Some things should remain constant. The Toyota Corolla both should and does for 2009.
The sturdy compact sedan may have grown slightly over the years. And there's a larger optional engine. But it remains true to its mission.
The Toyota Corolla is a superb small car that gets good gas mileage. It's reasonably priced and comfortable to drive. Undoubtedly part of the reason for its continued relative popularity.
Sometimes that's not enough for Corolla boffins. Every once in a while they gussy up the reliable, sane Corolla with sporty stuff.
They stick in a spoiler or two. Add some ground effects. This time the XRS model has such things as black headlamp and fog light housings, a leather shift knob and a "sport strut tower brace" for the suspension.
The 2.4L four-cylinder engine widely used in larger Toyotas contributes a respectable 0 to 60 mph time of 7.7 seconds via a five-speed automatic transmission.
The driving position has always been "Toyota good"; now, it's even better. A tilt and telescoping steering wheel helps a lot.
The ride is still comfortable and a bit quieter. There's nicely controlled lean on curves but the Corolla isn't a sports car. There's plenty of understeer to tell the adventurous to back off from the wrong kind of driving excitement. Vehicle stability control comes with the XRS and is welcome.
Unchanging as well is the fuel economy. In the tested XRS with the 2.4L, it's 22 city and 29 highway with a manual transmission and 22/30 with the automatic. The 1.8L gets 27/35 with either manual or automatic transmission. It takes a full second longer to get to 60 mph---8.7 seconds.
The base price of the XRS top-of-the-line is $19,950, Other models start at $16,000 or so. The tested vehicle tacked on a host of options to hike the price tag to $24,234. They included a leather package, navigation system and front seat heaters.
With or without the goodies, underneath it is still a Corolla. Thankfully.
Toyota Corolla XRS
Engines: 2.4L I-4
Dimensions: 102.4" wheelbase; 178.7" length.
Base price: $19,950/tested $24,234.
Fuel economy: 22/30 mpg.
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