A few weeks ago, Toyota unveiled the 2014 Toyota Corolla, the eleventh generation model of its highly successful Corolla franchise that started way back in the 60s.
Expected to be available in four trim levels, the 2014 model carries over last year’s L, LE and S trims while adding a new, high-mileage variant called LE Eco. Taking a more aggressive styling, it has design hints from the Toyota Furia Concept, thus giving it more character and muscle compared to the previous generations. As Toyota Canada President Seiji Ichii stated in one of the 2014 Corolla’s press events in the region, “The new Corolla will be available in a wide variety of exterior colours — but no beige.”
Now, LED headlamps comes standard across all trims, with token fender flares and a redesigned rear end further providing the car a rather upscale aura for its price. The base trim offers standard air conditioning, class-exclusive daytime running lights, glass-imprinted AM/FM antenna, color-keyed door handles, color-keyed outside mirrors, 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, power windows, power door locks with automatic locking feature, eight airbags and Bluetooth connectivity.
For a cost, additional options such as info/nav screen to heated seats to various sound systems and SofTex faux leather on the seats could be added. Compared to the previous models, this latest Corolla boasts of a more spacious interior and a horizontally themed dash design that is also found in the 2013 Toyota Avilon. Also, because of the longer wheelbase of the car, there is more rear legroom for passengers at the back. Overall, the 2014 Corolla’s interior is very well-made with higher-quality materials obviously utilized.
Under the hood, the 2014 Corolla sports the same engine as the previous generation: a 2ZR-FE twin-cam four cylinder engine capable of generating 132bhp and 128lb-ft of torque. However, should you opt for the LE Eco variant, you would get the new 2ZR-FAE engine, which features the same 1798cc displacement as the non-eco variant but has a higher 10.6:1 compression ratio. According to the manufacturer, the new engine on the LE Eco variant should provide about a five percent improvement in fuel economy, eight more horsepower but two fewer lb-ft of torque.
As for the 2014 Corolla’s transmission, a continuously variable automatic transmission is available for the LE and higher trims. Unfortunately though, base models may only be configured with either a six-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. The Corolla S trim also comes with paddle shifters with seven preset gears. The suspension of the latest Corolla also boasts of new suspension geometry, spring rate and bushing settings, although the same front MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam suspension setup is retained from the previous model.
Although compared to the previous model, on paper the 2014 Corolla looks solid and a great incremental improvement. As Toyota engineers and executives put it, the 2014 model was designed to be fun to drive, which of course is something we would first need to test to believe. However, we do hope and pray that the car lives up to the hype and expectation its makers have bestowed upon it, as competition from rivals in the compact car segment is now fiercer than ever before. Manufacturers from Korea (Hyundai and Kia) as well as from the west (Chevrolet and Ford) have successfully established themselves as credible players in the segment, which means good for compact car buyers, but for Toyota, once regarded as the king of the compacts, it spells trouble should they do nothing about it.