2009 Corolla New Car Test Drive
The 2009 Toyota Corolla is a new car, the 10th generation of the world's most popular passenger car. More than 30 million have been sold in more than 140 different countries. With five distinct models there is something for everyone; and those looking for a hatchback, wagon, or all-wheel-drive can check out the Toyota Matrix which shares many mechanical components.
Working from a concept developed for the first Corolla, the new one shows you can make a car inexpensive without it being cheap. It feels more like a small car than an econobox, as much a smaller Camry as anything else. There is no hybrid version: 27/35 mpg is nothing to sneeze at, hybrid technology isn't inexpensive, and the Prius has that covered.
Younger and older buyers alike appreciate low purchase and operating costs, and previously Corollas have proven reliable and not an expensive insurance proposition. First-time drivers will do well with straightforward controls, minimal distractions, and standard passive safety equipment, and many older drivers will appreciate the same things for different reasons.
For the ultimate low-budget wheels you turn to the Corolla base model, but it has manual, wind-up windows and manual door locks. Upgrading to the Corolla LE includes power windows and door locks. If you fancy a fancier interior, the woodgrain trim in the Corolla XLE goes in that direction, although you can't get leather. Finally, there are two sportier models, the Corolla S which looks the part and has some seat and chassis upgrades, and the Corolla XRS which brings a bigger engine, brakes, and tires to the party.
No matter the model, the Toyota Corolla is a hop-in-and-go kind of car. The control layout logic is multi-generational and quick to master. It's so simple you can easily trade drivers over long distances, and so common you won't be without a car for months if they damage your ride.
The 2009 Toyota Corolla comes in five derivatives. The standard model, simply called Corolla, is the least expensive yet includes fabric upholstery, air conditioning, CD/WMA/MP3 XM-ready radio, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, six-way manual driver seat, 60/40 split folding rear seat, outside temperature gauge, power mirrors, and engine immobilizer. Six airbags and ABS are standard. You can add an upgrade package (LE spec without painted mirrors), six-speaker/six-CD changer, cruise control, heated mirrors, lighter, and stability/traction control.
The popular LE is the next step up, and adds power windows, door locks, and color-matched outside mirrors. Options are the same as the Standard, plus 16-inch alloy wheels and remote keyless entry.
XLE is the lux-like Corolla, and builds on LE with 16-inch steel wheels and covers, wood grain trim, Optitron instruments, variable intermittent wipers, sliding lid center console, keyless entry, seatback pockets and better radio. The option list swells to include those above not standard, plus moonroof, alloy wheels, eight-speaker JBL audio system, and navigation, though the latter two can not be combined.
The S is the economy sporting model, with color-matched spoilers, fog lamps, black headlight housings, leather-trimmed steering wheel, and sport front seats the upgrades from the base model. Options are extensive and include everything mentioned for Standard, LE, XLE, and leather upholstery.
XRS is the top of the line. It's upgraded with the 2.4-liter engine, wider, 17-inch tires on alloy wheels, electronic stability control, trunk spoiler, rear disc brakes, strut tower brace, Optitron gauges, cruise, leather shifter and steering wheel, and chrome interior accents. Heated mirrors, two radio upgrades, navigation, power locks/windows, moonroof, and leather upholstery are among the options.
Safety features that come standard on all Corolla models include six airbags: dual frontal, front side-impact (for torso protection), and side curtain airbags (for head protection). ABS comes standard. Electronic stability control and traction control are optional and we recommend getting them. The Corolla comes with good seat belts, so wear them because they form your primary line of defense in a crash and allow everything else to work in your favor.