2013 Toyota Corolla Levin SX Automatic Review

Overall Rating

  • Interior

  • On The Road

  • Ancap

  • Value For Money:

  • See Full Specs

What’s Hot

Beautifully weighted precise electric steering.

What’s Not

Somewhat limited rear vision; no diesel option.

X Factor

Toyota reliability and comfort in a generous value-for-money package.

  • Country of Origin
  • Price
    $27,090 (plus on-road costs)
  • Engine
    4 Cylinders
  • Output
    100 kW / 175 Nm
  • Transmission
  • ANCAP Rating
  • Airbags
    Driver & Passenger (Dual), Knee Driver, Head for 2nd Row Seats, Side for 1st Row Occupants (Front), Head for 1st Row Seats (Front)
  • L/100 km
  • C02
    173 g/km
  • Luggage Capacity
    495 L
  • Towing (braked)
    1300 kg
  • Towing (unbraked)
    450 kg
Ian Crawford | Oct 24, 2012 | 17 Comments


What’s hot: Beautifully weighted precise electric steering
What’s not: Somewhat limited rear vision; no diesel option
X Factor: Toyota reliability and comfort in a generous value-for-money package.

Vehicle style: Five-door hatch
Price: $25,990

Engine: 1.8 litre in-line four
Transmission: ‘Seven-speed’ continuously variable transmission (CVT)
Power/Torque: 103kW @ 6400rpm / 173Nm @ 4000rpm.
Fuel economy claimed: 6.6 l/100km (91RON unleaded) | tested: 7.6 l/100km.


When a new version of the biggest-selling car from the world’s biggest-selling car company is released, it’s big motoring news. Especially when it plays in a segment that is expected to see around 250,000 total sales in Australia this year.

Such is the case with the new 2013 Toyota Corolla. Four versions are on offer: the Ascent, Ascent Sport, Levin SX and Levin ZR.

For this test, the Levin SX was chosen. Because of its spec levels and an $1100 price cut, it is, on a prima facie judgment, the pick of the new Corolla pack for value.


Quality: The first thing you notice about the Levin SX is the heavily bolstered front sports seats. They’re great; lower the posterior into them and you immediately feel at one with the car.

You also sit a tad lower than in the previous Corolla and that adds to this perception.

There is nice soft plastic for the dash top and the top of the door trims and carbon-fibre-look dash trim adds a touch of class to interior.

While the Levin SX doesn’t get the leather trim of the top-spec ZR, its contrasting fabric trim with contrasting stitching is fine and perfectly comfortable.

The big round chrome-ringed speedo and tacho look glassy with their clear white numbers on a black background.

While not as bad as on the Ascent versions, the bottom section of the SX’s LED information read-out that sits between the two round dials can be obscured by horn section of the steering wheel.

Comfort: No problems here: the front seats are great and the rear ones aren’t bad either. There’s also more rear-seat room, plenty of headroom (even for a 185cm sod of my acquaintance) and the drop-down centre arm rest (with two cupholders) adds to the comfort.

If anything, the new Levin SX’s suspension settings are – on some road surfaces – a tad firm and this detracts from the rear-seat comfort levels.

Equipment: The well-equipped Levin SX comes with the whole bowl of fruit as standard.

Buyers can look forward to fabric-trimmed sports seats, 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 215/45R17 rubber, sat-nav, front fog lights, sports instruments, air conditioning, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth connectivity and a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel.

Also standard is carbon-fibre-look dash trim, paddle shifters, front-and-rear power windows, power exterior mirrors with turn indicators, and reversing camera.

Storage: With the rear seats occupied there is 280 litres of luggage space behind the fifth door. Drop the rear-seat backs and this rises to 1120 litres. A 60:40 split for the rear-seat backs adds to the cargo space and flexibility.

There is also a deep glove box, sunglasses holder, bottle-friendly front-door pockets, map pockets behind the front-seat backs, deep console bin, small tray beneath the centre stack, rear door-pockets, front-and-rear cup holders.


Driveability: Because the leather-clad steering wheel is adjustable for height and reach, dialling-up the perfect driving position is a breeze.

While not one of the world’s finest, the Levin’s 103kW 1.8 litre engine will satisfy most.

Toyota engineers have tweaked it so there is slightly more power than the outgoing model, and maximum torque (a reasonable 173Nm) arrives lower down in the rev range.

On the road, it’s quite quick enough: zippy around town and with enough in reserve for overtaking or slotting into a hole in the traffic.

Helping things along is the ‘seven-speed’ CVT.

While we’re not the world’s greatest CVT fans, the new unit is one of the better choices, with seven pre-set ratios and paddle shifters (for a nice sporty feel when accelerating or changing down).

That said, it still has a hint of ‘flaring’ and that annoying noise that sounds like a slipping clutch.

The electric power steering on the other hand is one of the new Corolla’s strong points.

It has just the right weighting, makes parking nice and easy and delivers precise and predictable turn-in when you push things along through the corners.

Refinement: Out on the road, the Levin SX – and, for that matter, the other new Corollas – are markedly quieter than their predecessors.

This is the result of a great deal of work by Toyota engineers on minimising cabin noise.

Suspension: At the front is a MacPherson-strut/coil-spring arrangement with gas-filled dampers and stabiliser bar. The rear uses a torsion-beam set-up with toe-correcting bushes, coil springs and gas-filled dampers.

Braking: Braking performance is good: up front 275mm ventilated discs do the work, with 259mm solids at the rear.


ANCAP Rating: 5-Stars

Safety features: The new Corolla employs plenty of ultra-high-strength steel to maximise impact protection.

There are seven airbags, including driver’s knee airbag, whiplash-lessening front seats, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, traction control and vehicle stability control. The new CVT transmission also has a hill-start-assist system.


Warranty: Three year/100,000km vehicle warranty (whichever occurs first)

Servicing: A big win for the new Corolla range is Toyota’s $130 capped-price servicing, available for three years or 60,000km.


Mazda3 Maxx Sport - $26,490 (auto): Australia’s best-selling car; how can you go wrong? It’s not the standout it was, because everyone else has improved their game.

It’s a tight call between the stolid Corolla and the youthful Mazda. You’ll need to look at both. (see Mazda3 reviews)

Ford Focus Sport - $25,890 (manual): The new Focus is a very good car – nicely styled, well-built, and a very enjoyable steer. Quite possibly the best in the segment in a nose-to-nose shootout. (see Focus reviews)

Holden Cruze SRi - $27,290 (auto): It’s a better car than many realise. The interior is not as crisp or modern as the new Corolla, but the 1.4 litre engine is a beauty.

Corolla has a price advantage, but there’s otherwise little to split them – your choice may come down to secondary issues like cost of ownership and trade-in values. (see Cruze reviews)


With its sharp European-look styling, the new Corolla shrugs off the blandness that has typified Toyota’s products over the past few years.

Overall, the Levin SX is a fun-to-drive economical hatch with good comfort, lots of standard features and strong value-for-money credentials.

While all the steering and chassis tuning for the car was done in Europe, Toyota Australia engineers were involved in signing off on the program, and they should be well-satisfied with the outcome.

Toyota understands better than most what its customers value. We have no doubt that the new Corolla range will resume its Toyota tradition of being a sales tour-de-force here and around the world.

News and Reviews:


The 2013 Toyota Corolla range is on sale now, with pricing as follows:

  • Toyota Corolla Ascent - $19,990
  • Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport - $20,990
  • Toyota Corolla Levin SX - $23,990
  • Toyota Corolla Levin ZR -28,490

Note: Prices shown are Manufacturer’s List Price, and do not include on-road costs and charges.

Filed under: Featured, review, Toyota, petrol, corolla, Toyota Corolla, hatch, automatic, fwd, CVT, small, family, Advice, special-featured, 4cyl, 5door, 5seat, 2013 toyota corolla, available, 20-25k, 2013my

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  • Rhys Filbee says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    1. Does it have steering "feedback" like the 86, or is it just light and precise?
    2. Are the steering and tyres suitable for wet road spirited driving?
    3. CVT/7 speeds? Surely that's a contradiction! Does it still utilise a torque-converter?
    4. Does it use direct injection, like the 86 and the BRZ, which have been out for a while now?
    • Grumps
      Grumps says,
      3 years ago
      1 - Haven't driven it so can't comment but I wouldn't expect much in the way of genuine feedback.

      2 - Why would you want to do 'spirited' driving in the wet? As with any front drive vehicle expect understeer the more you push it in corners.

      3 - Manufacturers program 'steps' in the transmission to make it feel like a regular torque converter, but no, a CVT is a continuous belt driven system.

      4 - No direct injection. It is a continued development of the ZR series of engines introduced in 2007 I believe. Uses Toyota's VVT-i technology to optimise intake and exhaust valve timing.

      Hope that helps! Cheers biggrin
  • BH says,
    3 years ago
    where the haters at???
    • matt says,
      3 years ago
      1 like
      on that "other" site.... keep the rot on there plz
  • runnaln says,
    3 years ago
    In UK they offer 1.3 vvti, 1.4 DiD and 1.8 vvti and Hybrid, they just don't have to try here, i'll bet they sell more in Australia also.
  • MK74 says,
    3 years ago
    Still on 6months/10'km service intervals. The same japanese sourced vehicled will be sold in other countries with 12m/15'km services. Funny, consumers that is.
  • MK74 says,
    3 years ago
    And on another note, using the same engine, same platform, without any new tech (except CVT vs old 4-speed)this should have been rated 3 stars.
  • Albert Sellaman says,
    3 years ago
    Maybe the suspension seems a tad firm because you had 45 profile tires on 17's ....maybe the Sports will ride better on the 55 profile 16's?
  • Mel says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    should do well,
  • gavstaah says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    i havent been a fan of corollas since the ae92 sx/gti (with a slight exception for the later sportivo's) as they have gotten a bit bland over the years. this looks nice fresh and aggressive i might actually go test drive one.
  • donk1 says,
    3 years ago
    Aaah, there is a diesel option for the new Corolla, and an auto transmission. The engine is the same unit as in the new Rav 4 soon to hit Aussie shores. This engine will be a detuned version of the Rav. Why Toyota Oz have had a massive aversion to selling diesel passenger cars in this market beats me. Yet Toyota Oz sell Landcruiser, Prado, Hilux with diesel options , and have for 35yrs. But the best news is, that Toyota Oz are FINALLY considering releasing the new Corolla with the 10 yr too late diesel. C'Mon Dave Buttner, cut the rubbish that you and Toyota had no business case for diesel passenger cars in Australia. Check the latest FCAI figures on diesel car sales. A diesel version of the Corolla will mean this model will take 50% + of all sales. Get the pricing & specs right,.and you will be on a winner.
    • Steve Harpley says,
      3 years ago
      1 like
      Why would you want a diesel? Diesel is more expensive than ulp at the moment. Servicing costs are roughly double. (you really need to service them every 5000km if you want them to last] Unless you do about 60,000km per year a oil burner makes no sense at all.
  • donk1 says,
    3 years ago
    Just on my previous article, diesel Corolla's have been available in Europe since the mid 1980's with manual transmissions. The Auto versions came in the early to mid 2000 models. Toyota Australia should have had at least a manual & auto version in various specs around 10-12yrs ago as this was about the time diesels began making a big impact on the local market. So again Toyota Australia, no more excuses.
  • Albert says,
    3 years ago
    I test drove a Sports Corolla and it was fantastic. The best car I have ever driven. Heaps of power,,, smooth,,quiet,, responsive and the CVT was faultless. The interior is excellent ....everything is where it should be and dead easy to operate ...and the reversing camera is a must. It handles like glue on the open road and is a breeze to drive around town...the CVT actually makes driving around town perfect because there is power on demand instantly for those dangerous situations you sometimes get into. smile
    • Lindsay says,
      3 years ago
      1 like
      Heaps of power?

      Glue can be pretty difficult to handle.

      Try not to get yourself in to so many dangerous situations.
  • Elle says,
    2 years ago
    Why on earth didthey call this P.O.S. a levin??mad
    My levin battled the DC2 Type R in its day and i was proud....take the LEVIN badge off and call it a RUNX or something else...smh
  • FrugalOne says,
    2 years ago
    U still CANNOT buy one at a wholesale auto auctions, they pay retail for them!

    If that does not tell you what model to buy, NOTHING willsmile

    After the Lancer this was my 2nd choice, just lack of std. safety kit and wind up windows!! in 2010 was unsatisfactory

    Happy with the Lancer, she wants a SUV, ASX next?
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