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Reliable Corolla is still a top compact sedan choice

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For 50 years, the Corolla has been a pillar of the Toyota Motor Company. The Corolla has been the benchmark for standard, A-to-B, trouble-free transportation with an exclamation point of more than 40 million worldwide sales.

The 2017 Toyota Corolla receives a few active-safety technology options that make it competitive with the Civic, Cruse, Elantra and Focus.

The Corolla has never been a sporty car, but the Corolla XSE jazzes up the styling quotient. My SE tester was more pedestrian, but the sharp-edged styling and expressive face on attractive rollers keep it from being boring. There are a few new trim packages and a short run of 8,000 50th Anniversary Limited Edition models also.

Under the hood, things remain the same for 2017 with a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder with 128 pound-feet of torque. My test car came with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which I found dialed up better than other versions I’ve tested.

Moving inside, you’ll take note of the stacked dashboard design that helps create the notion of space. The sharply angled windshield makes for a deep dash that places front passengers farther away from the glass. I liked the soft-touch dash surface with molded-in stitching and higher-grade materials and controls, including a leather-wrapped steering wheel, that give this compact a richer, premium feel.

Complementing this look are thin-striped accents with contrasting colors on the door and dash. The seats in my SE model are better padded than standard versions. I personally like firmer seats, but Corolla’s are pleasant enough. As for seating accommodations, you can get four 6-foot adults in this car. The rear seats fold forward to permit access to the 13-cubic-foot trunk.

As for tech features, Corolla comes with Entune audio with integrated navigation and app suite without a subscription fee.

After you get rolling, the Corolla’s CVT is decent during moderate to harder acceleration (like highway passing). Corolla is not a speedy car. It does feature a modern torsion-beam rear. It’s an entry-level compact, so don’t expect an independent rear suspension, meaning the torsion beam setup still delivers plenty of jarring feedback from bumpy surfaces. Steering is light, and braking could use less front-end dive. For everyday handling, this car returns no surprises. My test car was shod with 17-inch wheels that provided good, non-squeal cornering and noise-free low-speed turning.

Toyota offers Toyota Safety Sense-P, which features automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and assist and automatic high-beam headlights. This optional safety package is on top of standard traction control, brake assist and Smart Stop technology.

So, while the 2017 Toyota Corolla is not aging gracefully, it’s still one of the top choices in the compact sedan class.