In Jakarta, Indonesia, there are more than 24,000 cabs, and most of them are Toyotas. And most of those are Corollas. The city is always hot and, most of the year, subject to monsoons. The roads are usually somewhat passable when they're not flooded. And traffic? It's virtually unregulated. Forget America; the new 2014 Toyota Corolla is built tough enough to survive as a Jakarta "taksi" cab.
So the Corolla should do just fine in the U.S. with its paved roads, traffic lights and thick supply of buyers craving an affordable sedan that gets good mileage. That's been the Corolla's mission for going on 48 years, but occasionally Toyota still has to tweak it a bit. Of course the 11th-generation Corolla is better than the 10th. But is it enough better to take on everything from traditional competitors like the Nissan Sentra to the impressively reincarnated Ford Focus and driver-oriented Mazda 3?
The Basic Basics While other parts of the world get various wagon, three-door, five-door and two-door versions of the Corolla, the U.S. continues with just one: a front-wheel-drive, four-door sedan. It wears all-new sheet metal on the outside and features many familiar chassis and mechanical bits on the inside.
Literally the biggest difference with this redesign is the Corolla's new lengthier size. It now rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, up 3.9 inches from 2013 and only 3 inches shorter than the wheelbase of both Toyota's own Camry sedan and Honda's Accord four-door. Overall length has grown 2.6 inches to 182.6 inches: 6.6 inches shorter than the Camry.
Despite the additional length, plus an additional half-inch of width (mostly, that seems, in the side mirrors), the proportions of the new Corolla are about the same as the old car. The cowl is relatively tall, the rump rides high and the nose is blunt. In other words, it's still very much a Corolla.
Reruns With Bonus Footage Not much changes under the hood, as the Corolla continues to use the same 132-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder that's been part of the American Corolla package since 2009. At the upper end of the lineup, there's now an "LE Eco" trim level that uses an upgraded version of the same engine that develops 140 hp and delivers slightly better fuel mileage: up to an EPA rated 42 mpg on the highway. Peak torque, however, drops slightly with the Eco engine, so there's no perceptible difference in acceleration.
Transmission options vary according to trim level. Base model Corollas come standard with an archaic four-speed automatic, while anything better than that gets a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) for improved mileage. A six-speed manual is also offered on the base L and "sporty" S models.
The MacPherson strut front suspension is virtually unchanged from before, while the rear torsion-beam setup has been slightly tweaked with revised and splayed forward link mounts. The steering is, once again, an electrically assisted rack-and-pinion setup, while an antilock system squeezes down on the front disc brakes (the rear drum brakes are swapped for discs when 17-inch wheels are ordered).
Strategic Familiarity Between the carryover engines and suspension setup, it should come as no surprise that the new Corolla drives much like the previous-generation Corolla. It's not exciting, but it's solid and comfortable, and the durability can be felt almost humming through the car's unibody structure.
The new CVT works well by the standards of CVTs. There's some drone during acceleration, but it's not particularly irritating. The fake gears in the shiftable version used in the S engage softly so you won't be fooled into believing you're driving a manual.
Ultimately, the latest Corolla drives much like every previous one, since the sedan moved over to front drive back for 1984. That means the steering is precise if numb, the suspension is comfortable though short of luxurious or coddling, and the engine tries hard but is limited in its ability to pull for very long. What's best is that it never feels as if it's straining to keep up with traffic or unable to deal with the unexpected. In place of inspiring performance, what it offers is a stalwart automotive companion: a reliability and unpretentiousness that expresses itself as character.
This isn't a racecar; it's an urban tool. The sort of car that will do 99 percent of what 90 percent of buyers need to do 90 percent of the time at a price 90 percent of them can afford.
Four Eggs, One Shell Four different models inhabit that the Corolla's singular body style. The $17,610 base "L" model comes with standard power windows and door locks, LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, Bluetooth connectivity and two USB outlets to plumb into the adequate sound system. On the skimpy side, the wheels are steel 15-inchers behind plastic covers.
The $19,110 mainstream LE grade includes things like cruise control, remote keyless entry and a back-up camera. It displays on a standard 6.1-inch touchscreen at the center of the dash that also includes Toyota's Entune connectivity system. There's an effective and simple automatic climate control system aboard and the standard steel wheels grow to 16 inches in diameter.
The sport-themed "S" model starts at $19,810 and has dressed up its front fascia with foglights, a spoiler on its tail, a nicely trimmed two-tone interior and a pair of paddle shifters that can click through simulated gears on the standard CVT. Spend extra and the 16-inch steel wheels can be swapped over for a set of Cuisinart-look 17-inch alloys.
Finally there's the fourth Corolla, a new $19,510 "LE Eco" that, when matched with the CVT and skinny 195/65R15 tires on 15-inch steel wheels pays off with an EPA-rated 42 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg in the city.
The Stretch Compact The most significant advance with this latest Corolla is the improvement in interior room and quality. The additional wheelbase, combined with a redesigned rear seat and front seats that are noticeably thinner than before, results in 5.1 inches more rear legroom according to Toyota. It's enough space so that a 6-footer can adjust the driver seat to his comfort and then get in back and find he's pretty happy back there, too. In fact, according to Toyota's own specifications, there's now 2.5 inches more legroom in the back of a Corolla than there is in the larger, more expensive Camry.
Beyond that, the new Corolla's cabin is a nice place to be. Toyota interior quality has suffered recently, but this seems to mark a return to form, with higher-quality plastics and fabrics, well-considered and straightforward design, and simple controls.
Interestingly, the S model's instrumentation orbits around two circular main gauges: a tachometer and speedometer. Meanwhile, the L and LE models use three main gauges with the central speedometer flanked by a tach to the left and a humongous fuel gauge to the right. So if you're the type of person who lives in dread of running out of gas, the new Corolla's tangerine-size fuel gauge will either calm your nerves or amplify your anxiety. Consult your therapist.
Mississippi Mud Most of the new Corollas sold in the United States will come from Toyota's still-newish plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi, with the rest migrating down from Toyota's plant in Cambridge, Ontario. So the Corollas here aren't likely to be identical to the cabs in Jakarta. But those hard-core cab virtues are there. And that matters.
It's not sporty like a Mazda 3. And it's not surprisingly good like the Focus. It's a Corolla that will likely deliver on its promises of toughness alongside a new, higher level of comfort.
Every new Corolla has the big advantage of the reputation every previous Corolla has earned for the name. This new Corolla doesn't represent a reinvention of the brand, but another careful step along in its quiet, relentless evolution. For a lot of Jakarta taxi drivers that's going to be more than enough to keep them relying on Corollas for their livelihood. And what's comfortable, affordable and rugged enough for a Jakarta taxi driver is more than enough for a lot of Americans.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
2014 Toyota Corolla Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2014 Toyota Corolla and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2014 Corolla featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2014 Toyota Corolla and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2014 Corolla 4.1 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2014 Corolla.
Review I'm the last person one would expect to be seen in a Corolla, but I still got one! I shopped around and compare the Civic, the Mazda 2, 3, the Focus, the Elantra GT and the Accent. My previous two cars were fast turbo cars with plenty of power and handling. The Mazda 3 is definitely faster than the Corolla, and handles better. So why did I pick the Corolla instead of the Mazda? It felt like the most luxurious car of the bunch, with a decent ride, at a price others couldn't beat. I have everything I always wanted in one package with the "S", no need for additional 1200 Moonroof and other expensive options. The Mazda comes close, but it was more expensive.
Edmunds Value Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
The 2014 Toyota Corolla earned a 5-star overall safety rating from NHTSA and "GOOD" ratings from the IIHS in the following caregories: Side Impact Test, Roof Strength Test, Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint, Moderate Overlap Front Test Results, and a JD POWER overall quality rating of 3.5 out of 5. Among Edmunds' many tools and resources for finding your perfect car are detailed safety ratings and analysis from NHTSA, IIHS, and JD Power, including overall ratings, frontal barrier crash ratings, side impact tests and crash ratings, rollover test results, roof strength tests, rear crash protection and head restraint ratings, side barrier ratings, combined side barrier and pole ratings, and more.
Available Toyota Corolla 2014 Submodel Types: Sedan
Available Trims: LE, S Plus, S, SE, L, CE, XSE, XLE, LE Eco, LE Plus, S Premium, LE Premium, Base, 50th Anniversary Special Edition, LE Eco Plus, Special Edition, S Special Edition, VE, XRS, LE Eco Premium, LE Special Edition, DX, LE Eco w/Premium Package
Exterior Colors: Black Sand Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Slate Metallic, Super White, Barcelona Red Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Galactic Aqua Mica, Blue Crush Metallic, Falcon Gray Metallic, Brown Sugar Metallic, Blizzard Pearl, 4Evergreen Mica, Desert Sand Mica, Silver Streak Mica, Nautical Blue Metallic, Indigo Ink Pearl, Blue Streak Metallic, Impulse Red Pearl, Phantom Gray Pearl, Tropical Sea Metallic, Cactus Mica, Impulse Red, Capri Sea Metallic, Hot Lava, Lunar Mist Metallic, Sandy Beach Metallic, Moonshadow Gray Metallic, Black Cherry Pearl, Absolutely Red, Black, Black Currant Metallic, Charcoal Gray Metallic, Sandrift Metallic, Silverstream Opal, Dark Blue Pearl, Medium Gray Metallic, Mineral Green, Silver Stream Opal, Super Red, Venetian Red Pearl, Woodland Pearl
Interior Colors: Ash Fabric cloth, Ash/Dark Gray Fabric premium cloth, Black Softex/Black Fabric leatherette/cloth, Black/Brown Fabric premium cloth, Ash cloth, Black Mixed Media Fabric leatherette/cloth, Black Softex leatherette, Ivory Fabric cloth, Steel Grey Fabric cloth, Dark Charcoal premium cloth, Bisque cloth, Black Softex/Steel Blue Fabric leatherette/cloth, Dark Charcoal cloth, Almond Fabric premium cloth, Vivid Blue Mixed Fabric leatherette/cloth, Light Gray, Beige cloth, Black Mixed Media Fabric w/Black Cherry Stitching leatherette/cloth, Amber Fabric cloth, Pebble Beige, Stone cloth, Black, Black Softex/Black Amber Fabric leatherette/cloth, Dark Charcoal/Orange cloth, Orangezest Mixed Media Fabric leatherette/cloth, Bisque leather
Popular Features: Rear Bench Seats, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Tire Pressure Warning, Aux Audio Inputs, Stability Control, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Trip Computer, Bluetooth, USB Inputs, Upgraded Headlights, Back-up camera, Auto Climate Control, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Pre-collision safety system, Sunroof/Moonroof, Keyless Entry/Start, Alarm, Navigation, Heated seats, Power Driver Seat, Upgraded Stereo, Leather Seats