That Corolla you see in Toyota showrooms has long overstayed its welcome. Don’t believe me. Believe the marketplace.
Reliable and well built as it is and always has been, the Corolla desperately needs an update. Corolla sales were down 5.3 per cent through the first third of this year, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. To keep Canadians interesting in buying a made-in-Canada Corolla, Toyota Canada has ladled on the incentives. As unhaggle.com notes, a 2013 Corolla LE with automatic transmission can be had with a $2,500 sales sweetener and nearly $1,000 more in so-called “Unhaggle” savings.
The point is, the marketplace is ready for a reinvented Corolla and so is Toyota Motor. Last week, just-auto.com reported that Toyota wants to become the first auto maker in the world to break through the 10 million vehicle production barrier this year. The Corolla is vital to Toyota’s global sales plan; it’s sold in 154 countries, says Toyota. Thus, we are taking a good, long look at the 2014 reinvented version.
Toyota says the Corolla is, in fact, getting a thorough re-boot. The stakes are high. We’re talking about what Toyota says is the “world’s best-selling nameplate of all time, with nearly 40 million vehicles sold since it was introduced in the 1960s.” More than 1.3 million have been sold in Canada and thousands of Canadian jobs at the Cambridge, Ont., plant where it’s built, depend on its success. The 11th-generation version arrives later this year.
Toyota says the 2014 car will have new engine and power train technologies, more standard features and even the cheapest one will have LED headlamps. The design looks more aggressive than the bland shapes of the current car. Toyota argues that the design language is consistent with the latest Camry and Avalon sedans.
The new Corolla is also longer, wider and has a longer wheelbase which should translate into more cabin room – especially legroom in the back seat. The instruments and controls have been updated with modern gauges, as you’d expect, and the interior design has been modernized.
The base 1.8-litre engine in the 2014 model has exactly the same output as the current 1.8-litre four-banger (132 horsepower). A second four-cylinder also has 1.8 litres of displacement and puts out 140 hp and has what Toyota calls VALVEMATIC, “a valve train technology which appears for the first time in North America with Corolla.” This technology manages valve lift and timing to improve performance.
That said, a number of compact competitors already in showrooms, vehicles such as the current Ford Focus (160 hp), Hyundai Elantra (148 hp), have more powerful standard engine offerings. Toyota will offer and standard CVT (continuously variable transmission) on LE, S and ECO variants.
Look for Toyota Canada to make a big deal of the launch of this new Corolla. And it is a big deal. The Corolla for years and years has been one of Canada’s best sellers. If one car matters to Toyota more than any other, it’s the Corolla. Toyota executives surely have that in mind as they ponder busting through the 10 million sales barrier.
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Correction: An earlier draft of this story stated that a 2014 Corolla could be purchased with a $2,500 sales sweetener. It should have read that a 2013 model was available with this deal. The story has been corrected.