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2014 Toyota Corolla LE Plus Excellent Space>

Toyota’s best-selling Corolla four-door, front-wheel-drive sedan got a total face-lift for 2014 and its looks are so Lexus-like, particularly at the front, that only the Toyota emblem reminds us this is not that luxury brand. Now in its 11th iteration Corolla, which has sold more cars than any other model made by any other manufacturer in the world, keeps that family resemblance from stem to stern – there’s a bit of Camry in this model’s looks, too.

The LE Plus model driven here is a midrange item, with the L below and the S top of the line. Even so, all 2014 Corolla models feature LED headlights that illuminate the road beautifully and a rearview camera to make getting out of parking spaces a little less hazardous. With the solitary option of a sunroof, this car topped out at $20,350.
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While not exciting, the Corolla’s inline four-cylinder engine puts out a competent 132 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 128 lb-ft of torque at 4000; redline is 6500 rpm. Toyota mates this engine to a CVT automatic transmission for economy, which matters when you’re paying in excess of $4/gallon. Rated at 20/38/32 from the 13.2-gallon tank, using regular unleaded, I found those figures (on a car with more than 6000 miles on the odometer) a bit pessimistic around town. I did mostly urban driving and was checking in with 35mpg throughout our week together.

Toyota uses MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspensions with stabilizer bars; electric power steering is a bit on the numb side, particularly on-center. Braking with front discs and rear drums is adequate, but I made sure not to experience panic stops because I do carry precious cargo: Leah the hearing dog. Toyota fits P205/55 Michelin tires with 16-inch 15-spoke rims that are both handsome and likely effective for brake cooling.
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Visually appealing on the outside and well appointed on the interior, I did notice heavy use of semi-soft plastics, likely to help achieve the 2855-pound weight of this car. Toyota uses a lot of older switches (honey, they’re paid-for) on the Corolla so that opening the fairly large optional sunroof necessitates dual operations, one to tilt and the other to slide, both one-touch. Separate stalk cruise controls are generic to Toyota, as well, the same no matter whether you’re in a Yaris or a Lexus LS.

I also found the central info center on the dash a bit difficult to see in any light, due to its pale green hue with black letters. Temp gauge is a bar within that area, also difficult to see. Quite frankly, it looked like an old-time computer screen. The rich slate gray exterior came with ash fabric interior, which is a nice aesthetic combination, albeit one that could require some upkeep, thanks to the lighter color inside and snow-filled midwest winters.

Toyota doesn’t offer a shiftable transmission for its LE model, but it does fit a large screen for an optional navigation system. None was fitted here so we just used it to illuminate the choice of FM stations in the Indianapolis area and to use the rearview camera, which isn’t the most crisp unit on the market right now. Oh, and this car uses a key operation, no start/stop button on the dash.
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The 2014 Toyota Corolla LE Plus offers excellent space, a comfortable ride and acceptable performance for any five-person family. I even stuck a big guy in the back to see if he’d complain – he didn’t! He also wouldn’t have any gripes about the size of the wide-opening trunk (just hit the remote and it swings open) which is a full 13 cubic feet with rear seats in place and expands using the 60/40 fold. That trunk is fully carpeted, well illuminated and there is a small spare tire fitted, something you don’t always see these days.

If you’re looking for an all-around capable four-door sedan that won’t eat up your savings and won’t hurt terribly bad at the pump, the 2014 Toyota Corolla LE Plus an easy choice and one that folks worldwide appear continue to enjoy. Thanks to that popularity, resale values are good which means the cost to own remains moderate.

By Anne Proffit