Along with its kissing cousin - the Matrix - Toyota’s Corolla sedan accounted for almost 40 per cent of the company’s total Canadian sales in 2009. By this time, the compact four-door sedan had also been at or near the top of the heap, sales-wise, in the compact car category for at least two of the previous decades. Still is.
And by this time, over 33,000,000 Corollas had been sold, worldwide, since the company started building them, in 1966. Toyota’s Cambridge, Ontario plant had been pumping them out since 1988, and was second only in manufacturing volume to Japan.
In 2009, the company introduced a new edition of its best-seller, still built in Cambridge, Ontario, and offered with two engines: 1.8 and 2.4 litre four cylinders, with five-speed manual, and four/five-speed automatic transmission choices.
Apparently styled in part in Turin, Italy, this edition of the Corolla was on the receiving end of a complete restyling job, but was still unmistakably a Corolla. Instantly recognizable, the new body style was sort of a racier version of its predecessor and Toyota did not go out on any stylistic limbs here. Traditional Corolla buyers were still uppermost in the thoughts of the company stylists during the re-do.
Four models were offered: CE, LE, S, and “high” performance XRS. The base engine was an all-new 1.8 litre four-banger that developed 132 horsepower, while its larger brother, the 2.4 litre, put out 158 horsepower. This latter engine was taken directly from the Camry, as was the five-speed automatic transmission, with a slight reconfiguration.
Apparently, the new Corolla was also built utilizing some of the same technologies found in Toyota’s Lexus models. For example, the body structure featured some 130 welding points, compared to just 40 on the previous version, and the car’s torsion rigidity was dramatically superior to its predecessor.
Standard equipment level was high, with telescoping steering, 60/40 split folding rear seat, anti-locking brakes, and a full complement of front, side, and side-curtain airbags coming with all models. Extras include larger 205/55R 16 wheels and tires, fog lamps, satellite-ready audio system, cruise control, and steering wheel-mounted controls.
Surprisingly perhaps, Transport Canada has four safety recalls on file for the 2009 Corolla. One concerns a possibly flawed drivers’ side power window master switch that could fail because of inadequate lubrication during assembly. Owners are cautioned not to try to lubricate this switch themselves, as that could result in it overheating, and possibly melting. A specialized grease is required, which dealers will apply. There are also two recalls regarding the infamous floormat/accelerator pedal imbroglio, and another for issues with the PCV valve that could lead to flawed brake performance.
The US National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration has these four on file as well as some 16 technical service bulletins. These range from charcoal canisters within the emissions control system that may take on water, glitches with the charging system, problems with the “feel” of the steering mechanism, trunk lids that won’t stay fully open, and a variety of electrical gremlins associated with cold weather driving conditions.
Unsurprisingly, Consumer Reports likes this one, giving it top marks in most categories. There seem to be problems with the cooling system, brakes, and paint and trim, otherwise, it’s mostly sweetness and light and C.R. gives the 2009 Corolla a “better than average” used car prediction rating. Interestingly, the 2010 edition fares better, receiving a “much better than average” grade. There are few differences between the two years. Some comments from owners: “would buy another one”, ”it does everything well, but nothing is outstanding”, “good value for the money”, and “did not expect a Lexus….did not pay for one”. C.R. also gives the 2009 a “Good Bet” designation.
Although marketing researcher, J.D. Power likes the ’09 Corolla, they aren’t over the moon about it. It gets top marks for things like body and interior dependability and features dependability, but seems to fall a bit short in terms of style and instrumentation. It receives a “better than most” rating for overall dependability but an “about average” grade for overall quality.
Corolla have always held their value, so don’t expect any bargains with this one. From a base price of around $14,500 three years ago, it’s still fetching anywhere from about $10,000 to the mid-‘teens on today’s used car market. The top of the range XRS is priced at about $5000 more than a base CE, with the popular LE somewhere in the middle.
2009 Toyota Corolla
Original Base Price: $14,565; Black Book: $12,325 - $15,775; Red Book: $8825- $13,675
Engine: 1.8 litre & 2.4 litre four cylinder
Horsepower/Torque: 132 & 158 hp / 128 & 162 ft. lb.
Transmission: Four/five -speed automatic & Five-speed manual
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 7.5 city/5.6 hwy. (1.8 litre w. five-speed manual trans.) Regular gas.
Alternatives: Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3, Dodge Avenger, VW Jetta, Nissan Sentra, Kia Spectra.