Forty-five years ago, the first Toyota Corolla went on sale in America. Since that introduction in 1968, more than ten million Corollas have been sold, with four and a half million still on the road today. At an introduction to the new 2014 model in San Diego last week, a large group of automotive journalists heard about Corollas with over three hundred thousand miles on the odometer still providing transportation for their owners.
Built in 16 locations and sold in 154 countries, the Toyota Corolla is an international success story. Tatsuo Hasegawa, the first Corolla’s chief engineer, wanted “to develop a car that brings happiness and well-being to people around the world.” Given the customer loyalty and product longevity, I would say that he succeeded!
Once considered an entry-level car, Corolla’s progressive and unique design is still appealing to young buyers, but spans a wider range of ages with its progressive design, up-to-date technology, impressive performance, superior safety, and class leading fuel economy.
The 2014 Corolla is 2.5 inches longer, .3 inch wider, with a 3.9-inch wider wheelbase, and .4 inch lower. This translates into a smooth ride with improved fuel economy and more interior space. LED headlamps are standard on all grades of the Corolla. They require less power, give better coverage and have a long life.
The interior of the 2014 Corolla is outfitted with high-quality materials and designed for comfort and convenience. The fluid dashboard design is attractive with display and controls that are easy to see and manipulate. Piano black finish center stack and chrome accents, combined with a choice of fabric color options allow you to personalize your space. The seats are comfortable, adjustable, and there is an additional 5.1 inches legroom in the rear seat.
The Corolla comes with a standard 1.8 liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine that delivers 132 horsepower. The CVTi-S transmission provides seamless shifting, enhances sportiness and maximizes fuel economy. The sport mode allows the feel of shifting to come through. In downhill conditions the RPM is raised for improved braking.
Toyota’s Entune has been rebranded and enhanced. It is an info-tainment system connecting through your smart phone. The Entune app suite is now available including Bing, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, Pandora, Yelp and Facebook Places. It also includes navigation with split screen features and data services for traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports, and stocks.
During my trip to San Diego, I was privileged to test-drive the Corolla over a variety of roads. The journalists were paired off for the test-drive portion of the media event. From navigating through downtown construction, we ventured out of town and into the countryside, enjoying curvy, hilly terrain and rural scenery. We passed Otay Lake where training for summer Olympic events is conducted. Then we took to the freeways and crossed over the Coronado Bridge, which has the dubious distinction of being the second most popular for suicide jumpers, right after the Golden Gate. A drive along the edge of San Diego Harbor put us in some congested traffic conditions, but allowed for scenic views of restored ancient sailing vessels with multitudes of sails, and seagulls soaring in the air and marching along the piers. Finally we drove through Balboa Park where the famous San Diego Zoo is located. We weren’t treated to any animal sightings, but the grounds are beautiful and the narrow and sometimes steep road offered another type of driving.
Whatever the conditions, driving the Toyota Corolla was absolutely enjoyable. While the purpose of the drive was to evaluate the vehicle, it was so pleasant that I had to remind myself of the task, and stop having such a relaxing time! The new Corolla handled extremely well and easily responded to the driver. The ‘seat-time’ was comfortable.
The 2014 Corolla has a starting MSRP of $16,800. The price tag on the highest grade Corolla is only $21,300. I was amazed at these numbers. The appearance, features and driving experience suggest a much higher priced car! Go check one out at your Toyota dealer and see for yourself.