2014 Toyota Corolla S
2014 Toyota Corolla S
2014 Toyota Corolla S
2014 Toyota Corolla S. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Tom Sedens

I recently deemed the Kia Rondo a contender for the most improved car, but I think we’ve got the winner right here. The all-new 2014 Toyota Corolla trashes almost everything that sucked about the old model and improves on it, while retaining all the things that made sense. To say that nearly every facet of the Corolla is vastly improved is almost an understatement.

The space under the hood is the only place where Toyota appears to have left well enough alone. Toyota kept the 1.8L four-cylinder as it is. Nothing exciting here; 132 hp at 6,000 rpm and 128 lb-ft at 4,400 rpm. What’s more exciting is the optional CVT. Yes. I, the chronic hater of CVTs just said that. First of all, the option if you want an automatic transmission is a four-speed. Mmm-hmmm, they still have that. So almost anything would be an improvement. Of course the Corolla drives the front wheels.

Fuel economy is rated at 6.9 L/100 km in the city and 5.2 L/100 km on the highway. I improved my fuel economy greatly over the previous model, averaging 7.9 L/100 km during my week with the Corolla. As always, that’s mostly slow commuting through the city with a couple of short freeway drives and one highway blast. The 50-litre fuel tank is the same too.

The S trim model got slightly heavier, gaining 25 kilos – it tips the scales at 1,295 kg (2,865 pounds).

Without a doubt, this is the most eye-catching Corolla ever. “But that’s all relative,” you cry in unison. Yes, you have a point, since the old Corolla was a turd that couldn’t be polished. But let me say it. The new Corolla is a looker. I like this car. It’s a slick little sedan, with a very slippery windshield angle.

The S trim benefits from an almost aggressive-looking front fascia, cool grille, an S rear fascia and rear lip spoiler and chrome exhaust tip. Add the standard automatic LED projector headlights and integrated fog lights, as well as some handsome taillights and you’ve got a nice looking car. The 215/45-rubber-shod 17-inch rims look great too.

Toyota’s chisel didn’t take a break on the interior either. The materials show a marked improvement – nice textures and soft-touch plastics on the dash combined with excellent fit and finish make for a jaw-dropping improvement. I really like the styling too. Not too complicated, but dressed up enough to so that it does not seem like it belongs in an entry-level car – the piano black and brushed metallic accents don’t hurt either.

There’s a set of great heated seats – I found them to be very comfortable and they even offer reasonable bolstering. The driver’s side is power adjustable. The fully adjustable steering wheel has nice chunky buttons for the phone, hands-free, media and driver information screen functions. In front of you, you’ll find two main gauges separated by a 3.5-inch Multi Information display that handles your trip meters, fuel economy and range, driving time and vehicle settings.

The centre stack starts with a 6.1-inch touchscreen display – it’s not the sharpest thing in the world, but it’s easy enough to read and responsive – it handles the car’s audio, phone function and fuel economy history. The sound system feeds off AM, FM, CD, auxiliary, USB and Bluetooth streaming audio sources and sounds very good. Underneath the screen is an automatic climate control system.

2014 Toyota Corolla S2014 Toyota Corolla S2014 Toyota Corolla S
2014 Toyota Corolla S. Click image to enlarge

The centre console holds the gear selector, dual cupholders and a traditional parking brake lever. There’s a typical power tilt/slide sunroof overhead and you get keyless entry, but a keyed ignition. Driver assistance technology is limited to a back-up camera.

A nice drop-in bin under the centre stack, where you will also find auxiliary, USB and 12V plugs, decent front door bins and a large glove compartment make for decent cabin storage options. There’s also dual-level storage under the armrest lid – an organizer tray at the top, a deep carpeted bin underneath.

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