From Uncool Car to Stylish Option: An Auto Technician’s Guide to the Toyota Corolla’s Transformation


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The Toyota Corolla is not the kind of car to set imaginations alight or draw double-takes in traffic. What it is, though, is a vehicle that is stylish without being flashy, the kind of car that is attainable, serviceable, and yet has enough visual appeal that few would be embarrassed to drive it around. Maybe that isn’t the highest praise, but it’s a distinction that not all cars can claim.

Not so long ago, though, this wasn’t even true of the Corolla. The model enjoyed a reinvention in recent years, taking on some sleek new aesthetics in an effort to appeal to a generation of car buyer that is just as concerned with looks as it is with performance.

Here’s a look at the journey of transformation this model went on.

Budding Auto Technicians Might Recall the Old Corolla Was as Basic as They Come

For those entrants to a mechanic program who may not be familiar with them, looking at a pre-2014 Corolla is like looking at the picture for the encyclopedia entry for “car.” It’s got safe lines and no distinguishing features whatsoever. It was the kind of vehicle that skated by with the car-buying public on the strength of Toyota’s reputation for delivering vehicles that are reliable. This was a vehicle made for people who needed to buy a car, not for people who wanted to buy a car.

Competing carmakers, though, seemed to be catching on to the fact that buyers were expecting a little more for the money they were dropping. Looks were quickly becoming something that wasn’t just a nice extra, but rather a central selling point, for cars meant for daily commutes. Cars like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, and Hyundai Elantra were getting makeovers to address this change. Toyota, acknowledging the trend, decided to do a substantial overhaul of the Corolla for the 2014 model year. The challenge would be to achieve a sleeker, more appealing aesthetic while still retaining the level of safety and reliability of the existing Corolla.

New Hotness: From 2014 on, the Corolla Was Sleek & Better Than Ever

With the revamp of the 2014 edition of the Corolla, Toyota introduced sleeker lines and a sportier attitude to the car, delivering on its promise of something that looked a little nicer sitting in a driveway. It also upped the ante with better fuel economy, safety features, and entertainment offerings, including a then-impressive standard packaging of Bluetooth connectivity.

On the back of all these improvements, the Corolla enjoyed a pretty significant leap in sales, climbing from 40,906 sales in 2012 to 44,449 sales in Canada in 2013 (when the 2014 model was released), and up to 48,881 in 2014. It has enjoyed relatively stable sales numbers ever since.

The increased reliability of these vehicles also means two important things. First, that used Corollas today tend to hold their value quite well, meaning it’s more difficult to get much of a discount buying one than can be gotten for some other vehicles. Second, that the average auto technician is likely to see the same Corollas come in for servicing pretty regularly, as they’re easy to hold on to for a decent stretch of time. With the model enjoying a high level of popularity today, you could work on a number of these throughout your career in the auto industry.

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