Getting the Corolla right is of utmost importance to Toyota, which has moved nearly 40 million units over 10 different body styles since the nameplate debuted in 1966. Last night, Autosavant was invited to witness the unveiling of the 11th-generation, 2014 Corolla at its North American debut, in Santa Monica, Calif., and to see if the newest, more style-driven model is worthy of the Corolla name.
- The ’14 Corolla’s exterior design is reminiscent of some of its competitors, punctuated by a sharp front end not unlike that of the Dodge Dart. Its shape successfully advances the long-in-the-tooth Corolla to the new corporate face seen on the Camry and RAV4.
- The Corolla’s interior is a strong improvement, in terms of initial perceived quality. Dial faces, materials, and fit and finish — aka the “pound the door panel” test — seem to match those on the car it replaces, but we’re waiting to see how it holds up to competitors like the Mazda3.
- Backseat roominess is now something to write home about. With increased legroom, and seats sculpted to accommodate longer legs, we anticipate fewer complaints coming the driver’s way on long trips.
- The ’14 model will offer two different, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine choices. The 132-horsepower engine will be available on three of the four Corolla trim levels — L, LE, and S — and will be complemented by a 140-horsepower variant with innovative Valvematic technology on the LE Eco model.
- Three transmission types will be available, but most Corollas (3 out of the 4 trim levels) will likely be equipped with a CVT. The base L trim offers a four-speed automatic and a six-speed manual; thankfully, the stick-shift will also be available on the sportier S model. Drivers who opt for the CVT will also have two driving modes (Eco and Sport) from which to choose.
- No official word yet on fuel economy, but the most efficient Corolla is expected to achieve at least 40 mpg.
- Celebrity podcaster Adam Carolla, who was present at the event and has a longstanding relationship with the automaker through his involvement in the Long Beach Grand Prix, may have publicly announced that his name, henceforth, will be spelled C-O-R-O-L-L-A. We think this happened.
The Corolla is expected to reach dealerships nationwide by autumn.
On-site photography by the author; green Corolla stock photo courtesy of Toyota.