Review: 2014 Toyota Corolla: Sporty redesign shines

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Even the most successful car in history has to eventually change with the times. Meet the 2014 Toyota Corolla. Just in time for the sale of the 40th million iconic compact sedan, the redesigned 11th generation has been unveiled.

Available in L, LE, L Eco and S models (and a few variants), the 2014 Toyota Corolla joins the Avalon, Camry, 4Runner and Tundra with new designs for 2014. The new Corolla models continue the sedan’s enduring legacy while competitors like the Ford Focus, Kia Forte, Honda Civic and Mazda 3 continue to gain larger audiences.

Like other editions of the Toyota Corolla through the years, the 2014 models maintain a constant theme — value. The MSRP ranges from $16,800 for the L model and $19,000 for the top-line S model. There’s a lot of car being offered for less than $20,000.

The 2014 Toyota Corolla has been designed.
The 2014 Toyota Corolla has been re-designed. Images © James Raia/2013

At first glance at a recent regional media debut in Seattle, the 2014 Toyota Corolla looked drastically different than its predecessor. It’s been lengthened (about four inches) and its futuristic-looking front end looked like the angry face of a wild beast.

Yet, the unusual shape and grille is overshadowed by the Corolla’s signature definition. Buyers get a lot for their money.

Depending on the trim, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering, navigation and the multi-faceted Entune smartphone tech system are standard, and LED headlights are standard on all trims. The sport S model offers 17-inch aluminum wheels.

The 2014 Toyota Corolla is equipped with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine with 132 horsepower and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The exception is the base model, which has a four-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. The S model includes steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and is also available with a six-speed manual transmission.

The LE Eco, Toyota claims, will approach 40 mpg. It features 15-inch wheels and an amended transmission that produces 140 horsepower.

While in Seattle, I drove the LE and S trims of the new Corolla, both times with front and rear seat passengers. The two threesome test drives included city streets and largely flat highway stretches through the forest-like Northwest and often in ideal weather. The new Corolla never struggled or gave the appearance of being underpowered.

I didn’t have opportunity to drive the Corolla at altitude, on steep roads or in inclement weather.

The new Corolla is surprisingly peppy for its segment. Both test cars I drove had automatic transmissions. Though never in a crucial situation requiring a quick burst of acceleration, both cars advanced steadily while entering the freeway and maneuvered through traffic without hesitation. Another surprise: The ride was quiet, particularly for a compact sedan.

Likes:

Good vision.

The two-tone interior is handsome like a pair of saddle shoes.

Interior design curves and mixed use of metal and textured plastic on console work well.

The design of the console and dash looks like it’s the work of a mechanical draftsman.

There’s plenty of headroom and legroom.

Dislikes:

Automatic transmission is not smooth shifting.

What Others Say:

“Ride quality is great, whether you’re looking at the base L, the LE or LE Eco, or the sporty S. All but the S tend to be on the soft side, with a little more rebound motion over major bumps and railroad tacks. The S feels completely different, with a more sophisticated, tight, and controlled feel—although it’s not at all harsh.” — CarConnection.com.

“The new 2014 Toyota Corolla is landing at dealership lots around the country now. Its new styling and features should really earn it a spot on anyone’s shopping list when looking at compact sedans. You get Toyota’s legendary reliability, with new features and style that hasn’t been there before.” — Examiner.com

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“With competition rattling the monolith of compact sedans, Toyota know it had to come up with something good for the Corolla’s 11th generation. With the 2014 model, the legacy remains intact.”

For additional information about the 2014 Toyota Corolla, visit: www.toyota.com.

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