All new for the 2014 Corolla means a fresh exterior design that has a completely different take on the familiar shape. Up front is a new angular face with a much sportier look, featuring standard LED headlamps from the Corolla L all the way up to top models. Yes, LED.

The front fascia has a more aggressive lower jowl, shedding the Corolla’s previously conservative stance. The grille and headlamps are more modern in shape and detail, really elevating the Corolla’s first impression.

On Corolla L and LE models the front fascia has a handsome carbon fiber look to the bumper area. When you step up to the Corolla S, you get a unique front fascia with a different lower design and piano black finish.

This look goes along with larger wheels with black accents that set the S model apart from others. The Corolla S now mas a much more integrated style overall and looses the tacked on body kit look the previous Corolla S.

The silhouette is familiar just enough to tell you its related to Corollas of the past but shared Toyota’s latest angular design language. The rear quarter has a handsome stance and new tail lamps tie up the rear proportions tidily.

Wheels range from 15” steel with covers on the Corolla L, to 16” on LE and S. On LE and Corolla S, you can step up to the Plus or Premium grades which are new for 2014, which give you handsome 16” of 17” alloy wheels.

Under the hood, the 2014 Corolla comes with a 1.8 liter VVT-i four-cylinder engine with 132 horsepower. While similar to last year’s model, it now comes with a number of enhancements which help it achieve an average of 3 mpg more than before.

A six speed-manual transmission is available on the Corolla L as well as the Corolla S. And if you want an automatic, an all new constantly variable transmission is available called CVTi-S. This new transmission is available on the Corolla LE and above, the L still only comes with an antiquated 4-speed automatic.

While you might he saying “Oh no not a CVT”, the good new is that Toyota has tuned it offer up simulated “shift points” which make it feel more like a traditional automatic instead the rubber band effect most CVT’s offer up.

On the Corolla S, they go one step further and give the CVT paddle shifters which enable you to operate the CVT manually to have up to a 7-speed transmission in feel.

Overall it’s well done and while not a true automatic transmission, Toyota gets kudos for recognizing many have misgivings with a CVT and mitigated the areas most complain about.

New for 2014 is the LE Eco which has a 1.8 liter 140 horsepower Valvematic engine. Starting at $400 extra, you can choose this option for maximum fuel economy. With unique valvetrain technology, this engine mated with the CVT can achieve up to 42 mpg highway.

MPG across the board rises substantially. On the LE CVTi-S models the 2014 Corolla is rated at 29 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 32 mpg combined. Corolla S gets slightly less due to its more sporting tune with 37 mpg highway. Its all about the LE ECO model for efficiency however, with a top rating set of 30 mpg city, 42 mpg highway and 35 mpg combined.

On the road the Corolla rides very similarly to the previous generations. The chassis is a bit stiffer and handling response has been enhanced slightly. If you have been a Corolla owner before the new 2014 model will feel plenty familiar.

In all models the engines were refined and moderately quiet as you’d expect in a Toyota. We didn’t get the opportunity on our first drive to test fuel economy, but we will later when we get a full review.

The interior is really where I feel the biggest news is on the Corolla, and the weakest area of the older model. They have really raised the bar with a much more engaging design, more popular features buyers demand today, and higher quality materials we all expect from small cars now.

Even on the base L model which starts out at $16,800 now includes features like Bluetooth connectivity, a 4-speaker tech audio package with USB and iPhone connections, eight airbags, and new whiplash injury lessening seats.

The Corolla LE, the mainstream model will offer up automatic climate control, Entune display audio, backup camera, and a wider array of two tone interior treatments and accent colors. With the new Premium trim levels for LE and Corolla S, you can even get Toyota’s new Softex seat trim which is the closest thing to leather you will find anywhere.

The new dash design is laid out horizontally with a lot more detail. A large display audio system is now central on LE models and above with and expanded array of Toyota’s Entune application suites. The HVAC controls are conveniently laid out below.

The center console has plenty of spots for your goodies and cups, and one some models have ECO or SPORT buttons which either give you increased efficiency or a more sporting feel from the powertrain.

The new materials are soft to the touch, and seats are some of the more comfortable in its class. Manual adjustments allow for you to really find that sweet spot pretty easily. The steering wheel has a manual tilt and telescope adjustment as well.

While the Corolla S interior really pops with its vibrant colors and nicely bolstered seats, the LE model which will be most popular gives a generously sumptuous interior look. Again, a huge step up over the 2013 model. It just feels richer all around.

For a full review see