DETROIT -- The Toyota Corolla is getting a facelift. But the jury is still out on how extreme its makeover should be.
Toyota hinted at a new, edgier style for the staid compact at the Detroit auto show on Monday. The cautious Japanese automaker unveiled a car that could become the blueprint for the 2014 model. It ditches the current Corolla's soft, bland styling in favor of sharper lines, a dramatically sloped windshield and more aggressive headlights.
The redesign could ultimately get incorporated into the next Corolla, or get dropped. It all depends on how people react to the changes.
Still, the world's largest automaker knows it needs to update the Corolla if it wants to attract younger buyers, who have been flocking to newer, more stylish rivals like the Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra. The Corolla was last revamped four years ago.
Even though Corolla's U.S. sales rose 21 percent to 290,947 last year, they trailed the Honda Civic, which was new in 2012. Civic sales jumped 44 percent to 317,909.
It's risky to toy with one of the best-selling cars in the world. Toyota has sold 200,000 Corollas every year in the U.S. for nearly two decades.
Meanwhile, after scoring a hit with its CR-V compact SUV, Honda on Monday offered a glimpse at what the automaker's new, even smaller SUV might look like when it hits streets.
The "Urban SUV Concept" made its debut during press previews at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Honda Motor Co. plans to launch a small SUV based on that concept vehicle in Japan by the end of the year and in the U.S. in 2014.
The concept SUV is 9 inches shorter than the CR-V, and hidden rear door handles give it a smooth, coupe-like presence. When it goes on sale in the U.S. it's expected to be priced below the existing CR-V, which starts around $22,700 for a 2013 model.
"We believe there is a good market potential for this vehicle," Tetsuo Iwamura, president and chief operating officer of Honda's North American Regional Operations, said in an interview with reporters at the show.
The new SUV is expected to fill a place in Honda's lineup between the subcompact Fit and the CR-V, and Iwamura said he anticipates it will draw new buyers -- not poach sales from Honda's existing vehicles. He said the concept for the new SUV is "completely different" than its existing offerings.