The lowest-priced of these, the Corolla LE, has a starting retail price of $19,110 and comes with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that works to optimize fuel economy. The result: An LE government rating of 29/38 mpg.
And, Toyota offers other 2014 Corolla models with “Eco” in their names that rate a bit better.
Shoppers have many choices in the Corolla’s affordable sedan segment.
They include America’s third best-selling car, the Honda Civic, which has a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $19,180 for a 2014 Civic four door with five-speed manual and $19,980 with automatic.
This base 2014 Civic LX sedan comes with a 143-horsepower four cylinder, six air bags, standard rearview camera, cruise control, air conditioning, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, hands-free phone capability, AM/FM radio with CD player and four speakers, USB audio interface, Bluetooth music streaming and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
Note that the Corolla and Civic are front-wheel drive cars.
But, another competitor, the 2014 Subaru Impreza, comes standard with all-wheel drive and has a starting retail price of $19,190 with five-speed manual and $20,190 with automatic. The base Impreza 2.0i has a standard 148-horsepower, four-cylinder engine.
With bolder front styling and designed side “creases” in the metal, the new Corolla seeks young buyers. But the tester, in bright Blue Crush paint and with 17-inch, dark alloy wheels, did not get second looks.
Inside the test car, the black, plastic dashboard was well-arranged but surprised with its tall and upright design that seemed inspired by 1960s cars.
With the base four cylinder developing a maximum torque of 128 foot-pounds at 4,400 rpm and power coming through a CVT, the test Corolla droned into high revs frequently.
Power was acceptable in most city driving situations, but there was little fast acceleration. That is, until sport drive mode, activated by a button, was turned on. It improved response by allowing the transmission to eschew its more fuel-saving habits.