America's best-selling subcompact, the Toyota Corolla, is getting a midcycle freshening just as General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. are launching more competitive compact models.
The 2011 Corolla will debut tomorrow at the Los Angeles Auto Show, sporting new front and rear exterior styling and new interior design changes, according to a company statement.
When it goes on sale in December, the Corolla also will feature Toyota's complimentary maintenance plan and Smart Stop technology.
The Corolla will square off against the new Chevrolet Cruze and the redesigned Focus from Ford. GM and Ford are targeting Honda, Toyota and VW compact and subcompact owners.
Toyota combines sales of the Corolla and Corolla Matrix, with demand for both models this year down 5 percent to 227,822, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Honda Civic sales are off 4 percent to 215,393.
In light of the Japanese automaker's troubles -- Toyota has recalled 15.4 million vehicles worldwide in the past 12 months -- the company is emphasizing safety in the new Corolla.
Standard equipment will feature Toyota's Star Safety System, which includes antilock brakes, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.
Smart Stop Technology automatically reduces engine power when both pedals are pressed at the same time under certain conditions. The system intervenes when the accelerator is depressed first and the brakes are applied for longer than one-half second at speeds greater than 5 mph.
Toyota also made changes to minimize interior cabin noise. The Corolla's new front fascia was specifically designed to reduce wind noise, and an acoustic dampening windshield and more effective sound absorbing carpet have been added for 2011.
The 2011 Corolla will come in three models -- base, LE and S. Each includes a 1.8-liter engine with an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 26 to 28 mpg in the city and 34 to 35 mpg on the highway.
Engineers also made exterior changes to the Corolla -- angling the front and rear columns in -- to make it more aerodynamic and fuel-efficient.
On the inside, the Corolla features new door and instrument panel trim color. The Corolla S is also getting a sportier steering wheel.
Toyota has not released pricing on the 2011 Corolla, but the 2010 model started at $16,210, including shipping..
Toyota says it has sold more than 30 million Corollas worldwide since the model debuted in 1966.