By on October 14, 2013

2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Calling the Corolla “Toyota’s most important car” would be an understatement. This single model accounts for 38 percent of all Toyotas ever sold in the USA and they expect to shift 330,000 next year alone. If the sheer quantity wasn’t amazing enough, ponder this reality: 75% of sales will be split between just four different configurations. If you’re in a 2014 Corolla, the odds are about one in five that the Corolla next to you is identical save for paint color. Often derided by the automotive press as a “driving appliance,” is there more to the 2014 Corolla or is it just a toaster with wheels? Let’s find out.

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Exterior

When you plan on selling 330,000 of anything, mainstream styling is essential. When many of those shoppers are repeat Toyota and repeat Corolla buyers, it’s also essential to avoid anything that could be described as “adventurous.” The result is the attractive but plain sheetmetal. You won’t find any Mazda-esque swooshes, any Ford/Aston inspired grilles and you certainly won’t find anything “aggressive.” And that’s how Corolla shoppers like it. Corolla shoppers apparently also like getting bigger cars with every re-design, so this 11th generation model has grown by 3.9 inches. Why don’t they shop up the ladder to a Camry? Who knows.

2014_Toyota_Corolla_S, Picture Courtesy of Toyota

Plenty of reviewers have found fault in the way the 11th gen Corolla looks, most of them complain vehemently in private and say little in public. I however, am not afraid to say what I think in public: the Corolla is pedestrian but far from offensive. I also find the Corolla S (pictured above) to be the more attractive of the bunch although neither nose is any more or less exciting than the Sentra, Civic or Elantra. The biggest problem with the way the Corolla looks has nothing to do with the Corolla and everything to do with timing. I drove the 2014 Corolla two days before sampling Mazda’s hot new Mazda3. If looks matter to you, the Corolla is unlikely to be on your short list. Adding a little visual flair to the front, Toyota made LED headlamps standard on every Corolla. Yep, even the $16,800 stripper model. The other thing that’s standard is an oddly tall ride height resulting in a larger than average distance between the top of the tire and the wheel-well making the Corolla look “off road ready.” Make of that what you will.

2014 Toyota Corolla Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Interior

After a week in the RAV4′s discordant interior, I was concerned what Toyota would do with the volume leader. Thankfully my concerns were unwarranted and I found the Corolla’s interior surprisingly elegant. Yes, I said that out loud, I found the design elegant. (Notice I didn’t say exciting.) There are a few caveats however. While the dashboard styling reminded me a great deal of the Mazda6, parts quality still lags behind the Focus, top-level Forte and, in some ways, even the Chevy Cruze. The picture above is of the more attractive (in my opinion) two-tone interior. You’ll only find this on the LE, LE Plus, LE ECO and LE ECO Plus model as everything else is black on black and looks a hair cheaper. 2014 brings soft touch points to most of the Corolla’s cabin and a new fabric headliner in most models. The exterior may be plain my bottom line on the interior is that I could live with it long term without a problem.

Front seat comfort proved average for the segment but I found the lack of adjustable lumbar support to be a problem for my back. Stepping up to the “Premium” trim LE or S gets you an 8-way power seat but still very little back support. The big change for 2014 is out back, the stretch allowed Toyota to add 5.1 inches to the back seat, ballooning to 41.4 inches total, just 2/10ths less than a Camry. More legroom meant more room for the seats themselves and allowed the rear bench to be lengthened for more thigh support. Putting that in perspective, that’s 5 inches more than most compacts, four inches more than the Sentra’s cavernous back seat and a whopping 8.2 inches more than the Focus. Sadly even the Corolla hasn’t been able to escape the low-roof trend limiting headroom for taller folks in the back. 2014 brings some trunk love, bumping the cube carrying to 13, respectable for the class but below the Sentra’s large booty. If bag carrying is your thing, you should know that the Sentra can swallow four 24-inch roller bags in a vertical orientation, and four more horizontally. I can’t even think of a modern full-sized sedan that can do that.

2014_Corolla_S_017

Infotainment and Gadgets

The new Corolla gets Toyota’s latest infotainment software package and this represents a new direction. Previously there were two separate navigation/infotainment operating systems, a low cost unit found in cars like the Prius C, and the totally different (and expensive) one found as an option in vehicles like the Avalon and the Lexus line. Toyota shifting to common software running on different hardware depending on the model. Cheaper cars get smaller screens, Toyotas stick to touchscreens while Lexuses (Lexi?) get the joystick.

Representing the Corolla’s place at the bottom of the Toyota food chain, you’ll find an 6.1 inch touchscreen standard on all models except for the L. (The L is expected to represent less than 10% of sales.) While I find this software one of the worst in the luxury class, my negative impression is entirely down to the Lexus joystick. In the Corolla the system is fast and responsive and the graphics are all perfectly suited to the 6.1 inch touchscreen. Toyota tosses in weather and traffic updates on certain models without having to add navigation which is a handy feature. USB and iDevice integration is excellent and easily the equal of Ford’s SYNC in terms of voice control and tops the segment in touch-screen ease of use. The standard Bluetooth speakerphone worked well and had excellent sound quality. Depending on the trim you can also add smartphone app integration to Pandora, OpenTable, etc. Like the rest of the Corolla, the Entune system doesn’t break any new ground, but it is easy to live with.

On the gadget front the Corolla covers all the basics with those LED headlamps, a standard cabin air filter, air conditioning and power door locks and windows. LE and higher models (again, 90% of sales) gain  automatic climate control, six speakers, a backup camera, cruise control and keyless entry. If you want any whiz-bang features like self parking, heads up displays, blind spot monitoring, power folding whatnots or dynamic cruise control, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

2014_Toyota_Corolla_LE_ECO_013

Drivetrain

The engine under the hood of 90% of Corollas is carried over from last year. The 1.8L four-cylinder engine is good for a class middling 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque. A new six-speed manual replaces the old 5-speed as the base transmission and delivers 28/37 MPG (city/highway) when so equipped. If you’re one of the incredibly few that plan on getting an L with an automatic, be warned that this is the same old four-speed automatic as last year’s Corolla.

All other Corollas, even the supposedly “sport” S model, get Toyota’s new continuously variable transmission. I can already hear the groans, but if you’re groaning about finding a CVT under the hood, then I’m going to generalize and say you’re not the target demographic. For the rest of you, you should know this CVT is one of the best I’ve ever driven and is a close second to the Honda CVT in the new Accord. Somehow Toyota and Honda have managed to exorcise the rubber band demon from the CVT in a way that Nissan has been unable. Ratio changes are quick and fuel economy is an impressive 29/38 MPG. S models get paddle shifters and all models will imitate a  seven-speed automatic when floored. The impersonation is passable, but I fail to see the point.

If you want to break the 40 MPG barrier, than the 30/42 MPG LE ECO model is the one to get. In order to get there, Toyota swaps new heads onto the 1.8L engine which incorporates their new ValveMatic variable valve lift, timing and duration system. Like BMW’s Valvetronic and Fiat’s MultiAir, this system acts as the throttle body under most circumstances to increase efficiency. When so equipped, power rises to 140 HP and torque drops to 126 lb-ft. It was hard to tell if the system delivered any real-world benefit because of the limited time I had in the Corolla but I can tell you that the extra 8HP didn’t make the ECO model any faster to 60.

2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drive

Why does the Corolla sell so well? It has more to do with brand loyalty and a reputation for reliability than road manners. Everything about driving the Corolla can be summed up in one word: average. From steering feel to suspension dynamics and road holding the Corolla is neither class leading nor class trailing. After a day and 140 miles, it reminded me of my flight to Seattle to see the Corolla in the first place. I flew in one of Southwest’s new 737-900 planes and the experience was entirely ordinary. The plane got me from point A to point B, it was as comfortable as I expected and the looks didn’t offend.

This middle-of-the-road mentality explains why Toyota jammed their new CVT into the Corolla. They aren’t the first to the CVT party and they won’t be the last. The CVT lags a hair behind Honda’s new Earth Dreams CVT but is more refined than Nissan’s Sentra. The combination of 132 ponies and a CVT make mountain climbing easier in the Corolla than the Civic with ye olde 5-speed, but not as nice as the large engine equipped Forte or Mazda3. Repeat Corolla buyers will find the Corolla peppier than before thanks to the CVT, since the old 4-speed automatic seemed to never have the right ratio for the situation.

2014 Toyota Corolla Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Cabin noise measured in higher than average at 74 db at 50 MPH. 74db is a bit disappointing since even Honda made the latest Civic considerably quieter. Fuel economy was, yet again, middle of the road at 29 MPG over all after a day of city driving and stop-and-go traffic.

Even the Corolla’s recent “marginal” IIHS small offset crash score is class middling with the Civic snatching “good,” the Focus and Elantra “acceptable” and the Forte and Sentra slotting in below the Corolla at “poor.” While I can think of good reasons to buy something other than the Corolla, I honestly have troubles finding any reason to not buy one. When I tallied up my personal score card I was shocked to find I had ranked the Corolla 3rd behind the new Mazda3 and the Kia Forte. That ranking is based on the easy to use infotainment system, enormous back seat, large trunk, attractive interior and (of course) the reliability reputation the Corolla has maintained over the years. Yes, even I can be tempted (at least a little bit) by the logic of the driving appliance.

Perhaps that is what the bulk of the automotive press finds so vexing: The Corolla is probably the only car on the market that is deliberately designed to be average and Toyota nailed it.When I talked to a few Corolla owners about their purchase, none of them considered another model or brand before signing on the dotted line.

 

 Toyota provided airfare, accommodations and meals for this event.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.93 Seconds

0-60: 9.7 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 17.61 Seconds @ 81.8 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 29 MPG

Cabin Noise at 50 MPH: 74db

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111 Comments on “First Drive Review: 2014 Toyota Corolla (With Video)...”


  • avatar
    Quentin

    Just to note, there is a 6MT available in the S trim as well; not only the base L. Why it isn’t partnered with the variable valve lift engine, I don’t know. (I did read something about being supply constrained.)

    Sounds like they did a good job with the CVT. While I didn’t find the previous gen Sentra or Altima CVTs particularly offensive, there was a bit of rubber band effect to get used to. Looks like it only put on about 60lbs (keeping it under 2900) in adding 4″ to the wheelbase and overall length.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      It cries out for the 180hp motor that was available on the previous gen XRS but is still available in the Scion Tc.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        The motor you’re referring to is the 2ZZ-GE, which was on the 9th Gen’s XRS. It had 180HP on the Celica GT-S, but 164 on the Corolla XRS. The 10th Gen’s XRS had the 2AZ-FE, which is what the 1st Gen tC and the 2002-2009 Camry had and was well, not as good. The current tC has the 2AR-FE, which does have 180 HP. I wish Toyota would put that motor into an XRS Corolla.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          I figure someone determined that those buyers that wanted the 2.5L AR with 180hp would just buy a tC for the same/less money anyway. Which brings me to my next daydream: they should offer a Corolla hatchback with the AR, 6MT, and double wishbone rear suspension from the tC/CT200h. It doesn’t compete with the Corolla or tC but fills that small wagon niche. The Matrix was offered with the 2.4L AZ well after it was killed in the Corolla, so they figured there was some demand somewhere. Then the stage is set for a hot Focus ST/GTI fighting 2.0T Corolla hatch w/ all the required trimmings for a hot hatch.

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            I agree that they should offer that hatch, and what you said pretty much describes the Auris. Hopefully the rumors that it’s coming here are true.

    • 0 avatar
      sacrat

      “When I talked to a few Corolla owners about their purchase, none of them considered another model or brand before signing on the dotted line.”

      Which makes any Corolla review wasted ink. Corolla buyers will just buy it without reading any reviews. Mazda 3 type buyers will never consider the Corolla. That’s why it’s vexing…

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    3 things

    Styled rather than designed

    Does nothing to diverge from the “built for people who hate cars by people who hate cars” meme.

    Enthusiasts should give Detroit credit for putting better suspensions under their compact cars than Toyota

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      “built for people who hate cars by people who hate cars” is Toyota’s entire target market. They don’t want our business, and I’m happy to not give them any.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        Toyota’s target market is people who actually buy cars, not 16 year olds who fanboy over them on internet forums. There is one Japanese automaker that targets them, though, and their lack of success is proof of it.

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          Oh look, Toyota’s PR department is here!

          The likes of Mazda, BMW, VW, and Audi are hardly lacking in success. But you go ahead and make yourself feel better. Please take your 84 Cressida hooning so I can LMFAO.

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            Mazda salesman post comment because Mazda salesman bored with no customers!

            Go do some zoom zooming in your lame ass tinny Mazda MazdaSpeed2 turdbrownhatch. Maybe you’ll run into another sucker who bought one.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            Ooh sour grapes. And they’re Toyota beige too! :)

            You just can’t stand the fact that some people love to drive, can you? Just give it up. It’s perfectly valid that Toyota doesn’t care any more for Mazda’s market as Mazda doesn’t care for Toyota’s. Frankly that’s as it should be. Driving a Mazda would probably give you a heart attack anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            Yeah, nothing more exciting than getting into a Mazda 3 with a rat fur headliner, no cruise control, and a rusted out quarter panel.

          • 0 avatar
            wsn

            Mazda can’t even outsell Subaru, which is a niche player itself.

            VW outsold Subaru by a few hundred per year, despite being much larger.

      • 0 avatar
        daiheadjai

        FRS/GT86/BRZ.

        Just saying.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Sounds the same tin-box it replaces. I’ve ridden it a few times and cringe everytime.

        Got some new recalls for the 2013-14 model Camry, Avalon, Corollary wiper stalk failures. Same old, same old as Toyota is still building them new to recall them.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      “built for people who hate cars by people who hate cars”

      That’s Chrysler.

      • 0 avatar

        I think there are a lot of SRT owners and Ram owners who feel otherwise.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “That’s Chrysler.”

        That’s what you think when you look at Chrysler, Ram, Jeep, and SRT? Toyota makes what Toyota makes. The angst enters (at least for me) because they used to make other things (Supra, Celica, MR2) and now they don’t.

        I understand their business model and it has worked incredibly well for them BUT their leadership has thankfully seen the light and will be sprinkling some performance cars throughout the line up.

        And why all the hate for people who like performance oriented cars?

        • 0 avatar
          84Cressida

          I don’t hate performance oriented cars at all, I love several of them and every day I lament the loss of the Celica, Supra, and MR2 and have written to Toyota several times complaining about it.

          My problem stems from clueless people talking down “normal” cars and the people who drive them, with the flat out insulting lines like the Mazda guy is spewing.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            I own a Highlander and consider it really great car. But sorry, 2004-2010 Camry and 2010 Corolla (I drove those), make me think really bad about Toyota. I mean, those cars are unsafe on twisty roads. I really didn’t enjoy driving them – this is to put it lightly.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Finally! An attractive Corolla once again!

    I absolutely HATED the rental 2008 model we had years ago, but the new model appears to warrant a look-see just to check out. I’ll wait ’til our annual auto show in February though…

    I can’t knock their reputation for reliability, but there are other cars that offered a better, more comfortable driving experience, but not necessarily in the Corolla’s size range. This new model may be a serious improvement in that area.

    Another splendid TTAC review!

  • avatar
    NN

    The roominess of the back seat/trunk, the attractive price and the Toyota badge will be enough to put this at the top of the sales charts. Middle class commuters with children can, for less than $20k, buy a brand new car that will comfortably fit their commute (even if they have little kids in car seats), be frugal, reliable, and worth a lot of money when they go to sell it again. The question for most isn’t why buy a Corolla, it’s why not?? It’s the obvious best financial choice, if you want new. You tell them a Mazda or Focus handles better and they’ll laugh.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      At top of the charts maybe with the incentives we see Camry getting now. With this subpar model it still looks like the Camry is being protected like it was with the previous model.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Honestly every new parent (< 2 years) I know of is cruising some kind of faux SUV. I would think as a new parent I can't afford any new car which automatically relegates me to the CPO lot and an extended warranty.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    A Corolla with options under $20k is a good deal. I remember when Scion was all the rave and the xB cost $20k with far worse interior and refinement.

    I like it. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t buy one. But I can see why people buy them. Cheap, reliable and looks pretty good now.

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    Last month I toyed with the idea of replacing my aging Oldsmobile with a new car. I looked at the Civic, the Focus and this Corolla. While they all were far from being bad, I found the Corolla to be my favorite by a wide margin. Why? Because it just felt “right”. No weird ergonomics, plenty of room, and I fit perfectly behind the wheel. I’m not that tall so I need a car that’s built for people like me and it just worked. The only thing I would have liked to have seen was something similar to Ford’s Sync in it, and…a keypad on the door like Ford offers, because I would use it a lot.

    It didn’t hurt that I drove Corollas during my college years (I had a 1993 and a 1995 model)so I decided to check them out again.

    Ultimately I decided that I liked being debt-free better, so I am going to wait a while, and just keep my little Alero going.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      May I suggest switching majors so you’ll never have to review bottom rung cars again?

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Is that Alero good enough (i.e. rust-and-wear-free) to where you could put it into storage or something to use for an “occasional” car? If it’s not the last-year Collector model, it may not appreciate, but stranger things have happened.

      • 0 avatar
        supremebrougham

        Being an Olds lover I would love to do that, but sadly the car has spent too many years in Central Michigan, and it’s starting to get a little rusty. The owner that had it before me didn’t take very good care of it so I had to do a lot to nurse it back into good health. Everything now works properly, and I had a new suspension installed to help it survive the roads of SE Michigan, so I am hoping it will keep on keeping on. It’s got almost 115k on it, and it still runs well. I just returned from doing a color tour of northern MI with it, it never missed a beat and sailed down the highway with the best of them.

        But let’s face it, nothing stays new forever…

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Alex my congratulations, your article had me intrigued with a Corolla for the first time. Well done.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I realize it was stated in the article the take rate should be 1% but I checked Toyota’s website on the S. The MSRP is 22,100, it wont let me build one in CVT automatic (due to trans availability in my area it says), but if I choose the convenience package (which requires moonroof) I can get it up to 23,500. Figure a grand for automatic, takes it to just under 25. I find it puzzling Toyota would even allow a Corolla to be optioned up so much, if I am looking for this size/type of car for $25K, I’m going to probably buy the Buick Verano and never look back. Heck even the Acura Civic is starting to come into view around 25K.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      For $26k you can get a fairly loaded Mazda3 with the 2.5L engine. Toyota’s always had a major issue with hiding the actual price of their car behind “well, MSRP is this, but you have to get Package A and Package B to get all of the equipment required in your part of the country (which is 49 out of the 50 states).”

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Honda is even less granular: LX (A/C, pw, pl, cruise, decent stereo), EX (sunroof, larger wheels and firmer suspension, upgraded seat materials), EX-L(eather: heated seats and mirrors, automatic lights, automatic climate-control). Si is separate.

        No packages, just dealer accessories (more profit for them, but some are worth it).

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The Verano could be the Lexus/Acura version in this sized car. It is actually one of the best kept secret coming from the domestic camp.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I drove one and was impressed by it, if the dealer would have been a little more forthcoming (and less smarmy) I may have bought one that day. If you’re going to spend 25K out the door, it has my vote. They were holding values well at the auction last I checked too.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    That decibel rating is disappointing. My wife’s 1st gen Vibe (Corolla wagon/CUV) is loud on the highway although new Tiger Paws have helped. My biggest gripe with small cars for long trips is the road noise.

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      Agreed Dan, still driving my original purchase 2003 Vibe AWD with 212,000 miles and counting. The noise level at highway speeds is an issue for these cars. Fortunately, I do mostly city driving now. That would be an issue for me with the new Corolla, however.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        One would think there would be some kind of aftermarket padding/sound deadening stuff you could install in the door panels and perhaps the hood to alleviate this. I have the same trouble with my Volvo but have yet to find something aftermarket to help.

        EDIT: Spoke too soon:

        http://www.k-jet.org/articles/projects/sound-dampening/

        • 0 avatar
          mjz

          Great suggestion, but with 212,000 miles on it so far, I think that if I can get this baby to 250,000, I’ll have done ok, noise and all.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Taking several trips in a 240 I think they’re reasonably quiet apart from the wind noise, but I expected that much due to the cars boxy design.

          Just as long as you have a splash-guard and overdrive the engine noise is pretty quiet, it’ll never be a Town Car though.

          I think that the funky weird styling is hindering modern cars when on the highway, I recall a Hyundai with a strange grille making whistling sounds at highway speeds in a TTAC review.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Splash guard?

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            I drive an hour twice daily. Though the Sky convertible and C5 Corvette with lift off top were fun getting rays while commuting on the highway, telephone and radio listening were limited. The old Saab 9-5 is pretty good noise wise I still would have a little ear ringing after I got home. The Quiet Tuning in the Verano is peachy!

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Yea, its a big plastic tub that goes underneath the engine behind the front spoiler, they often wear out on the bolt areas and fall off of 240s.

          I brought mine without one but once I threw a new one on it make a world of difference in terms of noise and it improved aerodynamics.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Alex, great review. With the exception of the lower front grille treatment (both versions), I think this is a decent redesign. It looks modern and clean. I sat in the interior at the dealership and really like the new instument panel. It has a high quality look to it. I am so sick of all black or all grey interiors that I found the black/ivory combo refreshing. They also offer a black/amber combo I haven’t seen yet. While it’s no Mazda3, the new Corolla is a nicer package than I expected it would be.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I hope that the interior is of better quality than the recent re-dos of the RAV4 and the Avalon. (The Camry isn’t quite as bad, but IMHO couldn’t stand up to the LAST-Gen Accord’s interior, much less this one, and even cars such as the last-Gen Fusion’s interior were only a bit below the current Camry; the new Mazda 6 and Ford Fusion wipe the floor with the Camry on the inside!)

      I do give credit where it’s due regarding Toyota’s decision to add LED headlights across the range; after having lived with them on my 2013 Accord Touring since March, I wouldn’t have another car without them! White light, like Xenons, without the glare–I have yet to have ONE other driver flash their lights at me thinking that my high-beams are on! :-)

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “All I know is, my gut says MAYBE.”

  • avatar
    mjz

    I recently read that Toyota is considering offering a hatchback version of the Corolla, (Auris in Europe I think), that would replace the Matrix and compete against the Focus and Mazda3 hatches. I certainly hope they do. It baffles me to no end why Chevy doesn’t offer the Cruze hatch (and wagon for that matter), and Dodge doesn’t offer the hatch version of the Dart here (Fiat Viaggio}. Duh! It’s a no brainer.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      Fuel economy regulations, partly. The “footprint” calculation means that heavier hatchbacks and wagons have to meet the same targets as less expensive and lighter sedans. That’s why all new small hatches are “cute utes” – their FE calculation is less strict.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      Toyota. Compete with the Mazda3. The very concept is laughable. Stick to “Toyota considers offering a hatchback version of the Corolla to replace the Matrix and offer people who hate cars a hatchback option.”

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        Yes, a niche car that sells maybe 1/10th of what the Corolla sells is definitely not on Toyota’s radar and is definitely a laughable concept.

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          Wow, you’ve really got issues, you know that? And yes, it is a niche car, it sells 1/10th of what the Corolla sells. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way, and nor would Mazda. You see, we’re not out to conquer the world with Novocaine-laced snoozeboxes. Mazda builds cars for people who love to drive, and are interested in serving their market rather than expanding beyond it. There aren’t as many of us as there are Toyota-drones, but we’re loyal customers that Toyota doesn’t want.

          Mazda isn’t willing to dilute their product to the point where it would appeal to you. And we’re very happy about that.

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            I’ve got issues? You’re the dill hole going onto every Toyota article posting asinine stereotypical garbage about Toyota and the people who buy them. I’ve driven every single car in Mazda’s line up and have been far from impressed and it’s painfully obvious to me why they do not sell in great numbers. They’re the most overrated cars in terms of “driving dynamics” and I sure as hell don’t feel the need to service myself while driving one due to excitement, unlike some people. The insecurity here from you having to talk up your car while talking down others is hilarious to watch.

            Oh yes, and so is the absolute DELUSION if you think Mazda gives a rat’s ass about you or anybody else. They care about the bottom line and I’m still laughing hysterically minutes after reading you write that Mazda is not out to conquer the world is content with being nothing more than a niche player that is always on the verge of insolvency. Don’t think for a second that they don’t envy Toyota’s success.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            I read every compact review. And comment. And yes, you’ve got serious issues. Take a deep breath and have a beer. Or several.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            At npaladin: Yea Mazdas aren’t competing with Toyota, its completley coincidental that their cars have similar engine sizes and compete in the same markets.

            And of course Mazda doesn’t “dilute” their products, but actually they did and do, thats why they axed the RX-7 for the more family friendly RX-8, and then axed their rotary cars altogether, the one thing that made them stand out on the market place.

            If you’re reading every single review and taking the time to downplay every Toyota clearly you have inferiority issues.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “The insecurity here from you having to talk up your car while talking down others is hilarious to watch.”

            84Cressida its very funny to read you post that because all YOU do is talk up Toyota and talk down everything else which has gotten quite old. I know Toyota can build great cars, I’ve seen them and I’ve occasionally driven them but 80% of their US model offering is a toaster on wheels, period. Mazda sells a snazzier looking toaster on wheels with a build in jam dispenser, there’s not that much difference. Small, FWD, 4-cyl, to reliably get you from A to B. Sure there are variations between mfgs but at the end of the day the type of car can be easily defined and none of them are particularly that impressive. Mazda wants to give you a taste of jam as opposed to plain toast, so what why attack someone who wants that jam? Why not question your own irreverent brand for not attempting to use its great resources to build a car to blow all others out of the water?

            “Oh yes, and so is the absolute DELUSION if you think Mazda gives a rat’s ass about you or anybody else.”

            …and you’re under the delusion Toyota gives a flying frack about you or anyone else, none of these OEMs care what WE think. We are the folks who enjoy motorcross and outside of a few niche brands, none of the big boys care to cater to us because our numbers are too small. They build cars to make money and a sizable chunk wants the boring toaster that never breaks to drive to their piss-ant little jobs as they live out their pointless little lives. If you fit into the description then by all means continue to unequivocally worship them, some of us are going to take a pass.

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            @28CarsLater-

            I have zero issue with someone not liking Toyota. I could care less what others drive and their preference. One of my co-workers who I consider a close friend does not like Toyotas, and we get along just fine. My beef comes from the idiotic holier than thou comments some “enthusiasts” spew against people who have a certain brand of car they don’t like, and well, 99% of it is Toyota. I have a Toyota, and get very offended by the asinine “Toyota drivers are the worst”, “Toyotas are for sheep who don’t like cars and don’t know any better”, etc, etc. Those are absolutely stupid comments. I hate Chrysler for example, but I’ve never said something like “Chryslers are for losers who can’t get laid” or “Chryslers are for poor people” or some stupid comment about the people who have them to talk tough.

            As for Toyota, I know their strengths and weaknesses, and contrary to what you may think, not everything they do I approve of. I hate Scion’s mere existence with a fiery passion and the fact that the FRS is badged as such and not as Toyota and not as the Celica. The refreshed 4Runner makes me want to cry, I respect the Prius and think it’s a nice car, but I don’t “love” it, the slow progress in the IIHS small overlap test is incredibly frustrating, in certain areas I agree that the Camry was not cooked long enough, and for Christ’s sake, WHEN are the Celica, MR2, and Supra coming back????

            I get defensive on Toyota because 95% of the crap I read is hyperbole or just stupid stereotyping. Sometimes I go too far, but I don’t intend on letting comments mentioned above go unnoticed. Someone’s gotta do it.

          • 0 avatar
            wsn

            @npaladin2000: “Wow, you’ve really got issues, you know that? And yes, it is a niche car, it sells 1/10th of what the Corolla sells. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way, and nor would Mazda. ”

            That may be your way. But Mazda definitely wants to sell as many 3s as Corollas. Don’t speak for Mazda, before you actually get the job offer.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I can relate to how you feel, although its uncommon to see posted I don’t care much when people knock the car or product I love. Its easy to get into pissing contests, I used to get an earful from friends or co-workers of the Chevy vs Ford vs Dodge truck thing back in the day. Each brand or model has strengths or weaknesses, if others won’t acknowledge this then they are zealots not worth your time, IMO.

            I too lament some of Toyotas moves, if there is one car I wish I still had it was the 86 Cressida I used as an auction runner back in 05-06. Toyota NA has gone too corporate, just too beige for my taste. I too disagree with Scion badging of FRS, the lack of something oddball and fun like MR2, and the fact that Lexus stopped building truly world class cars like LS and SC which almost nothing could touch in their times. Toyota would really impress me if they re-examined their strategy and brought more JDM Toyotas as Toyotas (such as Crown) and more Lexuses as Lexuses and not shared platform Toyotas… but I won’t be holding my breath. Have a nice day.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            Nicely said. Agree 100%. But if Mazda doesn’t fix its hardware rust issues, I am going to start buying some European makes

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          28-cars later

          In fairness, npaladin is just the Mazda analog of 84Cressida. Painfully sensitive to criticism of a car brand–a car brand for chrissake–and belligerent almost right out the gate. Logs in to insult and belittle people who buy the toast without jam, for whatever reason. I’d just let them duke it out on their own.

  • avatar
    tbone33

    The additional rear seat space differentiates the Corolla from its better driving competitors. Nice work Toyota, you’ve made a car that can’t be described as “just like the other cars in its class, only worse.” I don’t mean that sarcastically.

    Alex, keep up the great work of reviewing cars thoroughly and without the hyperbole that plagues most other reviews today.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Is it sad that instead of giving the car thumbs up, Alex gets more thumbs up than the car he is reviewing. Very sad Toyota, very sad.

      Very nice review Alex. You make us feel like we are there with you in the car.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Almost as sad as someone who logs in to post, what, a dozen comments about a car he doesn’t care about simply because it didn’t receive the abuse he thinks it should. For an appliance, it sure has your colon in an uproar.

  • avatar
    segfault

    It’s a preproduction model, but the inclusion of “100150″ (which I assume is a part number or model number) on the front of the radio is a visual gaffe.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “When I talked to a few Corolla owners about their purchase, none of them considered another model or brand before signing on the dotted line.”

    Well, that really sums it up. How sad to me, but happy for Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Yes, it really sums up the whole appliance theory. My buddy’s wife’s college girlfriend just turn in a silver Corolla and what did she buy….another silver one! Even they laugh at her.

    • 0 avatar
      romanjetfighter

      Sounds about right. Bought my 2009 Camry without even taking a test drive or reading reviews because my mom loved her 1996 so much, as did I. Big mistake.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Nit to pick Alex – You probably were on a -800. Those are the recent introduction to WN’s fleet. They do no operate the -900. The Corolla shares another distinction with the 737…both are the all time best sellers in their respective categories (the Corolla the best selling car of all time, the 737 the best jet airliner of all time).

    That being said, I think you’re selling the 737 short. The ordinary experience has less to do with the airplane type and more to do with the realities of domestic economy seating. Looking up the 737 BBJ to see how to make flying on one anything but ordinary (for a price). No matter how much $ you throw at a Corolla, I don’t think you can make it that interesting. Also, I’m guessing the pilot (or ATC) decided for a gentle takeoff roll and climb. If you were flying from your place in Cali to Seattle, the plane was probably pretty light, and had the pilot decided to have some fun on take off and had ATC been accomodating on the climb, you would’ve experienced acceleration that is anything but Corolla-like or ordinary :-). Unfortunately, this isn’t usually the case. Airlines don’t like their planes being pushed hard and passengers don’t appreciate whiplash…no fun.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You’re a pilot I take it?

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        Nope, although more than one person (including pilots) have thought that I am. Someday hopefully…just too expensive and I have other spending priorities right now. I have worked as a ramp rat at a GA airport for about 6 years, so I’ve been around pilots and airplanes a lot. Mostly, it’s just a hobby/interest/passion like cars.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Knowing a specific sub-type of the Boeing 737 and which airline flies it is quite perceptive indeed. I too find aircraft to be of great interest although my only exposure outside of occasional travel and the internets, is a yearly visit to the air show.

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            yeah, I check aviation blogs, forums, and get various email newsletters every day, just like I do with cars. I have an annual pass to an aviation museum here in Orlando, and yeah I go to as many air shows a years as I can. I also scavenge and read various industry magazines at the airport job when I can. While Jalopnik can get mocked for it’s “planeopnik” series being off topic, I find a love of cars and airplanes goes hand in hand. They are both impressive feats of engineering and design, and have the potential to be a lot of fun to operate too.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I feel the The Truth About Aircraft coming on…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I have a co-worker whose “claim to fame” was being on a team of the firm in Maryland who developed some kind of cooling system for the A380 (he explained it to me but I cannot recall the exact details).

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            Jack would probably require the first article on TTAA to be an ode to the F104 Starfighter…not that there’s anything wrong with that. The A380 and 787 are great illustrations about how globalized the aviation industry has become. People all over the world build different components for the airplane. I think it’s hard to top the Russian Illyushin IL-96 with its Pratt & Whitney engines.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            I’m type-certified in the Cessna 152, Cessna 172 and the Goodyear Blimp.

            By which I mean that I’ve operated all of them in the sky without a license.

            Any prospective TTAA would have to recognize the concept of “Starfighter Love”.

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            I have 1.2 hours with my cousin (who happens to be a CFI) in a 172. I’ve also gone for rides in a Piper Aztec and Beechcraft Bonanza where I was given the controls and allowed to fly the plane around a bit. It was an awesome feeling.

    • 0 avatar
      romanjetfighter

      You frequent Flyertalk?

  • avatar
    Hummer

    It’s definitely overdue, but I have to wonder if they didn’t go too far..

    While true they must offer better then the competition, I feel that the standard features have become quite a long list, something unnecessary for a economy car, which it is, even if it wants to be something else, that camouflage costs more then it should.
    A cheap basic car is becoming nonexistent, the author mentions how it’s not as quite as the competition, which isn’t necessarily bad if it isn’t out of hand, and the price reflects what’s there.
    I realize it matches its peers in price, but we’re still talking a compact here, 17k should get a bit more.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I’m sure the aftermarket community will find a way to fill the inside of that gaping bumper with a intercooler.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Great review. A competent car for a competent price. Kudos to Toyota…they’ll sell a million in no time.

    Don’t understand all the Toyota hate. They willingly build appliances for people who want to drive (safe, reliable) appliances. My sister and her husband are two of their biggest clients, and cheers to them if it makes them happy.

    Had a last-gen Corolla rental last summer. Beat the living hell out of it in the mountain ranges, dirt trails, etc during our 2200 mile travels. Like a puppy it was ready to play some more. Not a car I would buy for myself, but I don’t fault those who do.

    Finally, a word about CVTs: They’re here to stay. All this anquish is for nought – CVTs are getting better with each successive generation. My recently reitred car was my first automatic transmission vehicle and I got used to it soon enough. My new car has a CVT and after 5 months its old hat….I know how to make it do what I want it to do.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      Agree with you, I visit clients all the time and usually when there are Toyotas at home, it’s not just one, 2 or 3 same family, it may be Camry, minivan, truck whatever, but they’re a loyal bunch for sure.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        So true! I have a friend who just bought a 2013 Corolla S for his grand daughter to commute to college in, but he also owns an Avalon for his wife, a Tundra for himself, and an older Camry that his wife used before he bought her the Avalon.

        And they’re keeping the old Camry around as a spare even though it has tons of miles on it.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    The ground clearance is really only an issue on the S model with the 17 inch alloys. The other models, especially the LE Eco, look normal and no worse than say, a Honda Civic. I like the looks of the LE Eco the most, especially those classy alloys. That’s the one I’d buy, but they don’t offer it in Blue Crush Metallic, which is only on the S for right now.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    It’s hard for me to imagine people who care so little about cars that they’d be happy with this. Beige on beige, not a hint of excitement, luxury. or soul.

    It’s reliable – brilliant. It’s efficient – great! But my god is it middling. And still the body panel lines when it’s in lighter colors offend me, a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      As has been pointed out, there’s a significant market out there that doesn’t care about handling or driver involvement, and would probably be happy if the car drove itself. I see it as sad as well, but there’s a market need and Toyota’s filling it. They even managed to put a midsize-class back seat in there, so you do get something in exchange for driving soul. I think being behind on engine tech is going to hurt them though.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “not a hint of excitement, luxury. or soul”

      You go, Corey!

      I feel the same about kitchen cutlery.

      “You call this sharp?” “You call this steel?”

  • avatar
    geozinger

    ” The Corolla is probably the only car on the market that is deliberately designed to be average and Toyota nailed it.”

    I don’t think that’s entirely true, I think the vast majority of cars are designed to be average.

    We’ve discussed many times on this blog about how the average buyer would never consider the things that auto enthusiasts deem important. But the Corolla gets a pass, in this instance. Other cars would be criticized for being too vanilla.

    Otherwise, a great review, Alex. Keep em coming.

  • avatar
    kuponoodles

    Make it a wagon and borrow Subaru’s AWD system, with a Lotus suspension and steering, shove both a supercharger, AND a turbo-charger, hell, make it 2, AND a hybrid motor in it, install 9 more cup holders, 6 more LCD screens, 4 more air vents, a$$ warmers and a$$ coolers, hell, a$$ wipers, and sell it for $25,999 and then maybe everyone will be happy?

    That being said, with the matrix being dead and 2nd gen Scion XB being a blah. Why are they bringing over the Wagon or a hatch version?

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    “Oh, what a feeling!” that parking brake has.

    Never saw one pull up that high unless a cable broke.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Boy it’s obvious Toyota took the knife to this car. The exterior is as plain and ordinary as ever. No trim, no bright work, no rocker flares. Nothing! The only semi interesting angle is the front. The carry over weak 1.8 and the barely stronger 8 HP greater version says that Toyota still doesn’t have there heart in this car. Looking inside, that nasty stain-o-matic light tan seat material looks like the nightmare it is to clean and keep cleaned. Notice the lack of seat back map pockets and no rear seat fold down armrest. I sure hope they at least put cup holders in the rear doors!

    The Walmart of cars and like the McDonalds burger which is nowhere near the best but continues it’s mantra of billions and billions served.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Alex Dykes, thanks for your foolish opinion, which car is better.

  • avatar
    gisguru

    Everyone loves to hate Toyota. I personally have disdain for the two government subsidized auto makers – GM and Chrysler. Every review says that the Toyota should be “more like the Mazda”. Why does Toyota sell four times more vehicles in the U.S. than Mazda? Because when someone buys a Toyota, they know what it will be like in 5 years or more

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      I actually don’t think Toyota should be more like Mazda. I do wonder sometimes what Toyota could do if they tried to be more like Mazda, given their comparatively vast resources. But they got those resources by building what are essentially (what I consider to be) soulless appliances, and have profited from that market, and made it their own. Toyota buyers expect that from Toyota, and would probably be disappointed if Toyota built a great handling (Toyota buyer: “hard riding”), responsive (“twitchy”), feature-filled (“overly gadgety”), and intricately and distinctly styled (“overwrought and flashy”) vehicle. No, I’d never buy one, but they don’t want me to buy one anyway. They’re designing for their market, and they seem to be pretty successful. For the rest of us there’s Mazda, among others. ;)

      For those that want to bring up the GT-86/FRS/BRZ, that’s mostly a Subaru. :)

      • 0 avatar
        gisguru

        I have to question your knowledge as well as your opinion. I’ll take a Lexus over a Mazda anyday. As far as the GT-86/BRZ being mostly a Subaru, are you saying that a Lexus is more of a Subaru than a Toyota? Zoom zoom, sputter sputter, junk

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          I question your questioning, knowledge, opinion, and sanity, since you’re bring up Lexus and we’re talking about Toyota here. Lexus is a completely different brand, in case you hadn’t noticed, with a completely different mission and target market from Toyota. Which is why you have different brands, of course. Anyway, no one’s talking about Lexus except you, and one must wonder why except that perhaps you’re overly defensive.

          And yes, the GT-86/BRZ is mostly a Subaru. The chassis is Subaru. The engine block is Subaru. The heads and valve-timing system are Subaru. The rather interesting fuel-injection system as well as the transmission are provided by Toyota. But it’s manufactured solely in Subaru’s Ōta, Gunma production facility (including the FR-S and GT-86 variants). It’s about 80% Subaru and maybe 20% Toyota. And that’s being generous to Toyota.

          • 0 avatar
            gisguru

            A Lexus is a Toyota, genius

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            No, a Lexus is a Lexus, genius. Just ask any Lexus owner, who will probably be annoyed at you for implying that their luxo-Lexus is a mere Toyota. Which is why Toyota created the Lexus brand, to keep the Toyota and Lexus brands from conflicting (sort of like the problem Hyundai is having trying to sell high end luxo-cars as Hyundais). It’s actually now evolved into an entirely separate division of the company rather than a simple branding difference. You see, the people who run Toyota are in fact smart, despite what some of us car enthusiasts think of Toyota cars.

            You I’m starting to have my doubts about.

  • avatar
    jayzwhiterabbit

    Bland styling, yes, but not nearly so unimaginative as the current anonymous VW Jetta. The interior looks refreshing and upscale from the picture. They look good on the road, and anything would be an improvement on the ’13 model, which is one of the cheapest-driving and cheapest-interior cars on the market.


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