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Posts Tagged ‘compact sedans’

First Drive: 2014 Toyota Corolla

New sedan quietly delivers with more style and efficiency.

by on Aug.27, 2013

Toyota delivers an all-new and more exciting midsize option with the 2014 Corolla sedan.

By almost any measure, the Toyota Corolla is one of the most significant vehicles built over the past half century.  That’s certainly true if you’re going by sales, the compact sedan lagging only the bigger Toyota Camry on the passenger car charts.

That said, the outgoing Corolla has taken its share of criticism, even from within Toyota where senior officials have been promising to move away from the bland styling of the outgoing model.  They gave a hint of what they had in mind with the Furia Corolla concept unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show last winter. And while the production 2014 sedan has clearly been toned down, the new Corolla will likely disappoint few of its traditional fans.

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The only ones who might take pause are those few looking for something smaller. If anything, the 2014 Toyota Corolla has grown both longer and a bit wider than its immediate predecessor. The wheelbase has been extended by 3.5 inches – and the payoff is obvious for both those sitting up front and in back since most of those extra inches have been translated into interior space.


Toyota Weighs Option for Corolla Hatchback

Sees 5-door as appealing to Millennial males.

by on Aug.27, 2013

The 2014 Toyota Corolla makes its official debut. A hatchback version could be in the offing.

Toyota is contemplating the option of adding a five-door hatchback version of the all-new 2014 Toyota Corolla in an effort to attract more of the younger buyers the Japanese giant has been struggling to win over.

While the ideas has been discussed inside the company in some detail, senior Toyota executives in the United States and Japan have not yet signed off on the project, officials cautioned

“Nothing is envisioned,” at this point, said Shinici Yasui, the chief engineer responsible for the Corolla, the sedan version of which has gone through a complete redesign for the 2014 model-year.

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Nonetheless, Yasui indicated that Toyota was concerned about the opinions of younger buyers who have been showing a renewed interest in hatchbacks – a body style particularly popular in both Europe and Japan. And a few key models, such as the hot-selling Chevrolet Sonic and Spark, as well as the Ford Fiesta, have shown the potential for bringing three- and five-door body styles to the U.S.


First Look: All-New 2014 Toyota Corolla

Sedan gets bolder design, more room, better mileage.

by on Jun.07, 2013

An all-new 2014 Toyota Corolla makes its entrance during a flashy media event in LA.

With the help of spotlights and acrobats, an all-new version of the Toyota Corolla made its splashy entrance in an old aircraft hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. as hundreds of journalists and guests waited to see what the Japanese automaker might have in store for the perennially best-selling compact sedan.

Often faulted for its conservative styling and generally boring handling and performance, consumers in the U.S. and another 153 countries have nonetheless long embraced the Corolla – which has sold more than 40 million copies since it was first introduced in Japan in 1966. But with competition in the compact market rapidly heating up, Toyota has delivered what it bills as not just a more stylish sedan, but one with lots more room and a renewed focus on fuel economy.

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“We’ve listened to our customers,” said Toyota Division General Manager Bill Fay, who said the objective was to elevate the impact the new Corolla has on individual motorists. “It looks sportier and feels better.”


First Look: 2014 Kia Forte

German design for a Korean compact.

by on Nov.30, 2012

Former Audi design chief's latest work for Kia is the new 2014 Forte sedan.

With the introduction of the 2014 Forte, Kia reveals the continuing shift from generic styling to a distinctly European look that has helped it draw in a wave of new buyers in recent years.

Longer, wider and lower than the previous Forte, the new sedan bears the distinctive touch of Peter Schreyer, the former Audi design chief who joined the Korean carmaker in 2006. His work on such models as the latest Kia Optima have won kudos for both the maker and its styling chief – and helped make the Forte one of the most eagerly anticipated debuts during a crowded 2012 LA Auto Show.

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“The all-new Forte significantly raises the bar, offering upscale amenities and eye-catching appeal,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing & communications, KMA. “When you combine exclusive available features like a ventilated driver’s seat and UVO eServices in a car with such an attractive design, it’s very clear the all-new Forte sets a new standard for the compact segment.”


First Drive: 2013 Dodge Dart

Shifting the balance of power in the compact class.

by on Apr.30, 2012

Coming at you - Dodge redefines the American compact car with the help of its partner, Fiat.

With its unexpectedly strong first-quarter earnings it’s no wonder Chrysler officials have been crowing about the turnaround of a company that was bankrupt just three short years ago.  Those profits have largely been driven by a surge in demand for models ranging from the midsize 200 sedan to the big Jeep Grand Cherokee.  But there’s a gaping hole in the Chrysler corporate line-up that the maker must fill if it hopes to keep that momentum going.

To plug that gap the Dodge division is getting an all-new compact sedan for which the maker curiously decided to revive an old nameplate, the launch of the 2013 Dodge Dart brings back a once-formidable badge last used in 1976.

That means there are perhaps two generations of American motorists who have, at most, vague memories of that nameplate.  As for older Baby Boomers, well, the original Dart was popular enough in its heyday but, like so many American models of the 1970s, it had serious issues by the time Dodge dropped it from the line-up.  So, gaining traction for an all-new Dart will clearly be a challenge, especially with Dodge aiming at two distinctive audiences: young buyers starting up a family and older empty nesters.

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But spending a couple days with several late pre-production models convinced that Dodge has nailed the needs of compact customers – enough to pose serious challenges to the segment’s traditional Japanese leaders. That’s especially true when you consider that Dodge will offer five different versions of the new Dart, with six powertrain combinations – including one bumping up to “41-plus” mpg – 14 color and trim packages, three different wheels and 100s of customizable options.