2014 Toyota Corolla
By Laura Burstein
On Sale: Fall 2013
Expected Pricing: Starting around $17,000
Few cars have been around as long as the Toyota Corolla. Lauded for its reliability, the Corolla has been around since it launched in Japan in 1966 and is the top-selling car of all time. Despite its mass volumes, the Corolla has always been about as exciting as a toaster. Until now.
Toyota unveiled the 11th-generation Corolla with much pomp and circumstance at a private event in Los Angeles, and it's clear designers took pains to make the car look good. Or, at least, much more interesting. Styling cues are taken from Toyota's Furia concept car that debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2013.
The upper front grille is a thin band of mesh, connecting sculpted headlamps that point inward. Below, is a wide trapezoidal air intake, giving the Corolla a look that's more assertive, without looking angry. LED headlights and daytime running lights are standard, a big leap in the compact segment, where LEDs are typically optional, if available at all.
The wheelbase and total length of the car have grown nearly four inches compared to the outgoing generation, and front and rear overhangs are shorter, giving the new Corolla a tighter, more athletic look. Inside, the cabin has been redesigned, and the front seats have a greater range of adjustability. Front seatbacks are also thinner, resulting in more rear legroom.
In spite of its much larger size, the Corolla has shed significant weight. Toyota claims the Corolla will have a curb weight of less than 2,900 pounds, regardless of trim or equipment. That's quite a feat, and if true, would make the 2014 Corolla the lightest car in the compact sedan class. Less weight usually means better fuel economy (plus improved braking and acceleration performance and better handling).
Four trims are available for the 2014 Toyota Corolla: L, LE, S and a new LE Eco. Standard features on every 2014 Corolla include air conditioning, power doorlocks and windows, a 60/40-split folding rear seat and Bluetooth handsfree connectivity. Options include pushbutton start, a leather tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Softex upholstery (a premium leather-like vinyl) with heated seats, and Toyota's Entune infotainment interface.
Engines carry over unchanged: Toyota's 132- horsepower, 1.8-liter all-aluminum four cylinder will power L, LE, and S trims. The new LE Eco model get a 140-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder with Valvematic, a technology that offers a broader range of continuously variable valve timing Toyota claims can improve fuel economy and engine output by 5 percent.
Significantly, the 2014 Toyota Corolla offers a new Continuously Variable Transmission. CVTs are infamous for their elastic-y feel and to combat this Toyota's CVT uses a pulley mechanism the carmaker claims will provide a more direct feel, closer to that of a traditional automatic transmission. Toyota calls its transmission a CVTi-S, the i for intelligent, the s for shift.
Official fuel economy estimates were not available at this writing, but Toyota expects an improvement over the old models thanks to the new CVT and the lighter curb weight.
The 2014 Toyota Corolla is expected to arrive in U.S. dealerships in Fall 2013. Toyota typically withholds pricing until just before a vehicle is available. We're guessing it will start at around $17,000. The 2013 Corolla starts at $16,230 MSRP.