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Toyota Corolla Apex Edition: A Normal Economy Car With a Liberal Helping of Special Sauce
Nobody would bat an eyelash if Honda were to release some sporty new version of the Civic tomorrow. On the other hand, with their rivals at Toyota, it's a bit more of a special occasion when they decide to let their Corolla run a little wild. It's only happened a handful of times.

Toyota Corolla Apex Edition: A Normal Economy Car With a Liberal Helping of Special Sauce

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Road warriors of the mid-2000s no doubt remember the last sporty Corollas, the E120 Corolla S and E140 Corolla 5MT. While these special performance-oriented Corollas were wicket cars in their own rights, they're blown out of the water by what Toyota's managed to do with the Corrolla in the 2020s. Released in the 2021 model year, the Corolla Apex edition is all the car most people will ever need.

Available on both the 2021 and 2022 Corolla SE or XSE, the Apex package takes a peppy little economy car and adds extra beef. The Apex exclusive exhaust system, black alloy wheels, and rear-mounted spoiler were once items reserved for cars that cost ten times what the Corolla is worth. But take it from us, they're very well deserving of their place.

Not the least because of 169-horsepower 2.0-liter Dynamic Force four-cylinder engine. Rocking a full 30 horsepower more than the base Corolla, the Apex edition isn't winning too many drag races. But what it probably will win in abundance is autocross events. Why? Because the suspension setup in this family sedan is legit. It features an increased spring rate, solid stabilizer bars, and, on top of that, it's over half an inch lower to the ground than the standard car to boot.

Electronic power steering has been tuned specifically for the Apex Edition to complement its suspension changes, and a choice of summer or all-season tires was available for the 2021 and 2022 model years. A chrome-tipped exhaust muffler is usually a sign of an imminent "dude-bro" in your general vicinity. But rest assured, this rear pipe is hooked up to an exhaust that's had more than its mufflers cut off.

It's an entirely bespoke system unique to the Apex edition. Just another quirk factor added onto what's turning out to be a heck of a lot more than a cheap sedan. For a bit of comparison with its rivals, the Apex Edition Corolla is a full 11 horsepower down from the Honda Civic Touring Sedan and around 20 less than the final year of the B17 Nissan Sentra Nismo, 2019.

But be warned, you'd be a mad lad to buy the B17 Sentra over the Corolla. The same is true for the high-end performance edition as well as the base model side of things. As for the Civic Touring Sedan, there are at least reasonable grounds for choosing it over the Corolla Apex. But perhaps a further tale of the tape could help differentiate between the two a bit more.

Firstly, the Corolla gets a full four miles per gallon more in the city over the Civic Si and one mile per gallon on the highway when both are equipped with the CVT transmission. But honestly, it's not like we didn't expect them both to have excellent fuel economy. Interestingly, neither the Civic nor Corolla have committed to fully abandoning manual transmission as of yet. Both come with the option of a six-speed stick shift gearbox for the maximum amount of involvement between the driver and the road.

But, trickily, the Civic and Corolla go toe to toe in terms of features and equipment. The starting MSRP for the Civic Touring is $29,965, and the Corolla Apex XSE at 28,460. Safe to say, these are cars that will cost $30 grand or more once the financing is paid off.

So you bet your bottom dollar we expect things like high wattage sound systems, Android Auto/ Apple Car Play connectivity, leather accented seats, and plenty of USB ports. Happily, these are requirements both Toyota and Honda accomplish in spades.

At the end of the day, the choice between these two cars will likely come down to one's own feelings about both brands. One bias in one direction or another could easily swing you in either of these USDM special edition economy cars with as much pizzaz as a full-blown sports car.

Check back for more from Limited Edition Month here on autoevoultion.

 Download attachment: 2021 Toyota Corolla Apex Edition Aims for the Curves in Bold Style (PDF)

 
 
 
 
 

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