With a knowing smile, the new 2014 Toyota Corolla’s chief engineer, Shinichi Yasui, explained that customers tell Toyota: “(The) Corolla is a good car, but not very exciting.” With the redesign of the 2014 Corolla, Toyota aims to change that, giving the car styling and driving dynamics intended to get compact car buyer hearts beating just a little bit faster.
These new traits enhance what Toyota considers to be the Corolla’s core DNA: Quality, Durability, and Reliability, or what the company calls QDR. The new 2014 Corolla will be sold all around the world, with minor styling differences and powertrains unique to certain markets, but the new car’s styling, interior space, and user-friendly controls were developed with North American buyers in mind while driving dynamics were tailored to European buyer preferences. As a result, Toyota says that it expects more people to want to buy a Corolla, as opposed to feeling like they should buy a Corolla.
If Toyota is successful in adding that kind of appeal to one of the most important models in its lineup, the Corolla is virtually guaranteed to remain a best seller, continuing a 45-year run as one of the most popular vehicles the automaker builds. If Toyota is not successful, people will probably go ahead and buy a Corolla anyway, just for its reputation for delivering QDR.
Now that’s what you call a win-win situation.
To find out if the new 11th generation Corolla sparks more emotion than the Corollas to come before it, I headed to San Diego for a day of driving the Corolla in the city, in the suburbs, in the mountains, and along California’s sun-drenched coast. The short story is this: Yes, this is a better Corolla than the car it replaces.