Seattle, Wash. ? When a company sets out to reinvent the best-selling vehicle of all time ? over 40 million sold worldwide to date ? it has to work very carefully, especially when it comes to the design. If the new product is too conservative there?s a risk that an innovative design from another manufacturer will capture the eye of the buyers. If they push the envelope too far and come with a controversial design, you also might alienate shoppers.
The Corolla, which is now entering its 11th generation and the model is 47 years old. It is sold in 154 of the 194 countries worldwide and it is manufactured in 16 locations.
Show in January. Toyota also did extensive consumer studies to help determine what new car shoppers were looking for.
While the 2014 Toyota Corolla design is fresh, I think they have should pushed envelope a little farther, with a little revolution thrown in for good measure.
Corolla?s new look is more muscular, with more dimension. The new design also is longer, lower and wider, with shorter overhangs, which result in more space inside, especially in the rear seats where there?s three more inches of legroom.
The LE Eco is powered by an efficient 140-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with Valvematic technology, improved aerodynamics and low rolling resistance tires. The other three models have a new 132-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with intelligent Variable Valve Timing (VVT-i).
The four models utilize different transmission configurations. The L has a six-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic. The LE, S and LE Eco have the new CVTi-S continuously variable transmission, and the S is also available with the manual. The CVT is the most efficient, producing the best fuel economy. I?m still not crazy about the unstructured feel of CVT transmissions, except with the S version which simulates a seven speed transmission and allows the driver to shift manually using the shifter or wheel-mounted paddle shifters.?The S also has a different instrument cluster that reflects the sporty nature of the car.
Fuel economy ratings vary from 27 mpg city, 36 MPG highway and 31 MPG combined for the LE automatic and top out at 30/42/35 MPG for the LE Eco.
On a drive into the Cascade mountain foothills, I was impressed with the handling and the quiet cabin. Sound engineers did an excellent job keeping unwanted sounds out of the cabin. The car has adequate power for average drivers, but I think more aggressive drivers will be disappointed. The 2014 Toyota Corolla is a car that provides solid, dependable and economical transportation and an excellent value.