2014 Toyota Corolla Review and Prices
The 2014 Toyota Corolla is the best car for you if you want the all-new version of a dependable compact sedan trying to shed its image as unexciting basic transportation.
The 2014 Corolla kicks off the 11th design generation of one of the world’s best-selling cars. Toyota says the redesign aims to “challenge the preconceptions about Corolla.” It starts with a major increase in wheelbase and continues with bolder styling that incorporates the first use of advanced LED headlamps as standard equipment in the compact class. Interior materials are upgraded. The engine remains a modest four-cylinder, but to improve fuel economy, most 2014 Corolla models get a continuously variable transmission CVT) in lieu of a conventional automatic. And added to the line is an Eco edition that rates 42 mpg in highway driving with the CVT, tops among cars that aren’t hybrids or electrics.
Should you buy a 2014 Toyota Corolla or wait for the 2015 Toyota Corolla? Little reason to wait: the 2014 Corolla introduces the design and major equipment that’ll carry this car for several years. The 2015 Corolla’s styling and powertrains won’t change, and Toyota is highly unlikely to alter more than a color choice or perhaps shuffle a feature or two among trim levels. It is quite likely, however, to charge more for the 2015 Corolla.
2014 Toyota Corolla Changes back to top
Styling: Styling of the 2014 Toyota Corolla is radically different, if not totally original. Chiseled sheetmetal replaces blandly rounded forms. But the stretched-back headlamps, exaggerated grille opening, blistered fenders, elevated beltline, and tall tail are elements found on any number of competing compact sedans.
More significant is the longer wheelbase – the distance between the front and rear axles. It’s 3.9 inches longer than on the 2009-2013-generation Corolla. But the new car’s body length grows just 2.6 inches. The result is less sheetmetal “overhang” front and rear and proportions that are more athletic, though not quite as sporty as those of rivals like the Ford Focus and Mazda 3.
At 106.3 inches, however, the 2014 Corolla’s wheelbase is the second longest in the class, exceed by that of the Dodge Dart by just a fraction of an inch. That change increases rear legroom a substantial 5.1 inches, correcting a deficiency of the outgoing Corolla. Rear-passenger accommodations benefit further from a flatter floor, thinner front seatbacks, and thicker seat padding.
The new styling brings a lower roofline that decreases headroom, by a half inch in the front seat at .8 inches in the rear. But overall, this is among the roomiest passenger compartments in the class.
A new dashboard is part of the 2014 redesign. It stresses a horizontal arrangement of the central “stack” of audio and climate controls. Retained are simple, round main gauges ringed in chrome-like plastic but trendy piano-black and metallic-look plastic trim is employed. And a central screen to serve the available navigation system and other features is incorporated. Improved sound deadening reduces intrusion from road, wind, and mechanical noise.
The 2014 Corolla lineup returns a base version called the L, a volume-selling midline trim called LE, and a sporty-flavored model called the S. Added for 2014 is the fuel-economy-tuned LE Eco model. It answers gas-sipping editions of rivals such as the Chevrolet Cruze Eco and Ford Focus SE SFE (Super Fuel Economy). Also added are Plus and Premium trims for all but the L model.
All 2014 Corollas have color-keyed door handles and outside mirrors. The Corolla S is visually distinguished by a more aggressive blackout grille treatment, a color-keyed rear spoiler. It comes with 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers but is available with unique 17-inch alloys in combination with upgraded suspension tuning. The S also replaces the other models’ three-gauge main instrument cluster with a tachometer and speedometer flanking a 3.5-inch information-display screen.
LE models have 16-inch wheels in a choice of aluminum or steel with wheel covers. The 2014 Corolla LE Eco shares with the S the color-keyed spoiler as well as strategically placed underbody panels designed to improve airflow and reduce fuel consumption. Eco Plus and Premium versions get a chrome strip along the exterior window sills. Eco versions have low-rolling-resistance tires on 15-inch wheels or available 16-inch aerodynamic alloy wheels.
Mechanical: Although much of the engineering is fresh, the 2014 Corolla remains very conventional mechanically. There’s no hybrid, as in the competing Honda Civic or Volkswagen Jetta, and no all-electric model, like the Focus Electric. The Cruze and Jetta also offer diesel engines, while the Subaru Impreza has standard all-wheel drive.
The 2014 Corolla retains front-wheel drive, matching most cars in this class. It also reprises a torsion-beam rear axle, a less costly but less sophisticated alternative to the independent rear suspension found on such competitors as the Focus, Civic, Hyundai Elantra, and Jetta. The 2014 Corolla S model is available with four-wheel disc brakes but other Corolla grades retain rear drum brakes.
L, LE, and S versions of the 2014 Corolla reprise a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with output unchanged at 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque (think of torque as the ingredient that gets a vehicle moving, horsepower as the force that keeps it moving).
Test drives were unavailable in time for this review, but 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque is slightly below the norm for base four-cylinders in the class, suggesting Corolla won’t break out of its standing as one of the slower-accelerating compacts.
The 2014 Corolla LE Eco also has a 1.8-liter four, but it’s equipped with special valvetrain technology Toyota calls Valvematic. The automaker says Valematic contributes to a 5-percent improvement in fuel economy, as well as a slight increase in horsepower. Output for the LE Eco is 140 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque.
The 2014 Corolla LE, S, and Eco models are equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), leaving behind last year’s conventional four-speed automatic. The L and S grades also offer a six-speed manual transmission, with the L again available with the four-speed automatic.
The Impreza and Nissan Sentra also use CVTs, which do the work of an automatic transmission but with an internal belt-and-pulley arrangement rather than a set of defined gear ratios. The intent is to more precisely match engine speed to acceleration and thereby cut fuel consumption. CVTs, by their nature, often allow engines to rev to a high speed while actual vehicle speed catches up, resulting in exaggerated engine noise and, in certain circumstances, lazy throttle response.
Toyota says Corolla’s CVT is designed to counteract these faults by simulating seven “gears,” or shift points, during acceleration. It calls its transmission the CVTi-S (i for intelligent, S for shift), and equips the Corolla S model with steering-wheel paddles for added gear-ratio control. The Corolla Eco models have an “Eco mode” control that maximizes fuel economy by remapping throttle and shift programs.
The S model also gets a “Sport” CVT mode that sharpens “shift” points and firms up the car’s electric power-steering response. Eco models have an “Eco” CVT mode designed to reduce fuel consumption by leavening throttle inputs and dialing back the air-conditioning system
Corolla has traditionally been among the softest-riding compact cars – and among the least-sporty to drive. Toyota says the 2014 model’s structure is stiffer than its precedessor’s, allowing improved suspension tuning for a “more engaging, better handling” car. It does stress Corolla is still optimized for ride comfort while noting the S model’s suspension tuning is intended to impart more responsive driving characteristics.
Features: The 2014 Corolla roster of features is competitive but far from class-leading, omitting leather upholstery and such safety adjuncts as blind-spot monitoring and gee-whiz technology like self-parking available on selected rivals.
But the new Corolla does offer as standard or optional the amenities most compact buyers actually expect, including Bluetooth wireless connectivity, rearview camera, and a navigation system.
The 2014 Corolla can claim bragging rights as first-in-class with LED (light-emitting diode) lowbeam headlamps as standard equipment. Teamed with LED daytime running lights, every 2014 Corolla has them. Typically associated with premium-class cars, LED lighting is clearer and cooler than conventional lighting systems – even xenon systems -- and also consumes far less energy, which automakers regard as a fuel-saving advantage.
Other features standard on all 2014 Corollas include a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, power door locks with automatic-locking, power windows with driver’s-side one-touch up/down, and air conditioning with pollen filter.
Increasing numbers of compact cars are available with leather upholstery, but Toyota offers the 2014 Corolla with fabric upholstery or, depending on model, its “SofTex” material. SofTex is a synthetic covering with some of the suppleness and durability of leather but at less cost. Some Corolla models will come with a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Other available 2014 Corolla features include Toyota’s Smart Key System with pushbutton ignition and remote locking/unlocking on front doors and trunk. Automatic climate control with pollen filter, a tilt/telescopic three-spoke steering wheel with audio controls, and SofTex-trimmed heated front seats also are available.
Navigation is available in conjunction with Toyota’s Display Audio with Navigation and Entune system. Entune links with smartphone-accessed Web applications to enable Internet radio and various information and entertainment services.
2014 Toyota Corolla Prices back to top
Base-price range for the 2014 Toyota Corolla is $17,610-$22,100. This range keeps 2014 Corolla in the heart of the compact-class market. Some competitors offer slightly less expense entry-level models, but the top-line 2014 Corolla will remain well below the near-$30,000 level of the top gas-powered Focus and Jetta models.
(Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandatory destination fee. Toyota’s fee for factory-distributed 2014 Corollas is $810. Toyotas in some Southeastern and Gulf states are distributed independently and may carry different destination charges.)
Base price for the 2014 Toyota Corolla L is $17,610 with manual transmission and $18,210 with the four-speed automatic.
The best selling 2014 Corolla model will again be the LE version and its 2014 base price is $19,110, including the CVT. To the L model, the LE adds as standard equipment a rearview backup monitor, automatic climate control, cruise control, keyless remote locks, and Entune audio with the 6.1-inch screen.
Toyota has grouped popular options to create two new trim levels for the LE and S lines. They’re called Plus and Premium. Within the LE grade, the LE Plus includes 16-inch alloy wheels and fog lamps and is priced at $19,510. The LE Premium adds to that the Softex upholstery and is priced at $21,210.
The 2014 Corolla S adds to the LE models the unique exterior and interior trim, including the sports seats. Base price for the 2014 Corolla S is $19,810, including the CVT. Toyota pegs the S Plus as the version available with the six-speed manual transmission and prices it at $22,110. It treats the manual-transmission S Plus as a single-configuration model and includes the 17-inch alloys, a power moonroof, Entune Premium Audio with navigation, and pushbutton ignition.
The 2014 Corolla S Plus with the CVT is priced from $20,510. Both S Plus versions add the 17-inch alloy wheels and rear disc brakes. At $21,210, the S Premium has the CVT and adds Softex .
Base price for the 2014 Corolla LE Eco is $19,510. It includes the high-fuel-economy engine and CVT tuning, plus the aerodynamic tweaks. At $20,210, the LE Eco Plus has the 16 inch aero alloys, fog lights, and the exterior chrome strip. To that, the LE Eco Premium adds Softex and a base price of $20,910.
The 2014 Corolla L and is not available with options, but key extra-cost items for the other Corolla models include the power moonroof, at $850. Corollas equipped with the moonroof are eligible for the Driver’s Convenience Package. Priced at $1,510, the package consists primarily of the Entune Premium Audio with navigation. This encompasses a stereo-system upgrade and a USB port.
2014 Toyota Corolla Fuel Economy back to top
EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2014 Toyota Corolla remain among the best in the class, though that’s evidence in part of Toyota’s conservative approach to horsepower and acceleration for its compact sedan.
The 2014 Corolla L and S models with the six-speed manual transmission rate 28/37/31 mpg city/highway/combined. With the four-speed automatic transmission, the 2014 Corolla L rates 27/36/31 mpg.
Equipped with the CVT, 2014 Corolla L, LE, and S models rate 29/38/32 mpg. The highway rating drops to 37 mpg on S Plus and S Premium models with the CVT, a decrease Toyota attributes to the heaver, larger 17-inch alloy wheels.
The 2014 Corolla LE Eco also carries two fuel-economy ratings, depending on wheels and tires. In standard configuration, with low-rolling-resistance 15-inch tires on steel wheels, it rates 30/42/35 mpg city/highway/combined. The Eco Plus and Premium editions have 16-inch alloys wheels and rate a still-impressive 30/40/34 mpg.
By comparison, the 2013 Corolla came with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. With the manual it rated 27/34/30 mpg city/highway/combined and with the automatic, 26/34/29.
2014 Toyota Corolla Release Date back to top
The 2014 Toyota Corolla went on sale in late August, 2013.
What's next for the 2014 Toyota Corolla back to top
With the 2014 redesign, Toyota keeps Corolla relevant yet conventional enough to satisfy buyers seeking good basic transportation, not automotive adventure. The formula should maintain the 2014 Corolla as one of America’s most popular cars and second to the Honda Civic in compact-class sales.
A future gas-electric hybrid version is possible, although Toyota’s clearest focus on alternative-powertrain vehicles lies with the Prius. That’s the most identifiable and best selling hybrid in the world and Toyota has expanded its lineup to include a plug-in hybrid, the Prius v station wagon, and the downsized Prius c four-door.
Note that while Corolla enters its 11th design generation exclusively as a four-door sedan, a related wagon continues as the Toyota Matrix. The current Matrix shares the 10th-generation Corolla’s chassis but uses a different, taller wagon body and is available with all-wheel drive. The Matrix has not been a big seller and its future is dim. Toyota likely will retire it within a few years of the 11th-generation Corolla’s launch.
2014 Toyota Corolla Competition back to top
Chevrolet Cruze: Among Corolla’s newer competitors, Cruze most closely follows the Toyota’s path of less-than-flamboyant styling and conservative driving manners. That’s been its ticket to strong sales and should continue for model-year 2014. Joining returning four-cylinder gas engines during model-year 2013 was a turbodiesel four with 151 horsepower and a robust 264 pound-feet of torque. It rated 27/46/33 mpg city/highway combined, but started at $25,695. Most 2014 Cruze models should again come with a gas engine of about 138 horsepower but a choice of 148 or 125 pound-feet of torque. Fuel-economy ratings should again range from 22/35/27 mpg with automatic transmission to a high of 28/42/33 for the manual-transmission Eco model. Estimated base-price range for non-diesel 2014 Cruzes is $18,500-$22,300.
Honda Civic: Critics assailed Honda’s redesigned 2012 Civic for its cheap-feeling interior and failure to stay at the front of the class for styling or powertrain. Honda’s remarkably rapid response was a 2013 Civic with revised styling and an upgraded cabin – but no powertrain changes. The 2014 Civic should again offer plenty to like, including a comfortable and extremely spacious cabin, refined driving manners, and Honda’s strong reputation for reliability and resale value. Civic’s most relevant Corolla competitor will be its mainstream sedan, which should return for model-year 2014 with around 140 horsepower, 128 pound-feet of torque, and ratings of 28/39/32 mpg with automatic transmission (29/41/33 for the extra-economical HF model). A 2014 Civic highlight will again be the gas-electric hybrid sedan, which should rate 44/44/44 mpg, but start at a relatively pricey $25,000.
Hyundai Elantra: This sedan from the ambitious South Korean carmaker became a sort a compact-class game-changer upon its model-year 2011 redesign. Hyundai proved small-car shoppers would be turned on by a sexy body, aggressive pricing, and generous standard equipment. Two-door coupe and four-door hatchback body styles are available, but the sedan is Corolla’s most direct Elantra competitor. It should again rate around 28/38/32 mpg, regardless of transmission or trim level. Those attributes tend to mask Elantra’s prosaic road manners and middling acceleration, but that doesn’t stop it from running third in the compact-class sales race. The 2014 Elantra could get some styling tweaks and a few new features, but Hyundai won’t alter its basic look or the dimensions that give it a fairly roomy interior.