Compact car; Built in Canada, USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,200 – $16,300*

2009 Toyota Corolla Front

2009 Toyota Corolla Rear

2009 Toyota Corolla Interior

2009 Toyota Corolla Profile

  • Fuel economy
  • Ride
  • Acceleration (manual transmission)
  • Rear-seat room
  • Road noise (XRS)
  • Steering feel

Toyota’s take-no-chances approach has served legions of Corolla buyers who want a quiet, soft ride, and value good fuel economy over lively performance. The current model doesn’t stray from that formula-not even the sporty XRS. Aside from its reputation for reliability and strong resale value (marred somewhat by the highly-publicized recalls of other Toyota models early in 2010), today’s Corolla puts little distance between itself and the equally conservative Hyundai Elantra. That wouldn’t be an issue, except that the Hyundai comes with nicer interior appointments, and costs less (new or used) when comparably equipped.


Redesigning of Toyota’s compact front-drive sedan for 2009 gave it more available power, more standard safety features, and fresh styling. Although this Corolla sedan was 2.5 inches wider than the 2003-2008 version, other exterior and interior dimensions changed little. Corollas came in five trim levels for 2009, up from three in 2008. Base, LE, new XLE, and sporty S models held a 132-horsepower 1.8-liter four engine, which replaced a 126-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder. The top-of-the-line XRS model had a 158-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder. A five-speed manual transmission was standard. The optional automatic transmission was a five-speed on the XRS and a four-speed on other Corollas. The XRS included 17-inch wheels and four-wheel disc brakes, versus other models’ 15- or 16-inch wheels and front-disc/rear-drum brakes.

Standard safety features included antilock brakes, curtain side airbags, and front side airbags.

Traction control and an antiskid system were standard only on the XRS sedan, but optional on other models. A navigation system was available for the first time, optional on all but Base and LE models. Leather upholstery was an option exclusive to S and XRS versions. Note that Corolla lent its basic design and powertrains to Toyota’s Matrix wagon and the similar Vibe from General Motors’ Pontiac division. Corolla rivals included the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, and Mazda 3. Now in their 10th generation, Corollas have been sold in the U.S. for four decades.

Yearly Updates

2010 Corolla
More standard safety features went into 2010 Corollas. Previously optional on all versions except the XRS, traction control and an antiskid system now were standard on all models. Corolla was one of the vehicles recalled for a sticking accelerator pedal, amid a flurry of negative publicity for the automaker.
2011 Corolla
The 2011 Toyota Corolla got a freshening that including updated exterior and interior styling. Base, LE, and S models returned, but the luxury-oriented XLE and sporty XRS were discontinued.
2012 Corolla
Only minor trim changes were evident on the 2012 Toyota Corolla.
2013 Corolla
While the Corolla and its features were mostly unchanged from 2012, Toyota bundled the extra-cost options in a slightly different way.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Corolla S, LE, and XLE models use a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 132 horsepower, with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic may be teamed with Toyota’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which generates 158 horsepower in the XRS model.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/110
Engine HP 132
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 128
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual


dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/110
Engine HP 132
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 128
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic


dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/144
Engine HP 158
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual


dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/144
Engine HP 158
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic


Road Test

Acceleration is acceptable, with some qualification. With the 1.8-liter engine and automatic transmission, Corolla has enough verve for stress-free driving. Models with that powertrain have somewhat touchy throttle response from a stop, while merging and passing moves require planning and a deep stab on the gas pedal. XRS has more than adequate power with the manual transmission. Toyota quoted 0-60 mph acceleration in 8.1 seconds, but an XRS doesn’t feel quite that quick. The manual’s shifter has long throws and vague clutch action, which are frustrating for both daily commuting and sporty driving.

Fuel economy is more appealing. A test XLE with automatic averaged 31.8 mpg in mostly highway driving. A manual-transmission XRS averaged 29.2 mpg-also a reasonably frugal result, even in a test where the majority of miles were on the highway. All Corollas use regular-grade gasoline.

All models aim for smooth isolation and mostly achieve that goal. Bump absorption is among the best in the compact class, and there’s little bothersome float or wallow over highway dips and swells. XRS models have overly aggressive tires that result in a firmer ride than other compact cars, but it’s never jarring.

Handling has its problems. Non-XRS Corollas suffer copious noseplow in fast corners and react sluggishly to rapid turns of the wheel. All models have a usefully tight turning radius and excellent brake-pedal modulation, but none has satisfying steering feel. Current Corollas have electric power steering assist that’s designed to save fuel. That system has slightly different calibrations depending on model, and it feels unnatural in all of them. XRS has sporting pretensions, but it isn’t likely to excite enthusiast drivers. On the plus side, that model provides decent grip in turns and is reasonably quick to respond to steering inputs. Among versions tested, steering feel has been poorest in the S, where gentle turns of the wheel can result in exaggerated motions.

Corollas offer fine wind suppression with little road noise, especially in models other than the XRS. Blame the XRS’ performance tires for kicking up a fuss on most road surfaces. Toyota’s 2.4-liter engine is smoother and more refined than the 1.8-liter.

Gauges are unobstructed and easy enough to read, on a straightforward, upright layout with no hint of a driver’s “cockpit” feel. Controls are orderly and obvious. All audio systems adjust volume levels according to vehicle speed and came with an auxiliary audio jack. The available navigation system has fewer features than systems in some other Toyotas-no voice recognition, for example-but programming is intuitive, and the device is relatively easy to use. Detail work took a noticeable step backward from the previous-generation Corolla. Though nicely grained, many interior panels have a hollow, plastic feel. XRS models have a monochrome gray interior that tries to be sporty, but comes off more as budget-grade.

Front seats are generally comfortable, but a lack of lumbar adjustment will disappoint some drivers. Taller drivers may wish for a bit more rearward seat travel. All models have a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel. S and XRS sedans have extra lateral bolstering for better positioning in turns. Outward visibility is good.

Rear seats provide good legroom and foot space. Occupants taller than about 5-foot-8 will find headroom tight. The rear seat cushion is a bit soft for best support. Small door openings make entry and exit a chore.

All models have 60/40 split rear seatbacks that fold to create a portal to the trunk. The cargo hold is fairly wide and tall, but doesn’t extend far forward and has a tall bumper lip, small opening, and intrusive lid hinges. A large, two-tier glovebox and small center console box handle most cabin storage. Front and rear doors have map pockets, but most of their volume is devoted to space for 20-ounce bottles.


Model Tested: 2010 Toyota Corolla XLE w/auto

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 8
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 6

Total: 48


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
102.4 178.7 69.3 57.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
12.3 13.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.8 37.2 41.7 36.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2009 Corolla 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 4


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Brake wear
Description: Front brake pads may wear prematurely. New pads with an improved lining material will be installed under warranty. (2009-10)
Description: Over time, brake pedal travel will increase but brake performance is not effected. Improved rear drum brake adjusters are available to address the condition. (2009-13)
Engine noise
Description: The engine on hybrid vehicles may rattle for less than two seconds after cold soak due to a problem with the camshaft, which will be replaced. (2009-10)
Vehicle noise
Description: A knocking noise when turning is caused by a problem with the intermediate axle shaft. An improved replacement will be installed. (2009-10)
Water leak
Description: Water may drip from the gap between the headliner trip and the pillar near the windshield. (2009-10)
Entertainment problems
Description: The satellite radio system may malfunction, but return to normal if the key is turned off and on, requiring an updated receiver. (2009-10)

Recall History

2009 Corolla
Description: Power window master switch assemblies may malfunction and overheat due to irregularities in the lubrication process during assembly.
2009-10 Corolla w/ 1.8-liter engine
Description: For certain vehicles sold in specified states, when driving under unique conditions in extremely low ambient temperatures, intake manifold suction port for brake vacuum can become locked due to freezing of condensation; could lead to increased stopping distance.
2009-10 Corolla
Description: Sliding surface of friction lever inside accelerator-pedal sensor assembly may become smooth; if condensation occurs, as from heater operation when pedal assembly is cold, friction may increase, making pedal harder to depress, slower to turn, or possibly even stuck in partially depressed position.
2009-10 Corolla
Description: Accelerator pedal in some vehicles could stick in wide-open position, due to being trapped by an unsecured or incompatible driver’s floor mat.
2010 Corolla
Description: Some airbag labels on driver’s side sunvisor can separate from visor surface.
2010-11 Corolla
Description: Inaccurate label lists an inaccurate amount of allowable added weight.
2010-13 Corolla
Description: Certain 2009 through 2013 model Corolla vehicles that had accessories including leather seat covers, seat heaters, or headrest-mounted DVD systems installed by Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC (SET) may not have a properly calibrated occupant sensing system in the passenger-side front seat. This makes it possible that the passenger’s side air bag will not deploy at all or deploy with inappropriate force for the size of the passenger in the seat.
2014 Corolla
Description: A short in the windshield wiper switch may cause inoperative windshield wipers.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.