How the 2014 Toyota Corolla Blends Old And New

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Toyota Corolla LE ECO
2014 Toyota Corolla LE ECO.

The Toyota Corolla is no one's idea of aspirational transportation.  In fact, as Michael suggested here back in September, buying one of the last 2013's was a sensible idea since most Corolla buyers are focused on price and reliability, and with a new model, price usually goes up and reliability often goes down.

The 2014 Corolla, however, may make you glad you waited, if you did.  It is a much better-looking car.  The price increase is minimal and despite Toyota's claims that the car is "all new", it is essentially the same under the skin.  The body and interior are redesigned, but not much else.

Keeping the same platform has two advantages. One is cost, the other is reliability.  The car, the actual mechanicals, are tried and true.  That allows Toyota to deliver its number-one asset in a package that is better able to compete with the increasingly aggressively styled Hyundais and Kias.

Side view of 2014 Toyota Corolla ECO
2014 Toyota Corolla LE ECO.

The car we tested was the Corolla LE ECO Premium. This model has Toyota's new Valvematic technology.  It's a variable-valve technology that allows for better fuel economy.  The 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine in the ECO sees a 1 mile per gallon increase in the EPA city estimate (from 29 to 30) and a two mile per gallon increase in the EPA highway estimate (from 38 to 40).  The transmission is a Continuously Variable Transmission, or CVT.  

Interior view of 2014 Toyota Corolla LE ECO
2014 Toyota Corolla LE ECO interior.

Base price is $20,100, which includes 16-inch alloy wheels, front disc and rear drum brakes, stability control, automatic start/stop, LED low beam headlights with halogen high beams, automatic climate control with pollen filter, a six-inch color touchscreen Entune audio and app system, a backup camera, Softex-trimmed heated front seats (the driver seat is 8-way power adjustable, the passenger seat 4-way manual), cruise control, hands-free voice command, Bluetooth, power locks and windows and remote keyless entry.

The test vehicle had two options. One was the Driver Convenience Package, which adds pushbutton stop and start, an upgraded Entune audio system, HDradio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio for $1,510 and a power tilt and slide moonroof for $850.

As-tested price with $810 delivery, processing and handling fee was $23,270.  That is $722 more than the Corolla S Michael tested in September, and apart from the styling, the interior and the feel of some of the new materials inside, the driving experience was much the same as in the 2013 model.  Again, it's the same car underneath.  But the improvement in gas mileage is worth noting, and it spans the 2014 Corolla line.  Last year's car was EPA rated at 26 city/34 highway. 30/40 is a big improvement.

For the vast majority of Corolla buyers, the priorities, in varying order, are price, reliability and fuel economy.  Keeping price and reliability in line, improving fuel economy and adding a competitive appearance inside and out are probably exactly what Corolla needs to continue its decades-long dominance of small car sales.