TRYING TOO HARD: 2022 TOYOTA COROLLA – APEX EDITION
Starting out as a game changer in 2019, the Toyota Corolla was finally on the same playing field as some of its competitors in terms of chassis refinement and build quality. Since then, players like the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Nissan Sentra have come out with something new and edgy leaving the Corolla behind to the dark shadows. However, in light of the new trend of sport sedans that we’ve seen from Hyundai with the Elantra N, the Forte GT from Kia and of course the Honda Civic Si, the Corolla too wants to play with the daddio’s of the sport compacts and thus we have the Corolla Apex Edition.
Like the kid on the playground trying extra hard to fit into the cool crowd, the Toyota Corolla Apex may just be trying a little too hard to win over the youth dynamic interested in a hot compact. Given more attitude over the already sporty SE and XSE trims, the Apex brings in the aerodynamic sass with black and bronze accent styling ques, a beefy front lip spoiler, side skirts and rear diffuser. Being more than just a styling package, the Apex edition receives a track influenced tuned suspension, new springs that lowers the sedan by nearly half an inch, stiffer anti-roll bars for better handling and new shocks.
With all the improvements left to refining the chassis and handling, very little was done to improve the performance. In fact, none was done. It uses the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder found in other Corolla’s that makes up 169-horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. With a dismal 9-seconds to 60-mph, the Corolla Apex isn’t exactly keeping on par with the other performance driven compacts such as the Mazda3 2.5T or Jetta GLI.
Oddly enough, while the Apex Package is available on both the SE and XSE models, the SE, starting at $25,320 carries a $400 option to opt for the 6-speed manual transmission, whereas the XSE is only available with the CVT automatic. And it’s during our around town driving that the CVT shows its true nature of being an economy based transmission taking all the fun out driving.
In a setting of daily routines of bumper-to-bumper traffic and city living, the true disappointment falls towards the comfortability of the improvements Toyota made. The Apex is one of the most uncomfortable riding sedan we’ve been in. With the changes made to the suspension system, the ride stiffness was increased by 33% in the rear and 47% in the front, making it practically a bouncy house of unwarranted giggles – definitely not ideal for an a slightly larger built person.
Aside from its sporty annoyances, the interior, much like other Corolla’s is a nice, welcoming space. The soft touch materials make the interior feel on point of its price tag. Our XSE featured faux leather seats with heated fronts, a large 8-inch touch screen supporting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Toyota’s Safety Sense crash preventive system with Adaptive Cruise Control.
The biggest problem the Corolla Apex now faces is its price tag with our XSE version coming in just shy of $30,000. With both the Kia Forte GT and Hyundai Elantra N Line $4500 less and the Honda Civic Si at $2300 less than the Corolla Apex, there are some more powerful, less expensive, less bouncy, better equipped alternatives out there, all available with a manual transmission.
Vehicle: 2022 Toyota Corolla XSE Apex
Base Price: $25,320
As-Tested Price: $29,634
Engine: 2.0-liter Four-Cylinder
Horsepower | Torque: 169-Horsepower | 151 lb-ft of Torque
Transmission: CVT Automatic
Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive
MPG: 31 | 38 | 34 (City | Highway | Combined)
As-Tested MPG: 30.8-MPG Combined
Fuel Range: 405 miles
0-60 MPH: ±9.0-seconds