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2014 Toyota Corolla GLX – Road Tested – Looks Can Change Perception

2014 Toyota Corolla GLX – Road Tested – Looks Can Change Perception

First Impressions

It was a bit of a shock, to me and everyone else, as it didn’t look like what I remember a Corolla looking like. This $37,490 mid sized sedan has quite a bit of Lexus styling woven into it and could easily be confused at a glance with its bigger cousin the Camry. Toyota-GLX-4

The Test Drive

This test happened to coincide with a regular Easter long weekend trip we do to Martinbrough with some good friends, so I thought what better to way to test it out then to take it up and over the Rimutaka Hill for the weekend.

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The first test before we even began was to see how well the boot would fit all our stuff. We had a bit more than usual as I had to take some photography gear with me. All of our supplies for the weekend, luggage and photo gear all easily packed into the 540 litre boot without much fuss at all, leaving the rear seats completely empty. Sometimes cars like these can have a dramatic difference to the handling and power when loaded, but I never felt this when driving the corolla. Even up and over the Rimutakas it was easily able to keep a good pace, with enough left over power to use the overtaking lanes when there was a camper van or truck. This is thanks to the 173 Nm of torque generated by the 1.8L straight 4 (103 kW) and the manual sequential mode, allowing you to drop down a gear or two into the higher band. Power is smoothly delivered, and as the car is quite light it never feels like the engine is redline screaming just to pull the car along.

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The handling was nothing to sing out about, it was direct, but lacked a bit of feel at times, and oddly the power steering was a bit heavier than some other cars. Similar to power steering of cars five or so years ago, unlike today where you can turn the steering wheel with just your little finger. The brakes were good but had a bit of a pinchy grip to them, you could ease into them and then about 30 or 40% of they would grip harder than expected given the braking pressure. It made me use them more assertively instead of gingerly, pressing past the pinch point, which I got used to very quickly.

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The Interior was the biggest shock, quite nice, and not as much cheap plastic as I would have expected. There was some of course, but it was used in the silver accents throughout and not on every surface. Even the dash had a good solid, some would say European, quality feel to it. Most surprisingly of all, it was quite spacious. Being six and a half feet tall, I didn’t have any  trouble getting comfy in the drivers seat. The seats themselves were not that flat either, and had the hint of a bucket seat with some side bolster supports. The center console was very well laid out with the media unit, which is standard across the range, with bluetooth audio and usb capabilities. Under that a selection of three AC, temperature and vent dials. The audio system was quite good, and by quite I mean pretty impressive for what you’re paying, I have owned Euros that are way more expensive with audio systems of a similar quality.

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The GLX does not come as standard with GPS or a reversing camera, but you do get the parking sensors, which lead to my biggest issue with the car. When you use reverse, it’s indicated to you by a reversing beep from the dash, which by itself is ok I guess. But when used in conjunction with parking sensors it was often hard to figure out which tone was the reversing beep and the sensor beep as they would both chime out at the same time. I can see this feature causing quite a few accidents in parking lots.

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Of all the cars we have tested, this Corolla has to have the simplest smartphone sync. It took maybe three easy button selections on the touch screen and it was done, in under 10 seconds. I know this is usually a feature you only use once or when you get a new phone, but this efficient design was also seen in the rest of the media console controls. Very simple and easy to get what you want. The instrument display was quite well laid out too, and easy to read with the bright blue backlight. But there were two things that I didn’t like about it, at night the bright blue light doesn’t dim and can be a bit glarey, and when setting the cruise control it would be helpful if the digital display temporarily showed the speed you have set and then returned to the previously selected menu.Inside the car there was quite a bit of storage, a lot in the doors where you could even fit larger drinks bottles than in the centre console cup holder.

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Over the course of the weekend, I did think that the fuel consumption was a little higher than it could have been. I got an average of 7.0L per 100km, which is pretty good, but in the age of the turbo four cylinder, it would have seen vast improvements with a turbo. In saying that I did manage to get from Wellington to Martinborough, around the town and to a few vineyards (where I was the sober driver) then back to Wellington again, plus a few more days to and from work, all on one tank of gas.

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What’s it up against?

This section of the market leaves customers with a lot of choice, with nine different manufacturers’ sedans within ten thousand dollars of each other. The Corolla sits right in the middle. I am a tall guy, 6ft 7 inches and I felt the Corolla was a pretty decent sized car, I had plenty of room in the driver’s seat and there was plenty of room for someone just as tall behind me. For what is classed as a mid sized car you almost get more room than some full-sized Euro cars.

Brand / ModelEnginePowerFuel L/100kmLuggage CapacityPrice Highest to Lowest
Honda Euro Accord2.4 L Inline 4148 Kw / 234 Nm6.5 L418 Litres$43,700
Ford Mondeo2.4 L Inline 4118 Kw / 208 Nm9.3 L816 Litres$43,430
Hyundai Elantra1.8 L Inline 4110 Kw / 178 Nm7.1 L485 Litres$39,990
Toyota Corolla GLX1.8 L Inline 4103 Kw / 173 Nm6.6 L540 Litres$37,490
Mazda 3 GSX2.0 L Inline 4114Kw / 200 Nm5.7 L430 Litres$35,595
Kia Cerato EX1.8 L Inline 4110Kw / 178 Nm7.1 L482 Litres$33,490
Nissan Pulsar Ti1.8 L Inline 496 Kw / 174 Nm6.7 L510 Litres$33,490
Mitsubishi Lancer GSR2.0 L Inline 4115 Kw / 201 Nm7.3 L400 Litres$32,990
Subaru Impreza X2.0 L Boxer 4110 Kw / 196 Nm6.8 L340 Litres$31,990

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ProsCons
  • Very spacious for a mid-size
  • Comfortable cabin
  • Good build quality for the price
  • Good sized boot
  • Easy to use media console
  • Beeping Indication when reversing is annoying and can be confused with rear parking sensors.
  • Very bright dash for night driving
  • Not as efficient as I would have liked for the size of the engine. Turbo would have improved efficiency a lot.

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What do we think ?

It’s not perfect, but it’s a hard car to knock given what it’s designed for. The build quality is good, the specs are good, the space is very good and the price is good too. It has quite a lot of competition, and it’s a bit too early to say if it’s the best of the bunch just yet. The new shape is very fresh and in my mind doesn’t look anything like what you think a Corolla looks like. Whether that’s a good thing or not is up to you, but we like this mid-sized sedan, and expect we will see many of them on the roads in the coming years.

Rating – Chevron rating 4 out of 5

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Toyota Corolla GLX

Vehicle TypeFront Engine, FWD, 4 Door Sedan
Starting Price$ 37,490 NZD
Tested Price$ 37,490 NZD
Engine1.8L Inline 4, 103kW, 173 Nm
TransmissionCVT With 7-Speed Sequential
0 – 100 kph8.6 – 9.2 seconds
Kerb Weight1740 kg
Length x Width x Height4620 x 1776 x 1460 mm
Cargo Capacity470 Litres
Fuel Tank66 litres
FuelUrban – 6.6 L/100km
ANCAP Safety Ratings5 Star

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A big thanks to Toyota New Zealand and Toyota Wellington located at 54 Kent Terrace, Mt Victoria, Wellington for helping to organise a brand new Toyota Corolla GLX for our Road Tested Review.

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Summary

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1 Comment

  1. Roger Baillie
    7th May 2014 at 6:39 pm Reply

    All I could think reading this is “Why wouldn’t you just buy a Golf?” Its a nice car and if you just have to have a small sedan it may be a good choice but for around money you can get a Golf 1.4L TSI that is far more practical similar power (though with better torque) and far better fuel economy. I haven’t sat in one of these Corollas for myself but I would imagine the VW has a better built feel too.

    You mention that it doesn’t look much like past Corollas, can’t argue with that, but I saw one on the road the other day and first thought it was a Hyundai, then a Kia before wondering if maybe it was a new Honda. It was only when I got closer that I saw it was a Toyota.
    This is the biggest problem with cars out of Asia at the moment. they all look the same, other than the Mazda possibly. None have anything to set them apart from the others.

    Meanwhile All the similar cars out of Europe look very different despite half of them sharing chassis and engines.

    Nice write up and a good car. The problem for Toyota is that so are all the others.

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