably positive effect on the driving experience. All that said, shoppers should realize that as much as the Corolla iM looks the part of a high-performance sport compact, its engine isn’t quite up to the power levels found in some of the car’s chief competitors.

Fuel economy was a definite bright spot. The EPA rates the Corolla iM at 28/36 mpg city/highway with its CVT, and our test vehicle returned roughly 30.1 mpg over more than 200 miles of combined city and highway driving. Moreover, a fair amount of that driving was spent evaluating the car’s “Sport” mode, not focusing on efficiency. EPA ratings with the manual transmission are 27/35 mpg city/highway.

Technology

Technology
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One highlight of the Corolla iM is the standard voice-recognition for its infotainment system. It’s more accurate, intuitive and natural to use than the systems offered by some Lexus vehicles that have passed through the CARFAX garage recently. The Pioneer audio system provides above-average sound through six speakers, and it’s complemented by a 7-inch touch-screen display and Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling and audio streaming. In another interesting design choice, there’s a conventional knob for audio volume, but not one for tuning radio stations. For that, you have to use a less helpful rocker switch.

The Corolla iM's sole stereo also provides a USB 2.0 port, an interface for Aha Internet radio and HD Radio. Integrated navigation is one of the few options available for the iM.

Satellite radio isn’t offered, nor are some of the advanced app features available for the Toyota Corolla sedan, like the Scout GPS Link app-based navigation.

Safety

Safety
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The Corolla iM provides unexpectedly premium safety features in the form of its standard Toyota Safety Sense-C bundle. This technology relies on a camera and a radar sensor, both located facing forward in front of the rearview mirror, to enable forward collision warning, automatic forward braking, lane-departure alert and automatic high beams. Automatic forward braking isn’t available with the Chevrolet Cruze or Ford Focus. A rearview camera also comes standard for the Corolla iM.

What’s not available for the Toyota is a blind spot monitor to help with its limited rear visibility.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The MSRP of the Corolla iM is $18,750 with a manual transmission and $19,490 with a CVT, not including an $865 delivery charge, You get a lot of bang for your buck in both cases. Consider: The Corolla iM is priced $950 below the Honda Civic hatch, while the least expensive Chevrolet Cruze hatchback will cost $21,240 - and neither has the level of standard driver-assistance technology provided by the Toyota. The current Ford Focus SE is $19,765, but again, without the content that’s standard in the Corolla iM. Toyota’s one-trim approach to selling the car also greatly simplifies the buying process for customers.

Overall

Overall
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The 2017 Toyota Corolla iM is an attractive, efficient car with much to recommend to customers, yet it may not be completely in synch with their preferences.

Yes, it has an impressive level of standard driver-assistance technology, along with premium cues not often found on mainstream compacts, such as power-folding mirrors. The Corolla iM also has a well-made cabin and handling that prevents driving from becoming a chore.

But what’s not available for the Corolla iM is almost as notable as what comes standard. Heated seats, blind spot monitoring and even satellite radio have been left off the car’s content menu. As long as those items aren’t on your shopping list, everything else about the Corolla iM should be just fine for most buyers in this segment.