A few weeks ago I was invited to catch a preview of the new 2014 Toyota Corolla. Like most people, I had a ton of concern regarding how new, exciting, and sexy this car could be. I mean, it’s a Corolla. We grew up to boring parents driving us to church in it. Those beige colours gleaming proudly as they park in front of our schools among all the other nondescript cars. In case it has never occurred to you, Corolla’s cache of non-descript automobiles in the past two decades is nearly identical to everything Jason Statham wore in every movie he’s been in. Do you even remember the kind of pedestrian streetwear his movie stylist tossed him in before? It’s so casually infuriating!
We took off around 7:30am – I shared a few cabs from the downtown core with my fellow Toronto blogger invitees: @clickflickca, @amandablain, and @savvyabroad in anticipation to see what makes this new Corolla has in store.
Arriving into Toyota HQ, we were shuffled into a presentation room where a slew of bloggers from across the country followed in shortly after. I really do enjoy meeting bloggers from across the country. So much energy. Sometimes I feel that blogging in Toronto makes you a bit watered-down by these kind of opportunities. It’s great to see some fresh new faces too. We were demo’d with introductory videos and detailed breakdowns under and over the hood.
The first thing to note is this is not your father’s car. Being the oldest car in the auto industry, this baby just got juiced with a proper facelift — inside and out.
Funny enough, the Toyota Corolla was introduced in 1966. That’s 48 years they’ve been making this thing. This name is about as old as your dad. To put it in perspective, that was the same year the first episode of Star Trek was aired and a year after Malcolm X was shot to death. (Personal challenge: Try to incorporate all three factoids in one sentence in a future blog post).
From HQ, the team hopped in a shuttle for a drive to the assembly plant, which unfortunately I was unable to join. My parents happened to arrive that afternoon and need a chauffeur. Luckily, Toyota left me a Corolla S to test drive for a few weeks, so I was able to scoop them up.
On another personal note, I’d like to include that my parents are the best parents ever. My mom owned a two-seater Ford Mustang Cobra and eventually sold it for a Bronco when I was born. My dad, being the Macguyver he is, installed a speaker on the truck so I could yell at people on the sidewalk from his CB radio. This Xmas season was no different; they’re still amazing people in my life (see below).
In case you need a caption: my dad is an aspiring DJ and was prepping for his NYE gig. Best mid-life crisis ever? Taking the car for a spin and making it my mobile hideout for a few weeks was pretty legit. I’ve driven entry level, compact cars before but a lot of them feel exactly that: entry. Having driven a lot of basic luxury, I feel this car falls more in-line with them. While bells and whistles are a treat, those bells and whistles felt far more crisp and united into a singular package that really stood out. For the every day Joe Shmoe, this car far exceeds expectations.
Fortunately they’ve made a few changes that really push it to the limit within its under $20,000 bracket. In case you’re not used to how I review cars – while anyone can Google details about it, I like to drop a few interesting notes that’ll best serve you off my experience driving it.
The 2014 Corolla has the best fuel economy in it’s class. I found this slide above very helpful to note, so I snapped a photo. It’s also important to note that after driving the Corolla for 1.5 weeks, I went from full tank to 25% gas left. This includes city driving daily and hitting the long road on two separate occasions. Easily the best mileage out of any car I’ve had a chance to review.
This thing can weather the elements. During our first major snowfall, the car was absolutely bombarded. It took a solid 30 minutes to shove the snow out from around it. But it took it like a champ. Afterwards, that memorable icestorm hit, and while some presents were temporarily jammed in the trunk over Xmas, removing the ice became a helluva lot easier once I got the engine running. Ten minutes later I was easily chipping the ice off and we were back to action.
I really enjoyed the HUD. The essentials were working straight out the box: you could connect your phone using Bluetooth by just a few taps, your mobile phone plays songs nearly instantly once you turn the car on, it can send text messages over voice, you can make and answer calls almost too easily, my always-favourite rear-view camera made an appearance, and most shockingly, you can playback anything you hear on the radio up to 30 minutes prior. This thing is a multimedia beast.
It’s damn spacious. The interior was comfortable from two people to five. The leather seating was made with SofTex faux leather material that is not only seemingly identical to leather and usually available only in luxury vehicles, but functionally it regulates temperature, doesn’t tear that easily, and can be cleaned in a pinch. Oh, the trunk is kind of spacious too, if you’re into that whole Dexter thing.
Still skeptical? Check out this interesting focus group that took an unmarked, 2014 Corolla out for a spin, and they’re reaction to actually driving one. Because you know, the Corolla is still the “soccer mom car that reminds you why you’d rather take the bus”. Pfft, yeah right.
I mean, guys. We are talking about one of the best selling car in the world here. You didn’t think they’d do something to keep it that way?