Although Corolla sales are down from a year ago (and really who’s aren’t?), sales of nearly 200,000 units a year make the economy car the all-time best-selling car model in history. Since the first Corolla was produced in 1968 Toyota has from year-to-year very smartly only judiciously updated the vehicle while still keeping their consumers interested by offering new higher-end technologies (like the first economy car with airbags). The 2009 Corolla, similarly gets a bunch of things right.
Unlike many economy cars, the Corolla seems to appeal to a wide consumer segment, which is why it sells so well. You are just as likely to see a retired person drive a Corolla as you would a high school kid in their first car. The main reason is that the Corolla doesn’t look as cheap as other economy cars. In fact, it has the appearance of a smaller Camry, which is another top selling vehicle. Another reason is the perceived quality, reliablity and value associated with Toyota. This perception accounts for those years when identical Geo Prism’s resale value was significantly lower than the same Corolla models. For 2009, the EPA-estimated 26 mpg city and 32 mpg highway gas mileage is in large part the result of the Corolla’s use of a very solid 132 horsepower, 1.8 liter four cylinder. The current Corolla, which is only available as a sedan, unless you count the mechanically-cloned Matrix hatchback, is also larger and heavier than previous versions. It’s not longer or taller than the previous-generation Corolla, but it is a little wider, which creates additional hip- and shoulder room. A telescoping steering wheel is a welcome addition for taller drivers and a short list of features like auxiliary audio input, keyless startup and a navigation system help give it a “baby Camry” appearance.
Available trim levels are base, LE, S, XLE and XRS. Base models are reasonably well-equipped but lack power accessories, which the LE model adds. The XLE is the most “luxurious” Corolla, while the XRS employs a larger engine and a sport-tuned suspension. The XRS has a 158 horsepower, 2.4 liter inline 4 that makes it the Corolla surprisingly quick although with a marginal reduction of 5 mpg in fuel efficiency. Depending on the model, prices for the ’09 year range between around $15,000 and $20,000.
Like its predecessors, the Toyota Corolla mostly aims to please the average consumer, and as such some may think it is an unremarkable vehicle. But in terms of quality, utility, comfort and economy, many cars could learn a thing or two from the Corolla