Stylish new 2014 Toyota Corolla revealed

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Nobody disagrees about the Toyota Corolla being a good car. Its strong sales, despite being in need of a redesign, have proven that. It's been a conservatively attractive, highly functional, economical, reliable, and even fairly fun to drive staple of the Canadian automotive landscape for almost five decades, accounting for more than 40 million sales over its lifespan. However, during its 47 years and 154 country-wide reign (16 of which produce it), only the brilliantly oddball 1983–1987 Corolla GT-S (AE86) that inspired the new Scion FR-S / Toyota GT 86 (Subaru BRZ) was ever an aspirational car to stir the sleep of would-be car buyers like some of the model's contemporaries.

As good for Toyota's image as the Scion FR-S / Toyota GT 86 is and previous Corolla GT-S / Toyota AE86 was, the only way these models will make a serious dent in the automaker's bottom line is for a trickle-down effect to excite mainstream front-drive four-door Corolla sales. That model is the brand's global bread and butter, and while we were all wondering whether or not Toyota would continue with something staid and conservative for its 2014 production model, the proverbial cat is now finally out of the bag and what we have before us is something truly special. The new car builds upon Toyota's new "Iconic Dynamism" theme that debuted with the Corolla Furia Concept unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last January, so it's a real looker.

The all-new eleventh-generation 2014 Corolla might simply be on schedule for its five-year makeover, but compared to the previous redesign this new model looks like it could vie for compact Lexus buyers rather than merely go up against its mainstream small car rivals like the Chevrolet Cruze, Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Nissan Sentra, Volkswagen Jetta, and the list goes on.

The current Corolla not only gets overshadowed by many of its competitors for styling, but also in interior refinement, available features (especially high-tech), interior capacity, and performance/mileage. A new standard six-speed manual gearbox or optional continuously variable transmission (dubbed CVTi-S in Toyota-speak – i for intelligent, S for shift) with seven simulated gear ratios and paddle shifters (the CVT is available in LE, S, and LE Eco trim levels) addresses the latter issue (although the brand's "proven" four-speed automatic will still be part of the base package), while a 10-cm (3.93-inch) longer wheelbase makes for much greater legroom, not to mention a more stable, comfortable large car ride.

Overall, the new 2014 Corolla has grown by 99 millimetres (3.9 inches) to 4,639 mm (182.6 inches) from end to end, whereas width is up 16 mm (0.63 inches) to 1,776 mm (69.9 inches). Height has actually decreased slightly by 10 mm (0.39 inches) to 1,455 mm (57.3 inches) as has the rear overhang, now 24 mm (0.94 inches) shorter at 981 mm (38.6 inches). The front overhang is 23 mm (0.90 inches) longer, now stretching to 958 mm (37.7 inches).

Despite being larger the new 2014 Corolla won't come out of the gates with the compact segment's most powerful engine choices. A base 1.8-litre four-cylinder makes 132-horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque while an optional 1.8-litre four with Toyota's new Valvematic technology is good for 140-horsepower and 126 lb-ft of torque. What's more, the alternative engine is not only more powerful but also more efficient. Toyota will offer driver selectable Eco and Sport modes to enhance fuel economy and performance respectively too.

What's the claimed fuel economy? Expect less than 6.0 L/100km on the highway in its most efficient guise, or rather special Corolla LE Eco trim. That model uses the more efficient 1.8-litre engine with Valvematic technology and a standard CVT, plus gets aerodynamic underbody covers, a rear spoiler, and low rolling resistance tires on 15-inch wheels on 195/65R15 tires or available 16-inch aerodynamic alloy wheels to improve fuel economy.

Toyota hasn't only looked to these measures to increase efficiency, but thanks to high-strength steel in key structural areas and other lightweight materials it's managed to reduce the car's curb weight to 1,315 kilograms (2,900 pounds). Additionally, efforts in aerodynamics have helped to achieve an extremely slippery drag coefficient of 0.28.

All this aids in fuel economy but also helps make the 2014 Corolla more fun to drive. The car's suspension utilizes the usual Macpherson strut design up front, but with "a new, more rigid control-arm design," while the rear gets a torsion beam setup with attachment points connected to the body at a "slanted, diagonal angle" for greater side-to-side stability. Corolla S trim gets unique coil, damper, and bushing tuning plus 16- and optional 17-inch alloy wheels and tires to improve performance. The new electric power steering system is said to offer "enhanced feel and 'weight' in the hands of drivers, while increasing its sense of directness with little effort."

Standard brakes are 275-mm front ventilated discs and rear drums with ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist, whereas the Corolla S gets a set of 259-mm solid rear discs to aid in stopping power. Other standard Star Safety System features include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC) and Toyota's Smart Stop Technology brake-override system. An electronic tire pressure monitoring system is standard too.

Also impressive, the 2014 Corolla will be first to offer standard equipped LED lowbeam headlamps in the compact segment. LED headlamps allow for a much more compact customized design with less heat emitted so that a lighter weight PES resin lens could be used instead of conventional glass.

The Corolla's interior will also need to be first rate to measure up to its competition, and while there's no mention of surface materials, Toyota highlighted piano-black gloss trim with metallic accents for "an upscale yet sportier image." The Corolla gets pinstriped accents throughout too, in blue, black or amber depending on the interior colour theme. Toyota also talks of "ornamental stitching along the leading edge of the dash pad," the latter possibly referencing some soft-touch plastic interior surfaces.

In this segment the Corolla's expanded interior spaciousness matters more however, where improvements in rear legroom are said to be "considerable". Along with the lengthened wheelbase, Toyota moved the rear seat hip point rearward by 75 mm (2.95 inches) and then slimmed down the front seatback. Additionally, to benefit the middle-seat occupant's foot room the rear floor was flattened at centre by re-routing the exhaust pipes below. Denser urethane pads and foam inserts within the seats further enhance comfort. Similar improvements have been made to the front seats too, plus the lower cushion is now longer while new bolsters improve lateral support. Additionally, the front seats get 15 mm (0.59 inches) more fore and aft adjustment. Toyota says less effort is needed to slide, recline, and lift the seats too.

Adding to its sense of refinement, the new Corolla is quieter than the outgoing car thanks to an acoustic glass windscreen, improved floor carpet insulation, an instrument panel seal between the cowl and the windshield, fender sound insulators, and an inner dash silencer pad.

The 2014 Corolla will be available in four trim levels, L, LE, S, and new LE Eco. As mentioned, all Corollas get LED lowbeam headlamps along with LED daytime running lights, while standard equipment in the U.S. at least (Toyota Canada has yet to make details known) will include power windows, power locks, air conditioning with a pollen filter, Bluetooth phone connectivity, an in-glass AM/FM antenna, a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, colour-keyed mirror housings, colour-keyed door handles, and eight airbags.

Some highlighted options include Toyota's proximity sensing Smart Key System on the front doors and trunk with Push Button Start, automatic air-conditioning, a leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic three-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters (when the CVT is chosen) and audio controls, a Multi-Information Display, SofTex-trimmed upholstery, heated front seats, and "a range of audio capability that will offer navigation and Entune apps accessible through the head unit," says Toyota.

On the outside, 15-inch wheels with covers are standard on L and LE Eco grades, while 16-inch steel wheels with covers on 205/55R16 tires come on the LE and S. More stylish, lighter weight 16-inch aluminum wheels come with LE trim while options include a unique 16-inch aluminum design with the Eco grade and unique 17-inch rims on 215/45R17 tires for the S model.

Of course, we can expect many more details specific to Canada just before the car is made available in the fall.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Toyota, 2014, Corolla, $10,000 - $19,999, $20,000 - $29,999, Compact,

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