By on March 5, 2008

09_corolla_s_01.jpgEvery forty seconds, another new Corolla rolls off a dealer’s lot. Statistically speaking, it’s piloted by a middle aged woman without a college degree. She could be your house cleaner, mother or receptionist. For forty years, the Corolla has satisfied her with its predictable blend of reliable, economical and durable transportation. These days, old is out, youthful is in. Toyota’s PR professed and ambitious goal for their tenth generation Corolla: “to connect, more than ever, with younger buyers on every level” (Toyota’s italics/underlines). So, has the new Corolla hooked up?

The first half of Toyota’s “Plus-Alpha” program to attract younger buyers is “creative style packaging.” Corolla designers were sent to Italy for four months to discover “What would stand out, even on the streets of Turin?” I’m thinking a Fiat 500 Abarth SS. Their answer was not quite as dramatic. In fact, on the lowly streets of Eugene, the new Toyota Corolla was utterly lost in the sea of… older Toyota Corollas.

09_corolla_s_06.jpgGoal number two is the “plus-alpha criteria of new value ‘improvements in sensitivity performance.’” What sounds like an ad for a sexual dysfunction remedy is actually all about improving the “five-meter impression” (no, not THAT “five-meter impression”). In Toyota-speak, it’s the aesthetic appeal as the customer approaches the vehicle, gets in and drives the car for five meters.

The presumption that the Corolla will sell itself within 16.4041994750656 feet is not without merit. It’s safe to say that the majority of Corolla buyers are pre-sold by the sea of virtually unbroken “happy faces” in Consumer Reports’ reliability stats, as well as the class-leading EPA mileage numbers (27/35).

09_corolla_s_13.jpgWithin my first five meters of acquaintance with the new car, I had an overwhelming “improvement in sensitivity performance”– from my nose. As I opened the door, my olfactory sense was assaulted by the intense smell of the still-polymerizing plastics. A pungent reminder of Toyota’s industry leading “just-in-time” manufacturing process? I cautiously touched them to make sure they weren’t still hot.

My other senses weren’t any happier with the plastics. The Corolla’s interior looks and feels distinctly cheaper than the preceding model. The flimsy ventilation controls feel much more Tianjin than Toyota City. I notice that my NUMMI built tester’s domestic content is down from 60 to 50 percent relative to last year. How else is Toyota going to offset the cost of an extra 150lbs of steel in the new model and keep their profit margins healthy?

09_corolla_xle_09.jpgToyota deployed the extra metal to widen the Corolla by a couple of inches, as well as make it quieter. The only noticeable result: the hard, sharp-edged plastic door panels were that much more prominent in my field of vision. For a middle-aged man who’s 6’4” tall, the Corolla’s rear seat leg, hip and head room is woefully inadequate. But the cleaning-lady carpool will be happy enough.

Even in those first five meters, the Corolla’s new electrically-assisted steering made a powerful impression. Mother will love its over-boosted lightness in the Costco parking lot, but not me. It’s a necessary trade-off to keep the EPA numbers up (what with that extra body weight), but its synthetic feel and unpredictable weighting are a let down from the predecessor’s perfectly adequate hydraulic tiller.

09_corolla_s_10.jpgThat first drive almost turned into seven meters. The Corolla’s brake pedal felt like it was going to drop to the floor. We’re talking seriously mushy stoppers, unlike the firm ’08 comparison tester at hand. In sum, my five-meter impression was not a success; every time I hopped out of the ’09 and sat in the ’08, my “sensitivity performance” improved, and not just because of the smell. If any connection was going to happen, a longer drive was in order.

The revised 1.8-liter engine offers a few more horsepower. More importantly for the Corolla’s target market, it’s noticeably quieter. Given Toyota four-cylinder engines’ long, flat torque curves and the car’s intended mission in life, the four-speed automatic is adequate. With improved sound insulation and a soft ride, the Corolla is truly the Lexus of small car freeway cruisers. Your receptionist will love it.

When it comes to spirited driving, highlight and delete. The “old” ’08 is clearly the more dynamically engaging of the two models, with its pleasant steering and firm brakes. Or maybe I was just getting bored.

09_corolla_s_05.jpgThe 2009 base Corolla automatic lists for $16,050. That’s none too cheap, considering it has manual window cranks. Call me an old crank, but I don’t foresee a wave of new younger buyers connecting with the new Corolla. In fact, some traditional Corolla buyers may begin to question the price/value equation, in light of the cheap interior and the improved competition. That still leaves the Corolla’s stellar reliability reputation; hopefully the development team’s four months in Italy didn’t have an affect on that.

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115 Comments on “2009 Toyota Corolla Review...”


  • avatar
    Brendino

    Having worked detail at a Toyota dealership for two summers, I’m no fan of the ‘rolla though I did have a level of respect for it for what it was: a well-built, economical car. I think the styling update makes it better on the outside, but I did want to get one to see if they had done anything better. Apparently they didn’t, and apparently I’m still not gonna fit in it (I’m 6’7″).

    My question is: what small cars are better? Obviously the Mazda3 and Civic, but that’s not gonna win on price. Would you recommend a Focus over this? Sentra?

    Chrysler should have never axed the Neon, it could have been better than this…

  • avatar
    shaker

    Too bad that the long-needed ergonomic improvements (more cabin width, tilt-telescope wheel, driver’s seat height adjustment), came at a price.
    That electric power steering really bugs me; it seems to be the “innovation du jour” these days, but I’ve heard enough bad things about it (i.e. Honda Fit’s steering sometimes “shuts off, requiring reboot”) that I would consider it a “work in progress”.
    I’ve heard the EPS in the new 4cyl Malibu is an improvement in feel over last year’s unit (from the G6), but I’m still wary about durability.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    It’s unfortunate the new model pales in comparison to the prior one. I had an ’05 when I was in college, and I think it was better to drive than my overpriced car right now. The seats were extremely comfortable, the car was nimble enough to navigate urban environments, and I had great gas mileage.

    As pragmatic transportation goes, a Toyota may cost more up front, but it retains its value so well you’re really not out much at all. I was offered zero percent for 36 at the time with a few free oil changes. My middle of the road model went out the door after taxes for $16.5K… amazing stuff.

    I don’t think a Corolla is supposed to be a fantastic car with great dynamics. But it is a ubiquitous “car” and that’s where it excelled. Seems like Toyota f’ed that up.

    @ Brendino: I owned a Mazda3s sedan at the same time as the Corolla. The Mazda3 is better on paper and when you feel like driving fast. In all other facets, the Mazda3 was inferior to the Corolla. The Mazda was less comfortable, less reliable, cost more to insure, achieved very poor mpg, had sub-standard paint and quality, and developed lots of creaks and groans. Corolla wins out if you want your car to be effective transportation. The Mazda3 wins if you don’t want to be branded as an uneducated receptionist based on your vehicle.

  • avatar
    v65magnafan1

    Me: Hello, I’d like to test drive a manual transmission Toyota Corolla.

    Salesman: You’d like to test drive a Corolla?

    Me: Yes:

    Salesman: A manual transmission Corolla?

    Me: Yes.

    Salesman: A Corolla.

    Me: Yes.

    Salesman: We don’t have any manual transmission Corollas.

    Me: Then I’ll test drive an automatic.

    Salesman: You want to test drive a Corolla.

    I remember that conversation, the bored salesman, the salesman who really never had to SELL a Toyoto but had to write up the same boring list-price sales agreement several times a week.

    I don’t remember anything about the car. No. Wait. I do remember a few things. It started. It went. It turned. It stopped. It smelled bad. It looked cheap.

    By the way, I’m the guy who, along with my son, drove a rental Camry from Toronto to Myrtle Beach S.C. We both agreed that it was dangerous to merge onto an interstate in a four-cylinder Camry. I’m trying to accelerate and merge and the transmission computer is trying to figure out what gear we need. At a 75mph cruising speed, the Camry was almost as pleasant as my 2000 Crown Vic with 120,000 miles on it. The Camry’s radio wasn’t as good though.

    And now Toyota wants to dilute itself into aircraft production?

  • avatar
    dolo54

    @ Brendino – A Honda Fit is priced the same. And kills it in comparison. By the way Paul, “cleaning lady”? “receptionist”? Ahh those lower forms of life… what about the frugal millionaire? Like my landlord, who owns about a dozen buildings in Manhattan and drives a 96 Hyundai Accent.

  • avatar
    tn4601

    It’s really too bad that we don’t get the same Corolla interior as the Europeans and Middle Easterners do:

    http://213.8.154.195/toyota/corolla/images/gallery/800/t8_cor07_car_gal_18_prev_tcm280-514089.jpg

    From the reviews I’ve read, they have a similar number of complaints, but at least they don’t have to be reminded of them every time they turn the flimsy air conditioning switch.

  • avatar
    rodster205

    If they are going for a different market then why does the only Corolla commercial I see (and I see it twice an hour at night) stress how quiet the Corolla is INSIDE? Talk about inconsistent message. I guess they do try to be funny in a wacky Japanese way by having some nursing critters inside the car while a cannon is being shot outside the car. WTF?

  • avatar
    BEAT

    It’s a very good econo box but I wish they change THE STYLE. I mean.. it never look so appealing to everyone especially with the teenagers, who craves for speed and a four wheel motion.

    I mean it doesn’t have to be fast just “Look” fast.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    Every forty seconds, another new Corolla rolls off a dealer’s lot.

    That’s tragic. Not Sally Struthers tragic, but still…

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    I commented on this car over at the Matrix review, but I’ll do it again here…I have had the opportunity to try out two ’09 Corollas, almost back to back against an ’05 Corolla and a couple of ’07 Civics. Personally, I like the new Corolla. The tilt/telescopic wheel makes the driving position ten times better for me (I’m kinda short)and the overall size of the car just seemed right for me. My first ride was in the XRS model, I really liked it but at $22K, it was a bit out of my budget. The LE seemed too plain, so I’m leaning towards an S model. I know, it’s all looks and not much sport, but it works for me. The ’05 I drove, while a nice car, just felt too tall for me, and, my hand kept brushing up against some sharp cut outs on the door trim.

    What about the new Civic? Well, I liked it, but I would have to go with the coupe, as the sedan’s steeply raked windshield and A-pillars made me feel as if I was driving a scaled down GM Dustbuster minivan. The coupe felt more natural, though the steering wheel blocked the speedo for me.

    Of course, this could all just be a case of nostalgia kicking in, as I drove two Corollas, a ’93 and a ’95, and a ’92 Civic during my college years.

    Truth be told, I really don’t want to give up my Olds just yet, as it has been a very good car to me, but with the threat of $4 gas, the idea of an extra ten miles per gallon sounds really good to me, and so does the new Corolla.

  • avatar
    foolish

    Call me confused, but how does Electric power steering help with gas mileage? Does a hydraulic power steering pump really draw that much power off the drive line? Doesn’t an electric power steering system require a bigger alternator, sucking more power off of the engine?

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Paul
    The only person I actually know that owns a Corolla is a Journalist for a major newspaper.
    Please be careful with the stereotypes. Plus my cleaning lady rides a Harley.

  • avatar
    serpico

    My brother in law’s mother picked one up after totaling her new Civic. I got in it the other day and was not impressed. To my surprise he told me that he liked it. It was so bland to me and felt cheaper than the Civic.

    To me, this is a commuter car to drive to work downtown and not care if someone breaks into it. I know it sounds silly, but I have no attachment to bland cars that appear to have no ‘soul’.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    As a 20 something male and car enthusiast, I really, really want a Corolla…just not this one. I want an AE86 GTS. I don’t know why Toyota would want to market a corolla to young people as they have Scion for that.

    As for this car, I liken to how the Top Gear boys once described BMW. It is a good, reliable machine, but it has not character or soul. You simply walk into a Toyota dealership and order the size of car you want small, medium, large, or supersize (Yaris, Corolla, Camry, Avalon) and they write it up for you. No thanks.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised at this. I was looking at the 2008 coupe model of this car versus the Honda Civic coupe, and thought that they’d make the 2009 model a tad sportier looking, perhaps at the same level as the Civic. I don’t think of either as a “sporty” car, but as a fuel-efficient alternative to a V-6 Ford Mustang if you don’t need the power and would like slightly better handling.

    I don’t understand the purpose of this car. Maybe at fourteen thousand dollars it could be a value choice, but the Honda Civic I looked at was about $18 thousand with what looked like a better package overall, with equal reliability and a way better look and more fun-to-drive.

    As #1 automaker, you’d think Toyota would make a better car than this. Then again, GM was #1 for years, as was Ford, so I guess it’s not as simple as that.

  • avatar
    davey49

    The EPS should be more reliable than hydraulic. No messy fluids to leak out.
    The Corolla still looks pretty nice and if the reliability stays on it should do well.
    I would have to discount any comments from “car enthusiasts”. The Corolla was never for them, it still isn’t. A lot of people are looking for classy not cool. In Toyota parlance a young person is anyone under 50. The Corolla is not for high schoolers. Quieter is a good way to go. (especially when the biggest complaint about the Civic is interior noise) More comfort is a good way to go. The cheaper plastics are unfortunate. (I’ve never actually seen it)

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    At this price, give me a Mazda3. The slightly higher price is worth it for the extra standard features that I’ll get with the Mazda. In particular, the lasting smile on my face when I drive it. I own a Mazda6 and I find it is very comfortable for me even on long trips to my mom’s in Idaho. I test drove a couple of Mazda3’s and I thought that they were comfortable cars as well. I may only be 6’1″, but I had plenty of leg and headroom in the back of the Mazda3 with the front seat set at a comfortable position for me. I can’t say the same about my mom’s ’03 Corolla, that’s for sure, And I doubt that the new one is that much bigger and more comfortable.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    v65magnafan1: “By the way, I’m the guy who, along with my son, drove a rental Camry from Toronto to Myrtle Beach S.C. We both agreed that it was dangerous to merge onto an interstate in a four-cylinder Camry.”

    Not that I’d noticed (even at 5 people on board plus luggage), it had enough giddy-up for me. However, if v65magna refers to a motorcyle, then I guess I can see where you’re coming from. And, why didn’t you just drive your own car?

    Anyway, the Corolla has class-leading fuel economy? Many people aren’t going to wait the 16 and whatever feet. They’ll check the EPA rating and pull out the checkbook. I’m disappointed that it’s bigger and heavier but if they still wring however many miles out of a gallon of gas, what are the other options?

    Maybe Toyota could do better at that price point, maybe they should do better at that price point but maybe they noticed they don’t NEED to do better at that price point.

    If it’s a durable, reliable, economical car… that’s not exactly a crime.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I think the majority of posts here, for or better worse, miss the point of the Corolla’s intended audience.

    This is primarily what folks who buy this car will consider…

    1) Toyota reliability… and maybe Honda’s reputation is what most of these customers will covet above all else. Everything else in this segment is publicized by the mainstream media as a tier below.

    (As an aside, perhaps Subaru and Hyundai may want to consider a more extensive advertising campaign for the Impreza and Elantra).

    2) Durability: The Corolla isn’t a passionate car. It’s an economic proposition. Folks who buy it will mostly want it to last around 10 to 15 years.

    3) Fuel economy: A tie into the economics of number two. Corolla buyers want to feel like they will have an advantage when it comes to paying at the pump.

    4) Space: In many ways the Corolla represents a ‘new American midsized sedan’. It’s interior space is comparable to the Camry of the mid-90’s and a lot of folks want to consider a design that can fit four well and carry a fairly decent amount of stuff. The Corolla is a bigger car for that reason.

    5) Ergonomics: I can’t think of a mainstream car that would do worse with a confusing ergonomic display than the Corolla. Consumers who buy these cars want simplicity, and perhaps a small touch of luxury.

    I think the Corolla will have a nice 12 month run. Then it’s all a matter of how strong the competition will be in this market.

  • avatar
    jfsvo

    “As a 20 something male and car enthusiast, I really, really want a Corolla”

    As a 20 something male and car enthusiast, I find this comment hilarious.

  • avatar
    Subifreak

    Give me a Toyota Auris 5 door Hatchback with their diesel engine any day over this.

  • avatar

    Foolish: the numbers I’ve seen suggest that EPS boosts fuel economy by 0.5 to 0.7 MPG. Thing is, the hydraulic pump is always running, whether you’re turning or not. The EPS only draws power when used.

    On pricing: RF has asked for it, and TrueDelta will have it up on TTAC by Monday, maybe a few days earlier.

    On reliability: even with Toyota, remains to be seen. Toyota has had some spotty launches lately. If enough owners sign up to participate in TrueDelta’s research we can have a result in 4-6 months.

    Details on that research here:

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Seriously, why do you guys continue to do reviews on garden variety Toyota products to only pan them for all the attribute they never claim to have in the first place.

    Toyota does not make the Corolla for the sports crowd that is easily understood. The Corolla is built and price to be the EVERYPERSON car. Yes, IT IS JUST A GOOD CAR! Nothing more nothing less. It is not a road burner or a corner carver. The Corolla key attribute is that it is an excellent ECONONY car.

    It is a given that a Mazda3 will out perform a Corolla any day of the week and on Sunday too. But the difference between a Mazda3 and a Corolla can be felt when you slam the doors on either car. Compared to the last generation Corolla the doors on the Mazda3 felt like they were made out of tin foil.

    The Corolla will contiune to sell well because the majority of car buyers understand the game. You generally either get one or the other; a solidly built car with minimal features or a car loaded with a ton of features at its price point but was built far more cheaply to get those said feature into a relatively low priced car.

    I live in crowded NYC. Parking is extremely limited, the roads are beat to hell, NYC uses tons of rad salt every winter. Both MAzda3s and Corollas are very popular. I must say the Corollas are more durable than the Mazda3s. Now it can be said that the MAzda3s are being driven far harder than the Corollas. The difference is I can’t tell one year of the last generation Corolla from another 04 or 06, they are all still in good shape. On the other hand just about all of the round fog lighted Mazda3s have dented body panels and broken exterior trim. Yeah NYC is rough on cars!

    Now I will readily admit that Toyota products appear to be getting cheaper in look and feel. With that said they still manage to avoid many of the annoying problems of other brands like trim peices that fall off and cheap buttons and knobs that break off. The sheet metal is far more dent resistant than the metal used by Mazda.

    For the last twenty years the rule for economy cars has been Civic/ Corolla and everything else. There is a reason why Toyota and Honda have avoided much of the silly options that we find in low priced cars today like leather and large alloy rims. To get these items on a sub-$20,000 car something else, somewhere else on the car must be cheaper. So in the end you have a choice of nice rims and leather or a durable transmission. Since I am actually buying a car to use it and not just look at it I will always go for subtance over flash. Needless to say many, many shoppers feel the same way.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Juniper: The only person I actually know that owns a Corolla is a Journalist for a major newspaper.
    Please be careful with the stereotypes. Plus my cleaning lady rides a Harley.

    63% of Corolla buyers are women. Pardon the stereotypes; it’s not a put-down; I have more respect for some of the house cleaners I had the pleasure to know in CA than a whole lot of other professionals. And in CA, at least, a LOT of them drive Corollas because they’re smart enough to know its going to get them there, day-in, day-out, year after year.

    WhatdoIknow1: I agree with you 100%, and think I said so (between the lines). I’m ribbing Toyota because of their stated goals to attract younger buyers.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Very good review.

    What I want to know is, how does this Corolla compare functionally with the bigger new Scion xB? At first blush, the Scion seems to have all the same virtues (except for those wretched center-mounted gauges), with more maneuverability and higher equipment levels, all for the same money.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    “By the way, I’m the guy who, along with my son, drove a rental Camry from Toronto to Myrtle Beach S.C. We both agreed that it was dangerous to merge onto an interstate in a four-cylinder Camry.”

    I dont know about the 5spd transmission (dont even know if it is available on the Camry 4cyl).
    But I must say I have driven a number of Camrys, Rav4s, etc. with the Toyota 2.4l eng and 4spd autobox and can say these two peices work together rather well. I find that you simple drop your foot on the gas and the tranny downshifts! Oh, nice little understated growl from under the hood too!
    In all honesty the drivetrain in a 4cyl Camry is excellent, right up there with the 4cyl Accord but it is really let-down by the chassis tuning (or lack-of) and brake feel.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    I’m currently driving my wife’s 2000 Corolla with 118,000 miles as a commuter car downtown – she has the Grand Marquis since she is a stay at home Mom now. Both cars are stone reliable vehicles, but since I’d never put my 5 week old baby in a crackerbox car, I made the switch. I do miss the Grand Marquis terribly, but a man has to do what a man has to do.

    The Corolla is a perfect car for the time in life when your priorities change, and you would rather spend your money on things other than transportation expenses.

    With gas over $3 a gallon, for a commuter car you can run over 150,000 miles with minimal ownership costs, it makes perfect sense.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    Seriously, why do you guys continue to do reviews on garden variety Toyota products to only pan them for all the attribute they never claim to have in the first place.

    I think most of the “panning” has to do with how the ’09 suffers in comparison with the relatively ancient model it replaces. The attributes the Corolla never claimed to have are lacking now more than ever, apparently. At some point that becomes a barrier to sales, no matter how reliable the thing is.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    tonycd, the XB is a larger car, especially the interior, due to its boxyness. The Corolla is a sedan, gets substabtially better mileage, and doesn’t look goofy.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    whatdoiknow1

    Yes you are right but consumer wants more style,amenities beside the durability. Mazda3 is kind of durable and when you get inside the car you feel like in a Bimmer or high end car.

    Look at the Mitsubushi Lancers. The old Generations were so ugly that I Won’t dare buy them and Now Me and my Father bought the 2008 Lancer because of 750 watts car stereo with sub woofer,Navigation system, blue tooth, CVT or pedal shifters,17 inch alloy wheels, F.A.S.T Key entry, etc etc etc

    All those for only $18,654.10

    Forgive me but Kids and Old kids like to have fun with their cars.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    I think most of the “panning” has to do with how the ‘09 suffers in comparison with the relatively ancient model it replaces. The attributes the Corolla never claimed to have are lacking now more than ever, apparently. At some point that becomes a barrier to sales, no matter how reliable the thing is.

    It is somewhat unfair to see reviews that are very critical of inexpensive cars that have seen a decrease in interior quality when the ALL of the “so-called” top brands are cheaping their products also.
    Please have a seat in a 1989 560sel and feel the interior quality and then get inside a of a 2005 s500 or even a new s550. There is an undenible drop in the quality of plastics used by Mercedes Benz. Hell for that matter one can clearly see how MB is using cheaper/ simpler construction methods to save money. Now I will admit there has been an improvement from the s500 to s550 but the interior wood inside of new Benzs has a cheap “glued-on” aftermarket feel to it (BMW has the same problem) as opposed to the “inlayed” fit and finish of older models.

    ALL cars look and feel cheaper than their counterparts of 10 to 15 years ago. Trust me I one a 1993 Camry wagon, the interior plastics in that car put just about EVERY car on the market today to shame, there are NO hard plastics anywhere! The only way to be compare the interior quality to that of a current competitor.

    Now are the plastics in the new Corolla of lesser quality than those of a Mazda, Nissan, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Suzuki, etc?
    When someone goes car shooping today will the interior and exterior quality of the Corolla lag in comparison to the competition?

  • avatar
    Strippo

    It is somewhat unfair to see reviews that are very critical of inexpensive cars that have seen a decrease in interior quality when the ALL of the “so-called” top brands are cheaping their products also.

    It’s never unfair to tell it like it is.

  • avatar
    OhMyGoat

    OK. So this was pulled from going into production at the last minute for a styling “makeover” following the intro of the current generation Civic? Hate to see what they had settled on in the first place.

    But, I’m sure it’ll sell just fine, and provide perfectly adequate and reliable Point A to Point B transportation for those who require nothing more than that.

  • avatar

    Great review.

    I once drove a rental with EPS. It was in 2003, and my recollection is it was a Corolla or Prizm. In any case, the steering was dreadful. Very strong on-center reaction when you were within about 2-3 inches of on-center. Very unnatural.

    Paul, my best friend, a professor at SUNY Albany, drives a Corolla. He wanted reliable, durable, cheap transportation. The other person I can think of who drives a Corolla is an elderly female economist whose brother got the Nobel in Economics in 05. And my aunt, who was acting pres of Hunter College for a while in the ’80s or ’90s, used to drive one (she doesn’t drive anymore). And there are a few in my affluent Lexington Mass neighborhood.

    But those are anecdotes. Still, the range of people who drive them is as interesting as the “typical”.

    I’m not about to get one, although my best friend’s 04 is not bad.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    out of topic.

    So, Mr.David Holzman you’re from Lexington, Mass

    I live in Natick near Wellesley and Chestnut Hill Route 9 also a very rich towns but I rarely see a Corolla but I do see a lot of Jaguar and Porsche

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    I think people argue these points…especially against the very-difficult-to-find base Mazda3…from the wrong point of view. There is no reason to test drive a Corolla and then bitch about the engine performance, squishy brakes and lack of steering feedback. Come on…that’s not what this car is about. As many have said, it’s fuel-sipping point A to point b transportation that is mechanically reliable and retains it resale value. That’s it…nothing more, nothing less…functions as you expect (no suprises, no let downs). Duh.

    As for using MSRP of $16K…again, who pays MSRP for anything? You can list the MSRP for a base Mazda3, but good luck finding one anywhere. And while the Mazda3 is a fine driving experience for what it is, Mazda could never produce in volume what the public is requiring of the Corolla.

    Lastly, a 6’4″ tester in a Corolla? Maybe if the those in the lowest caste (untouchables/corpse washers/maids) were a little taller, having a power forward review the vehicle might make sense.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Sammy Hagar said:
    Lastly, a 6′4″ tester in a Corolla? Maybe if the those in the lowest caste (untouchables/corpse washers/maids) were a little taller, having a power forward review the vehicle might make sense.

    I agree. Perhaps this tester won’t give more than 2 stars to any compact economy car at all. He should have tested the Camry.

  • avatar
    bfg9k

    If I spent 4 months in Italy studying car design on a company’s tab, my cars would look like a cross between a Ferrari and a wine bottle.

  • avatar
    WildBill

    Steve Lang hit it exactly on the head…
    1) Toyota reliability, 2) Durability, 3) Fuel economy, 4) Space, 5) Ergonomics. As a Corolla (’92) and Matrix (’03) owner, these are exactly the reasons our next daily driver will be a Corolla or Matrix. We (the wife works at the same mega insurer) don’t need “soul” or “a driving experience” to commute 85 miles a day, we need something that will get us there and back day after day, year after year.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Lastly, a 6′4″ tester in a Corolla? Maybe if the those in the lowest caste (untouchables/corpse washers/maids) were a little taller, having a power forward review the vehicle might make sense.

    I agree. Perhaps this tester won’t give more than 2 stars to any compact economy car at all. He should have tested the Camry.

    Actually, I love (and own) small cars. I fit well in the front seat. Rear seats tend to be a bit of a challenge, though, except in my gen1 xB.

  • avatar
    realtruth

    The fact that anyone buys a Corolla shows how the Japanese are getting back at the stupid Americans for WWII. For the price of this too small no power sedan, I bought a Ford Fusion that out performs a Camry ($5K more) in every important way. It certainly looks a lot better, the driver seat is more comfortable. The ride and handling is not matched by any FWD Toyota (even considering Lexus), the audio system is awesome and the “real world” fuel economy is better. I was thinking I should have bumper sticker on my car that reads: “You bought a Toyota?…DUMBASS!”
    For you people that believe that Fords are more prone to failure, at 38K miles I’m still waiting for its first part failure to happen.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    JFSVO,

    I’m glad that I could oblige you. Like I said, just not this one.

    As for all the defense of the car. I would agree except that now Toyota is offering a 2.4 in it that isn’t really fuel efficient. Frankly, the xD or xB make better daily transport than this.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    A lot of enthusiasts don’t seem to understand that the utilitarian, appliance-like qualities of the Corolla are not only not a problem, they are actually a selling point.

    This example might help: Walmart entered Germany with the idea that a discount retailer with friendly service would be successful. They transported over the same business model that worked for them in the US, including the folksy greeter concept and staff available for bagging your purchase, which is not the norm in Germany. (German customers tend to bag their own.)

    Walmart has been a flop, not despite the extra service, but because of it. As it turns out, they were not always the low-priced competitor compared to some of the domestic competition, and customers presumed that all of that service just led to higher prices. Ultimately, all of the American-style politeness backfired, because it took away from the value proposition of saving money. Germans didn’t want to pay anything extra for benefits that they didn’t particularly care about, even if the prices still tended to be fairly low.

    Corolla buyers want a reliable runner that offers good value (not necessarily the lowest price) for the money. If the car had too much pizazz, otherwise interested buyers might assume that they are paying for performance that they don’t want or that might detract from reliability.

    It seems that Toyota employs a typical tiered pricing and positioning strategy, providing a few higher-priced sporty models and a few stripped base models so that the more normal packages purchased by most people look sensible in comparison. The high priced package makes the middle car seems less extravagant, while the lowest priced offering assures the customer that s/he didn’t buy from the bottom of the barrel.

    All of the automakers do this. The hot models help to sell the medium priced models. Often times, the bigger engine is available so that you get to congratulate yourself for your logical moderation in choosing the smaller motor. Good marketers understand us better than we understand ourselves.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Sometimes, 6’4″ people ARE called to sit in the back of a car. Or just feel self-conscious about grabbing the front seat all the time. Sometimes, we tall people have tall friends.

    So, it’s nice to know how the back seat works out (or doesn’t) for tall people.

    Just recently, I took a ride in the back of a new Camry. I like ride in the front seats well enough but the back was fairly unpleasant for a tall person.

  • avatar

    BEAT,

    My neighborhood is affluent but not money out the wazoo wealthy. There are about 80 houses in the neighborhood, (it was developed by an architect in the ’50s and ’60s). Two Boxsters, no jags, one 3-series (another just moved away), at least one Audi, one Mercedes that’s probably about 15 years old, a number of Camrys, Subies, Volvos, 3 Priuses, I think, a couple of New Beetles, at least one Jetta, some Hondas. One of the top people at Bentley in North America just tried to buy the nicest house in the neighborhood, but the seller sold it to someone with kids, more in keeping with the flavor of the neighborhood.

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    It’s a budget car, a compact vehicle. Treat it as such.

  • avatar

    Regarding fitting into Toyotas, I’m 5’10.5″ with a long torso, and Toyotas are always a bit tight. As is almost anything with a sunroof.

  • avatar
    WildBill

    realtruth, get back to us at 150,000 miles, if it lasts that long. My experience with American iron is that it will basically last, but will nickle and dime you to death. My small town mechanics are intimately familiar with my Expedition, Club Wagon Van and Ranger, they never see the Matrix, and it has more miles on it than any of the others. The Fusion may be good, but it and Ford have to prove themselves over the long haul.

  • avatar
    crc

    My father in law’s recent Corolla purchase is already showing an interior durability on par with my VW. Not good.

  • avatar

    Off topic

    BEAT, more automotive demographics of my neighborhood. Almost no SUVs, a few minivans, several more 3 series than I remembered at first, a 20-plus year old Carrera, two Miatas (one owned by a lively old lady in her late 70s), a few Tauruses and Sables, and the most interesting car was a ’64 Chevelle convertible that had been in the neighborhood since new, and was just sold two years ago. That family has one of the Priuses. I can’t think of any Chevies (aside from the Chevelle), kCaddies, or Pontiacs, or Acuras, or Infinitis. The neighborhood is unusual in that probably about 10-15% have lived here 40-55 years.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    $16K and it still has manual windows? A fully-loaded Hyundai Accent undercuts that by nearly $2000! If you’re looking at this car from purely an economic standpoint, you definitely could do better than this.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    KixStart :
    March 5th, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Sometimes, 6′4″ people ARE called to sit in the back of a car. Or just feel self-conscious about grabbing the front seat all the time. Sometimes, we tall people have tall friends.

    So, it’s nice to know how the back seat works out (or doesn’t) for tall people.

    Just recently, I took a ride in the back of a new Camry. I like ride in the front seats well enough but the back was fairly unpleasant for a tall person.

    Same here. Both me and my wife are 6’1″, and her dad who lives less than 10 miles away is 6’3″. For this reason, it’s nice to have a car that will alow people over 6′ tall to fit comfortably in the back seat. With each car we test drove, one of us would get in the back seat behind the other after the front seat was adjusted, then we would reverse the seating. While not a deal breaker, it was definitely a big minus if both of us couldn’t comfortably sit behind the other. Surprisingly, a Mazda3 was comfortable; not so surprisingly, the Corolla was not.

  • avatar
    greystone

    There is no question the Japanese have conquered the auto industry. It is hard to comprehend how they have twisted our minds to revolt against our own, many will argue reliability yardstick, I do not hear anyone claiming our airplanes are not reliable or our ships are not reliable but that is water under the bridge.

    However the three blind mice is how they market their products that is where the failure begins – recently when trying to gain my undergraduate and graduate students attention I had to go on a tangent and we discussed the issue automobile marketing, majority of them indicated the word ‘revolution’ does not appeal them or entice them to purchase a car – they questioned how many buy a car based on revolution.’ This is our country’ some students said that is a complete turn off – it does not tell about the car – the appearance of old cowboys – some students complained was this car made exclusively for them? Majority of people are not cowboys and still it does not talk about car.

    Secondly they pointed out the driving conditions are not real life, all have pointed out that all cars are dark you cannot see the driver – the students were curious who is this driver does he look like them? Or is he an alien with one eye?

    Thirdly they have pointed out the setting is not a real life and are not realistic – the new car is driven in an open spaces not in cities or at a supermarket, or filling up at a gas station that one encounters on daily – they have indicated that the Maxima ad with the young couple was their favorite when the woman was putting her lipstick on and the man was teasing her – according to my students it indicate they are happy with the car.

    Ford has the biggest challenge in marketing, how they will market their new truck whether they will seek to appeal to soccer moms or they will just seek to appeal to a narrow clientele?

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    “A fully-loaded Hyundai Accent undercuts that by nearly $2000!”

    The Accent isn’t even in the same class, and the base Mazda 3 that everyone loves so much doesn’t come with anything. No power windows, no AC, manual side mirrors, no ABS or side curtain airbags.

    Personally, I don’t care much about the features. I’ll grab the the stripper every time.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    There is no question the Japanese have conquered the auto industry. It is hard to comprehend how they have twisted our minds to revolt against our own, many will argue reliability yardstick, I do not hear anyone claiming our airplanes are not reliable or our ships are not reliable

    If Boeing made 747’s of the same caliber of Vegas and Omnis, then Airbus would have been the only one left standing.

    Just imagine if the fuel tanks of a 737 suffered the catastrophic failure that they did in the Pinto — the first lawsuit alone would have put Boeing out of business. The automakers had more room for error, and I’ll be damned if they didn’t take every opportunity to push that envelope.

  • avatar
    v65magnafan1

    KixStart: “Not that I’d noticed (even at 5 people on board plus luggage), it had enough giddy-up for me. However, if v65magna refers to a motorcyle, then I guess I can see where you’re coming from. And, why didn’t you just drive your own car?”

    The Camry had enough “pep” with my family plus luggage. It just found the right gear about a second or two too late for my tastes. Oh, and the wipers were really good–but we never got comfortable with the counter-intuitive controls.

    Why didn’t I take the CV? That’s a whole other article. The plastic intake manifold decided to pack it in the day before–a few weeks out of a seven-year warranty.

    You’re right about the V65.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    The Accent isn’t even in the same class…

    That’s never stopped people from comparing the Tahoe to a Highlander, but I’m going off on a tangent here.

    The point still remains: If you’re going after value, you can do better than this.

    And people wonder why it’s so hard to convince Americans to buy small cars.

  • avatar
    cRaCk hEaD aLLeY

    Realtruth, “You bought a Toyota?…DUMBASS!”:

    Used the same argument back in’96 to convince myself to purchase a Countour over a Civic. It hurts to this date. About 11 trips to the stealer and four recalls later, I finally understood every single reason there is to undersand why our stereotypes prefer to drive metric metal. Let us know about your residual and/or resale value in three or four years as well. You might want to wait on the sticker idea ;-)

  • avatar
    flanken

    WildBill: We…don’t need “soul” or “a driving experience” to commute 85 miles a day, we need something that will get us there and back day after day, year after year.

    I agree that objectively, this is all one needs for commuting. I also agree that reliability and a non-punishing ride are also essential. Subjectively, however, I find that communicative steering, decent power, and being fun to drive are also very important during a routine commute, if only to help me stay focused on the task of driving, to make the time less insufferable, and to not dread commuting. Granted, these attributes are highly subjective; I find my Mazda6 quick and sporty enough, but others may not.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    My first question: what Corolla model did you test Paul? Was it the S, base, CE, XLE? Doesn’t sound like the XRS if you tested the 1.8L engine.

    I would also like to make a comment/observation: I’m seeing many TTAC reviews where the trim or model reviewed is not explicitly stated. This causes confusion and also leads to a lot of misleading assumptions. For instance, one trim level of a model might be bad, but the other trim levels might be good. Readers reading this review for example might believe that ALL 2009 Corollas, regardless of trim level, are this bad.

    My second question Paul: did you review the car based on what it’s designed to do and meant for in the market or did you review the car with something else in mind? In other words, did you review the car based on it’s own merits?

    To me it sounds like (and I might be wrong) you’re criticizing the Corolla because you’re expecting it to have qualities and attributes that it doesn’t have, and never actually claimed to have. If you’re peeved at how Toyota is marketing the car, then I would blame the marketing, NOT the car itself.

    Paul Niedermeyer:
    The over-boosted and weirdly weighted steering as well as the mushy brakes brings down the already modest handling

    If you’re looking for better handling, Toyota offers the Corolla XRS.

    Paul Niedermeyer:
    Good interior assembly quality and decent comfort saves the cheaper plastics from a single star.

    Nasty plastics, worse than before

    So wait, it had good assembly quality, yet you only gave it a 2 out of 5 for fit and finish? You also made no explicit mention of the fit and finish in your review. Could you explain the 2/5 for fit and finish despite the “good assembly quality”?

    Paul Niedermeyer:
    You can crank the windows if your hands get fidgety

    You might want to try looking at the options list or perhaps looking at a different trim. There are pplenty of toys offered on the Corolla, least of which is standard mp3/aux input jack. Options include power everything, navigation, and Bluetooth.

    Paul Niedermeyer:
    WhatdoIknow1: I agree with you 100%, and think I said so (between the lines). I’m ribbing Toyota because of their stated goals to attract younger buyers.

    Once again, doesn’t sound like you tested the XRS, which can be equipped with a manual. The XRS specifically is the one that aims at younger buyers. Also knowing how old you are might be of some importance here. If you’re reviewing the car ffrom the POV of a middle-aged person, you may not view the car the same way as a young person would.

    Paul Niedermeyer:
    Even in those first five meters, the Corolla’s new electrically-assisted steering made a powerful impression. Mother will love its over-boosted lightness in the Costco parking lot, but not me. It’s a necessary trade-off to keep the EPA numbers up (what with that extra body weight), but its synthetic feel and unpredictable weighting are a let down from the predecessor’s perfectly adequate hydraulic tiller.

    The Corolla never claimed sporty steering feel so I don’t see the problem here. You also forgot to mention the electric steering is more reliable than a hydraulic setup and that it helps with fuel economy.

    Paul Niedermeyer:
    The revised 1.8-liter engine offers a few more horsepower. More importantly for the Corolla’s target market, it’s noticeably quieter. Given Toyota four-cylinder engines’ long, flat torque curves and the car’s intended mission in life, the four-speed automatic is adequate. With improved sound insulation and a soft ride, the Corolla is truly the Lexus of small car freeway cruisers. Your receptionist will love it.

    So you gave the car a 2/5 overall and 1/5 for desirability while at the same time you say it’s “the Lexus” of small cars? Maybe, just maybe some people will be interested in the Corolla *exactly* because it’s “the Lexus” of the compact car segment. Let’s also not forget you mentioned the class-leading fuel economy numbers and the excellent CR record the Corolla has.

    Sounds like there are plenty of reasons for people to want a Corolla.

    Paul Niedermeyer:
    My other senses weren’t any happier with the plastics. The Corolla’s interior looks and feels distinctly cheaper than the preceding model. The flimsy ventilation controls feel much more Tianjin than Toyota City. I notice that my NUMMI built tester’s domestic content is down from 60 to 50 percent relative to last year. How else is Toyota going to offset the cost of an extra 150lbs of steel in the new model and keep their profit margins healthy?

    Really? Most owners so far are commenting about the great fit and finish of the new Corolla saying it has better fit and finish than the old model and that the interior is better overall. It looks like it’s a matter of opinion as to how “bad” the interior is.

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    “The point still remains: If you’re going after value, you can do better than this.”

    I don’t know. I guess the “value” poster-child in this class is the Elantra right? After you figure in Hyundai depreciation, worse fuel economy, and timing belt replacements (they still use a belt driven engine; Corolla has been chain for over a decade) they may be about the same. I’m not sure what all falls under the “value” moniker though. A better case could probably be made for the base Civic; I just wish they hadn’t ruined so many things that they had right with the old Civic.

    I don’t want to defend this new ‘rolla too much, because even though I own an ’01 model, I’m not happy with what they’ve done with this one. I haven’t driven it yet, but it gets worse fuel economy than the previous generation, it’s heavier, probably slower, and a lot of people are saying that the interior is cheapened up.

  • avatar

    Agree with the person above who says good driving dynamics can make a boring commute better. Even the dullest driving is better if you can appreciate the way the car responds–a good snick, an engine that plays Mozart, etc.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Johnson,

    It was a base automatic (hence manual window cranks).

    My primary criterion in this test was to compare it to its predecessor, which is why I had both available at the same time. I wanted to quantify the changes in the new model. I think that comes through in my review, right from the beginning.

    If you’ll re-read the review, you should be able to pick up on the fact that I appreciate the Corolla for what it is, and that the ’08 was not unpleasant to drive. And that the ’09 will be quite satisfactory to most of its target buyers.

    I said “its the Lexus of freeway cruisers” specifically in terms of its ride quality. The cheaper interior keeps it from being “the Lexus of small cars” overall.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    1-American shipbuilding and aircraft is irrelevant, in my humble opinion. Lets keep Detroit away from that thanks.

    2-Ford Fusion- might be OK – I read its OK- OK so ford is sober for one day, lets soo if they can stay off the wagon for a whole week. And not go out of business.

    3-“Buy Toyota the clear winner in worldwide car industry.” Cross reference 2 above. Sounds convincing for t hose who don’t care as much about cars. Most people don’t I believe.

    4- If you cant have fun driving a corolla then you are confused. You are too caught up in images of racing or something. Well I will qualify this that if it jsut wont steer with any soul, then not liking it is OK. I will go test one.

    5- I am mildly surprised not to read about its suitability for track use. I admit TTAC is less offending on this silly front than other car rags. Its a toyota corolla not a lotus.

    6- With USD dropping in value, by so much, lets be thankful its not listed at $25k. I admit I don’t get why the rest of world relentlessly keeps on shipping product to us. ( I take this back if its made in country but don’t take it back if not.)

    7- alarmed about negs on Mazda3. This is my backup car, i.e. if I dump the A4 coming out of CPO in May and go cheap I was banking on buying one, sorta.

    Still the good article got and kept my attention and I will go off and suffer local toyota dealer and drive one. Will see how cheesy it is vs quiet and solid and OK to go down road.

    How about a Corolla as safe daily commuter and Gen 2 miata for fun drives.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    Paul Niedermeyer:
    It was a base automatic (hence manual window cranks).

    My primary criterion in this test was to compare it to its predecessor, which is why I had both available at the same time. I wanted to quantify the changes in the new model. I think that comes through in my review, right from the beginning.

    If you’ll re-read the review, you should be able to pick up on the fact that I appreciate the Corolla for what it is, and that the ‘08 was not unpleasant to drive. And that the ‘09 will be quite satisfactory to most of its target buyers.

    I said “its the Lexus of freeway cruisers” specifically in terms of its ride quality. The cheaper interior keeps it from being “the Lexus of small cars” overall.

    Considering it was a base automatic, I feel much of your criticism is unwarranted. At the very least, you could have tested the LE which is the volume seller based on Toyota stats. For example, you cannot fault the *base* model for lack of toys. A base Civic or base Mazda 3 doesn’t come with many toys either.

    You also didn’t really talk much about all the standard safety features that come with the car.

    I still want to know exactly why you gave fit and finish 2/5 while at the same time saying assembly quality was good. Exactly what was fit and finish like? Was it better than the old Corolla? Worse? The same? If you’re talking about fit and finish when you mentioned good assembly quality, why not give it 3 or 4 out of 5?

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    flanken :
    March 5th, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    WildBill: We…don’t need “soul” or “a driving experience” to commute 85 miles a day, we need something that will get us there and back day after day, year after year.

    I agree that objectively, this is all one needs for commuting. I also agree that reliability and a non-punishing ride are also essential. Subjectively, however, I find that communicative steering, decent power, and being fun to drive are also very important during a routine commute, if only to help me stay focused on the task of driving, to make the time less insufferable, and to not dread commuting. Granted, these attributes are highly subjective; I find my Mazda6 quick and sporty enough, but others may not.

    Same here. I bought a Mazda6s a little over 3 years ago, and it still brings a smile to my face every time I drive it-or at least never a frown. I got it for $17,500, basically the same price I had paid for a Saturn Vue 2 1/2 years before. I stopped enjoying the Saturn within 3 months of buying it. Numerous small and not so small problems-all fixed under warrantee, woo hoo (sarcasm)-were bad enough, but the soulessness of the car in general ensured that I never enjoyed driving it. Second story: I was in Orlando last March and was given an Impala by the rental company (none of them really seem to understand the concept of reserving a particular car). That was a wondrful example of what is wrong with GM, poor transmission, horrible suspension, an someof the worst interior ergonomics I’ve ever expereinced. I got home six days later at 2:00 AM. As I drove out of the airport parking lot and took that first on ramp the smile was back on my face. I know first hand the difference in daily driving of an appliance and something with at least a little bit of hoonery in it. As long as I can afford it, driving experience will always be a major deciding factor in the purchase of a new car, well above practicallity. Life’s too short not to be enjoyed.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Johnson: Actually, you’ve hit on a mistake in the editing process; the “fit and finish” should be a higher star ranking, and I’ll point that out to Farago. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    The rest of the review, I stand by everything I said. The fact it’s lacking toys doesn’t take away anything from the other qualities of the car, it’s just how it is, not a criticism.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Lumbergh21, Right. Not necessarily a deal breaker but a factor.

    Johnson, I read your posts. There’s no need to get excited about the rating. The Corolla is holding it’s own. Niedermeyer gave it two stars, sure, but to 30 to 40 thousand people per month, they are the RIGHT TWO STARS.

    Those disappointed with the increasing size of the Corolla should consider the Yaris as an option. Toyota does build a few quality choices.

  • avatar
    James2

    To everyone who contends it’s a Corolla so it’s not supposed to be fun, then why does Toyota pretend otherwise and try to fool the poseurs with the “S” and “XRS” models, the latter having been panned as more of the same blandness by Edmonds.

    The few “S” models I see with the horrific plastic cladding slapped on only remind me that Toyota is now only good at building motorized appliances, good for basic transportation, but that’s it.

    Toyota would do its product planners a favor by not having either in the lineup so it can focus its attention on the base, LE and XLE models –the true Corollas, IOW– which is going to account for, what, 99-percent of sales.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    To everyone who contends it’s a Corolla so it’s not supposed to be fun, then why does Toyota pretend otherwise and try to fool the poseurs with the “S” and “XRS” models

    I believe that I explained that. Those models satisfy the few people who truly want them, while validating the purchase decision of the average consumer who opts for the middle-tier product.

    It’s an old marketing trick to find a middle slot for the product that you intend to sell the most. Buyers are more likely to like the middle range product if it is perceived as being superior to the lesser, cheaper version, but not as extravagant as the top model. This is most likely the product that will generate most of your revenue and your most predictable margins, which is valuable to a manufacturer that benefits from economies of scale.

    The main purpose of the “S” model is to sell more LE’s. Virtually every mainstream marketer does something similar to this, this is done with all sorts of products. They do it because it usually works.

  • avatar
    ApexAlex

    davey49:
    “The Corolla still looks pretty nice and if the reliability stays on it should do well.
    I would have to discount any comments from “car enthusiasts”. The Corolla was never for them, it still isn’t. A lot of people are looking for classy not cool.”

    i agree and disagree. i own a 9th gen corolla, and am perfectly happy with it. i ALSO DO consider myself an enthusiast. i am also conscious of the costs on indulging.
    (i too own a v45Magna honda bike. which is more a “cruiser” type, NOT an enthusiast’s bike, altho’ it is one of the faster of the cruiser genre.)

    with aftermarket wheels and tires, i actually feel MORE confident PUSHING the ‘rolla than the honda! (granted, the honda CAN go faster; but there is a bigger gap in the magna’s overall sportiness vs. sport bikes, than between the corolla and say a Mazda3.)

    in both cases, i indulge my enthusiasm going by the time honored maxim: IT IS FAR MORE FUN PUSHING A ‘SLOW CAR’ FAST, THAN HAVING TO DRIVE a ‘FAST CAR’ SLOWLY.

  • avatar
    ApexAlex

    with a 9th gen corolla, i have gotten 40 mpg OVERALL. it does go down on trips, as i find it hard to cruise slower than 70 mph on the open roads.

    with oil now at $105/barrel, and gas to hit $4/gal before the year is out, i predict this new corolla will break yet more sales records.

  • avatar
    DharmaDog

    dolo54 :
    March 5th, 2008 at 9:35 am

    @ Brendino – A Honda Fit is priced the same. And kills it in comparison. By the way Paul, “cleaning lady”? “receptionist”? Ahh those lower forms of life… what about the frugal millionaire? Like my landlord, who owns about a dozen buildings in Manhattan and drives a 96 Hyundai Accent.

    Because we all know the majority of Corolla drivers are Manhattan property-owning frugal millionaires.

    This not directed at you dolo54, but Toyota fans sure do get upset when something less than flattering is uttered about a ToMoCo product.

    I found the review to be fair and I find that the Corolla remains uninspiring. I find ToMoCo products in general to be so as well. Great appliances, boring cars.

    If I want a boring little car with decent quality, I’ll take the Elantra and save a few bucks. If I want to feel some level of connectedness to the road, I’ll take the Mazda3 2.3.

    I picked up an 08 Mazda3 2.3 GT. It is absolutely loaded. Leather, sunroof, Bose, Sirius, HID headlights, LED taillights, rain sensing wipers, huge glove box (big enough for a laptop), respectable cargo volume (I got the 5-door), good looks, great handling, acceptable acceleration – I’m happy with it. I paid around $22k after a corporate discount, which probably any Costco member is also entitled to.

    My two gripes are low mileage for the class. I average 24.3 MPG with mostly city driving, but I’m not careful about it. And the interior rattles around the speakers even at “low” volumes; this is annoying. But it is fun to drive.

    A Civic may also handle well, get significantly better mileage, and be of marginally higher quality, but I just couldn’t come to terms with the Star Trek interior. I like Honda products; I used to have an RSX Type-S (maybe the favorite car I’ve had).

    The Corolla makes me consider giving up on life. Snooze-fest. It’s a reliable, relatively comfortable, high mileage snooze-fest, but it’s still a snooze-fest. And it’s not cheap.

  • avatar
    Nue

    20 something male and car enthusiast as well here.

    Not sure what’s the deal with the Corolla and Matrix being billed as sporty offerings when Scion is supposed to be the one doing it.

    Whatever. I’d still take one, stripper model with maybe an upgraded stereo and I’m good to go. Appliance it may be but I’ll be sure to have some good hoonage with this one, despite its performance shortcomings. The fact that these things still go for ridiculous amounts come resale time make it that much sweeter for me to consider taking Toyota up on their offer. Heavily used or lightly used, they grasp their value well, like many Toyota products.

    It still baffles me that people can think of such cars as being “boring” when they think of these types of cars. A manual gearbox of any sort fixes these problems. Sure it might not be satisfying or give great feedback but really, you can be creative with these things. Clutchless shifting? Clutch dumping? There’s something about hearing the tires break traction, most likely of the “OH CRAP I’M TAKING THIS CORNER WAY TOO FAST” variation, that brings grins. You might end up paying for abusing it but that’s the cost of doing it with any car. A beater might suffice instead but then you’re drawing straws whether or not it’ll last you through the week. While Toyota has been having it’s share of reliability problems, I’d still trust a brand new car over a beater.

    And it’s a Corolla. Feel free to toy with the stereotype.

    They’re not meant to be hooned. ;)

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    People buy these cars because they need a car, and the last one they had was a corolla, so might as well get another one.

    My friend who uses cars much like she uses vacuum cleaners (as a functional machine), is on her second, In 23 years. That’s it. For her “toyota” means “car”, much like “kleenex” means tissue.

    I think toyota sells alot of these to people like my friend.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    Man, I wish I was one of those cool hip happening young buyers that pops their collars and listens to accoustic alternative light modern rock that Toyota was aiming for with this. Instead, I’m an anti social devient who is removing my catalytic converters in favor of a three inch wide open turbo back and upping the boost and listening to Led Zepplin while blasting down what few open freeways are left.

    With the passing of the Supra, the Celica, the rear driver Corollas, and the MR2s (even those girly last gens), I feel that Toyota has just given up the youth market to Honda and Nissan and Mazda. Toyota needs to accept the fact that even their youth brand, Scion, is selling to older folks, and embrace it. At least they are less likely to default on that 39 year finance payment…

    Hey hey mama said the way you move…

    DharmaDog…

    The joke in my Mazda club is that the Mazda3/Spee3 is the perfect vehicle for smugling illegals into the US. Less conspicuous than a panel van, and you can hide just as many in the spare bedroom that is a glovebox.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    Paul Niedermeyer:
    Johnson: Actually, you’ve hit on a mistake in the editing process; the “fit and finish” should be a higher star ranking, and I’ll point that out to Farago. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Nice to see the revision. The star ratings make more sense now.

  • avatar
    meocuchad

    The Corolla is what it is. Basic transportation geared towards people who view cars as mere appliances.
    Not that it hasn’t been said a million times here already…

    I would never buy one though, because I like my cars to be fun to drive. I have driven a last-gen Corolla before. Bored the crap out of me. But again, it works for people who don’t care too much about cars.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    If I had the Corolla mindset I would still opt for a used TSX with automatic over a new Corolla. That’s my idea of a small, reliable appliance that I could live with for a decade or more.

  • avatar
    realtruth

    Hey wildbill,
    Sorry that I don’t drive quite enough to get past 100K mi in 2 years. As for the nickle and dime comment, I had a Thunderbird I drove for 16 years and 210,00 mi. I had to quit driving it because someone thought stopping for red lights was optional. Never had to fix the engine. This is the reason why I know that a Ford will last. Toyota’s engines have been destoying themselves before hitting 50K mi. Customers that went to the dealers were told: “you didn’t change your oil often enough (even if you have proof that you did), but we can fix your three year old car for $6000” So I guess that’s not going to nickle and dime you to death.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    REALTRUTH

    That is rare for a Toyota engine to be broken on 50k miles. that is impossible.

    I am not a TOYOTA driver and never will be but in respect for a company that Built cars that last longer than any other cars and for a company who is older than me and my father.

    I would say that’s not true.
    if the owner is Really Don’t care about his/her car that will be a major issue.

  • avatar
    coupdetat

    Realtruth.. those are some pretty wild accusations you’re throwing around!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The Toyota sludge issue affecting certain motors is well documented. Toyota has since settled a class action lawsuit in respect to the matter. It would seem that based upon the facts discussed in the media that it is likely that faulty design had a lot to do with the problem.

    But the domestic fanboys overblow it in an effort to obfuscate. As noted in the article below, there were 7.5 million owners who could potentially be affected, yet only 3,400 complaints related to the vehicles in question. If you do the math, that means that about 0.045% of owners, or about one out of every 2,200 vehicles, were actually affected.

    While the design flaw was not justifiable, and while it’s clear that Toyota handled it badly, it’s not exactly Armageddon, either. The complaints by the domestic defenders are exaggerated and overblown. While they are quick to point to sludge, they have difficulty remembering Dexcool and a whole host of other problems for which Detroit is well known.

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20070203/news_1dd3signtoyo.html

  • avatar
    casper00

    just going to be another corolla on the street….nothing more nothing less….

  • avatar
    Tredshift

    I have not seen the 2009 Corolla, but…My wife had a leased 04 Corolla LE for 3 years and in January we rented an 08 Corolla in Florida for a few days, there was not much of a change over the last 4 model years. The Corolla is a competent but boring car whose greatest strengths are strong resale value and very good gas mileage.

    Truth be told,I’ve always felt a bit embarrassed to be seen driving it. While the exterior wasn’t TOO bad, the interior is another story entirely. It is just BLAHHHHH as can be!

    My current cars are a 2007 Honda Civic Coupe 5sp and a 2008 Mazda 3 (i Touring model, 2 liter engine and 4sp auto). While both of these cars are in the same range as the Corolla, I do NOT have that “embarrassment” factor when driving either of them.

    The Honda is mine and I happen to really like looks of the car inside and out. While it’s no race car, it drives very well. In fact, there is no car near it’s price that I would change it for.

    The Mazda is for my wife and it’s a winner too. I choose the 2 liter engine for fuel savings and she wanted the Auto Trans.

    In my opinion the ONLY reason to chose the Corolla over the Honda or Mazda is primarily a bit better city gas mileage. In every other way way the Corolla is inferior.

  • avatar
    David Yip

    While the interior is an okay update, the exterior looks more like a mid-cycle refresh than a totally new car.

  • avatar
    Seth

    It will take a zillion years for others to figure out why Toyota is successful. For starters, think of a car you would like to drive when you have a migraine headache and upset stomach…

    Hint: silent cabins and cushy suspensions.

  • avatar
    rickross

    Hey Paul,
    Poor grammar in the last sentence; it should be “effect,” not “affect.” I would’ve expected such an error from Motor Trend, but not you guys :(

    PS: the Corolla sucks.

  • avatar

    $250 bought me a 1977 Corolla that supposedly had a bad cylinder. It did not. My father, who worked on cars for forty years in N. Dak., where it is still difficult to spot “one of those foreign jobs”, could never understand how a car with 150,00K could not burn oil. I put some KYB shocks on all four corners and drove the dickens out of that car, racing jeeps down rutted rocky roads and generally torturing the poor beast. I sold it for twice that, running better than ever. Years later it would occasionally see it still beating around town. This car saved me thousands in repairs when I did not have thousands. I will never forget that car.

  • avatar

    And so did I own a 77 Corolla, and I too treated it real bad, in fact I would drive the thing along the rocks in the road 4×4 Apache trail near Tuscon AZ like it was a rally cross car. And it lived, it breathed, it was fun. And then came this, the 2008 yawn. Back in 77 you were sticking your finger up at the luxo-boat drivers with your Corolla. Today, your saying, I am sorry I have no imagination, by the way I think Wonder Bread is rad.

  • avatar
    corollala

    “The truth” about cars? That’s the most nonsense car review I have ever read. If a review says “brake pedal sank to the floor,” I don’t care what new car or model they are reviewing, it’s just nonsense. New-car brake pedals don’t sink to the floor!!!

    I own a 2009 Corolla XLE and I will tell about it.

    First, Mr., you mention that Corolla is popular among your cleaners and receptionist. Have you ever wondered why? These people can afford any $1000 used car, including BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Cadillac, or whatsoever. Then why do they go with a Toyota or Honda? Because Toyota or Honda are the only used-car brands that you can get for $1000 and still won’t require repair. You can find a used BMW for $500 but you would have to spend $15000 to have it fixed and it would have to see a mechanic every week.

    Contrary to your review, 2009 Corolla is far, far better than the previous (2003 – 2008) Corolla. First of all the newer model doesn’t look like the boring, unnoticable Japanese car the older model and the current 2008 Civic model are. In fact, I would say it looks better than most cars on the roads. It’s highly impressive from outside. It stands out on the road. Most other new cars on the road look like cars of the past next to the new Corolla.

    It’s very quiet and rides well.

    About the steering: Nowadays every new car comes with electronic steering and it’s always light. When you switch to light electric steering from hard hydraulic steering for the first time, it feels weird, but after a day or two, you never want to go back because the steering is so precise and comfortable. To me hard steering doesn’t make a car sporty but makes it feel sporty. The light electric steering is far more precise than conventional steering, and as people said, contributes to better fuel economy. Hydraulic steering is a thing of the past so forget about it.

    09 Corolla corners very well. There is minimal body lean. Handling is very secure. With the widely available electronic vehicle-stability control, I expect to it to get a maximum emergency maneuver speed of more than 55 MPH (tested by Consumer Reports), better than Honda Civic. That’s another reason why I preferred it over Civic, which had no electronic stability control. The other reasons were edgy looks (Civic is way too plain looking), quietness, and comfort.

    The new Corolla was the highest-rated small car in European safety tests.

    The fuel economy is better than the 08 model and yet the engine is smoother and more powerful (dual variable valve timing instead of single). I am especially impressed with the city fuel economy. I seem to get close to 30 MPG in city traffic.

    The Barcelona Red Metallic color I have is arguably the most beautiful red-car color on the road. It’s amazing. The Civic red was too maroon and it also came only with a yellowish-beige interior.

    Interior is very spacious and there is storage everywhere, including “two” glove compartments. My model has a DVD navigation system, which is indispensable. I love the white-LED illuminated Optitron gauges, which are also found in Lexus.

    The power is adequate, but for those who prefer to satisfy their ego over the fuel economy, there is the XRS model with plenty of extra power that you will hardly ever need.

    So, once again, Toyota has proven that it makes the best car on the road. I am extremely happy with the 2009 Corolla XLE Barcelona Red Metallic I have. It can’t get any better than this.

  • avatar

    Corollala:

    Because Toyota or Honda are the only used-car brands that you can get for $1000 and still won’t require repair.

    The light electric steering is far more precise than conventional steering, and as people said, contributes to better fuel economy. Hydraulic steering is a thing of the past so forget about it.

    maximum emergency maneuver speed of more than 55 MPH (tested by Consumer Reports)

    The new Corolla was the highest-rated small car in European safety tests.

    I am especially impressed with the city fuel economy.

    These were all basically mentioned in the review. Niedermeyer says it’s got Toyota reliability, “an endless sea of happy faces in Consumer Reports”, and good fuel economy.

    The reason the car got two stars is because it’s not a driver’s car. This is a site populated by pistonheads who want a sporty, “cool” car. Other writers have said they prefer the Honda Civic, even in base form. I agree with you that the Civic is a bit ugly, but considering that Honda makes sporty motorcycles I’d guess it’s probably sportier to “car guys” when you get behind the wheel.

    It’s a great car for the average person, cleaning lady, secretary, whatever, the question is whether it would be appropriate for someone asking a bit more than. There, I’d wager that the answer is “not really.”

  • avatar
    corollala

    I will tell more about my experience with my 2009 Corolla XLE.

    To me all new cars sold in US have adequate power; so, I don’t think horsepower is much of an issue in what makes a car a driver’s car, but it’s an issue for satisfying your ego.

    A good driver hardly uses the brake pedal; so, it shouldn’t be a criteria in rating a driver’s car either. Corolla’s brake pedal is soft at first and then it gets harder. This is in order to save fuel and provide a smoother stop. A brake pedal with no freeplay and that is too hard would wear the pads too quickly and result in fuel waste. Corolla’s ABS system also has brake assist, which means in an emergency situation, the brake pedal automatically exerts full power, even if you don’t press it fully. Civic doesn’t have this feature, which was found only in Mercedes and BMW until recently.

    Steering is the most important thing to me in determining whether a car is a driver’s car or not. You want precise and safe steering that directs the car to where you want it to go. Remember that Corolla comes with electronic vehicle-stability control. I believe electronic vehicle-stability control requires lighter steering as well as more freeplay at the center. I tested both the Civic and Corolla around the same tight curve, where I tried high speed combined with sudden change in the steering input. Corolla responded extremely safely and smoothly, with no body lean and jerk. Civic, on the other hand, when I applied the sudden steering movement on the curve, felt like the car was going to bend around the wheels (imagine what would happen in that situation on wet asphalt), which didn’t make me feel secure. Yes, the steering was very fast in Civic, but Corolla’s steering seems to be much more intelligent in directing the car to where you want it to go, rather than deciding purely on the precise position of the steering wheel, which might not be the right direction, since humans are prone to errors. To me Corolla’s steering seems to be an adaptive system, some kind of artificial intelligence, as opposed to Civic’s old-fashioned, direct-linked steering. Even around sharp curves, I found Corolla’s steering more secure than Civic’s. And, with the extremely sturdy construction of the 2009 model, there is almost no body lean around curves.

  • avatar
    rpolosportlx

    There seems to be a lot of complaints about the 09 Corolla. im sure there is a perfect car out there for the car experts. Im not really sure where anyone comes up with this car is good for cleaners and such. I have a 70 chevy pickup and guess what else, a 09 Corolla. I don’t really think im any less of a man driving this car. i have a wife and new kid and these cars seem to drive forever. good thing for that cause im in the military and dont make much money as it is, and i dont forsee gas prices going to $1.99 anytime soon. I even got the S model just because it looks cool for an extra $12 a month. with a kid in the car i dont really plan on going 110 mph down the highway or racing anyone on the streets. The mpg is amazing. my durango now gets 16 mpg. sure there may not be 10 ft of leg room in the back seat but im not really into buying a car just because it has 10 ft of leg room to make someone else happy. all i care about is me(driver) and my wife(passenger). for the price i think this is a great car. They hold their value, mpg (enough said), and they last forever. if everyone is really unhappy about the car, guess what dont buy it. when there is a perfect car one day, im sure ill see everyone driving it.

  • avatar
    theBike

    Its no point to criticize the car unless you really have driven one for quite sometime.

    I got a new ’09 Corolla S just 3 weeks ago and it already has about 1500 miles on it. So far, I am convincing myself to be happy about it.

    Truth be told, IT IS NOT A DRIVER’S CAR. But it is a car that you love if you are looking for a little better styling (Type S that is) and FUEL ECONOMY. But for the price – it is just about ok.

    Here is the laydown from my perspective:

    Cons
    1. The car lacks that initial burst of power that I am looking for. The car feels like being punished to push itself from 0 to 40. The engine revs like it is going to give up, but once it is settled it is the beginning of ease. But see, this wont work if you have a lot of stop lights in your route to and from work.

    2. My drive involves a 2 mile strech of uphill every day and it is where it gets testy. I have a good pick up speed just before the climb, the car rides fine, but if for some reason, your pick up speed is hampered, you have to switch to 3 just to feel that assurance that you can make it on top. I feel edgy because come winter – then is the real test.

    3. I don’t feel assured when going at speed on the highway. I once drove it in the NJ Turnpike and I felt that the back-end swivels when doing speed a little over 70mph. (come ‘on you know you can’t observe that 65 limit all the time) There are times I felt I would be taken out of my lane.

    4. I dont have that assurance about the brakes either. It takes double pump (which according to manual is dangerous and should not be done often) just to get the stopping power that you need.

    5. Steering is fine on speeds below 50, but on corners, I would need to step more on the gas to regain the power that that Vehicle Stability Control has taken away from me. (It just freaking rob you of that burst.)

    Pros:

    1. Great fuel economy. I get 33mpg driving on start/stop environment.

    2. Better looking that the Civic and Mazda 3. (I got an S so I challenge you to get me a better looking Civic off the lot.)

    3. Silent and stable ride. (The last one I am not sure if it is a pro or a con cause I feel sleepy while driving it – NO FUN AT ALL. But I get an assurance whenever I take my kids for a drive.)

    4. Price within te budget.

    So there, as I said above, if you are looking for a sportier car then this car is NOT FOR YOU. But if you are looking for a fuel efficient and stable car with a good reputation then this one.

    Btw, there is no need to typecast the cleaning lady, etc. etc. Lets just stick it to the car itself, capisce?

  • avatar
    benefitprovider

    I’m a third time Corolla S owner. I’m not impressed. The 04 manual transmission started going on it, so we traded it in for an 06. The 06 manual transmission started to go while still under warranty so it didn’t cost us anything but I would hardly count on it to go much above 100,000 miles. It feels like a 10 year old car already. We bought an 09 in March after hearing how they’d revamped it and how quiet it is. WOW! It really is a pleasure to drive and it has a ton more power than the 06. A neat new feature is that it will tell you your mpgs based on your current driving habits. Awesome. By applying that knowledge to the 06 we boosted our mpg from 35 to 40. It means you have to drive under 60 mph but considering how little time you do save by speeding, and how much tickets cost, I’d rather get an extra 50-60 miles per tank. The worst feature of the car though, is that the feature that tells you your mileage is buried behind the steering wheel and you have to toggle through 7-8 other features like the CLOCK!, the temperature, the range of the tank, the number of hours you’ve driven the car, etc. Not a very safe way to be navigating a car. Other than that, and it does drive me crazy, I’ll tolerate the rather c****y feeling interior for 40 mpgs around town for $330 a month.
    I’m currently shopping around to trade in the 06 for another 09. I’d really like to compare the LE to the S and see if we could get even better mileage on a car without so much molding or the spoiler or “sports” equipment.

  • avatar
    saltydog

    my wife and i bought this car for the only reasons (reliability and mileage). if we want to go fast we will just start up our sl500. oil just hit $140.00 today and odds are something will happen (huricane) and gas prices will be through the roof. just planning ahead and also planning to pass this on to the 14 year old in a couple of years and i don’t care if she doesn’t think it’s sporty enough.
    this car is intended to offset our gas guzzlers that we do not want to part with(titan,4runner,and sl500). 35 miles per gallon to work and back good enough for me.

  • avatar
    tony193

    I have to say – there’s alot of misguided info here. I owned a 2003 and still do. I just bought my second, the 2009. Very comfortable car (i’m a prof. firefighter 6’3″ and 290 pds.) Plenty of leg room and I don’t feel like its a “cheaper” version of the 2003. Yes there is a different body style – but its a good buy for your money. Remember – its not a BMW or a Benz. Its a Corolla. I paid 16,000 even and I have everything but a sunroof. The salesman know little. You have to do your own homework, unfortunatley.

  • avatar
    Jasek78

    i went to test drive the Corrola S today, i really enjoyed the car for what it was, its fast enough to get out of its own way and it felt safe for my wife to drive, she is pregnant so its time to find a decent family car to get around in and it felt sporty enough for me, the radio was really nice and its just all together a good car. with gas prices going they way they are i have parked my other vehicles, i hear people talking about this not being a car for the “driving enthusiasts” but i can assure you it is, i currently own a 1966 Chevelle Malibu with a 327 pumping out 460 HP, and a 1969 fastback with a 351W under the hood as well as a 2005 Santa Fe, 2003 ford focus and a 2006 mvp, out off all of them i actually had fun with the Corolla and will be selling off afew of the other cars to buy it. with a baby on the way its time to grow up and i feel like this is the car for me. for a true driver, anything with wheels is a good time lol anyways i put in my 2 cents so i’m done now :)

  • avatar
    escapenguin

    I drove a Corolla years ago when I was in my teens. A friend had offered to detail a coworker’s Corolla, so we had her car for a few hours… This was a brand new ’98 model. At first I was impressed with the smoothness of the engine and slick controls. But I was even more surprised how with how little power the car seemed to have. It was impossible to even get the tires to chirp and it didn’t have traction control and the clutch was good. My Jetta was a year older, with less horsepower, and it was much more fun to drive and worlds quicker.

    It was almost as if the car had been neutered. It had no balls whatsoever. And I remember talking to my friend and us both wondering who the hell would want such a boring car. These cars are appliances (as mentioned earlier). For people who are chiefly concerned with getting from point A to point B, that’s who this vehicle is for. Not us. The Corolla lost its soul after the AE86 passed.

  • avatar
    since1988

    I have owned Toyotas since 1988 – 1 Camry and 4 Corollas. Plain and simple, I work hard for my money and I got tired of spending half of my paycheck to repair my Chevy, Ford and Dodge. But I digress.

    Each of the updated versions of my Corollas (93, 00, and 04)had something more positive than the previous version, until the 2009. I sold my 2004 to buy the newly designed 2009. Whoever designed the 2009 interior should be fired. It appears that absolutely no thought went into this car. There is nothing that was updated that makes any logical sense in comfort or style on the inside of this vehicle.

    In the 2004 – the clock was front and center and the temperature was always visible directly in front of the driver as soon as the car was turned on. In the 2009, the clock is to the left of the steering wheel and difficult to see or get to and you have to press a flimsy button to see the temp.

    The Drive gear shares the same slot with 3rd gear so when your passenger moves their left leg and hits it (which happens about once a week) – the car slides out of Drive and into 3rd Gear. I’m not making this up.

    There is no place to store any CD. The 2004 had 2 slots below the CD player. This car has none.

    The drawer that I use for change is hard to get to and on such a slant that when you open it, all your change falls out. The old drawer was more accessible and higher up.

    The 3 knobs for the temp controls look cheap, outdated and ugly. Reminds me of a car from the 60’s, not something streamlined from the 21st century.

    The cup holders are still too small and have a little cheap removable plastic piece that is destined to get lost so I can get charged $25 from the parts dept to replace it.

    The wood grain look is gone from the LE model and the general look of this interior is that of very cheap and flimsy plastic. I guess you have to upgrade to the XLE now to get the wood grain.

    And the biggest disappointment that people cannot believe when I tell them is that there are no speed controls on the intermittent wipers. Someone said to me “You’ve got to be kidding me, my 95 base model truck has that”. I said – well, my new LE 2009 doesn’t.

    I have no qualms with the quality of Toyota’s reputation. That is why I come back. My complaint is with the “no thought” design that went into this new version of the interior. It appears they rushed to come up with something and if this is the best they could do – they should have just left the interior alone. It seems obvious that whoever designed it never drove a Corolla or never spent any time in one. All in all, the driving experience is fine, predictable really, and that is okay. But the interior makes me wish I still had my 2004. I am seriously looking to trade this in for a 2008 LE.

  • avatar
    alanb4130

    Just bought the 2009 Corolla XRS 2 weeks ago. I absolutely love it. This car has everything I was looking for in a car. It is fun to drive, it looks great, Barcelona Red is a bold beautiful color, the extra features inside the car and the safety features outside the car make me very pleased to own a corolla. The 5 speed manual makes this car get up and go and so far avg MPG in town is over 24 that is not bad coming from my truck that was only getting 13 MPG.

    #1 plus in this car from test driving several other of the same size from mazda and subaru is very low road noise and handling on some of the rougher roads. Incredible difference in cabin noise compared to the other vehicles. Consumer reports even says that the Honda of similar size has an issue with road noise.

    If you get the extra xm radio option it comes with a free 1 year subscription . I am an avid XM radio listener so that was just another plus.

    I am very glad I purchased the XRS vs the standard corolla.

  • avatar
    CafeDelSol

    The Corolla’s “kaizen” is failing miserably!

    So Toyota likes to promote kaizen or “constant improvement” in their products? Where is this philosophy now? The 09 Corolla is plain pathetic. I had the misfortune of driving an LE model over 1300 miles recently on vacation. I was planning on buying a Corolla – no longer!

    This car is just plain wrong all around. The interior is so UN-ergonomic for the human body it’s pure torture to drive on a long trip. The seats do not adjust back far enough to prevent leg cramps and are rock-hard with no support in the correct areas. They appear to be designed for some freakishly deformed life form.

    The trip computer controls require extreme arm flexibility and diverting your attention from the road.

    The side armrests are too low and sloped to be of any use.

    Nowhere near enough storage compartments. There is a lot of wasted space in this little car.

    Overall legroom for the driver has gotten more cramped than past models – my knee was constantly bashing the keys. There is also very little dead pedal room for the left foot.

    Cheap interior fabric reeks like rotting vegetable matter on hot sunny days. WTF?? What happened to that great “new car smell” of my old Toyotas? This model smells more like the county land fill!

    The engine would seem to have adequate power for an econo-box if not for the wide-ratio automatic transmission which destroys any hope of reaching 75 mph from the freeway onramp any time soon. It just seems to die after first gear. This thing badly needs another gear.

    Driving on the freeway at 75 mph with a slight wind will definitely keep you focused! This thing is the most unstable, twitchy vehicle I’ve driven in years. The suspension seems wholly inadequate for the car. After a few hundred miles of being flung all over the road I was ready to cut my vacation short. The dash should carry a placard stating, “Do not drive this car on the freeway!”

    Conclusion: If you’re looking for an economical run-around car for in town commuting the Corolla would be adequate. If you plan on much freeway driving – buy a Camry instead.

  • avatar
    starise

    I just bought an 09 Corolla. Cars clearly mean many different things to lots of people. If your curious I would recommend you just go out and drive one for yourself. I’m not out to try and prove the size of my manhood with a car( I really don’t need to). I also keep a chevy astro van 4wd as a winter car and a trailer “puller”. My other car is a 97 honda civic with 153000 miles on it and no smoke whatsoever. I regularly maintain it. The most extensive thing I did to it was change the transaxles and it didn’t really need that.
    My main objectives were longetivity and fuel economy with good resale and some decent creature comforts. The car is a step up from any of the other hyundai,kia types.I commute 60 miles a day and this is the kind of car that fits that bill very well.At 5’8″ Im not a tall guy and the seats are perfect for me. The interior is surprisingly quiet for a car this size. The car has plenty of power. If you want a small car for a decent price that will push you back in your seat then go get a Subaru WRX.It gets 25mpg and has over 300 ponies under the hood. Thats not my thing. I wanted reliability economy and a decent ride. I got all of those in the 09 Corolla.And besides,all of those “auto enthusiasts” are usually only ahead of me by a few cars and MAYBE gain 5 minutes when its all said and done and this at the expense of having the cops on your rear and endangering other drivers.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The new 09 Corolla looks just like what it is. last years version with a Camry grille slapped on, cheaper interior bits and a few extra do dads thrown in and decontented bodyside moldings for that oh so plain boring generic rental car look. And I see that it still uses the same old 4 speed automatic, cruise control is still an option, even on the top trim XLE model and hand crank windows are still the price of entry for over 16K! Honestly if there isn’t a car company more overrated than Toyota these days.

  • avatar
    alanb4130

    Update on how much I love my 2009 XRS Corolla. Eastern Washington has received more snow in December than ever before. As long as the snow does not get too deep this car performs excellent. I was car skiing the other day the powder was flying up onto the windshield. The traction control really makes the difference. I am very happy with this car.

  • avatar
    Buyerchoice

    My brother traded in a Camry with 134,000 miles on it. Dealer gave him $6,500 for it. Awesome resale value. Only ever needed brake pads and tires. No other repairs needed.

    Consumer reports has an awesome resource that rates the reliability of over 350 models.

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/types/reliability-comparison-index.htm

    Two brothers and I have now purchased the 2009 Corolla S version. We love them. Very nice looking in Red Metallic.

    Civic looks really bad the way the front end is styled.

    The 2009 Corolla is the prettiest car on the road for the money and reliability.

    Those who complain about the steering are whacked. Sure it is different than hydrualic but once you drive it a few days you will love it. Very precise.

    Even my uncle, who drives a very expensive car remarked that the Corolla is very quiet and rides nice.

    With the Vehicle Stability Control it takes me through any corner as fast as I want to go and never feels unsafe. This really surprises me because I am a past speed demon who thoroughly enjoyed my 1970 Camero Z28 as well as the IROC Camero’s of later years.

    Seats are quite comfortable once you adjust them to your liking.

    Excellent safety rating in crash tests.

    Great fuel economy

    Very smooth engine with dual variable valve timing.

    After test driving the S and the XRS I decided the S had plenty of acceleration and I really liked the better fuel mileage.

  • avatar
    drivingtexas

    The new power steering takes me all over road. There might be something wrong with my EPS steering. I almost drove into oncoming traffic at highway speeds.

  • avatar
    whudgens

    I had a dangerous problem with my steering for my 2009 Corolla. But without any support from Toyota I had to pay on my own to get this fix. Toyota Corp said the dealer said it was within tolerance. So to make a story short I paid (on my own) $1200 and got the problem resolved. If there is EVER a recall or lawsuits I have all my notes and measurements to get to anyone that might need them. Oh.. look on the NHTSA dog GOV they are over 25 posted issue just on steering.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I think it’s safe to say that the majority of readers here would not consider this car an option when shopping. Remember the target market. While I would never look twice at a corolla, people like my mom have now purchased her 4th corolla in a row. Bullet proof reliability, great gas mileage, a good basic (the key word) transportation. They aren’t kids cars, just a good, safe people mover. She has never had any significant issues with any of them. The only difference for my mom is now she buys loaded corollas. It’s basic transportation done well. There are many out there shopping for just that

  • avatar
    alanb4130

    Just surpassed 5000 miles on my Corolla XRS. I would not personally have bought a basic corolla. I am glad I purchased the XRS. I enjoy driving this car and an average 26 to 27 mpg around town is great. After one of the worst winters here where I live I am glad I had the extra safety features. After I test drove the mazda and suburu’s this is by far the quietest cabin . I love my Corolla XRS

  • avatar
    flyointment

    Just bought an ’09 Corolla. Immediately noticed wandering steering on the highway at greater than 60 mph. I heard that in some cases increasing tire pressure helps problem. Found out dealer had 40psi in tires when 30 is appropriate. I reduced to 30psi and it wanders more. Don’t buy this car. Some people don’t have problems with it, but some cars are coming off the line with this problem. Have to have 2 hands on the wheel. If you take one hand off the wheel to adjust the radio (particularly if in winds greater than 15 mph) you may find yourself going out of your lane. I scheduled an appointment with the dealer who claimed to know nothing of the issue. It’s all over the internet and National Transportation safety Board sight, 25 complaints so far this year on this model.

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    YAWN!!!!! Everytime I see one of these appliances I want to ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

    Isn’t Toyota jumping the Pontiac shark with the added body cladding to attract the youth?

  • avatar

    I’m 6’2″ and the seats in this car are the most uncomfortable seats ever used in any automobile that I can fit in! It feels like I’m sitting on steel, and the lumps in the back, that are designed to support the back of people who are 5 feet tall or less dig into my back.

    Surprisingly by cutting back on rear-seat, trunk and engine compartment space they have finally made a Corolla I can actually get inside — the older ones I had to lay down across the backseat and do a cannonball, because they were too small for me to get inside any other way! But that still leaves the car incredibly underpowered, and for a little more money you can get a much nicer car, even if you are in the 80+ year old audience that Toyota markets to.

  • avatar

    i own a 2009 corolla. the interior is pretty cheap feeling, but looks ok. the mp is great about 34 or so mpg’s. the civics interior feels more expensive. when you touch stuff the plastics just feel more solid and of quality. i like the exterior style of the new corolla alot better than previous generation.  it dosnt drive very well at all and if there is a choice and you like music upgrade, the stereo. trunk is roomy. toyota reliabilty. assurance it wont break down, but its realy not a satisfying experience.


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