While the current Corolla is more than ten years old, only having a few styling updates here and there, it still sold over 24,000 copies last month. At that number it still outsells much of its competition despite offering less exciting design, fewer features, and less option content.
The Corolla is still baked of the old school of thought where small cars are basic cars. Many competitors have gone upscale offering buyers a more premium experience while still having good gas mileage. The sales numbers tell us people might still like vanilla however.
Our Corolla S did have a bit more visual appeal with its 17” alloy wheels with wider 205/45 tires, lower sport body cladding and rear spoiler. The Premium Complete option package also gave us blacked out headlights that really complete the look.
Inside, the Corolla remains basic. The design of the cabin isn’t racy nor is it lined with premium soft touch materials. In fact the first thing that caught my eye was the door panel that makes no attempt to match the dash in color or finish.
The majority of the interior is still made of hard and cheap tap tap plastic for the most part and doesn’t offer many of the features many competitors now do like power seats or leather.
We did have a leather wrapped steering wheel with radio controls and Toyota’s latest touch screen stereo deck which has all the needful things like Bluetooth connectivity and Entune features. The sound system had an aftermarket installed feel but a good sound.
Its roomy enough and ultimately comfortable for four, a tighter fit for five. There was plenty of storage including two separate glove boxes, a center console cubby, and a place to store your cell phone away and out of sight. Our tester also had a backup camera which was a nice touch.
Under the hood is a 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine with a miserly 132 horsepower mated to an antiquated 4-speed automatic. The majority of its competition now offers 6-speed automatics which have better drivability and better fuel economy.
The engine does have adequate power but the transmission has it buzzing at freeway speeds where it must spin at 3,000 rpm plus at cruise.
While hampered by the old school transmission, we still managed to achieve an average of 34 mpg combined with the Corolla, precisely as it promises for highway only driving. That’s 5 mpg better than the EPA rating of 29 mpg combined.
We suspect the all new 2014 Corolla with a wider band of gear ratios afforded by a new constantly variable transmission will net better fuel economy however.
The ride and drive is also what we would describe as adequate. As an S trim grade which has larger tires and wheels, this Corolla wasn’t un-fun on a windy road. The suspension and body has enough stiffness and poise to give some mild enjoyment.
On the highway however road noise is high, and tire slap over pavement irregularities is ever present. This is something that was acceptable ten years ago when this generation Corolla made its debut, but competitors have become more refined.
For a more in-depth review and photo galleries see GasMiler.com