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Toyota Corolla: Image Is Everything

July 2013, by Tariq Kamal - Also by this author

After 10 incarnations and 47 years on the road, the indomitable Toyota Corolla has outsold every other nameplate in history. But this is 2013, and the market is loaded with aggressively styled, fuel-efficient compacts. The Corolla has been completely redesigned for the 2014-MY, and it looks like Toyota felt pressured to make a visual statement.

The 11th-generation Corolla is pretty fearsome looking. The front end cuts in at the corners to meet a monstrous, piano-black bumper cover/lower grille combo. The sculpted side panels feature a shoulder line that runs from the LED headlights to the taillights. The wheelbase is 3.9 inches longer than the outgoing model, but the wheels have moved closer to the bumpers.

The added length gives rear-seat passengers a few more inches of legroom. Both rows feature seats with slimmer backs and upgraded fabrics. The instruments, controls and interior panels are new, and the dash sports a two-tier design, somewhat akin to the Honda Civic’s. The “sporty” S edition includes a 3.5-inch LCD trip computer, a unique gauge cluster and paddle shifters on the wheel.

Specs for the 2014 Toyota Corolla
Specs for the 2014 Toyota Corolla

The 2014 Corolla will also be available in base L trim, LE and LE Eco. The Eco maximizes fuel efficiency with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), low rolling-resistance tires and wind-deflecting wheel covers. Toyota fully expects the Eco to beat the 40 mpg mark when fuel economy numbers are released.

That brings us to the engine, where choices are limited. The Corolla’s 1.8-liter inline four carries over from 2013 and delivers 132 horsepower at 128 pound-feet of torque. The LE Eco actually delivers more horsepower — 140, to be exact — thanks to special valvetrain technology first tested in overseas markets. Buyers of the L and LE editions can choose between a six-speed manual and four-speed automatic; the S and LE Eco utilize the CVT, but stick is an option for the S.

Fleet buyers have a list of vehicles to choose from in the compact segment. Most if not all have been redesigned in the past couple years — some, like the new Mazda3 and Ford Focus, have been met with much acclaim. The Corolla has built its reputation on dependability. If you like the new look, the 2014 model merits your consideration.

The 2014 Corolla will roll into showrooms this fall. Pricing will be announced later in the summer, but the 2013 runs from $16,230 up to $20,550.


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