2009 Toyota Corolla Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2008
  • All-new, 10th-generation model
  • New exterior and interior design
  • All-new chassis and suspension
  • Newly-designed instrument display
  • New 3-spoke steering wheel with available audio and Bluetooth controls
  • Lower, wider and longer than previous generation
  • Five grades to choose from: Standard, LE, XLE, S and XRS
  • Five new exterior colors
  • Arrives at dealerships in February, 2008


On sale continuously in the U.S. since 1968, the Toyota Corolla has sold more than 30 million units worldwide since its introduction in Japan in 1966. The Corolla has been the best-selling car in Japan for most of that time, and for the past 20 years, has been the second best-selling model in Toyota's North American lineup. In summary, the Corolla is the world's all-time best-selling passenger car. With the introduction of the all-new, 10th-generation Corolla for the 2009 model year, Toyota hopes to maintain and build upon that success.
The Corolla is positioned between the entry-level Yaris and the Camry in Toyota's U.S. lineup. For this latest generation, and in an attempt to attract younger buyers to feed the brand, Toyota focused on creating a more emotional connection with a more diverse audience than for previous Corolla models. Toyota focused on two areas: creative style and packaging, and improvements in sensitivity performance. Rather than designing and engineering the new model to appeal to buyers in one regional market, a broader approach was taken. Handling performance, for example, was calculated to meet the rigorous requirements of European highways, such as Germany's Autobahn. Other aspects, such as ride comfort, roominess, cargo capacity and functionality, were based on the demands of the U.S. market, Corolla's largest in terms of sales.

Model LineupThe 2009 Toyota Corolla will be offered in five grades: Standard, LE, XLE, S and XRS. Standard models come with a 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine; 15-inch steel wheels; rear window defogger; air conditioning; intermittent windshield wipers; two 12-volt power outlets, daytime running lights; folding power mirrors; anti-lock brakes; power steering; tilt/telescoping steering wheel; and a 4-speaker, satellite-ready, AM/FM/CD audio system with auxiliary input jack and MP3 playback capability. LE models add power windows with one-touch driver's down feature, shift-activated power door locks, and color-keyed manual-folding power side mirrors. XLE trim adds 16-inch steel wheels, variable intermittent wipers, remote keyless entry, Toyota's Optitron gauges, center console with sliding armrests, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system, and woodgrain interior. In addition to Standard model equipment, the sporty S models add 16-inch wheels; a body kit including a front spoiler, rocker moldings, and upper and lower rear spoilers; fog lamps; front sport seats; leather-wrapped steering wheel; chrome exhaust tip; and the 6-speaker audio system.

The performance-oriented XRS model offers a 158-hp, 2.4-liter engine, P215/45R17 tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels, and standard vehicle stability control and traction control. It further differentiates itself by offering sport seats, a leather-trimmed shift knob, door sill scuff plates, a tailpipe finisher with diffuser, rear spoiler, and black color-keyed headlamps. In addition, the XRS offers 4-wheel disc brakes, a sport strut tower brace, and grade-specific electronic power steering system tuned for better road feel, according to Toyota. In tests conducted by Toyota, the XRS achieved 0 to 60 mph in less than nine seconds.

Optional equipment on Standard models includes cruise control, a 6-disc CD changer audio system, satellite radio and 6 speakers, a power package that includes power windows and locks, and an All Weather Guard package. LE models can be equipped with 16-inch aluminum wheels and keyless entry. XLE models can be outfitted with a moonroof, stability control and traction control, and 16-inch alloy wheels. Leather upholstery is available on S and XRS models. A 6-speaker, AM/FM/6-disc CD changer audio system is available on all models. In addition, a JBL 8-speaker, AM/FM/6-disc CD changer audio system with Bluetooth capability is available on S, XLE and XRS grades. Also available on S, XLE and XRS grades is a new, entry-level navigation system with 7-inch LCD and more than eight million pre-programmed points of interest.


The base engine in the 2009 Toyota Corolla is a 1.8-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, 4-cylinder unit featuring dual independent variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) technology, the first such application in a Toyota model. The engine is standard on all but the high-performance XRS models. Output is 132 hp @ 6000 rpm, and 128 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm. It runs on 87 octane unleaded fuel. EPA estimated fuel economy is 27 mpg city/35 mpg highway when coupled to either the electronically controlled 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission.

Standard on XRS models is a larger, more powerful 2.4-liter 4-cylinder unit that also features DOHC and VVT-I engine technology. It produces 158 hp @ 6000 rpm and 162 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm. It is available with either a performance-oriented 5-speed manual or 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. EPA estimated fuel economy for the XRS is 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway when coupled with the 5-speed automatic transmission, and 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway with the 5-speed manual transmission.

A newly developed suspension ensures excellent noise, vibration and harshness performance while achieving both good handling stability and ride comfort, according to Toyota. All 2009 Toyota Corolla models feature front ventilated disc brakes. All but the XRS have rear drum brakes. Electric power steering is standard.


When designing the new 2009 Corolla, Toyota changed its design approach, going from individual styling for individual markets to a unified global design. For inspiration, design engineers and stylists moved to Turin, Italy for four months. The result: a more youthful and sporty style, far more European, according to the company. The new design, Toyota says, "conveys an image of strength, solidarity and stability, requiring a larger frame and a completely reworked package."

The new design is wide and low; overall width has been increased by 2.4 inches, and overall height reduced by 0.8 inches. Overall length increased by 0.4 inches, while the wheelbase remains the same at 102.4 inches. Overall passenger volume increased by 1.7 cubic feet.

To create a lower, sportier shape, the bottom of the A-pillar was moved forward while the bottom of the C-pillar was moved rearward, increasing the angle of the window glass and achieving a sportier shape. The instrument panel was lowered to increase forward visibility, and the new design features a nearly flat rear floor. To maximize passenger seating comfort, both front and rear seats have extended seat cushions.


All 2009 Toyota Corolla models come equipped with dual-stage front air bags with driver position sensor and front-passenger occupant classification system, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side-impact air bags, and front and rear side curtain air bags. Anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist are standard on all 2009 Corolla models, as are a tire-pressure-monitoring system, front seat belts with pre-tensioners and force limiters, and active headrests for front-seat occupants. Stability control and traction control are standard on XRS models and available on all other models.
Explore car shopping guides
Ford Explorer History
Ford Explorer History
Let’s take a journey through time and discuss the Ford Explorer’s history, from the 90s to the present.
Read the full review
How To Read A Tire Sidewall
How To Read A Tire Sidewall
Take a quick look at any tire, and you’ll notice a series of letters and numbers around the sidewall. These might seem like random gibberish, but they tell you lots of helpful information about your tires. So, what do all these codes mean? Here’s everything you need to know to read a tire sidewall.
Read the full review
Electric VS. Hydraulic Power Steering
Electric VS. Hydraulic Power Steering
Here’s a quick overview of electric vs. hydraulic power steering and why you might prefer one over the other.
Read the full review
Read all articles

Scroll to the top
New Car Preview
2023 GMC Canyon Preview
Most Dependable
2019 Vehicle Dependability: Most Dependable Coupes and Convertibles
Most Popular
10 Most Popular Trucks
New Model Update
New for 2019: Lincoln
New Car Preview
2023 Chevrolet Colorado Preview
More related