The Toyota Corolla has been around since 1966, and 48 years later, it’s moved from a very small compact to a highly practical small sedan adequate for starter families. With a redesign, Corolla definitely looks new and updated for the 2014 MY. Corolla is in its 11th generation and is more stylish and attractive than the previous model.
This week we’re testing the 2014 Toyota Corolla LE ECO Premium ($20,100) model that comes with the Driver Convenience Package ($1,510) that includes goodies like push button start, Entune Premium Audio and 6.1-inch touch-screen display with HD radio. It also has the optional Power Tilt/Slide moonroof with sliding sunshade ($850).
The new 2014 compact sedan gets bigger and more stylish. Compared to the outgoing model, the 2014 Corolla is 2.6 inches longer, with a longer wheelbase of 3.9 inches. It’s almost half an inch wider and 0.4-inch lower. These changes result in an impression of greater sleekness in addition to greater cabin roominess.
Inside Corolla LE ECO
You can feel the difference the longer wheelbase makes in the new Corolla cabin. There is more room up front and the new sedan gets an impressive increase in rear seat legroom. For the first time, Corolla can now fully accommodate an adult in the back seat. The driving position up front has also improved with the steering column angle changing from 24 degrees to 22 degrees. Larger drivers can now find a good seating position with the additional overall vehicle length.
The materials and workmanship inside the cabin are of high quality, with nice soft-touch controls and coverings applied throughout. One of the Corolla’s strongest suits is its seats. The heated Softex front seats are attractive and come with firm, well-fitted side bolsters and proper lumbar support. The seats would be well suited for a more expensive sports car.
The LE Eco comes standard with a host of features like, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, keyless entry, metallic cabin accents, automatic climate control, a integrated backup camera, a six-speaker sound system, steering wheel w/ audio and hands free phone voice command controls, Bluetooth audio connectivity and phonebook download capability.
Powertrain and fuel mileage
The new 2014 Toyota Corolla LE ECO is the sport version even though it’s the more frugal model. Corolla LE Eco uses the Valvematic 1.8-liter DOHC 16-valve 140-horsepower engine and comes with a rear spoiler and sporty 16-inch alloy wheels. Other Corollas get the continuing 1.8-liter 132-hp inline four-cylinder. The Corolla LE Eco model, with its new Valvematic system, achieves an EPA-certified 30/40 mpg city/highway rating, highest among gas-powered compacts using an automatic.
On the road
The Corolla LE Eco uses a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) to get those good fuel-mileage numbers. As with many CVTs they wind up and can be annoying to drive. But Corolla LE Eco uses a Sport Mode with paddle-shifters that makes this car particularly interesting. Even though it’s a CVT, it offers seven ratios with which a driving enthusiast can have some fun.
We took the Corolla LE Eco out on the highway during our week with the car and found this compact sedan is fun to drive. You can downshift the CVT with the paddle shifters and it arbitrarily raises the drive ratio to mimic the effects as if you are selecting a lower gear. We were traveling at 70 miles per hour in seventh gear, and downshifted to sixth, raising the engine’s revs another 1000 rpms. You can use it to brake the car or provide more rapid acceleration. It’s like having real gears, but it provides greater efficiency and improved mileage.
When we slipped the transmission into Sport mode, it sharpened the transmission and steering response on the LE Eco.
The compact sedan handled well in the corners and provided a more engaging driving experience and surprised us with its sporty attitude. This is not a sports sedan by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s sportier than the outgoing model.
For 2014, the 11th generation Toyota Corolla grows larger and more inviting and would be ideal for a small family on a budget. Corolla LE Eco with the CVT could be described as the sportier model and it’s fun to drive and it’s more economical on gas.
This LE Eco Premium model is a bit more upscale and comes with more comforts than the base model. It’s definitely more interesting with the paddle-shifter continuously variable transmission and the LE Eco’s more powerful yet more efficient 140-hp engine. Corolla still maintains an attractive price point, and combined with Toyota quality, efficiency and reliability, this compact sedan has sufficient style and mechanical enticements to attract the thrifty younger driving enthusiast.
Our final score for the 2014 Toyota Corolla LE ECO: 4.3 out of 5