2014 Toyota Corolla: First drive review
The new Corolla is definitely better, but it's merely a better appliance, and doesn't match the sporty character of its rivals.
Toyota says it has added some emotional design to the 2014 Corolla, but the effect only works on the top-of-the-line S trim, with its black front fascia and available 17-inch alloy wheels. The S also gets firmer suspension tuning for better handling.
Two years ago, Toyota was facing increasingly stiff competition for its midsize car, the Camry. The Japanese giant responded with an improved Camry, but nothing that sent the upstarts back to their design departments. Today, Toyota's hot-selling Corolla faces even stiffer competition from a variety of compact rivals. Competitors such as the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra have set new standards for sportiness, refinement and value in the class. So now it's time for Toyota to respond with a new compact of its own. We drove the 2014 Corolla in San Diego and witnessed history repeating itself. While the new Corolla is certainly better, it's nothing the competition should fear.
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The 2014 Toyota Corolla is offered in four trim levels: L, LE, LE Eco and S. The LE, LE Eco and S also have Plus and Premium treatments. Standard equipment on the $16,800 L includes LED headlights and daytime running lights, Bluetooth connectivity, eight airbags (including driver knee airbag and front passenger seat cushion airbag), cloth upholstery, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, USB port, AM/FM/CD audio system, and 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers.
The $18,300 LE adds remote keyless entry, automatic climate control, cruise control, a rearview camera, Entune audio/infotainment system with 6.1-inch touch screen, and 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, while the $18,700 LE Eco gets a more powerful and efficient engine and a rear spoiler.
The sportier $19,000 S comes with stiffer springs, a unique front fascia, a rear spoiler, paddle shifters and a transmission Sport mode, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, TFT instrument panel display, sport bucket seats, fog lamps, and 17-inch wheels.
The LE Plus trim level adds alloy wheels and fog lights, while the LE Premium gets those features plus vinyl seats. The LE Eco Plus and Eco Premium come with the same features as the LE Plus and LE Premium, plus a chrome beltline and an Eco Drive Mode. The S Plus gets 17-inch alloy wheels and rear disc brakes, and the S Premium also adds vinyl seats.
Options are minimal. They include a sunroof and a Driver's Convenience package with Entune Premium Audio that adds a navigation system, an app suite, HD radio and satellite radio.
Under the hood
The base engine in the 2014 Toyota Corolla is a carryover 1.8-liter 4-cylinder that squeezes out 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque. This dual-overhead-cam engine features variable-valve timing, and it comes in all but one trim. LE Eco buyers get a version that adds Valvematic variable lift for the intake valves, which aids both horsepower and fuel economy. It produces 140 horsepower and 126 lb-ft of torque. The base transmission is a 6-speed manual. The L is also offered with an antiquated 4-speed automatic. A new continuously variable automatic transmission is offered for LE and S variants, and is standard for the LE and LE Eco.
Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy ratings are 28 mpg city/37 mpg highway for Corollas with the manual transmission, 27/36 mpg for the L with the 4-speed automatic, 29/38 mpg for the LE, 29/37 mpg for the S with the CVT, 30/40 mpg for the LE Eco with 16-inch wheels and 30/42 mpg for the LE Eco with the 15-inche wheels.
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I kinda like how this new model looks. specially in blue!
big improvement over the old one! and the style actually fits the car! though I believe GM has something brewing for the Gen2 Cruze.
I'm starting to look - hard to beat our experiences with Toyota - several we've had have crossed the 300k mark.
small "1. something" motor and auto trans would be a great commuter car for us next. Doesn't need a lot more than great gas mileage and an auto trans for non-highway commutes. I'd buy an electric, but still think they are overpriced for the car you get. A trip of 2000 miles in a small gas powered car may not be fun...but it could be done without a second thought.
We've got the big rigs for comfy road trips and for pulling the trailer....We are somehow down to just one Toyota right now...but my daughter loves it (2000 Rav 4 with 98k miles and just purrs like a kitten)
I drive around 150 miles a week to work and back...and this Corolla could be something I look at strongly for the next car we buy.