Calling the Corolla “Toyota’s most important car” would be a gross understatement. This single model accounts for over 38 percent of all Toyotas ever sold in the USA. When shopping in the compact-car class, fuel efficiency and affordability are most certainly among the top priorities. Toyota’s redesigned compact sedan delivers both as long as you’re willing to make a few tradeoffs in terms of comfort. The 2014 Toyota Corolla is undoubtedly a big improvement, but it ranks merely in middle ground against other compacts, especially in terms of cabin noise and ride quality.
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.
The base engine in the 2014 Toyota Corolla is a carryover 1.8-liter 4-cylinder that manages to deliver 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. 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. The new LE Eco model has more power (140) but less torque (126 lb-ft), thanks to ‘Valvematic’, a tweak to the variable-valve system that minimizes intake-valve lift at small throttle openings to reduce parasitic pumping losses. On startup, it reaches the 60 miles/hr mark in 9.7 Seconds.
Interior and Exterior
The standard LED-accented headlights, chiseled body lines and pumped-up grille make the 2014 model the most dramatic-looking Corolla yet. Up front, the Corolla’s typically friendly face has been swapped out for a sportier design that takes some cues from the larger Avalon. A bold new trapezoidal grille dominates the Corolla’s front end, which gives the car a slack jawed look. The treatment looks a little better on the sporty ‘S’ trim level, which gains gloss black accents. Toyota has replaced the previous generation’s drab design and materials with an appealing blend of color and texture, along with a more horizontal control layout. The door panel armrest is padded enough, and the seats strike a good balance between being too compressive or being uncomfortably rigid. One small missing item is a sliding sun visor, which many cars in the segment possess.
Toyota did a great job with the continuously variable automatic transmission. It feels more natural and refined than the units in the Subaru Impreza and Nissan Sentra. However, there is excessive slop in the steering system, which means the wheel manages to go from side-to-side without the car deviating from a straight line. Although some circles put it at the top in terms of power, unreasonable noise levels drop the Corolla to almost the bottom of the segment. Too much of the road comes into the cabin, so uncomfortable levels of vibration and harshness are constant, uninvited passengers. The ride itself often borders on jittery, with a bit too much up and downs over larger bumps. The Corolla scores better in terms of handling, with the steering being natural-feeling and confident road-holding abilities. It doesn’t feel sporty, but the sedan takes corners without sloppiness.
The 2014 Toyota Corolla starts at $17,610, making it one of the most affordable vehicles in its class, ranking just above the Ford Focus, at $17,105, inclusive of destination charges. The Elantra starts just higher, at $17,760, and the Civic tops the list at $18,955.
Thus this time around the model will certainly be relying on its inherent reputation as a car for the masses.