Toyota Hopes Corolla Changes Will Draw Younger Buyers

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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.

 

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