Americans love winners, and Toyota Corolla is undeniably one of these, having been the world's most popular compact for a very long time. Starting out in 1966 as a go-kart-sized compact, 47 years later, it is starting into its 11th generation following the first redesign since 2008. Toyota Corolla has evolved into a highly practical small sedan adequate for starter families.
The 2014 Toyota Corolla continues this line's inch-by-inch growth streak, fulfilling every carmaker's fond dream of being longer, lower, and wider. Compared to the previous model, the 2014 Corolla is 2.6 inches longer, with a noticeably increased wheelbase of 3.9 inches. It is almost half an inch wider and 0.4-inch lower.
This 11th-generation Toyota Corolla definitely looks new. The 2014 Corolla is more stylish than last year's model, and more attractive.
Inside are practical improvements in interior space and comfort. Rear-seat legroom has been increased by five inches over last year's model and the back seats are exemplary, making the Corolla a comfortable sedan for four adults. The front seats are excellent, comfortable and supportive. The instruments are first rate, though we were put off by the massive black dash. There's more trunk space than before.
There are also useful improvements in over-the-road handling and stability.
Despite carrying over unchanged (with one new and interesting exception) the same line of 1.8-liter inline-4 engines as used in the 2013 models, the 2014 Corolla line achieves an incremental improvement, albeit small, in EPA fuel mileage figures across its entire line. Also, the Corolla LE Eco model, with its new Valvematic system, achieves an EPA-certified 42-mpg Highway rating, highest among gas-powered compacts using an automatic transmission.
But every improvement, large or small, is crucial to maintaining a lead position in the red-hot compact-car marketplace. With intense competition coming from Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, and the new compacts from Detroit, Toyota will rely heavily on its longstanding reputation for building compact cars that are affordable, of good quality, and above all, extremely reliable. Since its introduction, Toyota has sold 40 million Corollas worldwide, with sales showing no signs of slowing. The mother company has rarely shown any sign of being flashy or trendy, choosing instead the road of reliability and dependability. The 11th-generation Corolla faithfully follows that formula, providing few surprises, and just as surely, exceedingly few annoyances, an important consideration in an affordable commuter and errand runner.
The base 2014 Toyota Corolla L ($16,800) comes with a 1.8-liter DOHC 16-valve 132-hp inline-4, a 6-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission ($600), electric power steering, front disc brakes, rear drum brakes. Standard features include manually controlled air conditioning, fabric upholstery, six-way driver seat, four-way passenger seat, power windows with driver-side one-touch up/down, steering-wheel audio and Bluetooth controls, tilt/telescope steering, 60/40 split rear seats, four-speaker AM/FM/CD, auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0, hands-free Bluetooth, iPod, voice command, LED lowbeam headlights, halogen highbeams, LED daytime running lights, color-keyed outside mirrors, ECO indicator, 15-inch wheels.
Corolla LE ($18,300) upgrades with continuously variable transmission (CVT), automatic climate control, six-speaker audio multimedia with 6.1-inch touchscreen, voice recognition, phone book access, music streaming via Bluetooth, metallic/chrome interior trim, rearview camera, variable intermittent wipers, cruise control, steering wheel voice command controls, power door locks with automatic locking, remote keyless illuminated entry, 16-inch wheels and P205/55HR16 tires. The Corolla LE Plus package ($400) adds 15-spoke wheels, fog lights. LE Premium ($1,100) upgrades with fog lights, heated power seats.
Corolla LE Eco ($18,700) uses the Valvematic 1.8-liter DOHC 16-valve 140-horsepower engine, rear spoiler, 15-inch wheels with wheel covers. LE Eco Plus ($700) adds custom 10-spoke 16-in. wheels and P205/55R16 tires, chrome beltline, ECO Drive buttons. LE Eco Premium ($1,400) adds custom 10-spoke 16-inch wheels and P205/55R16 tires, chrome beltline, ECO Drive buttons, 8-way heated power seats.
Corolla S ($19,000) comes with a continuously variable transmission with Sport drive mode or a 6-speed manual ($900), integrated fog lights, chrome grille surround with piano-black insert, heated power outside mirrors with turn signals, rear spoiler, 16-inch wheels and P205/55HR16 tires, sport bolster seats with sport fabric insert and passenger seatback pocket, leather wheel with paddle shifters, multi-information display, one-touch lane-change turn signal, warning messages. S Plus ($700) upgrades with seven-spoke 17-inch wheels and P215/45R17 tires, rear disc brakes. S Premium ($1,600) includes eight-way heated power seats.
Safety features standard on all models include anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), brake assist, Smart Stop Technology (SST), electronic stability control (VSC), traction control, tire pressure monitor system, advanced 8-airbag system, seatbelt pretensioners, lower anchors and tensioners for children. A rearview camera, which can help the driver spot a small child behind the car when backing up, is included on upper trim levels.