Toyota has, for at least a couple of decades and several generations of modest, evolutionary change, played it safe with the best-selling Corolla. But with the all-new 2014 Corolla, the automaker has gotten smart; realizing that it was losing too many sales to stylish, sportier models like the Ford Focus or Mazda 3, and to sophisticated, value-packed models like the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, and Chevrolet Cruze, among many others.
While the automaker didn't change the Corolla radically, it's a lot more than a conservative evolution—and a world better than its predecessor when it comes to technology, connectivity, design, and refinement.
We had our first drive in the 2014 Corolla this past summer, and found a lot to like about it. And after we've put one through our own daily-driving paces, we appreciate this no-nonsense sedan even more—and we don't have any significant gripes. Provided you're judging a small sedan by its ability to deliver good, reliable transportation, as well as a little bit of fun now and then, it's hard to find much fault with the 2014 Toyota Corolla S.
Click through to see five things we especially like about the Corolla:
Real-world mileage is great. We averaged just over 30 mpg over 130 miles—most of which was comprised of short trips and suburban errands—for our Corolla S test car that has EPA ratings of 29 mpg city, 37 highway. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) simply keeps engine revs down when you don't need them; you have a Sport Mode that makes the accelerator more sensitive and keep the revs higher—and you can manually call up gears with the paddle-shifters—but there's no trick to it; the Corolla is agreeable and responsive while returning these higher mpg figures. And if you're wondering about the high-mileage (but less fun-to-drive) Eco model, we've seen 33.1 mpg in that.
It feels big on the inside. On the outside, the Corolla sizes up about the same as most compact sedans, but it's interesting to see how Toyota makes more passenger space here than in many rival models. The dash is forced forward and upright, with the corners pushed out, and the beltline is low. Yes, headroom still isn't great for taller folks in back, but there's plenty of legroom all around, and the Corolla feels almost mid-size.
2014 Toyota Corolla
The 'S' doesn't drive like a Corolla. We said this in our first drive of the Corolla last summer, and we've noted it in our full review of the 2014 Corolla, yet we think it can't be emphasized enough. If you've formed impressions from rental cars, or from that boomy, tinny Corolla your carpool partner drove years ago, try your hardest to shake them—or to realize what a contrast this new Corolla is. In S guise—the model you should get if you at all care about the driving experience—the nicely weighted electric power steering, sportier suspension tuning, four-wheel disc brakes, better rubber, and various other upgrades all combine to provide a surprisingly vivid driving experience that's better than you might expect from the sum of these parts.
2014 Toyota Corolla S - Driven, February 2014
Excellent touch-screen audio. We love how you can split the screen (and make things full-screen) very intuitively, how this system has no significant lagginess, how voice commands just work (in a way that they can fall short in more expensive luxury cars). Pandora and other streaming audio worked very well through my iPhone, with track information on the screen, while predictive traffic and weather overlays were really cool. Our only complaint was that, given the great interface and connectivity, the sound quality of the system isn't much to speak of.
2014 Toyota Corolla
It costs less than $25k with all the bells and whistles. Toyota. Our test car cost just $23,570, and that included things like cruise control, automatic climate control, heated seats and mirrors, a power driver's seat, fog lamps, and LED running lamps as well as LED low-beam headlamps. It also included a moonroof, as well as a $1,510 Driver Convenience Package that added Smart Key entry, push-button start, and an Entune Premium Audio package that included what we spoke of above plus USB and auxiliary ports, HD Radio, satellite radio, and Gracenote audio information. And you know the Corolla is going to hold its value well, and be inexpensive to insure, operate, and maintain.
2014 Toyota Corolla
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