The Corolla is the car that made Toyota a household name. For over forty years, Corolla has meant reliable transportation at an affordable price. The current generation is not breaking this winning formula, and its trying to add a little luxury into the affordable car mix.
The Corolla was first introduced as a small rear-drive subcompact in the late 1960s. In the 1970s the second generation was introduced, and it was the best selling import in the country. Last year, the now front-wheel drive Corolla became the best selling model in the world, with over 30 million sold. Toyota has released a new generation of the Corolla every four or five years, which has now lead up to this new tenth-generation 2009 Toyota Corolla. The new Corolla is slightly longer, lower and wider than the previous generation. It is available in five trims, base, LE, S, XLE, and XRS. Our Corolla XLE is powered by a 1.8 Liter 4 cylinder DOHC engine matted to an automatic 4-speed transmission. The starting price for the Corolla XLE is $17, 550. Our test vehicle is priced at $18,600, because it has the optional goodies including 6-disc CD changer and satellite radio.
This Corolla wants to broaden its market and lower the average buyer age. That is why this generation has an eye for more aggressive looks than its predecessor. The exterior designers at Toyota had a goal to make the new Corolla lower, wider, and sportier looking while keeping the Honda’s Civic in mind. This goal was met with this lower roofline with a sleeker windshield and rear glass.
Inexpensive cars have a low profit margin for carmakers. One way automotive companies can make more money is by using grey or black plastic pieces (such as door handles or mirrors) that can be shared with any car no matter the color. Elements such as this are completely void on the Corolla. All trim pieces are body-colored, and that helps give this car a visual feeling of quality.
From the front view the 2009 Corolla XLE has a slanted hood, which gives the front end a sleeker and lower appearance. This hood is accented by two Multi-reflector halogen headlamps. The headlights bulge out from the bodywork and are similar to the headlights found on youth-market Scion. The bumper is large and its center dip takes its cues from its Camry sibling. It is accented by two low front air intakes and Toyota’s signature mesh grille.
Toward the side, a trio of lines runs along the XLE. One starts at the door handles and runs to the rear fenders, another from the hood to the front pillars, and the last runs from the front bumpers to the front fenders. The XLE is offered standard with 16 inch steel wheels with full wheel covers. Options include 17 inch and alloy wheels.
In the rear, the rear taillights extend from the bodywork, just like the front. This is again another detail that is very similar to its Scion brother. The rear bumper is accented by two integrated reflectors that break the smooth lines of the rear.
Overall the exterior of the 2009 Toyota Corolla XLE is newer and bolder. It looks lower and wider than its previous generation. It is a definite improvement from the previous generations.
Inside, Toyota’s goal was to create an interior with roominess and improved comfort. The added width gives you more body and legroom. To put it in technical terms, Toyota gave the front a half inch in the front and nearly a full inch in the rear. Even though you lose a half inch of headroom, because of the lowered roofline, Toyota gave the XLE more comfortable seats so that a person of any height could fit comfortably.
The dashboard is black with silver accents. The seams are had to see and the gaps between panels are nearly nonexistent—a Toyota hallmark. Faux wood accents help the dash flow seamlessly into the center console. The center is kept very simple, with as little buttons and knobs as possible. It is surrounded by a wood trim, with chrome accents. This is offered as a standard feature.
The top of the center console has an AM/FM/ 6-CD changer that is Satellite compatible. Bellow is the air temperature control knobs, which look borrowed from the Scion. Like a lot of the new vehicles, the new XLE has a standard auxiliary input to plug in any MP3 player.
The steering wheel is very basic, so basic in fact, that it does not have cruise control as a standard feature. If you find cruise control important, you can still ask for it as an option. Behind the steering wheel is an instrument panel that offers a speedometer, tachometer, fuel and coolant temperature gauge, and an optional multi-information display that offers a clock, outside temperature, fuel-economy, range, average speed and elapsed time.
As part of this Corolla’s more sporting image, the speedometer and tachometer will give a symbolic run through its cycles every time the car is turned on. This is about the only trait the Corolla shares with Corvetts and Ferarris, but it does give the driver a little jolt of performance.
There are a few extra storage compartments in the new Corolla XLE, like the passenger-side dual glove box compartments.
The cloth seats were made for comfort. This means they are good for long trips but not necessarily taking multiple corners. For sportier and leather seats, you need to upgrade to upgrade to the sportier XRS package. This has a starting price of $19,950 but also has over 25 more horsepower.
Overall, the Corolla XLE is more spacious and comfortable in the interior, than it has ever been. It offers plenty of space in the rear for children, and just the right amount of space in the front for the adults.
The Corolla’s ride is the opposite of its new looks. While the outside tries to say performance, the ride says comfort. Overall it has a suspension that delivers a comfortable and controlled ride. The brakes are strong and fade-free. The ride and overall handling is better than the previous Corollas. With only 132 horsepower, it is definitely obvious that the XLE was made for cruising and comfortable driving purposes. If you prefer a sportier drive you may want to look in to the XRS. It has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 158 horsepower.
One of he biggest advantages of this Corolla as a family car is the 27 city and 35 highway fuel economy. That is sure to save you in gas prices. Overall, the XLE was made to be comfortable family sedan.
The 2009 Toyota Corolla XLE is a great little commuter for those who need everyday reliability and room for family and friends. The exterior is wider and lower, the interior is more spacious and comfortable. The drive was made for comfort, which can make the Corolla XLE it a great family sedan under the price of $20,000.