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Car Review: 2014 Toyota Corolla S Premium

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There were big changes in store for the dazzling 2014 Toyota Corolla, and although we knew the new design looked sweet, time behind the wheel would give us a true measure of the car. That was taken care of when we drove the Corolla for a week, and quite honestly, we hated to see the week end.

EXTERIOR

You’ll find yourself doing a double take when you first see the Corolla, because the new design is light years ahead of the past models with the new aggressive styling. The 2014 Toyota Corolla S Premium looks that good and will shake the compact car segment without a doubt. Our test model was a sharp blue crush metallic sporting 17 -nch smoked alloy wheels. The all-new Corolla makes an immediate visual impact with a more expressive, chiseled exterior design that elaborates on the “Iconic Dynamism” theme first seen on the Corolla Furia Concept that debuted at the North American International Auto Show. The new Corolla is distinguished by its tauter, more athletic proportions that ride on a longer wheelbase (+ 3.93 inches/ +100 mm compared to current model). With the wheels pushed out toward the corners, compact overhangs, and more tapered front and rear expression, the new Corolla communicates a more dynamic compact sedan form, even at a standstill. The new sedan is 3.90 inches (99 mm) longer overall and yet presents a more compact appearance than the current model thanks to a basic shape that tapers at the front and rear of the vehicle to help emphasize the wheel arches and wheels-to-the-corner stance.

The new Corolla features an expressive front fascia with sharper, more pronounced details above a large trapezoidal grill that rests beneath a thin intake inlet below the hood. The front view of the new Corolla reveals a continuation of the design themes seen in recent Toyota sedans such as Camry and Avalon, and it creates a sleeker, more assertive impression of a Toyota compact sedan with its more precisely sculpted surfaces. Among the challenges presented by the new Corolla’s original design concept was the need to execute more deeply rounder corners to achieve the desired sleeker image. The thick structure of conventional headlamps would hinder the appearance of deeply rounded corners. Sleek, compact LED lamp assemblies were adopted to reduce the corner mass and help accentuate the Corolla’s tapered, rounded-corner, front- end design theme. In addition, the low heat generated by the LED lamp enabled the use of a lighter weight PES resin lens instead of conventional glass. Corolla is the first compact sedan to offer standard equipped LED headlamps.

INTERIOR

The impressive 2014 Toyota Corolla S Premium continued inside the cabin with a plethora of new options that enhance the overall driving experience. The new Corolla’s interior continues the “Iconic Dynamism” theme to create a stylish, highly functional and inviting interior space with a greater sense of craftsmanship in its design, use of materials and attention to detail. A horizontally oriented dash structure helps enhance the interior’s sense of spaciousness while providing a more wide-open, intuitively functional space for interface with vehicle controls. The interior offers a premium aesthetic with its use of piano-black gloss trim highlighted by metallic ornamentation and trim that conveys an upscale yet sportier image. Depending on interior color theme, blue, black or amber pinstriped accents are used in conjunction with the dash and door panel ornamentation to enhance the premium appeal of the interior. Ornamental stitching along the leading edge of the dash pad adds a sense of craftsmanship to the interior’s upscale nature. An available decorative boot with ornamental stitching surrounding the shift lever adds a sporty, premium look.

As a result of the 3.93-inch increase in vehicle wheelbase, the new Corolla’s interior package has been dramatically improved in terms of passenger comfort, gaining considerable legroom for the rear seat occupants. Compared to the outgoing model, the rear seat hip point has been moved back 2.95 inches (75 mm) and additional leg-room was gained by adopting a slim front seat back. The rear passenger floor was also made flatter by re-routing exhaust pipes beneath the vehicle to offer better middle position foot room. Rear seat comfort is also enhanced with the use of denser urethane pads and foam inserts within the seats.

The 2014 Corolla elevates the compact car’s interior experience by treating occupants to a high level of cabin quietness. Environmental noise, in addition to road and engine sounds entering the cabin, are mitigated by an acoustic glass windscreen, improved floor carpet insulation, an instrument panel seal between the cowl and the windshield, a fender sound insulator, and an inner dash silencer pad. Corolla’s front seats include a longer, more supportive lower cushion and an improved bolster design, while offering a 0.59-inch (15-mm) increase in the seat’s range of adjustment to help accommodate a wider range of physiques. The effort required operating the Corolla’s front seat slide, reclining and lift mechanisms has also been greatly reduced.

Corolla’s standard gauge cluster offers three dials with sharp image detail and clear blue illumination surrounded by chrome trimmed rings. Within the speedometer dial is a multi-information display that shows odometer, trip odometer, current fuel consumption, average fuel consumption, cruising distance and average vehicle speed. The S-grade meter cluster offers a high technology feel with a 3.5-inch black and white TFT display that rests between two large dials.

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PERFORMANCE

After gushing about the sleek new design and loving the interior space, the only questions left of the new 2014 Toyota Corolla S Premium is: How does the car perform? The Corolla answered that question quickly and soundly with a top of the line combination of power and performance! The base 1.8-liter unit with VVT-I on our test S Premium is rated at 132 horsepower. The 2014 Corolla also offers improved fuel economy thanks to its advanced Continuously Variable Transmission. This CVTi-S (i for intelligent, S for shift), which will be available on the LE, S and LE Eco Corolla models, features several enhancements to improve its efficiency and driving performance with discrete shift points that help create a sensation more similar to a traditional hydraulic automatic transmission.

While the efficiency and reduced weight inherent in a pulley-type CVT would seem an ideal solution for vehicles emphasizing fuel efficiency, the characteristic CVT “rubber band” driving sensation of the engine winding to its power band upon acceleration has earned detractors. With Corolla’s new CVTi-S, Toyota’s engineers improved the drivability of the new Corolla by adapting discrete stepped “gears,” or shift points, into the car’s acceleration and deceleration curves. The Corolla’s new CVTi-S even mimics the familiar characteristics of hydraulic automatics creating a sense of positive shift engagement. On the Corolla S trim, up to seven shift points can also be manually actuated from the shift gate or steering wheel paddle shifters. Toyota engineers addressed challenges presented by typical CVT design such as the high level of hydraulic pressure CVT’s require for operation, and the optimization of the pulley ratio range to offer the best performance and fuel economy. Typically, CVT hydraulic-fluid pumps are driven at the same rate as engine speed. As a result, the pump wastes considerable effort, hurting transmission efficiency at higher engine speeds as the pump moves more fluid than necessary to lubricate and sandwich the CVT’s belt. With this new CVTi-S, hydraulic pressure was reduced to an optimal point to protect against belt slippage, while conserving drive effort to limit excess pumping losses. The Corolla’s new CVTi-S is fitted with an oil pump that features a coaxial two-port design that enables a 25 percent reduction in pump drive torque compared to other pump designs, and results in a greater efficiency with its reduction in parasitic engine loss.

As equipped on the Corolla S, the new CVTi-S offers a SPORT mode that helps deliver a more dynamic driving experience with software tuning that alters shift points, creating transmission behavior during acceleration that enhances the sporty character of the S-grade. SPORT mode is not a track focused mode, but rather a transmission setting that, along with unique electric power steering programming, helps create a sportier driving sensation during normal road and freeway driving. On the Corolla S equipped with CVTi-S, steering wheel mounted paddle shifters allow drivers to make fast, sequential, stepped shifts through “7-speeds” to help enhance the driving experience. The Corolla S console shifter also offers a manual gate (M-position) that allows drivers to make brisk upshifts or downshifts using the shift lever. The next shift step will automatically be engaged if the engine revolutions become high enough or down shifted if they become low enough. The M mode activity is displayed in the black and white display of the Corolla S combination meter. The Corolla’s Sport mode was developed and evaluated on roads within the key global markets to help ensure a more energetic drive across a broad range of conditions.

OVERVIEW

Let’s take a look at what we have here in the 2014 Toyota Corolla S Premium, my friends. A great looking car that gets 29mpg in the city and 37mpg on the highway with a sticker price as tested of $23,570. As a result of more than 40 years on the market, this compact car has developed a famed reputation for quality, durability and reliability, and it now looks better than ever. The all-new 11th generation Corolla makes a much stronger design statement, with more compelling exterior and interior executions that challenge the pre-conceptions about Corolla, and that’s a good things for the folks at Toyota as well as consumers.

  

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