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The Toyota Corolla gets a Special Edition trim level for the 2016 model year. The variant is based on the S Plus trim level with a few styling tweaks.
Special Edition drivers get the choice of Super White, Black Sand Pearl or this Absolutely Red hue.
Stylistically, the Special isn't much different from your average Corolla S Plus. The aggressive front end takes some getting used to, but isn't offensive.
Interestingly, the 2016 Toyota Corolla features standard LED low-beam headlamps across all trim levels. It's the only model in this class to do so.
Under the hood, you'll find the standard, port-injected 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. The Special Edition features no performance enhancements.
With 132-horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque, the Corolla isn't going to win many drag races, but it proved to be a competent and efficient runabout.
The EPA reckons that the Corolla is good for about 32 mpg combined in this configuration, which is bang-on with my results after a week of testing.
Special Edition badging on the trunklid let everyone know that this no ordinary Corolla. Only 8,000 examples will be manufactured.
The Corolla S gets a slightly stiffer suspension when compared to other trim levels and the Special Edition keeps this equipment intact.
Handling limits are modest and steering feel is dulled by the power steering, but the Corolla felt planted and safe at all speeds.
The Corolla Special Edition rolls on special gloss black 17-inch wheels, up from the standard model's 16s.
This example (and most 2016 Corollas that roll off the lot) is equipped with Toyota's CVTi-S continuously variable transmission.
The CVT and engine combo seemed well suited for the Corolla's laid-back, non-enthusiast driving style.
A major disappointment is the near-totally lack of driver-aid features -- even as options.
Competing models are available with blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision alerts and parking aids. The Corolla offers none of this.
In fact, a rear camera is the only bit of driver-assistance tech that you'll find on the spec sheet.
The Corolla's handsome cabin gains red trim and red contrast stitching with the Special Edition upgrade.
Instrumentation is simple; the monochrome display between the gauges only offers the most basic trip computing and efficiency monitoring.
At the center of the dashboard is the optional Entune infotainment system. The screen is a bit small for my taste, but the software is pretty good.
What makes Entune special is its app suite, which allows the driver to stream audio, search for destination online and even make reservation for dinner and a movie from the dashboard.
The steering wheel controls are fairly large, but also spaced out.
The function of some steering wheel buttons wasn't immediately apparent.
The CVT features a manual shifting mode that allows the driver to rock the shift knob or toggle the paddle shifters to change between six fixed "virtual gear" ratios.
At the base of the shifter is a Sport button that I think does more harm than good for the Corolla's performance.
Another sore spot during my week of testing is the base six-speaker audio system, which suffered from poor bass response and awkward staging.
The seats feature black upholstery and red contrast stitching.
Even the floormats have sharply stitched Special Edition logos.
The Special Edition doesn't really add much "special" to the Corolla S Plus and on the whole the model is starting to lag behind its more innovative competition.
The Corolla is about as "basic transportation" as it gets these days and trades heavily on its reputation for reliability and simplicity.