My handy Palm Pilot lost my first day's report I typed up on my plane ride so I'm writing this all over again. The pain and agony I go through for our Autoblog readers. Originally I wrote how I only had a few minutes to get acquainted with the Toyota Corolla XRS before having to head out to the airport for a weekend trip out of town.

I had forgotten how nice the Corolla was as a form of basic transportation.

Toyota just does a fabulous job on the fit and finish of this workhorse of an economy car. Since the company already sells more Corollas then they can handle they decided to try and hit a demographic not served by the standard version. Thus the XRS was born to draw the attention of the tuner crowd.

While the car features a 1.8L 170 horsepower engine and 6 speed transmission there isn?t any visceral thrill to driving it. The shifting is economical and pretty easy to master but the engine strains loudly when pressing it hard. Worst of all is the clutch pedal. It might be light on the foot but its position forces my size 11 to press down more on the pedal?s arm than on the pedal itself. After a few different techniques and changing my seating position I still couldn?t get comfortable. 

A revised suspension rides an inch lower and has a tower strut brace. Neither gives a remarkably stiff or high-performance feel to cornering. I like the leather wrapped steering wheel though.

So far, after limited driving I can only admire the Corolla for the excellent economy car it is and the XRS for being a fully loaded version of that vehicle. Otherwise, I?m not impressed yet.




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