Used Vehicle Review: Toyota Corolla, 2009 2012 used car reviews toyota reviews
2009 Toyota Corolla S. Click image to enlarge
Test Drive: 2009 Toyota Corolla S
Test Drive: 2012 Toyota Corolla XRS
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Corolla Reviews

Review and photos by Chris Chase

Not many cars make it to a tenth generation, at least not without a name change to clutter the family tree. Toyota’s evergreen Corolla has been around an awfully long time – it debuted in North America in the late 1960s – and has a fantastic reputation for being an affordable and durable means of basic transportation.

From its earlier years, and through the middle part of its existence as we know it, Toyota habitually redesigned its cars every four years. That changed with the 2003 (ninth-generation) Corolla, which followed five years after its predecessor, but was still a significant advancement over that previous car. It would be another six years before the tenth-generation Corolla arrived, and when it did, it didn’t look like much of a step forward. The basic shape was the same, though Toyota claimed an all-new structure, new suspension, and a new version of the 1.8L four-cylinder engine that powered the two previous Corolla designs.

Used Vehicle Review: Toyota Corolla, 2009 2012 used car reviews toyota reviews
2009 Toyota Corolla S. Click image to enlarge

That engine was indeed different, though. It used Toyota’s Dual VVTi variable valve timing system, which worked on both intake and exhaust valves; the VVTi setup found in the previous Corolla only adjusted intake valve timing. It made more power, too, with 132 hp/128 lb-ft of torque, up from 126 hp/122 lb-ft. Surprisingly, its fuel economy was actually nominally worse than the old motor’s.

New for 2009 was a 2.4L engine, a four-cylinder borrowed from the Camry, which produced 158 hp/162 lb-ft. It was used in the sporty XRS model, which returned for 2009 after a two-year hiatus.

Both engines came standard with a five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic was the option with the 1.8L, and the 2.4L could be upgraded to a five-speed auto.

In Natural Resources Canada fuel consumption testing, the 2009 Corolla posted figures of 7.4/5.6 L/100 km (city/highway) with the 1.8L and four-speed auto, and the same motor with the stickshift rated a nearly identical 7.5/5.6 L/100 km. The 2.4L is much thirstier, with ratings of 9.4/6.5 with its five-speed auto, and 9.5/6.7 with a manual. Little would change through this Corolla’s run to the 2012 model year.

Used Vehicle Review: Toyota Corolla, 2009 2012 used car reviews toyota reviews
2010 Toyota Corolla XRS. Click image to enlarge

In base CE trim, the Corolla came with 15-inch steel wheels, four-speaker stereo with auxiliary jack, cloth seats, split-folding rear bench, dual vanity mirrors, tilt-and-telescoping steering, illuminated entry, carpeted floor mats, digital clock, and intermittent wipers. It was a decent list of basic kit, but nothing extraordinary. Air conditioning, power locks and windows, and keyless entry were all extra.

The next-up LE trim included air, and added a six-speaker stereo, 16-inch alloy wheels, upgraded gauges, power windows, cruise, and fog lights. Other notable features were intelligent keyless with push-button start, woodgrain trim, and automatic climate control. The LE came only with the automatic transmission.

In S trim, steering wheel-mounted audio controls were standard, as was upgraded seat fabric, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a rear spoiler.

The XRS got 17-inch wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, stability/traction control, sport seats, metal-look dash accents and a power sunroof.

In 2010, S and LE trims got stability/traction control as standard, and could be added to the CE, too. New packages added leather seating, sunroof and navigation to certain trims.

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