The entire compact car landscape has been overhauled during the past few years with new models from nearly every automaker setting new benchmarks. That is except for Toyota and its best-selling Corolla.
Today that changes.
This is the 2014 Toyota Corolla, the company's 11th stab at designing the perfect, practical runabout.
Everyone staring at this screen should be able to see that in the least, the 2014 model has an entirely new look.
Based on the Furia concept car that made the auto show circuit earlier this year, the production vehicle — shown in the sportiest S trim level above — is more modern in appearance than the 2013, although that wouldn't be hard to achieve. The look borrows design elements from Toyota's redesigned Avalon sedan and even the RAV4 compact crossover.
Under the hood is a revised version of the 2013's 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that comes standard with the base L, LE and S trim levels. A new LE Eco trim level features the same engine but with a new type of continuous valve timing to improve efficiency. The engines are rated at 132 horsepower and 140 hp respectively.
A continuously variable transmission will be offered in LE, S and LE Eco models to improve efficiency as well. The base L comes with a six-speed manual transmission or four-speed automatic. The six-speed manual also will be offered on the S. Likewise, all Corolla models besides the S will have rear drum brakes instead of discs.
Toyota is not releasing specific fuel economy numbers for any of the powertrains but does say it expects the LE Eco to achieve near 40 mpg highway ratings from the EPA. The 2013 Corolla is rated at 26/34/29 mpg city/highway/combined. That's far behind the Honda Civic at 28/39/32 mpg and Nissan Sentra at 30/39/34 mpg.
The Corolla's overall length has increased nearly 4 inches as has the wheelbase. Typically this should allow for more passenger volume inside. However, Toyota has not released interior measurements.
Regarding rear-seat room, the company only says that "additional legroom was gained by adopting a slim front seatback." That is a common trend in car design, but generally when we hear of a car's wheelbase growing this much we expect gains to interior dimensions due to that rather than seat design.
Likewise, there is no mention of front-seat room besides the fact that the front seats have .59 additional inches of travel back and forth. Again, that is an odd omission, and we'll be following up with Toyota to deliver full dimensions.
The interior design is updated as severely as the exterior with a flat, horizontal dashboard that reminds us of new Lexus models like the GS sedan. Everything else inside, from the door handles to the controls and shifter, looks completely new as well and should be competitive on a quality level with the field.
Standard equipment looks to also be competitive with the class. All 2014 Corollas will come equipped with standard LED low-beam headlights and LED running lights, making it one of the few cars on the market, compact or otherwise, to do so. Other standard features include body-color door handles and side mirrors, 60/40 fold-down rear seat, power windows with auto up/down for the driver, air conditioning, Bluetooth and eight airbags — up from the 2013's six.
A full breakdown on trim-level equipment wasn't released but Toyota lists the following as "available" in its press release: a smart key system for front doors and a trunk with push-button start, auto air conditioning, leather-trimmed tilt/telescopic three-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters and audio controls, a multi-information display, Bluetooth hands-free phone voice-command controls, SofTex-trimmed heated front seats and audio capability that offers navigation and Entune apps through the head unit.
Fifteen-inch steel wheels with wheel covers are standard on L and LE Eco models; 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers are standard on LE and S models while 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels are available on LE, LE Eco and S trim levels.
We'll have first-hand impressions of the Corolla posted shortly along with a photo gallery when more photos become available.