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     CARS AND GIRLS GALLERY



CARS REVIEW - 2009 Toyota Corolla


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For 2009, the king of the compacts gets a redesign and a more powerful engine—but the high gas mileage stays the same

Starting prices range from $15,910, for a bare-bones Standard with a stick shift, up to $18,210, for the relatively fancy XLE. The two sport models, the S and the XRS, start at $16,980 and $19,420, respectively, with a stick shift. The '09 Corolla's average selling price is $17,851, about $700 less than the '08 Honda Civic's, according to the Power Information Network.

Overview

There's a big question hanging in the air for anyone considering buying a new compact car to save on gas: Which is better, the new '09 Toyota Corolla or the hot-selling but aging Honda Civic, which last got a major redesign in the '06 model year? The new Corolla is slightly wider and more powerful than the old one, yet it still gets the same high gas mileage. Its cabin is impeccable, its ride smooth and quiet, and it has a new power steering system that makes driving effortless, whether at highway speed or in tight parking situations. It also costs less than the Civic, on average, according to the Power Information Network. If comfort, reliability, and mileage are your priorities, it's an excellent choice. Just don't expect it to add any excitement to your daily drive.

Interior

Head, leg, and shoulder space are the same as in the old Corolla, but the '09 feels more spacious because it's 2.5 inches wider. There's nothing luxurious about the cabin, but the materials are high quality and all the controls are conveniently laid out. There are numerous storage cubbyholes, including pockets in every door big enough to hold a 20-ounce bottle.

Engine/Drivetrain

TOYOTA

The basic engine is a 1.8-liter, 132-horsepower four-banger, coupled with a four-speed stick shift or an optional four-speed automatic (the Corolla S also can be had with a five-speed stick shift). The XRS comes with a 2.4-liter, 158-hp, four-cylinder engine, connected to either a five-speed stick shift or an optional five-speed automatic.

Performance

TOYOTA

We were surprised by the Corolla XRS's speed: We clocked it at 7.9 seconds in zero-to-60 runs. Powered by the smaller engine, however, the Corolla is downright pokey. Motor Trend magazine says it only does zero to 60 in 10.3 seconds with an automatic transmission and about 10 seconds with a five-speed stick shift

Fuel Economy

INSURANCE

With the smaller engine, the Corolla is rated to get 26 to 27 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. However, the sporty XRS only gets 22 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway. In 207 miles of lead-footed mixed driving in an XRS, we got 23.7 mpg.

Safety

TOYOTA

The '09 Corolla hasn't yet been crash-tested, but the previous model got the top five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in front-end collisions and four stars for side crashes and rollovers. Front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard in all of the '09s, as are antilock brakes. Stability and traction control are standard on the XRS and S, and optional on the other models.

Price

TOYOTA

Starting prices range from $15,910, for a bare-bones Standard with a stick shift, up to $18,210, for the relatively fancy XLE. The two sport models, the S and the XRS, start at $16,980 and $19,420, respectively, with a stick shift. The '09 Corolla's average selling price is $17,851, about $700 less than the '08 Honda Civic's, according to the Power Information Network.

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