The Corolla sits between the Yaris and Camry in Toyota's model lineup. The 2009 model is the car's 10th generation, which goes back almost 40 years in the U.S.
This newest generation has modern styling, such as the headlight casings that bubble out of the fender sides. We were surprised to find automatic headlights on the Corolla.
The base engine, a 1.8-liter four cylinder, runs smoothly and delivers adequate power. It gets an EPA-rated 27 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.
The design of the Corolla is unassuming. It won't attract much attention on the road, which can be a good thing. It seats four comfortably, but five would be a squeeze.
The suspension is firm and gives a rough ride, not unexpected in a car of this class. It uses front-wheel drive and torsion beam rear suspension.
The trunk isn't huge, in keeping with size of the cabin.
The dashboard layout is simple. We were disappointed in the lack of steering wheel controls of the audio system or cruise control. The navigation system is an option that precludes an upgraded stereo.
An electric power steering system lessens fuel consumption and delivers even power assist over the entire rotation of the steering wheel.
The instrument cluster displays don't offer much information beyond the trip miles and current gear. There is no trip computer with information such as range to empty or average fuel economy.
The Corolla uses a four-speed automatic transmission, a small number of gears compared with many of today's transmissions. You tend to feel the shifts, especially when it kicks down from fourth to third.
This navigation system is similar to what you get in a Lexus. Its maps offer good resolution and a quick refresh rate.
There are a lot of ways to enter destinations with this system, including address, points of interest, phone number, and even GPS coordinates. You can also enter complex routes with multiple waypoints.
The points-of-interest database includes complete listings for most retail stores.
The screen folds down to reveal a single CD slot.
With an MP3 CD in the system, you can see all its folders and select one with the touch screen.
The system also shows full ID3 track information.
An auxiliary audio jack sits at the bottom of the stack. You can plug in an MP3 player, but there is no optional iPod integration.
The touch screen also gives ample space for radio control. XM satellite radio is also available.
Although we liked the digital signal processor in this system, which lets you pinpoint the audio sweet spot, the speakers only produced mediocre sound quality.