2014 Toyota Corolla LE Plus

Reviewed by Susan Frissell

What about these numbers? Lasting over 40 years-a vehicle sold on average of every 40 seconds-worldwide best-selling nameplate in automotive history-best-selling nameplate in the world-with proper maintenance, the car could run for 250,000 miles.

Who wouldn’t want those statistics? Any automobile manufacturer, I would suppose.

So it goes with the Toyota Corolla, and for 2014, it has been redesigned-seriously redesigned. For a vehicle that has been doing well all these years, how can it possibly be redesigned. Well, the time had come and 2014 is the year to make some changes in the best-selling small sedan with a trouble-free, penny-pinching reputation.

Evolving over the years, the Corolla nameplate has sold over 40 million vehicles, worldwide. The 2014 Corolla receives a tweaked, more curvaceous lines, updated in-car technology and better handling. Improvements in styling, comfort and features have taken place, and hardcore Corolla drivers will be glad-if they can be persuaded to trade that old, still running well, Corolla.

First, a little history: Rolling off the line in 1966, the Corolla came equipped with the basics. Many features were optional. Later on with an aim to meet the needs of families, Toyota included many of these features as standard; their purpose being to pursue higher levels of quality.  Over all these years, Toyota has made efforts to anticipate customer needs and provide an ever better car each time out.

The world’s best-selling car, Corolla hit 40 million sales in July 2013. Over all these years, Toyota has produced 15 plants worldwide and accounts for one in five vehicles sold in the company’s 76-year history. The Corolla is now being built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Mississippi in Blue Springs, as well as in Canada.

If you bought a Corolla in 2013, you may very well have purchased the 40-millionth Corolla ever sold! The poster child for Toyota’s legendary quality, Corolla began annual production in 1966 with approximately 240,000 vehicles produced at its new Takaoka Japan factory. Exports began immediately. Eleven generations later, 1.1 million Corollas are produced each year. Every hour 125 new Corollas leave the factories in America, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, Venezuela, China, Canada, Brazil, India, Japan, Pakistan, South Africa and Taiwan.

For 2014, Corolla competes with Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Dodge Dart and others. A more ‘athletic’ looking vehicle, the 2014 Corolla is geared toward the Y Generation with it s ‘dynamic’ and modern look. About three inches longer, the 2014 Corolla gains four inches of additional wheelbase, placing the wheels farther out to the corners. Sportier and better riding, the new Corolla will please.

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Angular headlights flank the new lower grille and wrap-around taillights. Door handles flare out and LED-designed low-beam headlamps round out the corners. Maintaining it s own look is the S model, with a front blacked-out grille and foglights. A more aggressive airdam  is obvious, as is the integrated spoiler. The interior gets upgraded materials, a two-tone design and stitched dashboard.

Roomier and better packaged, the 2014 Corolla gets standard LED lights, improved ride and handling and on our LE test model, a backup camera sunroof.  By no means, a luxury sedan, the Corolla is a wonderfully serviceable sedan that competes with the best of them-and often comes out ahead. While for a car buff, Corolla may not seem like anything special, it is however, wildly popular. The ‘average’ man’s vehicle, Corolla can’t seem to do anything wrong. A tad sluggish, the 1.4-liter engine is adequate for most driving situations. Headroom in the rear seats is tight, and the car lacks some of the top safety features.

More athletic looking for 2014, Corolla appeals for the Y generation demographic, those with young families, or those looking for a ‘basic’ sedan with dependability. Three inches longer for 2014, Corolla has about corolla4 inches of additional wheelbase placing the wheels farther apart. The 2014 Corolla gains four inches in wheelbase, providing a little more rear seat space. Front seats are a tad more comfortable and supportive, however, they still are reminiscent of entry-level vehicles; not ones you’d be so comfortable in over the long haul. The trunk is roomy with a low, flat floor, and flip-forward seating for additional cargo area.

Safety in the new Corolla translates to eight standard airbags, Toyota’s Star Safety System, including stability control, traction control, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. Also standard is Toyota’s Smart Stop Technology brake-override system. Toyota’s Entune infotainment system is available, featuring navigation and apps for some models.

Our favorite Corolla remains the S model, distinctly different than your average Corolla model. Sportier, peppier,  andjust more fun, the S version gets a blacked-out grille with foglamps and a more aggressive airdam. An integrated rear spoiler gives the S model a sharper look. The S trim gets Toyota’s 1.8-liter engine with 132 horsepower.  Choose the Sport function and you’ll forget you’re in a Corolla!

The new Corolla is available in four trim levels: L ($16,443/$17,400) LE ($16,944/18,300), S ($17,592/19,000) and the new LE Eco model.  Competing with Ford Focus, Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic and Chevrolet Cruze, Corolla still holds its own.

For those buyers looking for better fuel efficiency, opt for the LE Eco model trim with its 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine featuring Valuematic providing a broader range of CTV (continuously variable timing and increase in fuel economy and engine output.

For a car that was originally designed to meet the changing needs of Japanese commuters during the mid-1960s, the Corolla has reached popularity beyond imagination. Toyota continues to “always evolve and design vehicles to meet consumer needs in each market.”

SPECS

MSRP: $18,700; total vehicle price $20,360; destination $850

Engine: 1.8-liter 4-cyl. DOHC 16-valve Dual VVT 4

Transmission: CVT, FWD

Wheelbase:  106.3 in.

Height: 57.3 in.

Weight: 2800 lbs.

Length: 182.6 in.

Width: 60.4in.

EPA Fuel economy: 32 mpg.

Tires: P205/55R16

Wheels: 16-inch alloy

Warranty:  5 yr./60,000-miles drivetrain;3 yr./36,000-miles basic; 5 yrs./unlimited corrosion; 25,000-miles/2 yrs roadside assistance; 2 yrs/25,000-miles maintenance.

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