Given the level of competition in the compact segment, these recent spy photos show that Toyota is getting serious with its next-generation Corolla. As the second-best-selling nameplate in the world, the last few Toyota Corolla redesigns have been rather minor, but based on these pictures, the new car will get much more competitive styling.
The boxy lines of the current Corolla seem to be replaced with a sportier look that includes a sloped hood and a shorter decklid borrowing design cues from new cars like the 2013 Toyota Avalon and 2012 Toyota Camry. From what we can see of the front end, the headlights have a rounded, scalloped shape similar to the new Avalon while the taillights match the L-shaped design of the Camry. The car pictured here appears to be a higher trim level, with what appear to be HID headlights, fog lights and possibly even LED taillights. Like the outside, the interior of this test mule is heavily cloaked with camouflage, but we can make out the new three-gauge instrument cluster that replaces the current car's two-gauge layout, and this upscale model includes chrome trim around the edges.
In terms of powertrain changes, an updated version of the 1.8-liter four will likely bring more power and better fuel economy, and big changes should come to the transmission. A six-speed automatic should replace the aging four-speed used in the current Corolla, and there's speculation a continuously variable transmission could be offered. Since a 40-mpg EPA highway rating has become the de facto standard in the compact sedan segment, we expect vastly improved fuel economy numbers from whatever new powertrain Toyota drops in this car.
Production of the 2014 Toyota Corolla is expected to begin during the second quarter of 2013, so we wouldn't be surprised to see this car on display at the L.A. Auto Show or Detroit Auto Show.