HEELS ON WHEELS: 2014 TOYOTA COROLLA S REVIEW


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2014 Toyota Corolla S


HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE 2014 COROLLA VEHICLE
Revised from grille to taillights, the 2014 Toyota Corolla takes on a new wheelbase, Scion-inspired exterior sedan styling, and significant improvements for my test drive, the sportier S trim. If you are passionate, creative, under 35 years-of-age (and ethnically diverse according to Toyota), you might find yourself swept up by this deal on wheels.

I drove a 2014 Toyota Corollas S with the 132-horsepower 1.8-liter DOCH four-cylinder engine featuring Dual Variable Value Timing with Intelligence. Available now in four trim grades – the base L, LE, LE Eco and S – my S trim came with the following standard features: SofTex-trimmed upholstery; heated front seats; Entune multi-media system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen; Bluetooth; backup camera; a six-speaker audio system; leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls; LED headlights; fog lights; and seventeen-inch alloy wheels. Price as described comes to $20,400.

Looking past the Corolla’s sharper looks, a revamped trim grade lineup is one of the most noticeable improvements with the addition of an all-new well-equipped LE Eco trim that gets 42 miles-per-gallon highway. Compact sedans competitors also toting sharp value, style and fuel economy include the Kia Forte, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Chevrolet Cruze.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Inside, the Corolla possesses a more fluid dashboard that is both driver and passenger-centric. Upgraded materials like piano black finish on the center stack, soft-touch lining, and two-toned upholstery choices are added pluses. Rear legroom has grown by 5.1 inches as well. But the most stylish efforts have been given to the S trim that features a detailed grille with chrome and honeycomb accents, fog lights, and a two-gauge instrument panel with a digital screen. Entune has grown into a suite of popular apps like Bing and Pandora that provide all the infotainment and smartphone connectivity you want or don’t want, depending upon the depth of your pocketbook. The improved user face now allows for screen swiping, a familiar motion anyone under three years of age knows how to do. All models receive upgraded LED headlights and Bluetooth.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2014 Toyota Corolla earned 5-Stars overall with the NHTSA. The IIHS grants the vehicle with ratings of “Good” in all areas omitting small overlap front which only earned “Marginal”. You can view the crash-test photo results on their website.

Cost Issues: The base Corolla L starts at $16,800; the LE at $18,300; the LE Eco at $18,700; and the S at $19,000. Toyota predicts the lion’s share of sales will go to the LE and S trims. My trim did feature a $1,510 Drive Convenience Package (smart key system, Entune Premium that added navigation and HD radio) and a $850 moonroof for a total vehicle price of $22,760.

Activity & Performance Ability: The Corolla S outputs 132 horsepower (strangely enough the LE Eco gets 140 ponies). The transmission stepped up to a new and ultra-smooth Continuously Variable Transmission (CTVi-S) automatic transmission designed especially for the American market – meaning it can handle our erratic driving style by offering smoother shifting. Paddle shifters at the steering column add a sportier feel. Additional gear positions while in Drive include the S that handles my twists and turns with more confidence and the B (best for deceleration on steep slopes).

The Green Concern: The 1.8-liter four-cylinder gets 29 miles-per-gallon city and 37 highway for a combined rating of 32.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Taking aerodynamic design cues from Scion, Toyota gives the 2014 Corolla much-needed style and modern features while still making sure drivers can live large for a small price – fully loaded, the sportier S trim comes in at just $22,760.

2013 Katrina Ramser

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