2021 Toyota Corolla vs. 2020 Volkswagen Golf

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/08/13

The Corolla’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Golf doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Corolla and the Golf have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Corolla the rating of “Top Pick” for 2020, a rating granted to only 32 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Golf last would have qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

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Toyota’s powertrain warranty covers the Corolla 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Volkswagen covers the Golf. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the Golf ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The Corolla’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Golf’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

There are almost 2 times as many Toyota dealers as there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Corolla’s warranty.

Reliability

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A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Corolla’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Golf’s camshafts. If the Golf’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Corolla’s reliability 30 points higher than the Golf.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota third in reliability. Volkswagen is ranked 27th.

Engine

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The Corolla SE/XSE’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder produces 22 more horsepower (169 vs. 147) than the Golf’s 1.4 turbo 4-cylinder.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Corolla gets better fuel mileage than the Golf:

Corolla

Golf

2.0 4 cyl./6-spd. Manual

29 city/36 hwy

28 city/36 hwy

1.4 turbo 4 cyl./Manual

2.0 4 cyl./Auto

31 city/40 hwy

29 city/35 hwy

1.4 turbo 4 cyl./Auto

2.0 4 cyl./Auto

31 city/38 hwy

n/a

1.8 4 cyl./Auto

30 city/38 hwy

n/a

1.8 4 cyl./Auto

29 city/37 hwy

n/a

Transmission

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/08/13

The Toyota Corolla comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Golf.

The Corolla has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Golf doesn’t offer a CVT.

The Toyota Corolla has a downshift rev synchronizer that automatically raises engine speed to make downshifts perfectly smooth. This keeps the car from lurching during downshifts, preventing loss of control during cornering. The Golf doesn’t offer a downshift rev synchronizer.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Corolla stops much shorter than the Golf:

Corolla

Golf

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

184 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Corolla SE/XSE’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Golf (225/40R18 vs. 205/55R16).

The Corolla SE/XSE’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Golf’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Corolla SE/XSE has standard 18-inch wheels. The Golf’s largest wheels are only 16-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Corolla’s wheelbase is 2.5 inches longer than on the Golf (106.3 inches vs. 103.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Corolla is 1.2 inches wider in the rear than on the Golf.

The Corolla XSE handles at .83 G’s, while the Golf TSI pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Ergonomics

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The Corolla (except L/LE/Manual) offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Golf doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Corolla’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Golf has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.

If the windows are left open on the Corolla the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. (This window function must be activated by your Toyota service department.) The driver of the Golf can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Corolla’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Golf’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Corolla detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Golf doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Corolla XLE/XSE offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Golf doesn’t offer cornering lights.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Corolla has standard extendable sun visors. The Golf doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The Corolla LE/XLE/SE/XSE’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Golf doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Corolla has a standard Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Golf doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Toyota Corolla XLE/XSE offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Golf doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Model Availability

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The Toyota Corolla comes in sedan and four-door hatchback bodystyles; the Volkswagen Golf isn’t available as a sedan.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Corolla is less expensive to operate than the Golf because it costs $546 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Corolla than the Golf, including $190 less for a water pump, $58 less for a muffler, $33 less for front brake pads, $286 less for a starter and $233 less for front struts.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/08/13

Both are recommended, but Consumer Reports® chose the Toyota Corolla as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Toyota Corolla outsold the Volkswagen Golf/GTI by over eight to one during 2019.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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