For those that place fuel economy over everything, the Corolla Eco might just be worth a look. It takes an already thrifty car and squeezes even more out of each litre of fuel…
The Toyota Corolla is the best selling car of all time worldwide, selling 1.3 million units in Canada alone since it was introduced in 1966.
To say the Corolla is a big deal for Toyota is an understatement as it represents 47 per cent of all passenger sales for Toyota Canada. But the Corolla is also a big deal for Canada as it is made in Ontario and the Cambridge assembly plant. Cambridge was selected as the lead plant for vehicle development, as it makes cars for all of North America, the Corolla’s biggest market.
This new 2014 Corolla has been on sale here since the fall of 2013 and by the number, I see on the road, it looks to be a hit already.
For those that place fuel economy over everything, the Corolla Eco might just be worth a look as it takes an already thrifty car and squeezes even more out of each litre of fuel.
One major criticism of Toyota, as a brand, and the Corolla, in particular, has been drab styling. Toyota recently has been walking a nice line between updating their lineup to be more progressive but also keeping their loyal buyers happy.
The Corolla is sold in several different trim levels, starting at $15,995 to get the base CE, but the reality is that most Canadians will upgrade to the $19,215 S (Sport) or the LE for $19,500. To upgrade to this $20,500 LE Eco model is $1,035 over the S model and $750 over the regular LE.
I prefer the S trim for its more aggressive 17-inch wheels compared to the LE and LE Eco, which come with smaller 16-inch wheels.
Regardless, this model is a massive step forward in terms of delivering an eye-catching design. The lower stance, standard LED projector headlamps and sleeker bodywork now make this a car people would be proud to own.
The dash is wide and flat with easy to see, and use, radio and heat controls but the look is fresh and contemporary. The seats now sit lower in the car to make room for the slightly lower roofline but I found getting in and out no problem. The seats provide excellent support and comfort.
The back seat has a lot more legroom because the wheelbase of this new model has been stretched by 10 cm. The car is also slightly wider, making hip room impressive. Overall the cabin is large and airy and nicely put together, considering the price. Since the S, LE or Eco models will be the sales leaders, Toyota has kitted all three out with a 6.1-inch touch-screen radio that includes Bluetooth streaming audio, phone connectivity and a backup camera. Faux leather seats are available on the S and LE but not the Eco. The good news is that all models come with heated front seats.
All but the Eco model come with a 132hp version of the 1.8L 4-cylinder engine carried over from the last car. The Eco gets a 140hp version that comes with Toyota’s Valevematic technology that helps to pump out the extra 8hp, yet improves fuel economy.
The base CE is sold with either a six-speed manual or the four-speed automatic found in the last model. The only other model to be offered with a manual is the S trim. That leaves the LE and Eco with a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT) and this unit as an option in the S trim.
The upside to buying the Eco is an improved fuel economy score. The regular LE with a CVT has a combined city and highway rating of 5.9L/100km but the Eco model drops that down to 5.7L/100km.
The driving penalty for this economy is a lack of driving spirit. I drove the S model at the Quebec City launch and expected a similar performance because this Eco has eight more horsepower. Not the case. I would take the minor fuel economy hit and buy the S or regular LE instead.
The Corolla is a fine update, Toyota set out to make a roomier, more stylish and value packed car. The Eco has no options available so it sticks to the $20,150 base price. I do enjoy the new interior, the styling is an improvement and many families will welcome the space.
Power: 1.8L 4-cylinder with 132hp or 140hp
Fill-up: 6.5L/4.6L/100km (city/highway Eco)
Sticker price: $15,995-$20,250