The Toyota Corolla has always been a popular economy car benchmark. What brand should you get if you want reliability with good value? Toyota. What model should you get if you just want a cheap set of wheels that’ll do most whatever you need? Corolla! Usually, no other car runs through the mind of buyers looking for value without the frills, and we were decently surprised when we tested the Toyota Corolla’s JBL premium sound system.
Since 1996, Toyota and JBL have partnered to create premium sound systems that perpetuate good value, and, after a ten year hiatus, the Corolla JBL system newly offered is no exception. After hundreds of hours of development between the two companies, the system turns out an advertised 800 watts of maximum power through nine speakers including a subwoofer placed underneath the spare tire.
During his test, Charlie felt mixed about the system and found the Corolla JBL sound to be difficult to process. The subwoofer is strong for its class, and the surround qualities are good, but it the midrange and trebles have a high limiter. He says the sounds from the mid and treble are getting blasted together in a way that is hard on the ears; almost like it’s mixed well but the speakers aren’t good enough to relay the sound.
The Corolla infotainment system has your basic adjustments needed for bass, mid, treble, fader, and balance. There are two USB inputs up front, a 3.5mm aux jack, and Bluetooth along with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. JBL does advertise Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology provided with their systems though there is no option to switch it on or off. Also optional is a QI wireless charging pad underneath the climate-control system.
At the end of the test, Charlie gave the Corolla JBL system a 6 out of 10 rating compared to all other vehicles. In its compact sedan class, Charlie gave it a 7 or 7.5 after doing a little tweaking with the treble, mid, and bass settings. Considering this is a system that can be had on a car for less than $25k, it certainly gives a surprising output.
How We Test:
Here at Daily Motor, we take sound systems seriously. We take every car, from a budget sedan like this Toyota Corolla to supercars like the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S, and put them through our in-depth sound-system testing. We use the same lossless, uncompressed WAV files on a USB stick plugged into the sound system so every platform we test starts from the same baseline. To give a realistic impression for the sound test, we use high-quality binaural microphones for recording. We test every system with its sound settings set to their factory settings, since that is how the radio’s engineers designed it to sound, but we test all the sound settings on many types of music before performing these reviews. After demonstrating the sound settings, adjustments, inputs, speaker locations, and Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay functionality, we start out on the road to listen to our sample tracks at freeway speeds. Most vehicles can sound good while stationary, but road, wind, and engine noise can deteriorate music quality. At the end of the test, we give a rating based on sound quality and overall system usage as well as a subjective rating factoring in vehicle attributes and cost.