Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Just-the-basics Corolla still features allure

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website – via the “GALLERY: Reviews of new cars” link at www.sacbee.com/business

Sacramento, California – It turns out that you can get a truly affordable car with a significant amount of newness to it.

Case in point: the completely-reworked-for-2014 Toyota Corolla sedan.

Yes, that Corolla, as in the monster-seller from the Japanese auto-producing giant.  That means you’re going to get a real car, not a specialized, loss-leading bag of bolts that draws you in with dreams of stealing the pants off a local dealer with a price too good to be true.

And just to seal the deal, I can tell you that I was handed the most plain, stripped-down version of a new test car that I’ve ever received.  It was a 2014 Toyota Corolla L, next-to-last among the 12 trim levels, starting at $17,400.  No extras.

In fact, I didn’t even have a key fob and had to remember to stick the key in the door lock to gain entrance to the vehicle … just like when I was a kid.

And you know what?  I still liked this Corolla.  Liked it a lot.

OK, no messing around with plus extras.  It’s just straight-up transportation.  And on that score, it did well.  For less than $17,500, I’d say it did great.

The 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine performed well, even with an advertised horsepower rating of 132.  Frankly, in my view, the car felt stronger than that number, especially in busy freeway commuter traffic.

And I had no problem with 27 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.

Also, the car is not totally stripped, with LED lights on the front end standard.  Plenty of safety and convenience features for the MSRP price, too.

Throw in a nicely sculpted body, and it’s a pretty safe bet that this latest-generation Corolla will continue to roll up good numbers at the sales lots.

I have to believe that the less-is-more approach and easy-on-the-wallet price will lure in large numbers of young buyers as it seems that the ultimate status symbol for our youngest generation of adults right now is having a job.

I’ve never had a problem with basic transportation, especially transportation that’s likely to have a young driver behind the wheel and similarly youthful passengers filling up the cabin.

Likewise, this Corolla looks like a strong candidate as a backup worker in a two-car household.  Take the Caddy to the country club if you’re that fortunate, but let the Corolla make the milk runs.

Bottom line: This 11th-generation model looks, and feels, very good for its age.

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