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2014 Toyota Corolla LE Eco Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Test Drives, Toyota


The all-new 11th generation Toyota Corolla is improved upon in just about every way through a formula mostly derived on American soil and moving it forward. The refinements of the latest Corolla help to retain leading sales for the highly sought-after compact sedan. The all-new 2014 Toyota Corolla gets bigger, smoother and a sharper response in driving dynamics all contributing to keeping the steady hand of America focused on their economical transportation alternative without much of a compromise.

With a total of 11 generations, the latest Toyota Corolla still manages to make a good thing even better in the scope of an economical compact sedan. Long gone are the days of multiple body variations of the Corolla with a different number of doors.  The last few generations of the prided sedan have kept consumers at bay fulfilling their conservative transportation needs, as will the 2014 model with 4 primary trim levels (L, LE, LE Eco, S) with the LE, LE Eco and top-level S trims having a Plus and Premium sub-trim available for each. Much of the new 2014 Toyota Corolla’s dimensions have grown by several inches but not to come off as a vehicle attempting to merge into its larger siblings’ segments. The new Corolla, despite its larger size, still retains its definitive classification and sought-after economical attributes. In the area of usable space the Corolla edges out its competition to make up for its struggle in the performance arena when it comes to higher performance offerings within the vastly competitive compact sedan segment.


The new Corolla has grown up from the outgoing generation in the form of 3.9-inches in its wheelbase attributing to just over 5 inches of additional rear seating room and an over-all larger cabin and cargo space. The added room in the new Corolla makes for a less punishing ride on long hauls and easy accessibility for people like me who are just over 6-feet tall.


Adding to the appeal of larger interior dimensions is a nicely revamped dashboard with a surprising excellent perception of fit and finish, especially for this segment. The new dashboard somewhat pays homage to the older style of Toyota’s many generations ago but the accents and trim colors all come together nicely with a modern touch. Many controls have large dials and are all easily accessed, even within the stereo and connectivity system’s infotainment LCD touch-screen menus. Furthermore, the new Corolla’s color options are mixed with nicely accented selections, such as the tan colored cloth seats paired to the dark flooring while accent stitching the color of the seats are found on the door trim. All of the accents accumulate in a nice fashion to add a premium perception to the new 2014 Corolla’s interior.


The natural progression and appeal of the Corolla comes out in many new-found standard features for this class of vehicle, including the standard automatic climate controls and review backup camera  – both equipped as standard items on LE, LE Eco and S trim levels. Additionally, the Corolla pioneers standard low-beam LED headlights coming as standard equipment in all trim levels, a first for a compact sedan. The LED headlights also serve as daytime running lights in a dimmed, lower-power state, giving the Corolla a clean premium look up front within the sharply sculpted fascia.


In the full spectrum of features and amenities, the base 2014 Toyota Corolla L trim starts you off with a standard 6-speed manual transmission, 15-inch steel wheels, LED headlights, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split-folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone connectivity, 4-speaker audio system with CD player and USB/iPod/Aux jack and power windows. The Corolla LE adds 16-inch steel wheels, intermittent wipers, cruise control, power door locks, auto climate control, 6-speaker audio system with a 6-inch touch screen display and Bluetooth audio streaming. LE Plus adds alloy wheel, foglights while the LE Premium adds premium vinyl upholstery. The Corolla LE Eco includes all LE features but adds enhancements to the engine, transmission, tires and aerodynamics for added fuel economy. The new Corolla S trim includes all LE features and adds on a chrome grille frame, color-keyed mirrors with signals, foglights, rear spoiler, sport seats up front, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded instrumentation, and piano black trim accents. The Corolla S Plus adds 17-inch alloy wheels, firmer suspension and rear disc brakes. The S Premium adds on vinyl upholstery.


In the area of the new Toyota Corolla’s road mannerism, the ride quality is much-improved mimicking what you would expected in midsized sedans. Additionally, an electric steering rack that is nicely weighted at cruising speeds affirms ride quality. Performance from the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine found in my Corolla LE Eco is rated at 140 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 126 ft-lbs. of torque at 4,000 rpm. Mind you, this particular engine in the Corolla Eco trim is a slight revamp from the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder all other trim levels, which features the same displacement but lack the updates for added fuel economy yielding a lower 132 horsepower and 126 ft-lbs. of torque. Fuel consumption for my Corolla LE Eco comes in at an EPA estimated 30 mpg city and 42 mpg highway, completely attainable in real-world driving situations provided you are not breaking the posted speed limits. For other trims of the Corolla you will expect to get 29 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. I was able to best my mpg consumption on the highway getting a steady 41.1 mpg and landing 30.3 mpg in the city, astonishingly close to compact hybrid numbers.

Even though the all-new Toyota Corolla Eco trims get more horsepower yet better fuel consumption, it is prudent to mention that Eco models exclusively receive a revision of the CVT transmission, low rolling-resistant tires and a rear spoiler for better aerodynamics all aiding to reach the hybrid-esq 42 mpg highway figure. As far as the transmission goes to transmit power to the front wheels, the CVT (continuously variable transmission) is adapted with specialized software to emulate shift-points. Basically, because the CVT lacks different gears and is on a variable pulley mechanism, it is adapted in the new Corolla to emit step-downs in the rpm range for a simulation of gear changes as to avoid the unwanted transparency that comes with a CVT. Still, the departing from the sluggish initial acceleration due to the CVT is unavoidable and mostly apparent when getting out of the hole until you reach about 25 to 35 mph and the rpms are allowed to climb closer to the sweet spot of the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine’s power band.


The engine and transmission combination never seem outwardly inadequate, considering the Corolla manages to stay relatively light at 2,855 pounds. Once things are moving the new 2014 Toyota Corolla’s CVT transmission quickly adjusts to get the engine in tuned to the job of accelerating. 0 to 60 mph acceleration comes in around 8.6 seconds, slightly slower than its direct competitors, such as the new Mazda3 and Ford Focus getting 8.3 seconds to 60 on the lower end of the trim level.

The new 2014 Toyota Corolla never departs from expected handling abilities nor does it ever give you the perception of it being anything near sports-car-like. Although, with the skinnier tires on my Corolla LE Eco things were on an even keel when it comes to my low expectations. The Corolla did, however, do just about everything I asked of it within the legal limits of local roads. Emitting relatively safe and expectant understeer is one of the many anticipated traits of the Corolla’s handling. Of course at the slightest push of the Corolla LE Eco into a turn above posted limits gives away at the tires limited grip while the suspension noticeably and slowly rolls the body into a turn.


Traction and stability control hardly ever needs to step in, even under hard acceleration, as there is just not enough forward grunt to unearth the front wheels under most conditions. It is only under hard turns or taking exit ramps at endearing speeds that you see the subtle blinking of the traction/stability control light on the dashboard. Braking is strong and assured from a firm peddle bringing the Corolla to a halt in about 130 feet from 60 mph barely impending ABS activation while on a dry surface.


Practicality has never been so profound in a surprisingly refined and economical package as it does in the all-new 2014 Toyota Corolla. Embodying its founding principles after an evolution lasting over 40 years, with the help of technology, has left the Corolla at the forefront of retaining its value-perceived economical compact sedan distinctiveness. Value perception is mostly left in tact with the base Corolla L starting at just $17,610 and my Corolla LE Eco test vehicle with an as-tested price of $19,735 remains to be an attractive buy.

There is no doubt that the new 2014 Toyota Corolla will continue on its traditional high sales volume from previous generations. At the same time, those seeking a compact sedan like the Corolla will be reminded of its fresh new design and proven reputation being one of America’s best selling vehicles on the road today receiving many new improvements making it the best Corolla sedan yet.

Copyright 2013


  • Price: Base Corolla L $17,610 / As-Tested Corolla LE Eco $19,735
  • Engine: .8-liter 4-cylinder 140 horsepower @ 6,100 rpm / 126 ft-lbs. of torque @ 4,000 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
  • Overall length: 182.6 in.
  • Overall width: 69.9 in.
  • Overall height: 57.3 in.
  • Track: f/r-60.3/60.4 in.
  • Headroom: f/r-38.3/37.1 in.
  • Legroom: f/r-42.3/41.4 in.
  • EPA cargo volume: 13.0 cu.ft.
  • Curb weight: 2,855 lbs.
  • Fuel tank: 13.2 gallons
  • Turning radius: 35.6 ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 8.6 seconds
  • EPA fuel economy: 30 mpg/city 42 mpg/highway
  • Range: 396 miles city / 554.4 miles highway

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