Those are three things that seem to get better with age.
The world’s best-selling automobile, the Corolla moves into its 11th generation for 2014 as it celebrates its 45th anniversary of the Japanese automaker’s sedan into the U.S. market, and designers and engineers have given it a major makeover both inside and out.
Company tub thumpers were in Miami this week to show off the new model for selected media members at the Corolla East Coast Preview.
The new Corolla is slightly longer than the previous generation, has some styling tweaks that should appeal to a more affluent and upscale segment of buyers, and gets a roomier backseat (thanks to the longer wheelbase) that increases rider comfort for passengers.
It comes in three trim levels, L, LE, and S, with the LE also getting an “Eco” version that boosts fuel mileage to 42 miles-per-gallon on the highway.
All three models are powered by a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine, though the Eco’s features Toyota’s Valvematic valve timing, which is responsible for the boost in mileage over the other models. The LE, non-Eco SE, and the S get 36 or 37 or 38 mpg depending on the transmission.
The Eco’s engine also gets a bit of a horsepower boost, up to 140 from the 132 in the other models, but non-Eco versions produce 128 pound-feet of torque to the Eco’s 126.
Transmission choices vary.
The L, or base model, is offered with a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic.
The LE gets a Toyota’s version of a continuously variable transmission, which the company dubs CVTi-S, “i” for “intelligent” and “S” for shift.
The S gets either a six-speed manual or a version of the CVTi-S that allows the driver to select shift points via steering wheel-mounted shifters, essentially mimicking the manual function of a seven-speed automatic.
Pricing starts at under $17,000 for the L version and at $19,000 for the S, that’s $60 below last year’s price despite the addition of $1,000 worth of new features.
Quick first impressions: Short spins in the SE and S versions reveal that though the CVTi-S may be a more refined CVT than past versions, it’s still a CVT, and the four-cylinder engine often groans to reach speed when the accelerator is vigorously pressed. The six-speed manual in the S shifts easily and provides much more in the way of driving dynamics (i.e., fun).
But other than that, the 2014 Corolla is a big improvement over the 2013 model and has the kind of visual appeal that is going to attract a young, enthusiastic following. Toyota is predicting sales to reach 330,000 in 2014.
That should assure its spot at the top as the all-time best-seller.