2014 Toyota Corolla

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Here’s scary:2014 Corolla lead

You’ve been assigned the job of restyling – and re-engineering – the company’s Number One Seller. It’s on you to get it right.

And if you don’t… .

That’s what dropped into the lap of the people given the nerve-jangling task of redesigning the world’s best-selling car, ever – the Toyota Corolla. Forget the Beetle. Forget the Model T. Since the Corolla’s launch back in ’66, almost unfathomable numbers have issued forth. 30 million of them – as of 1990. That’s 24 years ago, almost. Imagine the number today.

So, yeah, a lot is riding on the success of the all-new 11th generation Corolla.

I’m grateful all I have to do is review the thing!

WHAT IT IS2014 Corolla dash shot

The Corolla is Toyota’s bread-and-butter compact sedan, one-up from the subcompact Yaris in size and price – and just below the mid-sized Camry. It competes in the same class as its principal rival, the Honda Civic – as well as the Mazda3 and new kids on the block such as the Dodge Dart and Ford Focus.

WHAT’S NEW

Everything except the drivetrains – and they get tweaked, too. One of them – the LE Eco version – boasts 140 hp and 42 MPG highway. This is almost-diesel (and nearly hybrid) fuel economy – without the extra up-front cost of the diesel engine or hybrid powertrain.2014 Corolla back seats

There’s also an all-new body riding on a  much longer wheelbase – which allows for a mid-sized car’s backseat legroom, as well as a mid-sized car’s ride quality.

But perhaps the most obvious change is that the ’14 Corolla is a much less austere car than any of its predecessors. It has evolved into something considerably more substantial than a basic transportation unit – as have most of the other cars in this segment.

Prices start at $16,800 for the base trim L and $18,300 for the gas-sippy LE Eco trim.

A top-of-the-line S trim with six-speed manual transmission starts at $19,000.

WHAT’S GOOD2014 Corolla interior sideview

Smart-looking – and class-roomiest – interior.

Updated outside is sporty – but not over-the-top. Should appeal to under-35 Millennials, without alienating the over-40s Gen Xers.

Near-diesel/almost hybrid fuel efficiency for thousands less than the cost of a diesel or a hybrid.

New six-speed manual and seven-speed CVT automatic in upper trims.

Electronic suite (Entune apps) ought to make The iPad Generation very happy.

Nominal price uptick for all this goodness vs. the outgoing 2013s.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD2014 Corolla hatch we won't get

Base L trim still comes with four-speed automatic.

No, really.

We won’t get the hatchback wagon version Toyota sells in Europe and Asia.

Hasn’t got the beans to go heads-up against Mazda3 or Dart when those cars come equipped with their optionally available engines – and forget about the Honda Civic Si or the Ford Focus ST.

UNDER THE HOOD2014 Corolla engine

All ’14 Corollas come with a 1.8 liter four – same as last year in size, but in two states of tune. Base L, step-up LE and S trims get the 132 hp version – same output as last year. But you can get a 140 hp version – if you order the LE Eco, which is the one that’s capable of 42 MPG.

The fact that the Corolla’s economy engine is also the most powerful available engine may come across as a little weird. Usually, you lose a few hp to gain a few MPGs. In this case, you don’t. Torque is down by an unnoticeable 2 ft.-lbs. (126 vs. 128) but the peak comes sooner, at 4,000 RPM vs 4,400.

So, what’s up? A more efficient engine can also be a stronger engine.

The Eco version of the 1.8 liter engine features what Toyota calls “Valvematic” continuously variable valve timing and lift; it’s designed specifically to optimize part-throttle efficiency by reducing pumping losses through the intake tract. This increases hp by 6 percent and fuel economy by 5.3 percent, to 30 city and 42 highway vs. 28 city and 37 highway for the regular 132 hp version of the 1.8 liter engine.2014 Corolla CVT

It’s a win-win.

And it’s also exceptional relative to others in this segment – easily besting competitors like the Dart (a lackluster 25 city, 36 highway) Focus (28 city/40 highway with the optional Super Fuel Economy package) and Mazda3 (29 city, 40 highway). It’s also damn close to the hybrid version of the Honda Civic – which only manages 44 on the highway – and which also starts at $24,360 – a titanic $6,060 more than the LE Eco Corolla. Now, granted, the hybrid Civic also rates 44 in city driving – 14 MPG better than the Toyota’s number. But six grand is a lot to pay for the privilege.

One might also stack the Eco Corolla up against diesel-powered smallish cars like the not-quite-here-yet (at the time of this review) Mazda3 Sky-D and also the Chevy Cruze diesel. I can’t  give you price or MPG quotes on the Sky-D Mazda because it wasn’t available at the time I wrote this review in late August. But the Cruze diesel is available – and it rates 27 city  – less than the Corolla Eco – and only 46 highway  – just 4 MPG more – and it starts at $24,885. Wait, I’ll do the math. That’s $6,585 above what you’d pay for the gas-engined Corolla.

You might get more miles out of the diesel – but the mileage is a wash.2014 Corolla CVT sport

The only sucky thing is you’ve got to pay $1,500 more to get the more fuel-efficient version of the 1.8 liter engine. Toyota does sweeten the pot by teaming the 42 MPG-capable engine up with an all-new seven speed continuously variable (CVT) automatic – which is something no other car in this price range even offers. And the S and LE (non-Eco) trims are available with either a new six-speed manual or (S trims) a more aggressively set-up version of the CVT with driver-selectable gear changes via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Well, there is one more sucky thing: The base L trim doesn’t get the new six-speed manual or the new CVT. It comes with the same four-speed automatic used in last year’s Corolla. Functionally, there’s nothing objectionable about this transmission. Gas mileage – 27 city, 36 highway – isn’t top-drawer but it’s still acceptable for the class.2014 Corolla manual transmission

However, a four speed automatic in a 2014 model year car seems as dated as finding a cassette player in the center stack of a 2014 model year car – and (in my opinion) it was a mistake not to give the base Corolla L the same transmission options as the other trims, or at least the next-up LE trim.

Toyota did not give media at the press launch in San Diego 0-60 data, but it’s a safe bet the base Corolla L is about as quick as the old car – since they’ve both got more or less the same drivetrains. So probably about 10 seconds to 60 with the four-speed automatic. This is on par with the Dart and Civic when equipped with their standard engines; a bit slower than the Focus and Mazda3.

Corollas with the new six-speed manual and seven speed CVT ought to be (and felt, to this writer) quicker than the base car with the four-speed automatic. But don’t go gunning for Si Civics or – cue Ivan Drago voice from Rocky IV – you will lose.

ON THE ROADCorolla S road picture

The new Corolla rides on a much longer – not-far-from-mid-sized (and significantly longer than has heretofore been typical for a nominally compact car) wheelbase: 106.3 inches vs. 102.4 inches for the 2013 Corolla. To give you some perspective, a current Camry’s wheelbase is only 109.3 inches – and a mid-’70s Corolla’s wheelbase was all of 93 inches.

Historically “compact” cars like Corolla are edging ever closer to mid-sized in terms of both their specifications (more on this in a moment) as well as their driving feel. The 11th generation Corolla is the latest such example of this trend. It is solid, not tinny. Planted, not bouncy. You are the pilot of a real car – not a toy car. Corolla’s competitors – the Mazda3 (wheelbase also exactly 106.3 inches) and Civic (close, at 105.1) have adopted the same strategy, which is good for us – but perhaps not so good for the companies that make them in that they are perhaps unknowingly undermining the reasons for buying their mid-sized cars, like the Camry (and the Mazda6, etc.).

There is, however, one thing that’s still characteristically compact when it comes to Corolla: its engines.

Both versions of the 1.8 engine are without doubt economy-minded engines. They’re among the best such you can buy right now (in the case of the 42 MPG-capable Eco, the best, period – short of a diesel or hybrid). But there’s not much else to them.

Like hp – and performance.Corolla road side view 2

Toyota tried to impart some verve by adding the new six-speed manual to the mix – it has tighter gear spacing than the old five-speed manual – as well as the new CVT, which in the Sport trim comes with a “stepped” manual mode and seven driver selectable (via paddle shifters) forward speeds that mimic a conventional automatic or manual transmission’s gear changes.

But with no more than 132-140 hp on tap – and no optional engine available – acceleration is … adequate. You’ll keep up with traffic, you’ll be able to merge without strain. This is certainly sufficient in the base and LE trims, which haven’t got the plumage of sporty trims. But in the cockier-looking S trim – which gets a wide-mouthed front-end treatment that’s much more visually aggressive than the rest of the Corolla lineup, as well as the obligatory sport wheel/tire package, fog lights and jaunty decklid spoiler, absence of more-than-merely adequate hp is all-too-apparent. You can work the 1.8 liter mill more effectively with the new six-speed (or the optional CVT) but the bottom line is more power is needed to give the putatively sporty S model the sporty acceleration to match its sporty appearance – and to give the car some game vis-a-vis competitors like the Mazda3, Dodge Dart, Honda Civic and others that can be ordered with more than merely adequate powerplants.

The Mazda, for example, can be equipped with a 2.5 liter, 184 hp engine in lieu of its standard 2.0 liter, 155 hp engine. Dodge offers an optional turbocharged engine (1.4 liters, 160 hp). And of course, Honda offers a 201 hp engine in the Civic Si.2014 Corolla action shot 3

I was wowed by the new Corolla’s appearance, by its overall sophistication (especially its beautifully appointed and newly spacious interior) but its carryover engines were something of a letdown in relation to the foregoing.

The rest of the car is so good that the absence of home-run performance in addition to home-run fuel-efficiency was perhaps more obvious than it would have been had the new Corolla been a so-so car in other respects. The good news is this is an easy fix. Adding an optional, higher-performance engine to an otherwise outstanding car is easy.

Redesigning a so-so car is not.

AT THE CURB2014 Corolla rearview

No mixed bag here. The new Corolla looks a lot like the first generation Lexus IS, especially from the side (take note of the C pillar/rearside quarter glass in particular) and does an excellent job of imitating a current Lexus on the inside, too. A bit much, perhaps? I encourage you to see the car in person.

A handsome – and space-efficient – breadbox-style dash layout is the centerpiece. In higher-trim LE and S Corollas, accents are provided by piano black and pewter/brushed nickel covers and a a very clever thin blue almost electrolumenescent pinstripe that seems to glow slightly in between the upper and lower dash sections. There is a most un-Corolla (historically speaking) chronometer-style gauge cluster (S models get a revised cluster with Thin Film Transistor display) and thick-grip steering wheel with thumb pads, too. Off to your right, a new six or (optionally) eight-inch LCD screen that can be split three ways – and which can be operated finger slide-style, just like your iPad. 2014 Corolla trim close-up

All the latest Toyota Entune services are included, too. No extra cost, from here on out. Entune (and apps) comes with the car. Facebook places (god help us), Yelp, Open Table (restaurant locator), movietickets.com and Pandora custom playlists. Plus Bluetooth wireless/voice recognition, too.

The ’14 Corolla is the first Toyota to get the very latest version of Entune. That means even Avalons and Sequoias that cost two and three times as much haven’t – yet – got what this one’s got. They won’t, either – until sometime next year.

You’ ll also get standard LED headlights – including the base L trim. This, too, is class-unprecedented. The advantage of LED lights is not only more superior illumination but more natural (to the human eye) illumination. The beams deliver a daylight-style white light rather than than the yellow-ish light you get with non-LED beams. 2014 Corolla LED lights

But the Big One is backseat legroom. Like the deadly straddling of a salvo from a battery of 16 inch guns, the Corolla devastates the competition with an astonishing 5.1 inch increase in second-row legroom. The hip point of the redesigned backseats has also been moved 3 inches toward the rear. The result is mid-sized car spreading out space for the backseat passengers. No, wait. Better than mid-sized car spreading-out space.

Compare:

The new Corolla has 41.4 inches of second-row legroom. A current Camry – nominally “mid-sized” – a mere 38.9 inches.

How about that?2014 Corolla back seat closeup

The current Civic has just 36.2 inches. The Mazda3, a knee-scraping, deep vein thrombosis-inducing 35.8 inches. The Dart’s even worse: 35.2 inches. You don’t even want to know about the Focus (ok, I’ll spill: a medieval 33.2 inches).

The new Corolla beckons with 8.2 inches more legroom than the Ford. Six inches more than the Dodge Dart. Five-point-six inches more than the Mazda3 – and 5.2 inches more than the Honda Civic. It’s not even a contest.

That old joke about seatafiveahcomfohtabry? No joke here, folks. The new Corolla could seat five large adults comfortably. It seats me comfortably. I’m 6ft 3 – and when I sat in the back, I had no less three inches of air gap between my knees and the seats ahead of me.

Try it yourself and see.2014 Corolla door

Up front’s not bad, either: 42.3 inches – which by the numbers is only just slightly more than in cars like the Mazda3 and Dart (both 42.2 inches) and Honda Civic (42.0) however, there’s more usable space all around due to the way the interior panels are fitted. The door panels, for instance. They do not bulge outward and intrude upon your elbow room. They’re scalloped inward at the armrests and rise straight and true up to the door glass. The breadbox dash, meanwhile, leaves more air between you and it – adding to the car’s extremely spacious feel.

The Mazda3’s interior layout may be sportier-looking, but nothing matches the new Corolla as far as classy looking.

Or roomy.

The new Corolla is the only car in this class I’d recommend as family-viable – not as a second car, but as the primary got-to car for the entire family.

THE REST2014 Corolla S gauge cluster

With this new Corolla, you’re getting a lot more car – literally – for about the same money. Thank ever-increasing production efficiencies, favorable exchange rates – whatever you prefer – the happy fact remains that the eons-nicer (and so much larger) 2014 Corolla is only slightly more expensive than the dearly departed: about $570 more for the base 2014 L vs. the base 2013 L. And the phenomenally fuel efficient 2014 Corolla Eco LE is priced a mere $120 higher than last year’s LE – a car that did not have the 42 MPG Eco engine or the Eco’s superb CVT or its handsome new body nor its sharp-looking (and upsized) interior.

It’s also worth mentioning that the competition costs more for less car.

In some cases, a great deal more. A 2014 Honda Civic sedan starts at $18,165. The Mazda3 is a bit more price competitive at $16,945 for the base trim – but that’s still an additional $145 for 5-plus inches less backseat room. Ditto the Dart ($16,990 to start) and the Focus ($16,995 to start). 2014 Corolla cengter stack

There’s just one small catch – already mentioned – which is more about perception than actuality, but nonetheless: The base Corolla’s four-speed automatic. The Mazda offers six speeds (either manual or automatic) in the base trim 3. The Civic comes with five speeds (also your choice of manual or automatic). The Dart and the Focus both come with six-speed transmissions. I don’t think any major automaker offers less than five forward speeds in any 2014 model year car – no matter how lowly. Even the Hyundai Accent comes with six speed transmissions. Well, wait. There is another new car besides the new Corolla that still uses a four-speed automatic – and it’s another Toyota. The 2014 Yaris. But the Yaris is Basic Transportation, nothing more.

The new Corolla isn’t – and deserves better.

THE BOTTOM LINE2014 Corolla steering wheel

Nothing but goodness in terms of looks, comfort, efficiency, features and overall sense of class. This is a nice car – one you’d be inclined to buy because you wanted to buy it. Not because it’s merely a good deal – though it’s that, too.

All it needs is a stronger optional engine – and a more up-to-date standard transmission.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the review. I like this gen so far. Good to hear there’s so much rear seat room. I do worry this has the potential to harm mid-size sales. I don’t care for the CVT, at all. But this is a perfect application for it. I like what you’re doing with the video reviews, and would be happy to see this as a permanent/standard feature of your future reviews. You seem to get these reviews out before all of my Youtube subscriptions, with consumer reports being the single exception. But CR doesn’t really review it, so much as show us it.

  2. BrentP – I’m not sure a beer-canned roof is the best example. But there’s an important principle I’m hoping you’d consider; let’s move the logistics of the specific injury to property out of the spotlight and talk about the general case.

    Every American should by default have every right there is, until he brings harm to others. Anything you can do in the country, is allowed in the city. Unless a property owner objects. That’s how it was until the New Deal, and it’s top down lock down control.

    With so many restrictions on city dwellers, they become lower than proletariats. They’re captives, forced to beg and plead to even be allowed to try to provide for themselves. Trying to undue the Civil Rights Laws should be the last act of State Reducers, not the first. They’d love you to blame your fellow victims instead of their evil system.

    By allowing any man to learn and earn from any trade, that is the type of Civil Rights all Americans need.

    Consider how much loss the average person experiences just from the vehicles he owns because of legalized plunder. One minute you have a $20,000 vehicle, the next you have effectively $0. Any drivable vehicle that can get from A to B should be allowed to, at its owner’s discretion.

    Consider the “Funny Videos” of Slavs with hay on top of broken down vehicles. What’s funny to me is the Regimented-North-Korean mindset of westerners. Most likely, you consider an orderly traffic system, the opinions of your fellow motorists, and other irrelevant crap infinitely more important than your need to get to A to B. Where’s your pride and self-preservation instinct.

    It’s almost seems like, if, someone asked you nice, you’d do your part and jump in a pothole and get sealed in so as to better serve your comrades and their morning commute!

    Russians and Chinese will grudgingly jump when someone in authority says how high.

    Americans are eager to jump, and do it without prompting. They consider anyone who doesn’t jump their enemy. They feel a sense of pride that they jump higher than the Commies even though they don’t have to.

    They delusionally look at their goods, without realizing they’re the only ones with consumer debts worth twice their goods, and also collectively owing fiat government debts about thirty times the worth of their privately held goods. They also have highly restricted use of their goods.

    Imagine bringing soldiers to enforce the entire American health, safety, welfare, and workplace machinery on a primitive tropical island. There is an identical control island that is untouched. Every time Man Friday breaks a rule he has to surrender some of his property. Man Friday would also be greatly hindered because now he has to follow approved practices to get a coconut, take a shit, etc.

    The island with the soldiers would be starving and begging the soldiers to help them in a very short time. They’d even do all kinds of labor and favors for the soldiers. And produce wealth for the soldiers to show their gratitude. In ten years time, they’ve worked maybe 100 times harder than their unmolested island twin. They’ll feel like all the goods the soldiers let them keep so they serve them has made them better off than the other island. What suckers!

    A good rule of thumb for a society’s level of evil is, are some aborigines still allowed to practice their old ways, or must everyone kiss the ring and toe the line of good ol’ “Uncle Joe.”

    A great first step back to sanity, would be to form some sort of Innuit area out of public land. And on that land, all races and peoples who want to live through the old ways would be allowed to do so, as long as they stay in that zone.

      • Your reading from 2nd Kleptonians Verse 4 of the New Deal Testament (JK)

        “So verily, sayeth the Nader, in cases like the one you describeth, the carlords decreeth it is better to moveth all the good stuff to a car with a solid and straight unit body that needs it. Especially give the parts to a car that is black, hispanic, transgendered, and a member of a threatened auto class. And yeah though the Hindus speak of Carma…”

        Big Ol Rollin WTF driven by a Paki SWP who didn’t read the carfax
        http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=441_1377924779

        This video made Elon Musk and Ray Lahood cry
        http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=379_1212239718

        • “driven by a Paki SWP”

          No, No, No, old thing. This just won’t DO. A Paki cahn’t be SWP. You DO understand, don’t you? It goes agaynst Clahssifycaytion. Just as a cad can never be a bounder…………..well you KNOW, don’t you?

          The Paki must be referred to as SBP. Ahfter all, since HM has decreed that we’re not to use the term “wog”, we’ve invented the various alphabetical nominators. The proper nominator simply MUST be employed.

          • My apologies for the typo good neighbor. My kin hail from Rutherfordton County, NC, not so very far from Avery County a’tall, so might be our forepappies even dueled some Banjos back in them days.

            That’s meant to be a Paki W’ not a Yankee W.
            The driver is a SW’P a Serious Wog Person, exactly as you said.
            – – – – –

            The Route of Cleavon Musk’s Redneck Hyperloop Has Been Declared:

            He reckons his MoonshineX land rocket will getcha from Spartanburg up to Roanoke in only 20 minutes, even with eight destination stations along the way!

            Current Government Options:
            Driving US Highway 221 North:
            272 miles, 6 hours 33 mins

            Spartanburg SC
            Forest City NC
            Marion NC
            Linville NC
            Blowing Rock NC
            Boone NC
            Galax VA
            Woodlawn VA
            Hillsville VA
            Roanoke VA

            Unlike the Californy Hyperloop, this one’ll be free. Cleavon’s system has lotsa magnets on fishing poles suspended in front of the metallic capsules. The capsules are attracted to the magnets and naturally propulse towards the magnets. Same principle as carrots on a stick suspended in front of a mule, but with no carbon footprints like the mule’s got.

  3. Eric,

    A good review. I will give this car a look, even though I am not looking for a new car.

    But the Cruze diesel is
    available – and it rates 27 city – less than the Corolla Eco – and only 46 highway
    – just 2 MPG more – and it starts at $24,885.

    I thought the Corolla Eco was 30/42 mpg. Probably a typo, but I am not sure.

    • Thanks, Mith – fixed!

      Jamming out the copy without a copy editor is as perilous as sailing the Cape in a bass boat… .

      One of the things I fantasize about is being in a position to hire a CE. I do my best to make sure my stuff (and other people’s stuff) is as clean (as we say in the biz) as possible, but it is a cardinal rule of publishing to never proof your own stuff. It’s inevitable that errors will slip through that another set of eyes would have caught.

      So, thanks, as always, for being my volunteer extra set of eyes!

  4. Gee, they still offer stick shift…. I like that!.

    Seems rather odd though, no six speed with the Eco option????? Seems that a stick shift could take advantage of BOTH the higher power as well as increased mileage. Seems Toyota wants the transmission to make the choices, not the driver. I do not like that, not at all!!!

    • Yeah… I know… I agree.. but I understand why they’re doing it this way. The CVT helps get the best-possible mileage they can advertise (EPA test loop). Probably a person who is really good with a clutch could get close to – maybe even beat – the CVT’s numbers. But from a purely business (and political) point of view, getting to that 42 MPG mark – and being able to tout it – was probably a very big deal.

      My main grip is the VHS-era technology four-speed automatic in the base trim.

    • We used to have a ’96 – great car.

      We’d still have it, too – if my wife hadn’t rolled it! (She was unharmed – and the car drove fine after I got it right side up; unfortunately, the roof was crushed beyond economical repair.)

      • Now to my eyes, it became a convertible with an abstract piece of sculpture waiting to be completed by a man with the right sort of vision.

        You and he could have commissioned the work together. If only there were no Gearbox Gestapo and Motor Vehicle Holocaust brown shirts.

        In a free non-fascist/communist place, that car would have been quickly back on the road. Not chopped up and used for parts at the automobile concentration camp. Might even be that the unscheduled reconfiguration ended up making it a higher value one-of-a-kind collectors’ car.

        • Absolutely.

          I could have used a hammer to beat the roof back into a semblance of shape; used sealer to get the glass to stay in place and not leak to much.

          The car was perfectly driveable.

          Just not legal to drive.

          • We are in crypto-slavery

            Stalins Iron Law #1
            pluck the chicken so he clings to the state

            Leges augmentum Paupertas
            laws increase poverty

            Armut per Gesetz
            legislated poverty

            Capitalism In No Way Created Poverty, It Inherited It

            The nineteenth century, many people believe, was an era in American history when workers were forced to toil in sweatshops twenty-eight hours a day for starvation wages. It was only when governments intervened, either directly on behalf of workers or indirectly by empowering unions, that conditions improved.

            The facts tell a different story—one that reveals the unmatched power of capitalism to improve human life.

            Remember the historical context. As Ayn Rand observed, “Capitalism did not create poverty—it inherited it.” For much of human history, the vast majority of the population was mired in poverty. All too often, the average individual lived in unimaginably wretched conditions. It was only in the nineteenth century, and then only in the West, that the masses started to enjoy prosperity.

            Keep that in mind when you hear about living and working conditions during the nineteenth century. Because it’s true—by today’s standards, the living and working conditions of the time were often miserable. But by the standards of everything that had come before, they were not. For the men and women working those jobs, they were often a godsend.

            Remember also, the population of the time was growing at a rate never before seen in human history—so fast that early economists like Malthus wrung their hands over whether such growth could be sustainable. How did the West actually sustain those growing numbers? Only through the rising productivity made possible by capitalism.* Many of the workers who manned the factories would not have been able to survive at all in the era before capitalism.

            Indeed, two basic facts speak more loudly than any statistical study could. First, factory owners did not have the power to force workers to labor in their factories; all they could do was offer work at a given wage to people who were free to accept the offer, or reject it and look for work elsewhere. Second, people flocked to those jobs, emigrating to the cities from America’s farms and from abroad.**

            How, then, did conditions for workers improve? Just as businessmen had to compete for customers, offering better products and lower prices, so they had to compete for workers, offering them better wages and better working conditions. This process of competition led businessmen to bid wages up to reflect workers’ productivity: the more productive workers became—the more skills they developed, the more efficiently they were managed, the more capital and technology they could employ—the higher their wages tended to rise.

            As a result of the era’s mounting productivity, the statistics show steadily rising wages and steadily declining working hours—long before the government intervened to “protect” workers. Real wages more than tripled over the course of the nineteenth century.

            In 1870, according to research from Michael Cox and Richard Alm, the average worker worked 3,069 hours a year. But as his productivity increased, by 1913 he could enjoy a much-improved standard of living working only 2,632 hours. Or consider how much easier it got to earn the money for a half-gallon of milk (56 minutes in 1900, down to 31 minutes in 1930) or 100 kilowatt hours of electricity (107 hours in 1900, but only 11 hours in 1930).

            What about child labor? Didn’t nineteenth-century capitalism sentence children to hard and dangerous work? Child labor, despite what we’ve heard, was not created by capitalism. It’s a practice that stretches back to prehistory, when children would spend hours toiling in the scorching sun or freezing rain, risking disease, injury, or death, virtually as soon as they could walk.

            Why were most children made to work before the twentieth century? Is it because parents were sadistic and governments cruel? Hardly. It’s because, before capitalism made us rich, children had to work if they were to survive at all. When a family lives on the equivalent of a dollar a day, there is no alternative: if you can work, you work.

            What eliminates child labor is not government decree but a rising standard of living. That’s what eliminated it in the West during the nineteenth century, and that is what is eliminating it today in countries like China. As parents grow richer, one of the first things they do is use their burgeoning incomes to send their children to school.

            If capitalism is what caused the West to grow rich, then it was capitalism, not government intervention, that eliminated child labor in the developed world.***

            This is not to deny that governments have limited or forbidden child labor by law. But child labor was going away on its own, and the laws were far from benign. By pushing children out of the newer, more visible factories where these laws were easier to enforce, hungry children were forced to seek work at smaller, older, more dangerous factories—or failing that, as economist Ludwig von Mises notes, to “infest the country as vagabonds, beggars, tramps, robbers, and prostitutes.”

            To be sure, life during the early days of capitalism was hard (as life had always been), but for anyone willing and able to work, life was better than it had ever been—and getting better.

            The lesson for us today? Laissez-faire doesn’t impoverish us, but makes us progressively richer.

            *some rising productivity occurred because of theft of workers labors by officials and crony capitalists. Oligarchies made everything artificially high so workers had to work more. Normal traditions of working only until you had enough were abandoned because everyone was a propertyless proletarian due to manipulated money systems and other scams.

            ** many of the flockers going to work in factories were given no choice by men with guns. Hunting, gathering, ranching, and farming prohibitions, even on unoccupied land. Native animals were killed off. Non-native animals decimated grazing lands.

            ***Western children are artificially mutilated into non-productive idlers. Starting labor and skill training at a younger age would be much better for them and for society.

            – Yaron Brook – Ayn Rand Center

          • In case like that the it’s just better to move all the good stuff to a car with a solid and straight unit body that needs it.

  5. Hard to understand why Toyota keeps offering the 4 speed, even if it is now not the only automatic option, likely to be found in a small minority of new Corollas. It has to drag down CAFE numbers a bit. And a “Sport” package on one of the slowest cars in the class is silly, at best.

    Otherwise, can’t knock this new model. Considering their buyer base, it is far more important to offer the most economical, rather than fastest, engine in the class.

    Assuming it continues with traditional Toyota quality, this Corolla seems likely to retain every bit of its current market share….and probably capture more.

    • I agree – and, it does (drag down the CAFE numbers).

      You lose about 6 MPG (vs. the Eco) which is considerable.

      So, why?

      Cost.

      I am supposing they could not offer the base car with the six-speed manual or CVT at $16k – and they need for at least the base car to remain at that price point for marketing reasons.

      Probably they also have a huge inventory of those four-speed boxes they need to dispose of.

      My bet is they’ll quietly retire the four-speed by 2015.

      • Wow. That was before Bushbama’s roof crush and side impact standards. ….How did you all survive without that protection?!

        It looks like the Corolla for the first time ever is an attractive car. Except for the 1980-83 models, they looked like a breadbox.

        • Here’s what happened:

          I had spent the previous two weeks driving U-Hauls up and down I-81, between our old house in Northern Virginia and our new place here in SW Virginia. The final trip, the day of the closing on our old house, was me in a press Lexus, my wife in her Corolla following me to our new place. It had been a long day. And we almost made it all the way there without incident. About 1 mile before the left turn onto the road that led to our new digs, I glanced in the rearview and noticed her headlights were no longer visible. I waited a moment, then another. No sign. Uh-oh. She had been right behind me. She therefore ought to have caught up by now. I got a sick feeling and immediately wheeled the Lexus around and retraced my route. I soon saw her Corolla’s headlights. But they were not in the proper place. Off to my right (what had been her left) and canted at an unnatural – for a car – angle. A black labrador was trotting along the shoulder. He was the dog my wife had swerved to avoid – and that was the reason why she ended up off the road and upside down, having rolled the car at least twice. Luckily, it was just grass and she didn’t hit anything. I got her home and returned with some rope, got the Corolla right side up again. It didn’t even require an alignment. Tracked straight and true. As good as before… except for the partially beer-canned roof, which by itself wasn’t so bad. But the driver’s side C pillar was also severely bent and ditto the front A pillars. Repair would have meant cutting off probably both A, both B and both C pillars and welding on new everything, plus the glass. At the time – this was 2004 – the car was book valued at maybe $4,000. The repair would have cost about that much. So, we bought a truck and sold the poor Corolla to a local dude for parts.

          He got a really good deal….

        • Breadbox??

          I own TWO of those so called breadboxes. At least the 80-83 Corollas offered the MOST bodystyles in one generation of car of any model or lineup.

          The 80-83 was offered in 5 or 6 styles. I owned an 82 SR5 hardtop coupe, and now own an 81 and 83 Corolla 2dr Sedans. Not only are they fun to drive(not like the numb fatass cars of today, that drive themselves), they are RWD… something you can’t get in the NEW Toyota Corolla.

          I get offers to buy them all the time… not happening BTW.

  6. Sounds like a vast improvement over past Corollas, Eric — and a real (and cheaper) alternative to most of the mid-size cars out there. How does it handle? That’s been the weak spot for most Toyotas I’ve driven in recent years.

    Robert

    • Agree!

      And – much better than the Yaris (which has an incredible – for a modern car – amount of body lean) and far more engagingly than the current (2013) Corolla, which is competent but as bland as untoasted Wonder Bread.

      They did a really nice job with it. The interior is knock-your-socks off. The back seat room, unbeatable (in this class of car).

      Just could use some more oats is all.

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