2014 Toyota Corolla LE HD Video Review
Automotive and dog years are pretty much the same, and since worldwide production of the 10th generation Toyota Corolla began in 2006, it had lost its competitive edge heading into 2013. Not it’s reputation though. Loyal buyers kept snapping them up.
My neighbor Dick Ogaard is one of the faithful. Every morning as I chew on my Cheerios, I see Dick’s 2010 S model parked in his driveway. Why did he trade his Mazda Millennia in for a smaller vehicle? The same reason given by many- reliability. The new 11th generation model gets updated technology and design to go with that bullet-proof reputation. I suggest watching the video to get his take on both his and the 2014 car. From here on out it’s pretty much my opinion you’ll be reading.
Just how important is Corolla? Toyota claims it is the most popular nameplate in the world. They include a number of different variants so Ford says “nope, Focus is”. Whatever. We’ll let the marketing folks battle that one out without us.
The new Corolla has a little more style with Toyota’s more aggressive front fascia design. The S model even gets a different nose. That hardly mean class leading lines though. Dart, Elantra, Focus and Mazda3 are the Michael Kors fashionistas in this class. Corolla dresses at Gap. Its shape looks as if it was drawn on a computer screen, not sculpted by hand. Low-beam LED headlamps are standard across the board.
The 1.8-liter four-cylinder makes 132 horsepower in the LE (the Eco model wrings out 8 more). It’s matched up to a continuously variable transmission. Keep in mind, the old four-speed automatic remains in the base L model. A six-speed manual is available in L and S models. I’ll guestimate 0-60 happens in a leisurely 9.5 seconds for the LE. Most buyers will be more interested in the LE’s EPA fuel economy rating of 29 city, 38 highway.
Order the S model with the optional alloy wheels to get a firmer suspension. S also gets a simulated 7-speed gearbox feel from the CVT tranny. It’s noticeably crisper than the slightly “rubber bandy” dynamic of the LE so if you have the cash, go with the S.
The interior definitely gets an upgrade. All but the base model includes a standard rear-view camera. The instrument panel is mounted on the high side, giving me the feeling of sitting low. While the atmosphere is fine, there are others in class that have better looking and feeling materials. Corolla feels built to a price point. Neighbor Dick sees the seats as leather (they’re synthetic). Still, they’re nicely sculpted, bolstered and heated. Toyota’s Entune system connects your electronics.
One reason Dick likes his Corolla is the fairly generous back seat. The 2014 model improves on that. It’s pretty spacious for a compact car, certainly comfortable for two adults. Not overly generous with the headroom though. Cost cutting eliminates a second seat pocket, foldable armrest and power port.
In the T.P. Trunk Test, the outgoing generation Corolla swallows six packs of the two-ply. Honda Civic easily does seven. It would appear that the new one gets a larger boot since it too swallows seven packs but it gets penalized because the lid can’t be shut without serious scrunching. Oh, and no grab handle on the lid. Fortunately, the seats split and fold since there’s no hatchback version.
Summing up, yes, this car is improved, but it still isn’t compelling. It’s a slightly more emotional appliance. Corolla faces white hot competition from many others in class that are emotional, fun to drive, and yes, reliable. Everyone, including the American and Korean brands, make excellent vehicles these days. Corolla remains true to its mission of affordable and reliable transportation. My neighbor Dick continues to be sold on that reputation. It just might be Corolla’s best attribute.