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.

toyotacorollaseattle-16My 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.

2014_Toyota_Corolla_LE_ECO_072copyThe 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.

toyotacorollaseattle-6Driving dynamics?  It’s not as quiet and comfortable as Chevy Cruze, not as sporty as Mazda3 or Focus.  Like Nissan Sentra, Corolla plays it right down the middle.  As you’d expect.

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.

2014_Toyota_Corolla_LE_ECO_069Keep in mind the steering wheel doesn’t get a leather wrap and only Corolla S gets four-wheel disc brakes.  All others have drums in back.

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.

2014_Toyota_Corolla_LE_ECO_067(copy)The 11th generation Corolla starts at $17,610 with a manual transmission. The loaded LE Premium I drove retails for around $22,570.

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.

4 Comments

  1. Facepalm says:

    The driving school I went to had a fleet of old white 2004-ish Corollas, and they were an all-around decent car. Nothing great, but not bad by any means. My brother enrolled in the program eventually, and after taking some time off from it (i.e. laziness) he went back and it turned out that the school upgraded to 2014 Corollas. I have no idea what trim or what powertrain his student driver car had, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the same 4-speed auto. Still, I’m kind of jealous that I didn’t get the chance to drive both models, as I relish driving as many cars as possible. The 2014 looks a little odd with a driving school logo on it, though. Like as if it’s styled too aggressively to be a mere student driver car.

    I didn’t see many of these on the road for the first few months following their release, which was strange because there are so many Corollas of all years (last gens to the boxy ones) driving around LA County. I’ve been noticing more lately, but the growth isn’t as fast as I figured it’d be. I’m sure the streets will be flooded with these things in a couple years, though, haha.

    The style’s not bad in my opinion, though the wheels with the black designs, while cool, make the Corolla seem more sporty than it really is. The standard LED headlights is an unexpected touch that even German luxury brands like M-B and BMW don’t do (because they want to nickle & dime you for better headlights, lol). Most new compact sedans from those two automakers I see driving around don’t even have projector beam headlights, which is a shame. At least Audi gets it.

    Great review as always, Tom. Can’t wait to see more extended versions of the reviews that have been uploaded on NYT’s site recently.

  2. kay3460 says:

    Hi Tom, is it available with an LED tail lamps? I have seen a few in my area with the LED headlamps and they are very distinctive – in a good way. It seems odd that they have only LED headlamps, just a thought.

  3. luiskami says:

    Finally, an updated interior but as good as the competition. This Corolla is more than enough value for people who hate cars, or driving for that matter. I cannot stand boring cars. Unless I go luxury territory, finding a sedan that is not boring is hard.