Toyota’s Compact Hatchback Goes Sporty
Toyota says the 2018 Corolla iM offers “style without compromise” in a five-door hatchback. With aggressive mono-spec pricing, where consumers get a long list of standard features at one price, Toyota is almost daring you to place this compact hatch high on your consideration list. But are its sporty looks enough to put it in your garage?
The front-wheel drive 2018 Corolla iM has a 16-valve 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine putting out 137 horsepower and 126 pounds-feet of torque. Running on unleaded regular, our test car had a seven-speed CVTi-S automatic with Shiftmatic sport mode. A six-speed manual is standard, and should add a bit more excitement. The EPA fuel economy rating at 28 city/36 highway/31 combined places the Corolla iM right in line with other cars of its size.
In 259 miles of 75-percent highway/25-percent city driving, we averaged 30.9 mpg. However, in a 150-mile highway run, with the cruise control set at 65 mph, we achieved 37.8 mpg. With the 14-gallon tank, the Corolla iM (on a mostly highway road trip) conceivably can go 500 miles before refilling. The question, though, is would you want to go this distance before getting out to stretch?
Driving Experience: On the Road
The power in the 2018 Toyota Corolla iM with the CVT isn’t very impressive. Knowing this going-in probably makes owning an iM all that more appealing. The iM handles quite well for a car that looks far sportier than its engine can deliver.
The iM handles flat in slow-to-medium tight cornering, with a bit of manageable understeer present when pushed extra hard. The 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels shod with 225/45R17 all-season tires, were matched to the front MacPherson struts and shocks and double-wishbone rear suspension. The overall ride was confident and planted at highway speeds. The electric power steering was calibrated so the handling was vague; it wasn’t crisp when driving hard through esses. With not much power going to the front wheels, there was not much concern of torque steer raising its ugly head. Again, all very manageable. The iM is more of an economy and commuter car than a sports car. This is fine, except the iM looks sporty, so expectations for zippy cornering on the twisties unfortunately were not fully realized.
Stopping was straight with no fading from the front ventilated and rear solid disc brakes, assisted by the four-wheel anti-lock brake system, brake assist, smart stop technology and the electronic brake-force distribution system.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The 2018 Toyota Corolla iM is a sharp looking compact hatchback with a sporty look that belies its performance abilities. The pointy nose and piano-black lower and upper honeycomb grills are set-off by swept-back halogen projector headlights. The iM comes with what Toyota says is an “aggressive aero kit” of the front fascia, side skirts and rear bumper. No argument, the iM looks great!
The raked windshield morphs into a sloping roofline with a shark fin antenna, ending in a spoiler atop the rear hatch and finished-off with LED taillights, rear window wiper and chrome-tipped exhausts. Clean Fleet Report’s iM had the optional ($399) rear wind deflector that added even more cool factor. It’s all very aerodynamic and sporty with a .30 coefficient of drag. Even the color options, including Blizzard Pearl, Barcelona Red Metallic and Electric Storm Blue, are exotic and intriguing.
Driving Experience: Interior
The simple, cleanly designed 2018 Toyota Corolla iM interior was appreciated. Sliding into the black and dark grey cloth seats with manual adjusters places the driver before deep-set gauges that were illuminated with a soft blue light. The 4.2-inch color information display gives the driver a full range of dynamic information. The three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel, with contrasting white top stitching, had audio and telephone controls and was positioned by the tilt and telescoping steering wheel column. Sightlines were improved by removing the rear seat headrests, and using the heated, power-adjustable outside mirrors. For safety while backing, there is a rear view camera and, for changing lanes, the outside mirrors have LED turn indicators.
The rear seat is tight, especially for the three adults that Toyota says can sit back there. To keep your passengers on friendly terms, limit the rear occupancy to two. Where the back seat shines is when the 60/40 split, reclining and fold-flat seats are laid out, providing for good storage space that is also accessible from the easy opening liftback.
Clean Fleet Report’s iM had the optional ($900) Premium audio and navigation system. The 7.0-inch color display housed the AM/FM/CD/MP3 HD radio featuring Aha. Driven through six speakers, the infotainment system was also equipped with a USB port, iPod connectivity, Aux-in jacks and Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free telephone–all operational from the steering wheel. The radio had an on/off/volume knob, but for added driver safety and convenience, Clean Fleet Report would have liked to see a channel selecting knob also.
Interior technology features include cruise control, a dual-zone automatic climate system, remote keyless entry, voice recognition, power windows (with one-touch up and down for the driver’s side), power door locks and outside mirrors, multiple cup holders, carpeted floor mats and a center console with storage and 12-volt accessory outlets.
Safety and Convenience
The 2018 Toyota Corolla iM came with safety and convenience features including eight air bags, a tire pressure monitoring system, projector beam halogen headlights with fog and running lights, wheel locks ($65 option), first aid kit and an anti-theft engine immobilizer. Standard on the iM is a pre-collision system, lane departure alert, traction control, ABS brakes and stability control.
Pricing and Warranties
Base pricing for the 2018 Toyota Corolla iM with the seven-speed CVTi-S automatic transmission is $19,590, while it is $18,850 with the six-speed manual. Our test iM had optional equipment totaling $1,823 for an MSRP of $21,413. All prices exclude the $895 freight and handling fee.
The 2018 Toyota Corolla iM has not been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS tested the predecessor Scion iM and gave it a Good rating for moderate overlap front and side collision tests.
The 2018 iM comes with these warranties:
- Powertrain Six years/70,000 miles
- Basic Three years/36,000 miles
- Corrosion Perforation Six years/Unlimited miles
Observations: 2018 Toyota Corolla iM
The 2018 Toyota iM comes with “mono-spec pricing” that the company says offers “full features and full value.” The thinking behind this is to make the iM stand out in a very crowded field that includes the Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Kia Soul, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, Subaru Impreza and others. They are doing a good job with a high-content hatchback for under $20,000.
But, price is not always what buyers in this category are most concerned with. Many look for performance, and this is where the iM comes up a bit short versus some of its competitors. The Toyota Corolla iM, with its high highway mileage, comfortable ride, roomy interior and standard equipment, make it better suited as a commuter car than a sporty five-door or, dare we say it–a Hot Hatch.
The 2018 Toyota Corolla iM has a sporty look and flavor, which may be exactly what you are looking for. Clean Fleet Report’s test vehicle was painted a very striking Electric Storm Blue, that along with the sharp looking alloy wheels, made people turn their head. We really have nothing but praise for how eye appealing the iM is.
When at your local Toyota dealer, take an iM for a lengthy test drive. Find some highway on-ramps for hard acceleration and tight corners to judge for yourself if the sporty-looking iM is actually sporty enough to be parked in your garage.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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