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Toyota's Corolla gets a Special Edition styling upgrade (pictures)

The Special Edition trim level adds a bold red and black color scheme, dark sport wheels and unique badging to the 2016 Toyota Corolla.

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Antuan Goodwin

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2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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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.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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Special Edition drivers get the choice of Super White, Black Sand Pearl or this Absolutely Red hue.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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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.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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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.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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Under the hood, you'll find the standard, port-injected 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. The Special Edition features no performance enhancements.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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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.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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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.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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Special Edition badging on the trunklid let everyone know that this no ordinary Corolla. Only 8,000 examples will be manufactured.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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The Corolla S gets a slightly stiffer suspension when compared to other trim levels and the Special Edition keeps this equipment intact.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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Handling limits are modest and steering feel is dulled by the power steering, but the Corolla felt planted and safe at all speeds.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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The Corolla Special Edition rolls on special gloss black 17-inch wheels, up from the standard model's 16s.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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This example (and most 2016 Corollas that roll off the lot) is equipped with Toyota's CVTi-S continuously variable transmission.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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The CVT and engine combo seemed well suited for the Corolla's laid-back, non-enthusiast driving style.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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A major disappointment is the near-totally lack of driver-aid features -- even as options.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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Competing models are available with blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision alerts and parking aids. The Corolla offers none of this.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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In fact, a rear camera is the only bit of driver-assistance tech that you'll find on the spec sheet.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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The Corolla's handsome cabin gains red trim and red contrast stitching with the Special Edition upgrade.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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Instrumentation is simple; the monochrome display between the gauges only offers the most basic trip computing and efficiency monitoring.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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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.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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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.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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The steering wheel controls are fairly large, but also spaced out.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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The function of some steering wheel buttons wasn't immediately apparent.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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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.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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At the base of the shifter is a Sport button that I think does more harm than good for the Corolla's performance.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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Another sore spot during my week of testing is the base six-speaker audio system, which suffered from poor bass response and awkward staging.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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The seats feature black upholstery and red contrast stitching.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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Even the floormats have sharply stitched Special Edition logos.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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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.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
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The Corolla is about as "basic transportation" as it gets these days and trades heavily on its reputation for reliability and simplicity.

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