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First Drive: 2014 Toyota Corolla (Review)

2014 Toyota Corolla

2014 marks the 45th anniversary of the Toyota Corolla and the introduction of the all-new 11th generation. The 2014 Corolla is bigger, more stylish and more efficient than the outgoing model. It also sees the introduction of a new CVT transmission, a fuel efficient Eco model and gets the latest version of Toyota’s entune infotainment system. With the compact segment getting more competitive each year, does the new Corolla have the right mix to keep it on top?

2014 Toyota Corolla

The 2014 Corolla was previewed by the Furia concept earlier this year. Walking up to the 2014 Corolla it’s obvious that Toyota made an attempt to inject a bit more style into the Corolla that the 10th generation was lacking. The outgoing model looks boring and dated compared to the new Corolla, which is a good thing. Standard LED headlights and the S models piano black front fascia are welcome additions to a typically conservative sedan.

2014 Toyota Corolla

The new Corolla is bigger than the outgoing model with its total length now 3.3 inches longer. The good news is that most of that extra length was put between the wheels, since the 2014 Corolla now has a 3.9 inch longer wheelbase. A longer wheelbase translates to a bigger interior, with most of the extra length going to the rear passengers. Toyota says that there is an extra 5.1 inches of legroom for rear passengers.

2014 Toyota Corolla

The rest of the interior is spacious and quiet. Toyota designed the Corolla’s dashboard to be more horizontal than before, which makes it non-intrusive. Our biggest complaint was that the navigation/ audio screen is slightly below the driver’s normal line of sight. It gets a bit annoying to have to look down and away from the road to look at the navigation system. The front seats are a significant improvement with their larger thigh, lumbar, and lateral support. The S model features even larger bolsters that hug your body more than we expect in a Corolla.

2014 Toyota Corolla

The 2014 Corolla offers two engine choices and three transmission options. L, LE and S models are powered by the same 1.8L four-cylinder engine as the last Corolla, which generates 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft. of torque. The new LE Eco model is powered by a new 1.8L engine with 140 horsepower and 126 lb-ft. of torque. The new engine gets Valvematic technology that enhances its fuel economy specs. You may notice that the Eco model is not only the most fuel-efficient Corolla, but is also the most powerful. Why isn’t it available across the range? Well according to Toyota, there isn’t enough production capacity for the new engine, but it was basically hinted that it will become more available in the future.

2014 Toyota Corolla

The L trim is available with either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Yep, you read that right, the Corolla still comes with an archaic four-speed automatic. If you step up to the LE, LE Eco and S models you can get the new CVT transmission. Compared to past CVTs that we’ve driven, the Corolla’s CVT is more enjoyable and thanks to a “seven-speed” function on S models, you will hardly even know that your Corolla has a CVT. It’s easily one of the best CVTs on the market. The CVT is standard on the LE and LE Eco models, while the S can be equipped with either a six-speed manual or the CVT. How does the S with the six-speed manual drive? It adds a level of sportiness that any spirited driver will like. It’s throws are precise and the manual helps you squeeze out every ounce of power that the small engine can give you.

Fuel economy specs range from 27/36 with the four-speed automatic to 29/38 for the CVT-equipped LE model and 30/42 mpg for the LE Eco model.

2014 Toyota Corolla

has announced plans to inject more passion and style into its vehicles, which is obvious with new models like the Avalon. If you were hoping that the new Corolla would be as sporty as the Mazda3, you will be disappointed, but if you already liked the Corolla and just wanted a bit more style and sportiness, then you will be happy.

Pros: Roomy interior, CVT is better than most, standard LED headlights and improved ride and handling.

Cons: More powerful LE Eco engine not available across the lineup, blind spot monitor not offered.