Tuesday, June 18, 2013
2014 Toyota Corolla sheds demure image with daring redesign!
True to its word, Toyota has transformed the plain-Jane Corolla.
For 2014, the popular compact sedan gets expressive new styling inspired by the Corolla Furia Concept that Toyota unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January. And some of what lies beneath the flashy body is also impressively different.
The Japanese automaker listened to consumer feedback when rethinking the design of its 2014 Toyota Corolla. The intent is to attract younger buyers, who put a high priority on style, as well as efficiency and function.
The new Corolla, which goes on sale this fall, is bigger than the car it replaces, making it roomier inside. Though less than an inch wider and taller, it is nearly four inches longer. The front and rear wheels have been stretched apart to give the car a more aggressive stance. The corners of the Corolla have also been tapered to help make the car look leaner and meaner than before.
Among the plethora of features on the 2014 Toyota Corolla, two stand out as particularly interesting: Headlights that use light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, and a new continuously variable transmission that mimics a conventional seven-speed automatic.
LED headlights, prized for their energy efficiency and compactness, are found mostly on luxury cars. In less expensive vehicles, they are usually only used in daytime running lights, turn signals and taillights. The 2014 Corolla is the first compact car in its segment to use them for the low beams in the headlights, too.
Just as unique is a new continuously variable transmission. This type of transmission is becoming increasingly popular among automakers because it’s lighter, smaller and more efficient than a conventional automatic transmission. Continuously variable transmissions eschew fixed gears for a pulley system with an infinitely variable ratio.
Toyota’s new twist is that it has baked in seven fixed ratios so the transmission will always feel like it’s shifting gears, just like a conventional automatic does. This is opposed to just winding up seamlessly as the car accelerates with no sense of gear changes, which Toyota says some drivers find annoying or disconcerting. The new transmission has an Eco mode to enhance fuel economy and a Sport mode for better acceleration and throttle response.
This is the first time Toyota will offer a continuously variable transmission in the United States. It will be an option on the new Corolla. A conventional six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic will be standard, depending on the model. The six-speed manual has one more gear than last year’s stick shift. The four-speed automatic carries over unchanged from the outgoing Corolla.
Like the exterior, the interior gets a whole new look that is sportier and feels more premium in its design and materials. Even base models will be loaded with creature comforts, from standard Bluetooth connectivity for smartphones to pollen filters (a feature people with allergies will no doubt appreciate).
Toyota went out of its way to improve rear-seat comfort in the Corolla by expanding legroom, beefing up seat cushions and making the floor flatter by rerouting the exhaust pipes underneath it. More sound insulation throughout the cabin also makes the interior quieter.
The base engine on the new Corolla carries over from the 2013 model. It is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that produces 132 horsepower and 128 pounds-feet of torque in the L, LE and S trims. A new LE Eco model gets an enhanced four-cylinder with added Valvematic technology that boosts efficiency and increases horsepower to 140 hp. Torque in the Eco engine, however, drops slightly to 126 lb-ft.
The redesign also makes the car more aerodynamic to improve fuel efficiency. Special flat covers on the underside of all 2014 Corollas help smooth airflow. The Eco model boasts even more aerodynamic enhancements, including a small spoiler on the rear edge of the trunk and special wheels with low-roll-resistance tires. Toyota expects the 2014 Corolla LE Eco to achieve 40 miles per gallon or more on the highway. Official mileage estimates have not been announced.
The new Corolla uses lighter, high-strength steel to save weight, and added reinforcements to make the body stiffer for a better ride. Toyota paid particular attention to the steering and suspension to make the car feel sportier. One of the knocks against the current Corolla is that it’s as boring to drive as it is to look at. The 2014 Corolla will be a different story, with sharper reflexes and better steering feel, Toyota says.
Though Toyota just unveiled the newly redesigned Corolla on Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif., it hinted at the changes before, with the Furia concept that made its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The overall shape of the 2014 Corolla and the angular body panels echo the Furia. The last time the Corolla had a makeover was in 2009.
Official pricing and full specs will be announced closer to the car’s on-sale date this fall. But it’s clear the 2014 Corolla represents a big change for Toyota—bigger, perhaps, than the recently redesigned Avalon, Camry and RAV4.
As one of the automaker’s best sellers, and a cornerstone of its reputation for superior function, efficiency and reliability, it’s important that Toyota get this one right. The company is counting on the 2014 Corolla to invigorate its image and attract new customers without alienating existing ones.
Courtesy of Forbes.com