NEWPORT BEACH, CA – Car buyers will see a big change in the Toyota Corolla when the new model arrives in the U.S. next year.

The next generation of Toyota's second-best selling car will be a clear departure from the current model, the division’s new vice president says.

"Some (within Toyota) have said it is an even more dramatic change" than the Avalon’s recent metamorphosis, Bill Fay, general manager for the Toyota and Scion brands in the U.S., tells WardsAuto at a media preview of the new RAV4 EV here.

The large Avalon sedan’s design evolved from boxy to fastback, with a 4-door coupe appearance.

The current-generation Corolla, introduced in late 2007, was a subtle redesign of the previous generation. However, Toyota managed to maintain sales volume and market share through this year even as newer, flashier competitors e entered the fray.

Corolla deliveries this year rose 11.0% through June, compared with first-half 2011, according to WardsAuto data.

The Corolla was the No.5 best-selling car in the U.S. last year, with232,159 units, outselling by a wide margin the Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Volkswagen Jetta. It also topped the Chevy Cruze, which saw 231,732 deliveries.

The Corolla even outsold its longtime rival, the Honda Civic, in 2011 by roughly 10,000 units. In recent years, the Civic has topped the Corolla, even without Toyota's Matrix hatchback mixed in.

The new Corolla will face some updated competition when it launches next year in the hard-fought compact segment. The new Nissan Sentra arrives later this year, and the next-generation Kia Forte goes on sale in 2013.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com