For the American version of the new 2009 Corolla, Toyota has brought in the usual add-ons like DVD navigation with satellite traffic reports, Bluetooth® phone connections, audio input jack, and leather-wrapped steering wheels with audio controls. Toyota also supplemented the brand new 1.8 liter engine with a new-to-Corolla 2.4 liter powerplant boasting 158 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. Both are available with a five-speed manual transmission; the 1.8 has an optional four-speed automatic while the 2.4 has an optional five-speed automatic. Japanese models, and presumably those aimed at many export markets, get a 1.5 liter base engine with 108 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque instead of the 2.4 liter Camry motor.
The Standard, LE and XLE models have a new 1.8-liter engine with 16 valves, dual cams, and dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence for both intake and exhaust); it produces 132 hp at 6,000 rpm and 128 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm, similar to the prior model, so we’d expect the change in design is to reduce assembly costs and increase gas mileage — which, according to tough 2008 standards, is 27/35 mpg (with or without automatic). The 2009 Corolla will start at US$15,910, in the Standard trim; the XRS will start at US$20,610 (including destination charges). The Matrix runs around $900 more.
The Corolla now looks less generic (perhaps Mazda-like) and sportier than in the past, with the Corolla S looking particularly aggressive - and further differentiated from its brethren. From the outside, it is hard to believe this is the same Corolla that many know and love. From the inside, many old-Corolla characteristics remain, though it's clear that some cost-cutting has taken place, perhaps to make way for the expense of a bigger interior. The climate controls feel cheap, and switch blanks are used in too many places. The white-on-black gauges and dashboard don't look sporty, unlike the exterior, but the 140 mph speedometer is overkill. Seats are moderately stiff but not uncomfortable, and there is plenty of space for driver and passenger, with good all-around visibility.
The 2.4 liter twin-cam engine was retuned for the Corolla XRS grade, features VVT-i, and produces 158 hp at 6,000 rpm and 162 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Expected 2008-standard gas mileage is 22/30 mpg. The 2.4 should provide much more “usable performance” for the average driver than the rev-happy 1.8 liter XRS model.
While Corolla maintains the same headroom, legroom and shoulder room as the previous model, it feels larger, thanks to a design that enhances comfort and improves utility, usability and storage. Easy-to-reach storage spaces include center console side pockets, a storage box above the usual glove box, front and rear door pockets that can safely hold 20-ounce bottles, a console box with a large-capacity main tray and a smaller accessory tray, an overhead console useful for storage of sunglasses or garage-door openers, and a rear-seat center armrest with an integral drink holder. Retractable handgrips are above each door opening.
The wide, low profile was developed by Toyota Design in collaboration with styling studios in Turin, Italy. Its foundation was set by the search for a lower, sportier shape than that of the previous Corolla. That search drove the decision to move the bottom of the A-pillar forward and the bottom of the C-pillar aft to increase the angle of the window glass and to improve the Corolla’s aerodynamic performance. There are now five grades: Standard, LE, XLE, S, and XRS. A standard body kit is used on S and XRS, including a front underbody spoiler, fog lamps, rocker moldings, upper and lower rear spoilers, and engine undercovers.
Safety features on the all-new Corolla include standard driver and front passenger airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags and two-row side curtain airbags. Active front-seat headrests are standard equipment. When the vehicle is struck from the rear, a cable-actuated mechanism in the active headrest moves the headrest upward and forward to limit the movement of the seat occupant’s head. Anti-lock braking (ABS) is standard; vehicle stability control (VSC) with traction control (TRAC) and an off switch are optional.
The Corolla will all have a rear window defogger, satellite-capable AM/FM/CD audio with four speakers, auxiliary audio input jack, air conditioning with air filter, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, 60/40 split folding rear seats, and more. The S will feature P205/55R16 tires with full wheel covers, color-keyed front and rear underbody spoilers, fog lamps, front sport seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, black headlamp housing, chrome exhaust tip and AM/FM/CD XM® capable audio with six speakers. The XRS grade adds a rear deck spoiler, P215/45 R17 tires with alloy wheels, sport strut tower brace, VSC with TRAC and an off switch, XRS scuff plate, leather-trimmed shift lever and knob, cruise control and an interior chrome accent.
Options include an AM/FM/six-disc CD changer with MP3/WMA playback capability, satellite radio (subscription required) and six speakers, a power package that includes power windows and door locks. Additional options on various grades include JBL Audio system with AM/FM six-disc CD changer with eight speakers and Bluetooth®, Navigation system with AM/FM CD with MP3/WMA playback capability and XM® satellite radio with XM NavTraffic® capable with six speakers, leather-trimmed seats and shift knob, tilt and slide moonroof, VSC with TRAC and cut-off switch.
The American version of the Corolla, to be built in the usual North American plants, will be available around February 2008.
The Australians got a version close (if not identical) to the Japanese model in both sedan and hatchback form, but restricted to the 1.8 liter dual VVT-i engine to compete better in the competitive, power-hungry Aussie market. The Australian version is rumored to be slated for a luxury approach, with extra airbags, a standard six-speed manual transmission, high-intensity discharge headlights, distance-sensing cruise control, and other features. In other parts of the world, the Corolla may be sold as the Auris; or Toyota may take advantage of the “world’s favorite car” status and move it to the Corolla name.
|Peak Metric Power
|2ZR-FE||1,797||100 (136)/6,000||134 @ 6,000||175 (17.9)/4,400||129||17.2||40.5|
|1NZ-FE||1,496||81 (110)/6,000||108 @ 6,000||140 (14.4)/4,400||103||18.2||43|
* Figures for Corolla Axio (front-wheel-drive model with Super CVT-i) under the 10-15 Japanese test cycle.