2009 Toyota Corolla CE
2009 Toyota Corolla CE. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site

Toyota Canada

Review and photos by Michael Clark

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2009 Toyota Corolla

You’ve probably heard that vanilla is the finest of the flavours. While that may be true of the double-scoop dribbling down your waffle cone, today’s commuter scooter is a far cry from the window cranks and naugahyde pleats of recent radio-delete years. The basics include air conditioning, keyless lock fobs, and at least an auxiliary audio jack, Jack. Such is the case with this week’s IS tester; an Oh-Nine Corolla CE. The wallet dent is a mere $18,295, which includes a four-speed automatic and the Enhanced Convenience Package. (Pricing shown does not include freight or regional incentives.)

2009 Toyota Corolla CE
2009 Toyota Corolla CE
2009 Toyota Corolla CE
2009 Toyota Corolla CE
2009 Toyota Corolla CE
2009 Toyota Corolla CE
2009 Toyota Corolla CE. Click image to enlarge
The Cockpit

Regular readers could have made the reasonable assumption that this Corolla review would have simply been a cut-and-paste of the recent Matrix, minus the hatch. As tempting as that would be for catching up on my laundry, there are subtle differences throughout. The three-spoke wheel receives manual tilt and telescope, with the cruise control tab found at the 4 O’clock position. Power heated mirror controls are found to the left of the driver, at a sensible height. The gauge pod is minimal, with engine coolant temperature, tachometer, digital clock display, trip meters, and quadrant selection for the gated automatic shift. The driver’s door pod includes auto-down for the driver glass. At floor level are the classic Toyota levers for the trunk and gas door release.

The Centre Stack

Simple dials control the HVAC demands, while the single-CD audio system gets the rough-in for XM satellite radio, plus an auxiliary audio plug-in. We might as well point out the first cubby, which hides a 12-volt DC powerpoint.

Cubbies!

The most significant cubby clarification for the Corolla VS Matrix comparison is the dual glovebox arrangement, though none of the cavities lock, nor are equipped with an HVAC-fed cooling system. The front cupholder uses a removable spring-loaded tab cincher, with good fitment through the range of coffee cups to Slurpee grab. The rear cupholder is identical to the Matrix, flipping out at the rear of the console. The interior of the centre console cubby holds a 12-volt DC powerpoint, while the console door receives no additional stuff grabbers. Front and rear doors (10) incorporate bottle holders, which do not require the funky angles of the Matrix to accept the beverage container. A drop-down tray is found below the power mirror controls. The Corolla gets two small cubbies on each side of the centre stack walls, with a purse-holding tab on the passenger side.

The overhead

Each visor holds an unlit vanity mirror with sliding cover. The visors offer no sliding action for side sunblock. Map lights work independently of the courtesy lamp system.

Seat treat

Naugahyde has given way to some form of mouse fur velour for the cheap CE seats, with a height control lever for the driver’s seat.

Cargo embargo

With a trunk this big, why exactly do we need the Matrix? The rear seat backs get their fold on, via trunk-mounted release pulls. The trunk floor base material is anything but long-haul, constructed out of low-rent corrugated plastic. At least the underside of the trunk lid gets a finisher, while the trunk floor adds four tie-down points.

2009 Toyota Corolla CE
2009 Toyota Corolla CE
2009 Toyota Corolla CE
2009 Toyota Corolla CE. Click image to enlarge
Spare care

Say hello to your standard emergency rubber doughnut spare, with foam retainer for the jacking tools. Roadside assistance will still cost you $84.95 per year.

The mill

The corporate 1.8-litre 132 horsepower mill requires little shoe-horning to fit. Even the headlamp bulbs are easily replaced, without pod removal. Major component access should involve minimal labour rate pains, while the only fluid fill point of issue is the master cylinder, with the same removable panel arrangement as the Matrix.

The Verdict

They say it’s all about the little things. One that concerns this scribe is the squishy rubber bumpers on the dash panel that meets up with the front doors. These are the same bumpers that inevitably get picked off of the bottom of clock radios and kitchen appliances. Why on earth is the King of the Tight Tolerance Gaps even using them? I expect these types of fitment shenanigans on Cobalts, not Corollas. We can only hope that this is not the shape of things to come for the car that has carried Toyota to its lofty station. For those who view their ride as a trusty appliance, the Corolla is about as Maytag as you can find, and still a bargain to boot. I’m going to plug in my numbers this week at 4.5 stars. Those rubber bumpers cancelled a perfect score.

Next week: Mazda MX-5 PRHT

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