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STYLING | 6 out of 10
The Toyota Corolla has always been a low-cost, value-oriented car; but who says that has to look so plain and boring? While other automakers have stepped up with more exciting designs for compacts in recent years—yes, we're talking about the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Dodge Dart, and others—Toyota is doing more than just punching in this time, with a Corolla that you might actually look longingly at.
Toyota calls the Corolla's new look more athletic, and we definitely won't argue with that. The automaker points to ‘Iconic Dynamism’ as the core concept surrounding the new Corolla design ethos. Dynamic, Modern, Basic, and Iconic ideas were combined in the design, which is geared toward the Gen Y demographic—people who are just settling down to have kids, or looking for a basic sedan for a growing family.
Proportions are a big part of what makes the new Corolla's design successful. The new Corolla is about three inches longer than the previous version, with nearly four inches of additional wheelbase—altogether placing the wheels farther out to the corners and giving the Corolla a far sportier stance.
Up front, a gaping lower grille and angular headlights do their best to give the Corolla a shot of adrenalin, while a defined character line runs the length of the vehicle meeting the wrap-around taillights, which attempt to give the Corolla visual width. Door handles flare outward and become their own complementary design statement with the side creases. And Toyota points out that moving to an LED design for the headlamps (for the low beams) helped allow the corner of the vehicle to be more rounded.
Sporty Corolla S models look distinctly different than the rest. They get a blacked-out grille in front with fog lamps flanking a more aggressive airdam. There’s also an integrated rear spoiler that visually lifts the tail and sharpens the look a bit.
Inside the Corolla takes a step forward with improved materials and a two-tier design that effectively pushes the corners of the cabin outward, for an immediate impression of increased space. The dashboard is now a soft-touch material with fake stitching, while pinstriped accents are strewn about the cabin on the dashboard and door panels.
All models have a new three-dial gauge cluster with chrome trim except the S model, which features a two-gauge gauge cluster containing a 3.5-inch black-and-white TFT display with trip computer functions. All the other models in the lineup have a three-gauge look with silver accents. Base models have a Steel Gray Fabric, while LE and LE Eco models have an upgraded fabric. S models instead have seats that combine leather-like Softex bolsters with coarse, color-toned fabrics in between.
The volume LE model is available in seven different exterior hues, while both the base L and the LE Eco are limited to four exterior colors and the Corolla S isn’t offered in Evergreen Mica (green).
The new 2014 Corolla doesn't exactly break out into new ground, but it's a well-proportioned design with crisp detail.