Everyone knows Toyota can build a reliable compact sedan, but can the automaker build an exciting one? The all-new 2014 Toyota Corolla answers that question. It's time to put aside the rumors and the hype, because we just took an exclusive spin in a 2014 Corolla. Here are five reasons why we think the reinvented Corolla is going to be a star.

1. Stylish New Look

The Corolla hasn't exactly been known for its fashion sense over the years, but as you can see, that's about to change. Toyota had assured us this Corolla would stay true to the aggressive Furia concept car, and they weren't kidding. Check it out: You have standard LED headlights, wraparound taillights and a sleek body that's going to turn some heads. We never thought we'd see the day, but styling is finally a reason to buy a Corolla.

2. New Transmission = More MPG

If you know Corollas, you know the new car's base 1.8-liter inline 4-cylinder engine is more or less unchanged. Although Toyota's being tight-lipped about fuel-economy projections, we read between the lines and caught wind of a massive improvement of 5 miles per gallon over the outgoing Corolla. How is that possible without changing the engine? Look no further than the Corolla's brand-new continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which eliminates shifting and makes sure the engine operates at peak efficiency. It's going to be a game-changer for Toyota.

3. More Interior Space

The new Corolla's wheelbase is up by a whopping four inches, and almost all of it goes toward making the back seat bigger. We're not saying the outgoing Corolla's back seat was cramped; on the contrary, it was just fine by economy-car standards. But the new Corolla's back seat is more than just fine -- it's one of the roomiest in this segment. Adults can actually stretch their legs back there, and the floor is flatter all the way across for increased foot room.

4. Eco Model Adds Both MPG and Power

Although the regular Corolla is already super-efficient, there's also a new Eco model with a special version of the base engine for even more mpg -- "over 40 mpg on the highway," Toyota tells us. But it's not just about fuel economy; the Eco also adds pep, checking in at 140 horsepower versus the standard 132. That's a 1-2 punch that any driver can appreciate.

5. Up-to-Date Tech

The Corolla's brand-new dashboard looks great, and it has some cool technology, too. The usual array of iPod/Bluetooth and USB connectivity is offered, and you can even get a touchscreen interface with Entune mobile-app integration and navigation, which is amazing for an economy car. If you like to stay connected, you'll feel right at home in the new Corolla's cabin.

So what's the rub? Well, the redesigned 2014 Toyota Corolla is as sensible as ever, but now it's a fashionable choice, as well. Go take one for a spin -- you'll be surprised by how appealing this new Corolla can be.

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Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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