2014 Toyota Corolla Takes Some Risks With Redesign
- Toyota steps out of its conservative comfort zone with the redesign of the 2014 Toyota Corolla.
- The Corolla, one of the most popular products in its segment for more than four decades, gets a new chiseled look and standard LED headlights.
- The 2014 Toyota Corolla goes on sale in the fall; pricing will be announced closer to launch date, Toyota told Edmunds.
TORRANCE, California — The redesigned 2014 Toyota Corolla debuted on Thursday with a new chiseled look and standard LED headlights, underscoring Toyota's willingness to take some design risks with one of its mainstay products.
Toyota said it is hoping to make "a much stronger design statement" with the 2014 Corolla, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Toyota Corolla Furia Concept that debuted in January at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.
The 2014 Corolla goes on sale in the fall; pricing will be announced closer to launch date, Toyota told Edmunds.
Toyota also appears anxious for the 2014 Corolla to join the 40-mpg club.
A new 2014 Corolla LE Eco model targets over 40 mpg in highway driving, the automaker said. The Corolla LE Eco adds underbody covers, a color-keyed rear spoiler, low-rolling-resistance tires on 15-inch wheels, a more efficient 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission.
The base 2014 Corolla is equipped with a carryover 132-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. The base Corolla L is equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual transmission. The six-speed manual is also available in the Corolla S.
The EPA has not yet rated the 2014 Corolla. The 2013 Toyota Corolla with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission returns 27 mpg in city driving and 34 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA. The 2013 Corolla with the same engine and a four-speed automatic transmission returns 26 mpg in city driving and 34 mpg on the highway.
The Corolla has been one of the most popular products in its segment for more than four decades with a look that Toyota has seemed reluctant to tinker with in the past.
However, Toyota apparently is hoping to avoid the painful lessons learned by Honda with its disappointing redesign of the 2012 Honda Civic, a Corolla competitor. The 2012 Civic's interior layout and materials were widely criticized and Honda hustled to launch a relatively unusual mid-cycle change just about 18 months after the car's debut. General Motors was forced to take a similar approach with the recently redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Malibu.
The risk is that Toyota may alienate some of its conservative audience with the changes to the 2014 Corolla. But the reward is that it may win over younger buyers. The redesign of the 2014 Corolla may be the most important product moment for Toyota this year, since the Corolla is the main entry point for the brand. Toyota calls the car the "best-selling car nameplate on the planet," with nearly 40 million units sold. "Corolla is our #2 selling model in the U.S., behind Camry, and the best-selling vehicle globally," said Greg Thome, a Toyota Motor Sales USA spokesman, in response to an Edmunds query.
The Corolla faces increasingly stiff competition from compact cars with more design flair. They include the Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra.
"Customers emphasized the overwhelming importance of vehicle design on product perception in the marketplace," Toyota said. "The 11th generation Corolla makes a much stronger design statement, with more compelling exterior and interior executions that challenge the preconceptions about Corolla."
The 2014 Corolla rides on a longer wheelbase that has been stretched nearly 4 inches compared to the outgoing model. Rear-seat passengers gain more legroom thanks to the redesign.
The cabin gets upscale materials, including piano-black gloss trim and metallic touches.
Edmunds says: It shouldn't take too long to figure out if the 2014 Toyota Corolla is a hit or miss with consumers.