2009 Toyota Corolla XRS. Click image to enlarge
Article by Grant Yoxon; Photos by Bill Petro
Cambridge, Ontario – The long-awaited 10th generation Toyota Corolla made its debut this week at the 2007 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show. Also revealed was the 2009 Toyota Matrix. Both will go on sale in February 2008.
Since most Canadian auto writers were attending the Canadian Car of the Year “Test Fest” in Niagara-on-the-Lake and would be unable to attend the press conference in Las Vegas, a special “sneak preview” was also held at Toyota’s manufacturing facility in Cambridge, where the Corolla and Matrix are built.
The first Corolla was introduced in 1966 and in 1988 the first Canadian-built Corolla – the sixth generation – rolled off the line at TMMC (Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada) in Cambridge. The Matrix, launched in 2002, is also built in Cambridge.
Over two million Corollas have been built at TMMC and more than one million have been sold in Canada. Since 2002, Toyota has built 460,000 Matrix crossovers, a quarter of which have been sold in Canada. Historically the Corolla and Matrix account for almost 40% of Toyota sales.
Given that 26% of all Canadian auto sales in 2006 were compact cars – the largest segment by far – the success of the new Corolla and Matrix is very important to Toyota.
2009 Toyota Corolla CE. Click image to enlarge
The 2009 Corolla is slightly longer than the previous generation, but 60 mm (2.4 in.) wider. However, the wheelbase remains the same at 2,600 mm (102.4 in.).
While the new Corolla retains the same headroom, legroom and shoulder room as the previous model, it feels larger thanks to design changes that enhance comfort and improve utility, usability and storage.
While specifics were not revealed, the 2009 Corolla also has an all new chassis and suspension. The body, as can be seen from the photos, is completely revised.
With respect to powertrains, Toyota was more forthcoming. Two new engines will be available. A 1.8-litre, 16-valve, DOHC four-cylinder engine with Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence) will power CE, LE and S models. This engine produces 132 hp at 6,000 rpm and 128 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. It will be combined with either a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic.
2009 Toyota Corolla CE (top) and 2009 Toyota Corolla XRS. Click image to enlarge
The Corolla XRS model will receive a new 2.4-litre engine, also a 16-valve DOHC with VVT-i that produces 158 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. A five-speed manual will also be standard, while a five-speed automatic is optional.
Standard equipment on all models includes heavy duty rear window defogger, a satellite-ready AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/WMA capability, auxiliary audio input jack, tilt and telescopic steering wheel and 60/40 split folding rear seats.
The new Corolla will also include, as standard equipment, driver and front passenger airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags and two-row side curtain airbags. Front seats employ active headrests which move upward and forward to limit the movement of the seat occupant’s head when the vehicle is struck from behind. Anti-lock brakes are also standard on all Corolla models, but Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) is standard only on the XRS model.
2009 Toyota Corolla XRS (top) and 2009 Toyota Corolla CE. Click image to enlarge
The S model will feature standard P205/55R16-inch tires with alloy wheels and covers, colour-keyed front and rear underbody spoilers, fog lamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel, coloured rear spoiler, tinted headlamp housing, and a satellite-ready AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/WMA capability and six speakers and steering wheel audio controls.
In addition to S model features, the XRS model adds P215/45R17-inch tires with alloy wheels, VSC, stainless steel scuff plates, leather-trimmed shift lever and knob, cruise control, front sport seats, a chrome exhaust tip and metallic dash accents.
For 2009, the Matrix also gets a total overhaul. Gone is the rear “D” pillar that made the Matrix more of a wagon than a hatchback. Now it appears to be more of a hatchback than a wagon.
2009 Toyota Matrix XR. Click image to enlarge
It has been made wider and lower than the current model. The design expresses a low centre of gravity and a coupe-like style. More aggressive, sporty styling is clearly aimed at young people.
Despite the exterior changes, interior space has been maintained. The seats have been redesigned to accommodate the vehicle’s new lower profile and seat positions were lowered slightly to maintain appropriate headroom. As a result, cabin space remains equal to that of the previous Matrix.
As with the Corolla, front seat-mounted side airbags, two-row side air curtains and front active headrests are now standard equipment. Additionally, front and rear disc brakes are standard on all models, as are anti-lock brakes. VSC will be standard on XRS models and optionally available on XR and all-wheel drive models.
Engine choices are the same as for the Corolla.
The Matrix will be available in four models – Base, XR, XRS and AWD (all-wheel drive). The Base model Matrix is equipped with 16-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers. 17-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels will be available for the AWD model, and 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels with a twin five-spoke design will come standard on the XRS model.
2009 Toyota Matrix XR (top) and 2009 Toyota Matrix XRS. Click image to enlarge
The XRS model integrates a front underbody spoiler with a large mesh fog lamp bezel, rear underbody spoiler and rear deck spoiler. XRS models also come standard with a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel that also includes spoke-mounted audio controls.
XR, XRS and AWD models will be equipped with a new, high-efficiency air-conditioning system that offers reduced power consumption and improved heating and cooling.
Base equipment on all Matrix models includes new power heated outside rearview mirrors, power steering, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, heavy duty rear window defogger, intermittent windshield wipers and rear window wiper/washer, 12-volt power outlet, four cupholders, auxiliary audio input jack, front centre console box and an engine immobilizer.
2009 Toyota Matrix XRS. Click image to enlarge
The XR and XRS models add standard power door locks and windows with one-touch down driver-side, cruise control, fold-flat front passenger seats, remote keyless entry with hatch release and AM/FM/CD with MP3/WMA capability and six speakers.
To these features, the XRS model adds standard P215/45R18-inch tires on 18-inch alloy wheels, sport strut tower brace, fog lamps, VSC, a power moonroof, front and rear underbody spoilers, hands-free Bluetooth capability when equipped, and a premium JBL audio system with AM/FM stereo, in-dash six-disc CD changer, MP3/WMA capability and seven speakers.
Available options will include alloy wheels, cruise control, power door locks, power windows, and remote keyless entry.