Toyota Unleashes an Aggressive 2014 Corolla

Toyota's 2014 Corolla. Photo: Toyota.

It's no secret that Detroit's Big Three automakers have been taking back market share in segments that have long been dominated by Toyota (NYSE: TM  ) and Honda (NYSE: HMC  ) . Ford (NYSE: F  ) has especially gained much ground in fuel-efficient sedan segments with its popular Fusion and Focus models. This is great news for domestic auto investors like myself, but of course the No. 1 global sales leader isn't going to sit by idle. With the weakened yen, it gives Toyota and Honda an advantage that enables them to load up features without raising the price per vehicle, or simply take more of each revenue dollar to the bank.

It's unclear how the weak yen advantage will be used, but as Toyota's Corolla has felt pressure from the Ford Focus, its 2014 model looks to be much more aggressive to take back lost market share -- Corolla remains on top of the Focus, but the gap has narrowed quickly.

Information from Automotive News Data Center.

2014 Corolla
I'm an honest person, and I always call it as I see it. I'm a Ford guy and have been very pleased with how its new vehicles have grabbed market share aggressively in the U.S. as well as globally. But I also have to give Toyota credit for its Corolla, which has sold more than 40 million units in its 47-year life span and sells in 154 countries, making it a true global icon.

This 11th generation of the Corolla needed to be a little bit different, because its segments have been known for bland style and it has rarely seen creative designs. Ford brought a splash to the market with its recent designs that take style cues of the futuristic Evos concept vehicle -- which has been a hit with the market. Toyota's response is the more aggressive styling that goes beyond its typical comfort zone, and it will attempt to attract the same youthful consumers that Ford is striking it rich with.

Speaking of youthful consumers, one of the biggest factors to attract this consumer is a tech-savvy and stylish interior.

Interior of a 2014 Toyota Corolla. Photo Courtesy of Toyota.

The Corolla's interior steps up the game from its outgoing predecessor and creates a stylish and functional space with a more spacious interior to boot. Its use of interior color schemes and trims gives a premium feel and sporty look -- all useful elements when attracting a younger consumer. It also is said to have a very quiet cabin during drives, mitigating engine and environment noise through improved acoustic glass and insulation.

One drawback for the Corolla could be its engine, but it just depends on what you're looking for. The 2014 base model will come with an efficient 1.8-liter engine that's aimed at getting about 40 mpg -- though it hasn't been officially tested yet. It will fall short of horsepower output compared with the Ford Focus, which boasts a very popular turbocharged EcoBoost engine.

Investing takeaway
As a Ford investor, I know very well how much these fuel-efficient segments mean to automakers. The biggest growth trend has been called the "Super Segment" by Ford. Those four segments are represented by Ford's Focus, Fiesta, Fusion, and Escape -- no coincidence that those are four of Ford's most popular vehicles.

These high-volume sedans, the Corolla and Focus, represent a quick way to win market share and brand awareness in the U.S. and global markets. For the first time in more than two decades, all three Detroit automakers gained market share in the U.S. in the first quarter. Toyota is taking notice that Ford and GM are competing in segments where they had once been left for dead. It will take years to battle past stereotypes of poor-quality vehicles, but things are clearly changing, and that is confirmed by Toyota's radical image change with its 2014 Corolla -- it's feeling the pressure.

Toyota is still the No. 1 global automaker by sales, but Ford and General Motors seem very undervalued as they continue to impress consumers and critics in their rebound from the financial collapse and great recession. A savvy investor would be wise to forget the companies that they used to be, and acknowledge drastically improved companies before others do -- I believe great profits await early investors who recognize this.

As Detroit automakers continue to win back market share in the U.S. and produce popular models in growing segments, look for revenues, profits, and margins to all increase -- a big win for Ford and GM investors.

Understand cars, and love making money? Investing in automakers could bring big profits to savvy investors, here's how. A recent Motley Fool report, "2 Automakers to Buy for a Surging Chinese Market," names two global giants poised to reap big gains that could drive big rewards for investors. You can read this report right now for free -- just click here for instant access.

Read/Post Comments (28) | Recommend This Article (19)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 11:56 AM, tkkkkkkkk wrote:

    Gee, looks just like the Dodge Dart. Another rip-off by a Japanese automaker.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 12:02 PM, hmsthehood wrote:

    I thought it was a Passat when I saw the pic.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 12:07 PM, TomS1200 wrote:

    Looks like an epic "fail" to me. It is not stylish, not sporty in performance, and offers much less than many of the "hot hatchbacks" that have been very successful worldwide and that are growing in popularity in the USA. I opt for the Toyota GT-86.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 12:13 PM, charsis wrote:

    very disappointed thought I would see something sleek and stylish.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 12:27 PM, TMFTwoCoins wrote:

    I have to agree, it's not my style of a ride. I won't be trading my Mustang in any time soon. For some reason the Corolla and Camry sell really well, and people love it. It's not for me though, although the Corolla is much more aggressive than ever before -- it's usually extremely bland.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 12:33 PM, dilogdp wrote:

    I don't understand 2 things:

    1. why anyone would buy a foreign car

    2. why are so-called leaders aren't doing something about Japan's currency manipulation.

    We should ask 2 things:

    1. why are we still providing one of our biggest lenders billions in free military protection?

    2. why are they still allowed to maintain closed markets, while taking advantage of our free-market consumer-driven markets?

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 12:42 PM, glm5 wrote:

    This lackluster design looks just like every other bean shaped car that has been imported for the last 25 years. Nothing stylish about the interior, same old same old.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 12:56 PM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    Doesn't look that different than any other sh^tbox being sold today. At least it will be a reliable car so it'll sell well. Why anyone would buy a Ford ecobox is beyond me. Ford makes it's trucks in the US but that's about it. Thanks but Ford can keep their Mexican/ Canadian cars.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 12:57 PM, btc909 wrote:

    Another dumb sedan design with a useless trunk opening. Finally has some rear seat legroom at least.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 12:59 PM, taxedmore wrote:

    Looks like it's throwing up.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 1:02 PM, tim8875 wrote:

    OH JESUS look out!!!

    Front wheel drive automatic, 8 inches of fender gap commin to get ya!!!!

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 1:11 PM, alwaysfavor wrote:

    For your information GMC, Ford was never good to build a car or truck that worth over 100,000miles transmission. Toyota keep their cars/truck in good condition for many decade. Some of you should know our counry owes a lot of Trillions dollars to Japan and China. I personally don't like ford and GMC.. It's not worth the money ...

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 1:23 PM, Fredc1968 wrote:

    It's a Corolla, a bland reliable little car that get good gas mileage. It can be parked in most parking areas.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 1:31 PM, ObamaCare42O wrote:

    dilogdp - stfu japan cars are bulit to last unlike american cars..

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 1:35 PM, LazerTown wrote:


    What do you consider a Domestic car though?

    An American can own stock in Toyota, just like someone in Japan can own stock in Ford, or a European company can own a large share of Chrysler. My definition of a Domestic car is one that is made in the US, just because it is a Ford doesn't mean it provides more jobs to USA than a Toyota nameplate.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 1:46 PM, iikkss wrote:

    I used to own Ford, Chevy and Oldsmobile sedans & pick-ups for a long time. With all the japanese automakers' savvy marketing and high praises of my peers about japanese autos more than a decade back, I finally took a plunge & bought my 1997 Honda Accord and 2009 Camry. Boy what a mistake I made!

    Both didn't last long enough. After 7 years, my Accord stopped breathing while I was pummeling the CA-101 at 60mph on lane 1. My 2009 Camry after 62K miles, needed shocks/struts replacements & brake pads crystallized, making loud grunting noise every time I back it up from the garage fresh in the morning. I took them for repair and both dealer-service departments didn't even badge for a good customer relations for their hefty service tags.

    I realized I traded my good old working sedans for sub-standard quality Toyota and Honda makes. My 1994 Chevy pick-up truck that's left in my garage is still running with no major problems at 175K miles and haven't even replaced my brake pad on it!!!

    No more japanese autos for me from now on. I'm getting back to american made autos or perhaps TESLA when their charging stations are up and running.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 1:49 PM, birder1500 wrote:

    Back in 1981 I bought a Corolla wagon. It got great gas mileage and was a fun car to drive. Then I bought a Ford Escort wagon. It too got great gas mileage and was a fun car to drive. Can't buy either of those any longer in the US.

    I was recently in Cameroon and about 90% of the cars there are Toyotas. I saw one US car there--only one. Many of the Toyotas there were--you guessed it--Corolla wagons. There were a few SUVs but not very many.

    Now I drive a Ford Focus wagon. Can't buy that car in the US any longer either. I do believe they are still sold in Europe though. At least I saw them on the road in Italy--a lot of them.

    The auto makers can't be selling fuel efficient wagons in the US to compete with their gas guzzling SUVs. No sir.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 1:52 PM, Lahe wrote:

    The toyota corolla looks like a granny car trying to look like a sports compact. Not even close! It's as ugly as ugly can be. The design don't appeal to me at all. I agree with "taxedmore." The car looks like it's going to throw up. What's up with that front end. I'll take a mazda "smiley face" any day. Mazda 3! Beautiful car.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 2:05 PM, logfellowjeebs wrote:

    It's a bad bet in stock market. The Corolla provide great gas mileage at the cost of Horsepower. Buyers respond to Horsepower. It has the least in it class. Commercials can hype it up but the specs. speaks for itself. You also have to buy the premium model it you what the technological advances. Where with Honda and Ford the premium stuff comes standard on all models.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 4:51 PM, Intrepid68OR wrote:

    I have a '10 Corolla "S", that has better styling, the SAME engine, and I get 30 mpg Locally, and 40mpg Highway. So tell me again how great this car is supposed to be. If Toyota Really wanted to do something, the could put in a little larger engine, with a little more "Get up and go!!!!!!!"

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 5:23 PM, LadyMantle wrote:

    The only Toyota I would remotely consider interesting is the Prius.

    I prefer Subaru and Nissan myself for both economy, comfort, ease of driving and safety.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 6:01 PM, Kanavit wrote:

    Wow, Toyota won me back! Give me a 6- speed one please. I really like the aggressive styling , this beats the Sentra and Civic by a mile.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 6:11 PM, Sussybabe wrote:

    Stupid Americans know how to trash products from other countries, ask them what they produced of recent apart from diabetics.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 6:42 PM, kamikaze702 wrote:

    The Dodge Dart is a rip-off of a japanese auto marker.... lmao... some people are just ignorant. The dodge ripped off mitsubishi....lmfao ignorant americans FOR THE LOSS!!!!

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 7:15 PM, daicompacifica wrote:

    The Dodge Dart is an ugly neon replacement vehicle....I'd take the Toyota over that any day....LOL Dodge Dart

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 10:19 PM, herky46q wrote:

    Very popular EcoBoost engine? The Focus ST is a niche model, not the high volume one. The Corolla is still pretty bland. The whole market is lame except for the VW Golf--practical shape and upscale interior for not that much more money.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 11:03 PM, Hrntphxr wrote:

    A red paint job with black wheels does not a sporty car make. . . . come guys, quit stealing someone else's idea and start with a clean slate. . .

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2013, at 8:06 AM, igggi wrote:

    Dodge Dart! Shame on Toyota! Never liked their cars anyway..

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