With a cool breeze coming off the Pacific Ocean a hot new car was unveiled at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, CA. The 2014 Toyota Corolla promises to carry on the honourable title of best-selling car of all time, out-stripping the VW Beetle and Ford's Model T. The Corolla built it's reputation on reliability and fuel-economy and now you can add to that stylish good looks. The unveiling event started with a remarkable performance by the Argentinian troupe Feurza Bruta. Combine that with liquid nitrogen margaritas and an excellent menu by award winning chef Richard Blais and it made for a unique experience that culminated in the new Corolla descending out of the ceiling. Bill Fay, general manager Toyota Division, told me that they were excited about this new Corolla and the direction it was going.
On the outside, the lines of this Corolla reflect the vision known as the Furia that was unveiled at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. By stretching the overall length almost four inches and pushing the wheels towards the corners, this profile is Toyota’s statement that the Corolla is still a force to be reckoned with. The nose has a trapezoidal lower section much like that seen on the Toyota Avalon. The grille is slender and now bridges the gap between the headlights. The Corolla is the first in it’s class to offer LED daytime running and headlights. The heat reduction with these LEDs allowed the designers to sculpt the nose. The front and rear sections taper in to produce a streamlined aerodynamic contour. The taillights flow inward, again another design point drawn from the Furia.
Sitting in the car, one cannot help but notice the refinements. As with the modernization of the exterior, the interior has received much needed improvements from the vanilla look of the past. The new Corolla has a sharp looking dash with piano-black and metallic accents. The standard instrument gauge cluster offers three dials with sharp image detail and clear blue illumination, surrounded by chrome trimmed rings. There is a noticeable increase in cabin space. Rear seat leg-room has been extended owing to the shaved back of the front-seat and moving the rear seat hip point back almost three inches. Thicker urethane pads and foam inserts help improve seat comfort for rear occupants. The front seats have an increase in range of adjustment, seat bottoms have been made more supportive and side bolstering is also improved.
Under the hood, the Corolla offers a choice of two engines. The standard all-aluminum, variable valve timing-equipped 1.8-liter four-cylinder carries over from the previous model, producing 132 hp. In the LE ECO Corolla model, this engine sports a new Valvematic valvetrain technology extending the horsepower to 140 and the EPA into the hypermiling range. This system is a first in North America and offers a wider range of continuously variable valve timing to the intake resulting in a 5 percent improvement in fuel economy and engine output. These engines will be coupled to the drivetrain through a four-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. The manual transmission will be managed through a pulley-style continuously variable transmission (CVT) controlled by the gear shifter or optional paddle shifters. Toyota states that integrating seven simulated shift points has reduced the issues with this type of CVT’s ‘rubber band’ feel. Connecting the power to the road, the Corolla starts with a 15” and an optional 17” wheel size.
With the debut of this 2014 model Toyota has once again proven to the compact market that Corolla will continue to be a front-runner. From the design concept of the Furia to production model the Corolla sheds its vanilla look for a modern and stylish presence.