Corolla means “little crown,” and now in its fifth decade and with more than 33 million sold, there’s no reason to deny it. The Toyota Corolla, a little engine that could, continues to be royalty.
The 2009 Toyota Corolla isn’t a hybrid, nor does it boast any other high-tech refinement or embellished marketing campaigns. The Corolla remains what it’s always been — among the finest basic transportation cars ever made.
The Corolla debuted in the United States in 1968, two years after it debuted in Japan. In five decades, the vehicle has compiled almost unfathomable statistics. It’s now made in 13 countries; It’s available in more than 140 countries; And it’s estimated a new Corolla is purchased about every 40 seconds.
Add it all up, and it’s the biggest-selling car in history.
My weekly driver was the 4-door LE, one of five available Corolla models and all featuring an interior and exterior redesign. The LE includes a 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder, 132-horsepower engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission. It has a 9.2-second rating in the 0-60 mph standard acceleration test.
The Corolla won’t win any drag races, but it’s consistency and durability that matter for workhorses. Step on the gas, use the brakes, turn the steering wheel. Everything is smooth, tight, consistent.
You want heat, air, cruise control, plenty of storage space (considering its category), heated side view mirrors, a good sound system, Halogen headlamps, easy-to-use console controls and satisfactory head and foot room, the Corolla’s got it. You want economy, the Corolla’s got it.
You want a sports car, a pick-up truck, a vehicle to haul a soccer team, something to impress the neighbors? Buy something else.
The Corolla is now in its 10th generation, and other than the name, it’s hard to find anything from the original version still part of the current version. In exact dimensions, the new edition is less than a half-inch longer, about 2.5 inches wider and one-inch taller than the previous edition.
Five new exterior colors are offered for ’09 — silver metallic, magnetic gray metallic, Barcelona red metallic, Capri sea metallic and blue street metallic. My weekly driver featured the blue street metallic with a dark charcoal interior. The colors are complementary, but the blue exterior shade is too bright.
The one remaining trait from the original Corolla (price $1,695) to its current day relative ($price 16,650) is the hard-to-categorize quality of dependability. And that’s the quality that has likely vaulted the Corolla to its throne. Its name’s genesis my be “little crown.” But the Corolla has plenty of reasons to wear its tiara proudly as if it were a lot bigger.
Safety Features — Driver and front passenger front, seat-mounted side and side curtain airbags, ABS brakes.
Warranty — Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion 5 years/unlimited mileage.
Gas Mileage Estimates — 27 mpg (city); 35 mpg (highway).
Base Price — $16,650.00.
Price As Driven — $17,909.00.