Might as well present the most impressive stat first, and then follow it up with an actual review: The Toyota Corolla is the biggest selling car in automotive history. Yep, since its introduction in the mid-1960s, Toyota has rolled more than 40 million of them off the assembly line and into driveways and garages around the world.
They’ll sell another 300,000 or so this year. Think they know what they’re doing?
Having said that, the trusty little family sedan has had some serious competition of late, which prompted the Japanese automaker to make a few tweaks to their superstar. The ’14 Corolla has a slightly bolder look to it, a little more legroom in the back, and a little better gas mileage - and already had pretty impressive numbers.
I drove the S model for a week, and was struck more by the consistency from past Corollas than by any changes.
Here’s the thing: No Corolla will ever make your jaw drop, nor will it dazzle you with interior luxury, nor give you a Lexus-cushiony ride. That ain’t, as they say, its thang. Instead the Corolla does exactly what millions of people want: It drives well, it gets great mileage, it’s reliable, and it won’t cost you a lotta cheddah.
On the outside the car has been described as “edgier,” which may be overstating it a bit. Well, maybe compared to some of its competitors in the affordable-compact-sedan segment. It is, however, slightly longer and wider than previous models, and sports some pretty cool LED headlights now as a standard feature.
Inside you’ll find moderate quality in the materials department; again, nothing fancy, but remember, the base model starts below $17k. The S model I tooled around in topped out at about $23, and that was with some options.
I’ll tell you what I really like about the Corolla is that the controls are a breeze. Upscale automakers feel like they have to impress you - while also confusing the hell out of you sometimes - with a mouse and an assortment of screen menus. Not this car. Want the air on? Hit one button. Want to change stations? Hit a button. Want to . . . well, you get the point.
Under the hood you won’t get a monster, but you will get a reliable four-cylinder engine that puts out about 130ish horsepower. It won’t fly off the starting line, but it also won’t make you feel like a 98-pound weakling, either. There were a couple of times I felt like it struggled going up hills, but not enough to turn you off. Any macho hit that you feel will be more than offset when you cruise past the muscle cars who are waiting at the pump. The Corolla delivers better than 30mpg.
The ride itself is comfortable and satisfactory. You won’t feel cramped, including in the back seat, where an extra few inches of leg room puts the Corolla ahead of other cars in the segment. There’s ample storage space, and although the trunk isn’t huge, it’s got decent space and a wide mouth that helps you negotiate bags and boxes.
I’ve never been disappointed with the Corolla, and apparently neither are 40 million other people. Toyota will keep delivering a reliable and very-affordable product, and drivers will continue to appreciate the effort.
If you’re in the market for a good family sedan, you can’t go wrong. And if you’re looking for a first car for your son or daughter, the Corolla is always a strong choice.
Reviewed by Dom
Review car provided by the manufacturer