The New Toyota Corolla: Why You Should Care
Toyota was the first car company to bite the recall wind big-time, and while that set them back hugely in terms of profitability and image, it means they’re ideally placed for huge growth right now. Unintended acceleration and faulty airbags have reshaped the brand, and a clear picture of what's to come has recently emerged in the form of a car.
Earlier this week, we caught a nice long glimpse at a car which might reshape the compact segment, the all-new Toyota Corolla. It looks just like the Kia Forte sedan, works just like any other car and is about as interesting as my a microwave oven and sounds like one as well. So why should you care?
Right now, you shouldn’t. May US car sales were very good, topping 1 million for a third straight month just for the retail segment. To blame for this is improving economic sentiment, as consumer confidence reached a five year high, consumer spending is on the rise and unemployment is at a four-year low. As they say, America dragged the world into recession, but it’s the first one to pull out of it. The economy is so good people are no longer downsizing. Honda, Toyota and Ford all saw their biggest sales in the mid-size segment, not the cheaper compacts, which is kind of puzzling. This means you guys want the Camry and the Accord, which are nice. But what if bankers messed up again?
Just in case things go South due to overspending, the Corolla is ideally placed to attract customers who want to cut down on spending. It’s been designed to take the brunt of the NHTSA and IIHS in its stride, which is surely more important than trick suspension and gearboxes in the sub-$20,000 market.
The exterior of the Corolla is maybe not as good as a Dodge Dart or a Ford Focus, but Toyota has done a fantastic job with the interior. It’s simple and elegant, with all the features you can afford and nothing more. Some models will come with Push Button Start, a reversing camera and a bit of pleather on the seats. It’s difficult to put into worlds, but there’s a distinct Lexus feel in the wide displays with blue lighting and simple, large and square buttons. I think this is by far one of the best features on the car.
Knowing people actually want a mid-size, Toyota tried really hard to make a compact with lots of space inside. The wheelbase is a massive 4 inches longer, which is unheard-of growth for the segment. The seats have longer bases, more adjustably, better covers, better padding and heating available on top grades.
Finally, there’s the economy to consider. Cheap cars are normally not as good in this respect because the technology is outdated. Toyota went around this problem with model differentiation. You can still get the basic car with a 4-speed automatic, but they’ve also introduced a new LE Eco trim level which has an advanced Continuously Variable Transmission, low rolling resistance tires and a better drag coefficient. This non-hybrid 1.8-liter car is supposed to do 40 mph highway, and that’s not in Hyundai mpg, it’s in realistic Toyota mpg.
The 2014 Corolla proves Toyota has managed to keep its eye on the ball and not fall into the trap of making slightly more premium and more expensive models with every generation. I’m not at all excited about the ’Rolla in the slightest, but then I wasn’t excited about the new plus-sized refrigerator with ice dispenser I got a couple of months ago. Like the Corolla, upgrading to newer model has made life easier and it’s one less thing I have to worry about. The fridge is made by a Korean brand, but if Toyota made household appliances I’d probably have bought it from them.