Last Update: Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2014 Toyota Corolla: Sensible Shoes and Simple Pleasures PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Maynard   
Thursday, 27 March 2014 00:15


Photo Credit Creative Syndicate
The re-engineered 2014 Corolla -- now in its 11th generation -- has starting prices that range from about $18,000 to $21,000.

2014 Toyota Corolla S

• Body style: compact, front-drive, 5-passenger sedan

• Engine: aluminum, 132-horsepower, DOHC 1.8-liter 4-cylinder 128 foot-pounds torque at 4,400 rpm

• Transmission: CVT with Sport mode

• Fuel economy: 29/37/32 mpg city/hwy/combined; 87 octane

• fuel tank: 13.2 gallons

• Trunk space: 13 cubic feet

• Front head/leg/shoulder room: 38.3/42.3/54.8 inches; 38 inches with moonroof

• Rear head/leg/shoulder room: 37/41.4/54.8 inches

• Length/wheelbase: 182.6/106.3 inches

• Curb weight: 2,865 pounds

• Turning circle: 35.6 feet

• Safety features include: Eight air bags, ABS, brakeforce distribution, brake assist, stability and traction controls 

• Base price: $21,210, including $810 freight charge; price as tested $23,994

• Options on test vehicle: power moonroof $850; carpeted floor mats $225; door sill trim $199; driver convenience package, $1,510, includes smart key unlocking and push-button ignition, Entune premium audio system with navigation and app suite, six speakers, aux audio input, USB 2.0, iPod connection, handsfree phone and streaming music

• Where assembled: Mississippi

• Warranty: 3-years/36,000-miles bumper to bumper; 5-years/60,000-miles powertrain; 2-years/25,000- miles free scheduled maintenance and 24/7 roadside assistance.

Fathers around the world have been known to advise their children, "Just get the Corolla. It's reliable." Sage advice since 1968 when this nameplate debuted and has tallied up more than 40 million global sales.

The re-engineered 2014 Corolla is in its 11th generation and built in the U.S. since 1984. It now hails from Blue Springs, Miss. The new model is about the same size as before and with front wheel drive and seats for five, but with a longer wheelbase, which helps back seat legroom but crimps trunk space.

There are four basic models -- L, LE, S and ECO -- and each uses a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with the choice of a sixspeed manual transmission, four-speed automatic or continuously variable automatic.

With the addition of Plus and Premium grades this year there are a dozen starting prices, ranging from $17,610 with the six-speed manual to $20,910 for the ECO Premium with CVT-iS; pricing includes the $810 freight charge. (Add $600 for the four-speed automatic.) Included is a warranty of two years or 25,000 miles for free scheduled maintenance, which may amount to an oil change.

Toyota expects its sporty S model to be the popular seller. Its pricing ranges from $19,810 to about $23,00 for the S-Plus with 17-inch alloy wheels, moonroof, Entune audio system, navigation and smart key with push-button start. S upgrades include four-wheeldisc brakes instead of discs/ drums on the lower trims.

The S-Premium test car with CVT-iS was $23,994 with a few extras that most buyers would want, but the $199 door sill enhancements aren't a necessity.

The standard engine has 132 horsepower and a modest 128 foot-pounds of torque at a fairly high 4,100 rpm. The more technologically evolved ECO model gets 140 horsepower that is finessed with a new feature called Valvematic. It controls air intake differently to free up flow.There is a bigger increase in power on hard throttle but a reduction of emissions while boosting fuel economy. Still, performance for either engine is tuned for distance between fill-ups, with some engine noise on freeway merging.

Fuel economy ratings are somewhat sneaky. The ECO model with 15-inch tires and steel wheels is rated 30 mpg city, 42 highway and 35 mpg combined. With 16-inch wheels mileage drops to 30/40/34. The S model with CVT is rated 29/37/32.

The chassis is tight with good weight distribution to stabilize emergency avoidance maneuvers. The compliant suspension rolls comfortably over speed bumps without joggling heads and bodies. Yet there is noticeable ambient noise in the cabin and grainy harshness transmitted from the ground upward.

The CVT-S in Sport mode can simulate the steps of a sevenspeed transmission, which adds some eagerness to the power delivery. Acceleration is helped by curb weights that are among the lowest among compacts, ranging from 2,800 to 2,865 pounds.

This is a car of sensible shoes and simple pleasures. There's no learning curve to make things happen. The hefty steering wheel fits comfortably in the hands. Sightlines are good and controls are logically arranged. A small bin just ahead of the gear shift console is convenient for dropping a phone and plugging in, whether a 12-volt charger or USB. Safety features include eight air bags, including front knee bags, a front passenger seat cushion air bag and front and rear side curtains.

The Entune audio system is a multimedia bundle, including a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, radio, CD player, six speakers, auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0 port with iPod control, voice recognition, hands-free Bluetooth phone and music streaming.

The Driver's Convenience package, $1,500, includes a smart key system that locks and unlocks doors by just touching -- and sometimes thumping -- the outside door handles and a push-button ignition. Once you try this kind of system, you won't go back. Just don't lose the pricey key and replace the battery on schedule.

There is a ridiculous amount of back-seat room for a compact-class sedan: 41.4 inches of legroom, which allows room for a 6-foot-plus male with the front seat pushed all the way back. And there's the same shoulder room as the front seats, 54.8 inches.

Trunk space is a bit larger at 13 cubic feet , but with a slightly narrow trunk-lid opening. The back seat has a 60/40 split to expand cargo capacity. Toyota certainly doesn't seem to be concerned about the competition, which is building more stylish cars with more comfortable seats, more cabin soundproofing and a quieter ride. It's banking instead on its mantra of QDR: Quality, Durability and Reliability. Mark Maynard is online at mark.maynard@utsandiego. com. Find photo galleries and more news at Facebook.com/ MaynardsGarage

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