2014 Toyota Corolla
Meet the new boss, much the same as the old boss.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: August 28th, 2013
There's not much to be said about the new changes in the 2014 Toyota Corolla that we haven't already covered, minus the size. Much like every other car on the market, with the introduction of a new generation comes growth in several different dimensions, namely the wheelbase.
Stretching itself by nearly four inches, the new Corolla does feel a fair bit roomier, especially in the backseat. There's enough room back there to keep your knees from touching the front seats, even with a relatively tall person up front, because they increased rear legroom by a staggering five inches. That said, extra-tall rear-seat passengers may have to get used to the feeling of hair rubbing against headliner, as rear headroom was reduced by a tenth of an inch. We'd suggest keeping freshly-dyed hair in the front seat.
Other than that, as we've said before, this is a car that Corolla buyers will want. Fans of station wagons, hot hatches, and diesels aren't about to be wooed over by this car, nor should they be - this is a vehicle for people that want to get in a car, get out of it, and not give it much thought otherwise.
That's why they didn't feel the need to make disc brakes standard across the lineup, which would also require the use of larger (and more expensive) wheels. That's why they didn't change the engine, which is already known for being reliable. That's why the rear suspension retains its antiquated torsion-beam design. In short, they didn't stray too far from the formula that's sold roughly eleventy-billion models already.
The interior is markedly better than the outgoing version. There is now one truly soft-touch material present in the cabin, up from the previous zero. There is a blue (or amber, depending on car color) strip running along the length of the dashboard and door cards, and that single bit of color sets it apart from other drab, rental-ready interiors. The HVAC setup is very familiar on the base-model L, but the automatic climate control on the other models is intuitive and easy to manipulate without taking your eyes off the road. Otherwise, though, many of the button layouts on both the dashboard and steering wheel are similar to the previous generation, because familiarity is clutch in a model that expects its buyers to return over and over again.
This is, by and large, the biggest change on the new generation, and it's much-improved. The standard LED headlights are a very premium touch, given that Honda is still struggling to figure out what xenon bulbs and ballasts are. Whereas the last Corolla looked smooth and formless (somewhat fitting for the model), the new one has that 21st-century, aggressively-angled look to it, although the faux carbon-fiber vinyl overlay on the base-model's front fascia was a bit confusing, since that's a pattern typically reserved for vehicles with some degree of sportiness. And no matter how you design them, steel wheels and hubcaps look cheap. Sorry.
On the Road
Toyota mentioned that they placed extra focus on noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) in the North American market, and they've succeeded in that respect. It feels quite stable and content at highway speeds, and minor jostles don't translate into the cabin like they did in older models. The LE Eco's Valvematic-equipped motor is good for a slight upgrade over the standard engine, and has a decent amount of induction noise when you step on it. The new-for-this-model continuously-variable transmission is unobtrusive and doesn't give off the same rubber-band feeling that other CVTs do. Considering it's on an econobox, the six-speed manual transmission is nice, although a little extra weight in the shift knob would deliver just a little more crispness to the shift feeling. If you opt for the S, you get some well-bolstered, attractive seats, as well.
It's a Corolla. You knew that, we knew that, everybody knows it. It will sell like gangbusters no matter what, and all the new-ness adds a premium angle that wasn't present in older generations. Corolla owners aren't going to care about the hard-touch materials in the cabin, nor will they care about the steel wheels or the drum brakes. What they care about is safety and reliability, and this car keeps that long-used Toyota mantra alive. If you were thinking about upgrading from an older model, we definitely suggest it. If you are thinking of purchasing a sports car, obviously you would look the other way. They are completely separate spheres, and in its own world, this new model does its namesake justice.
Specs & Price
Engine: 1.8-liter I-4
Transmission: Four-speed automatic (L); six-speed manual (L, S); continuously-variable (LE, LE Eco, S)
Power Output: 132 hp / 128 lb-ft (L, LE, S); 140 hp / 126 lb-ft (LE Eco)
Fuel Economy: 27 city / 36 highway (4AT, L); 28 city / 37 highway (6MT, L/S); 29 city / 37 highway (CVT, S); 29 city / 38 highway (CVT, LE); 30 city / 42 highway (CVT, LE Eco, 15" wheels); 30 city / 40 highway (CVT, LE Eco, 16" wheels)
Base Price: $16,800 (L); $18,300 (LE); $18,700 (LE Eco); $19,000 (S); plus $810 destination charge
Optional Features: Moonroof, Driver's Convenience Package (Smart Key, Entune premium audio system with navigation and app suite)
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2014 Toyota Corolla, click here: 2014 Toyota Corolla.