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2022 Toyota Corolla Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons.

2022 Toyota Corolla Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: L vs LE, SE vs SE Nightshade and Apex Edition, XLE vs XSE and XSE Apex Edition
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

What 2022 Toyota Corolla Trim Should You Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

People are drawn to compact cars for different reasons. For some, the small size and fuel economy numbers make it perfect for daily commutes. For others, the driving dynamics are just more satisfying than what a larger car or SUV has to offer. Ultimately, this leads to a decent number of compact cars still being available on the market.

The 2022 Toyota Corolla is a vehicle in its twelfth generation. A car does not make it that long without getting a lot of things right in the process. With its efficiency combined with its reputation for reliability, the Corolla is a smart buy in many cases.

That leaves buyers with a dilemma, however. The Toyota Corolla is actually available in eight trim levels, all of which are different enough to impact the experience driving them. From the affordable and decently well-equipped L all of the way up to the exciting XSE Apex Edition, there is a lot to consider when shopping for a new Corolla.

To help with this process, the following guide was created to highlight the significant differences between the eight 2022 Toyota Corolla models.

Compare the L vs LE Trims. What is the difference?

The most affordable version of the new Corolla is the L. It gets going with a 1.8L four-cylinder engine that creates 139-horsepower and 126 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission available for this trim level is a CVT. All models of the 2022 Corolla come exclusively with front-wheel drive.

There are plenty of LED lights to enjoy on the L. They include headlights, taillights, and daytime running lights. A black front grille with a sport mesh insert helps the Corolla L makes an entrance. The L trim sits on 15-inch steel wheels that may not be much to look at, but they get the job done.

Single-zone manual air conditioning is what waits for buyers inside the entry-level Corolla. The sedan does come standard with a dust and pollen filter. The upholstery is fabric-trimmed, and the driver gets a six-way manual adjustment. For the front passenger, the L comes with a four-way manual adjustment.

A digital clock, two front cupholders, and two USB ports are the main convenience features found inside the Corolla L. There is also a 12-volt auxiliary power outlet for charging gear. The L is the only trim to get a 7-inch touchscreen. Buyers will find handy features like Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, and Amazon Alexa included on the infotainment system. A Wi-Fi hotspot is thrown in there as well.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is the standard bundle of safety features found equipped on the L. It gives the vehicle lane departure mitigation, automatic high beams, road sign assist, full-range adaptive cruise control, and lane-tracing assist. A sophisticated pre-collision system complete with pedestrian detection is included as well. The Corolla comes standard with hill start assist, ten airbags, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Many buyers will find that they prefer the LE over the L. Although it has the same mechanical features, the LE does upgrade the Corolla to 16-inch wheels. It also adds some options when it comes to exterior upgrades, including the addition of a moonroof and heated side mirrors.

The cabin of the LE upgrades to automatic climate control. Buyers now find "premium fabric" for the front seats, along with power adjustment. In the backseat, a center armrest adds two more cupholders to the Corolla for extra convenience. The LE also gains a remote keyless entry system.

For the infotainment system, the LE goes with an 8-inch touchscreen. Although it does not gain any additional standard driver aids, this is the first trim level to offer blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Otherwise, the L and the LE are the same when it comes to both tech and safety.

Compare the LE vs SE Trims. What is the difference?

The SE is a sportier version of the 2022 Toyota Corolla. It is the first to come equipped with a 2.0L four-cylinder engine that makes 169-horsepower along wtih 151 lb-ft of torque. This trim level allows buyers to choose between a six-speed manual transmission and a CVT. Models with the CVT add paddle shifters to the Corolla. The SE has sport and normal driving modes to choose from.

On the outside, the SE shows off "high-grade" LED headlights. The LED daytime running lights also gain accent lighting. In front, the sport mesh gray metallic grille helps the SE model stand out. Heated side mirrors with turn signal integration are standard starting with this trim. The SE also shows off a rear spoiler.

Underneath the SE are stylish 18-inch alloy wheels. A single exhaust with dual chrome tips helps to highlight the sporty nature of this trim level. The SE is also available with a black roof, giving it a two-tone paint job and more head-turning exterior.

The cabin of this trim level is enhanced by sport front seats. A leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard, along with metallic interior trim and chrome interior door handles. Safety features do not change unless drivers opt for the manual transmission. For those models, there is no lane-tracing assist. The adaptive cruise control does not work at high speeds for manual Corolla SE models, either.

Compare the SE vs SE Nightshade. What is the difference?

The SE Nightshade is very similar to the regular SE, but there are some key differences. For example, the SE Nightshade is only available with the CVT. The front grille is black, as well as the bumpers. While a regular SE has body-colored side mirrors, the SE Nightshade goes with black ones. They keep the heat and turn signal integration found on the previous trim level.

Standard SE models have a dark gray spoiler and body-colored door handles. Unsurprisingly, these things become black if buyers opt for the SE Nightshade. Wheel size remains 18-inches, but they are, of course, black. The badging is black as well.

When it comes to the interior and the safety features, there are no changes made by the SE Nightshade. This model costs the exact same as the SE with a manual transmission and $700 more than the SE with a CVT.

Compare the SE Nightshade vs SE Apex Edition. What is the difference?

The SE Apex Edition brings back the option of a six-speed manual transmission. For the suspension, Toyota gives the SE Apex Edition increased stabilizer bar spring rates and coil spring rates to enhance the performance. The right height is also lowered to help accomplish that same goal.

Exterior details for the Apex Edition are dramatic. The front grille remains black but gains bronze accents, and it keeps the same black side mirrors that the SE Nightshade model has. There are also bronze accents on the side rocker panels and rear diffuser. The SE Apex Edition goes with a body-colored rear spoiler rather than a black one. Buyers will find a sport-tuned exhaust with a conical-shaped tip to help cement the SE Apex Edition's performance-oriented appearance. The SE Apex Edition costs roughly $3,000 more than the standard SE.

Compare the SE Apex Edition vs XLE Trims. What is the difference?

The XLE model of the 2022 Corolla goes back to the smaller 1.8L four-cylinder engine. It loses all of the performance upgrades found on the SE models, and it is only available with a CVT. The XLE sits on 16-inch alloy wheels.

A moonroof is standard for this version of the Corolla. The cabin feels more luxurious, thanks to its leather-trimmed and heated front seats. For the driver, this trim level also gains power lumbar support for even more comfort on long journeys. Previous models of the Corolla are equipped with a 4.2-inch multi-information screen. The XLE upgrades this to a 7-inch option instead. Push-button start is also added by this nearly-top trim level.

Ambient interior lighting and wireless device charging are both available for the XLE as part of a package. This is also the first trim level to add blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic as standard features.

Compare the XLE vs XSE Trims. What is the difference?

If buyers want all of the luxury plus all of the performance, and they have fairly deep pockets, they can opt for the XSE. This trim level goes back up to the 2.0L engine. Mechanically, the XSE is very similar to the SE with one major difference - the XSE cannot have the manual transmission.

The XSE goes with gray metallic for its side rocker panels and spoiler. This trim level rides around on 18-inch machined alloy wheels with a dark gray finish. It has a single exhaust with dual chrome tips, just like the SE. Buyers who choose the XSE can also choose to go with the two-toned paint option that includes a black roof.

Inside, the XSE combines the best of both worlds for its front seats. They are sport seats, just like in the SE, but they also are heated with power lumbar support, just like in the XLE. The safety and technology features for the XSE are the same as the ones buyers will find for the XLE.

Compare the XSE vs XSE Apex Edition. What is the difference?

Perhaps the most exciting version of the 2022 Toyota Corolla is the XSE Apex Editon. Unlike the SE Apex Edition, this top trim level is only available with the CVT. It gains back the enhancements to the stabilizer bar springs and coil springs that are found on the SE Apex Edition, however.

The exterior features are also very similar when looking at the SE Apex Edition and the XSE Apex Edition. One thing that helps set the top trim apart is the inclusion of blind-spot monitoring. While the SE Apex Edition goes with a body-colored spoiler, the XSE Apex Edition chooses to go with a black one instead. This last trim option also has the sport-tuned exhaust with the cone tip.

Final Thoughts

The 2022 Toyota Corolla offers several trim levels that are packed with value. For drivers looking for a more bare-bones commuter vehicle, the L will likely work just fine. Going up to the LE will add some important convenience features, such as automatic climate control and keyless entry, that may inspire drivers to spend a bit more.

For the majority of drivers, the SE trim level of the 2022 Corolla will be the way to go. It has the more powerful and much more fun engine, plus gives buyers the option of going with a manual transmission. The performance enhancers truly make the SE a more enjoyable vehicle to drive. The SE Nightshade Edition is also a respectable choice because it gives the Corolla a bolder style without adding too much to the overall price.

The XLE, XSE, and Apex Editions are all appealing in their own ways, but they cost too much to justify moving that high up the trim ladder. Buyers can choose to add things like blind-spot monitoring to the SE for just a bit extra. Most people looking for a commuter can live without things like a sunroof and an upgraded multi-information display.

Buyers will want to check out the 2022 Toyota Corolla SE if they are in the market for a well-equipped and reasonably priced compact car.

Previous Year Trim Configurations:

2021 Toyota Corolla Trime Levels