Toyota Hopes Corolla Changes Will Draw Younger Buyers


Detroit News

Toy­ota rolls out a new ver­sion of an old favorite, the 11th gen­er­a­tion Toy­ota Corolla, with sporty changes the com­pany hopes will appeal to youth­ful buyers.

Find out what fea­tures are on board the 2014 Toy­ota Corolla.

The Toy­ota Corolla, an aging, stodgy but reli­able econ­omy car, is get­ting a rad­i­cal new look.

The world’s largest automaker was rolling out a new ver­sion of the com­pact Thurs­day night at a splashy event in Santa Mon­ica, Calif., hop­ing to shed the old version’s low-cost image and attract new, younger buy­ers to its brand.

The 2014 ver­sion, which goes on sale in the fall, is longer and sits lower than the old car, with a sculpted, ath­letic look that’s much closer to a sports car than the econobox it replaces. It also gets a new trans­mis­sion, sus­pen­sion and inte­rior that Toy­ota says will make the car qui­eter and more lux­u­ri­ous, with bet­ter han­dling than the cur­rent ver­sion. It’s the 11th gen­er­a­tion of a car that Toy­ota has been sell­ing world­wide since 1966.

“It’s a huge car for us. It helped really iden­tify the com­pany and the brand and what we’re all about,” said Bill Fay, group vice pres­i­dent of the Toy­ota Divi­sion in the U.S. “We should appeal to a lit­tle younger buyer and broaden out the appeal of the car to more than what it is today.”

The car’s bold design is unusual for Toy­ota, which in the past changed its cars lit­tle with updates. But the new ver­sion is badly needed by Toy­ota. The Corolla, with a rep­u­ta­tion for ster­ling depend­abil­ity, is still America’s top-selling com­pact. But deal­ers have had to cut its sell­ing price and offer big dis­counts to com­pete against sleek new ver­sions of the Honda Civic, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra.

It’s the first update for the Corolla in five years, but even with updates, the car’s looks really haven’t changed much in the past decade. And dur­ing that time, com­peti­tors have been throw­ing money into their com­pacts, giv­ing them leather inte­ri­ors, touch-screen sys­tems, new trans­mis­sions and pow­er­ful yet effi­cient engines.