Toyota’s Newest Corolla Shows How to Age Gracefully

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Believe it or not, the Toyota (NYSE:TM) Corolla’s latest iteration is the 11th generation that the nameplate has seen since 1968, when the company first brought the model to American shores. However, the car seen nowadays is vastly different — as you’d expect — from its 45-year-old ancestor. Here’s what the new model has going for it.

More than 40 million Corolla units have been sold, and Toyota is looking to keep the momentum going with its 2014 model. A radical departure from the generation it replaces, the Corolla takes a bold step in spicing up what is ordinarily quite a boring segment, albeit an affordable one.

Adjusted proportions, a new front fascia, and a more aggressive overall demeanor help to define the new car. “Obviously, the Corolla is no luxury car. Nor is it a sports sedan, or even a midmarket family car,” The Detroit News reports. “It is a simple economy compact, though with some upscale touches, priced to provide basic transportation for many people who likely cannot afford anything more expensive.”

Corolla

“But,” the publication continues, “it also is a car that is good enough for anybody. It can carry a sultan or a steamfitter in reasonable comfort with middling performance and decent fuel economy. Pope Francis likely would love it.”

For any car to be all of those things is a pretty tall order, but the Corolla reportedly manages it well. There are six versions of the new car, all in the same four-door sedan format. They run from $17,610 for the L to $20,910 for the LE Eco, and all come with the same 1.8-liter engine under the hood.

While five use the engine straight-up, the sixth variant — the LE Eco — has the same engine “but with computerized valve control that boosts the horsepower to 140 and the fuel economy to 30 miles per gallon city, 40 on the highway, and 34 miles combined on the EPA’s city/highway/combined cycles,” according to The Detroit News. For others, the combined mileage peaks at 31 or 32, depending on the transmission chosen.

Buyers can opt for a six-speed manual or a CVT; while the six-speed has “a smooth shift linkage and light clutch action for entertaining driving and maximum driver control,” the CVT “delivers sprightly response so the Corolla feels quicker than it actually is,” The Detroit News reports.

Technology for the Corolla is fairly on par with the industry: Navigation is available via Toyota’s Entune system, which also supports an apps package.

Surprisingly, for a compact car, The Detroit News reports that in the back seat, two people who are 6 feet or taller can sit in comfort. The rear-middle seat isn’t so bad, either, despite its reputation for being the worst place to sit in a vehicle.

“On the road, the six-speed Sport model and the LE Eco cruise quietly with no apparent wind noise and little road or mechanical sounds,” The Detroit News says. “The steering is competent with good straight-line tracking, and the ride is pleasant except on very harsh surfaces.”

In conclusion, the Corolla is everything you would expect it to be: efficient with the option for more toys but with spartan settings that many compact buyers go for. The new Corolla appears to offer buyers looking for an A-to-B mode of transportation more but without punishing them for it from a price perspective.

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