2009 Toyota Corolla Review

Pros & Cons

  • Smooth and controlled ride, excellent fuel economy with base 1.8-liter engine, attractive and ergonomic interior design, lengthy features list.
  • Oddly weighted electric-assist steering, so-so gas mileage with 2.4-liter engine.
List Price Range
$5,300 - $13,995

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The redesigned 2009 Toyota Corolla will satisfy those seeking a refined and fuel-efficient small sedan backed by an impressive reliability record. Younger buyers, however, might be put off by the tepid driving experience.

Vehicle overview

About 400,000 people will buy a Toyota Corolla sometime during the 2008 calendar year. One-quarter of these likely buyers are in their 60s. Almost as many are in their 20s. Despite the huge age gap between these groups, their primary motivation for buying is the same: reliability. With such a steady and diverse following for its compact sedan, Toyota usually undertakes major redesigns with a light hand: Although changes underneath the surface may be significant, each new Corolla invariably retains its predecessor's basic styling cues and overall driving demeanor. And so it is with the redesigned 2009 Toyota Corolla.

That's not to say you won't appreciate the differences on the new Corolla. For instance, although it's not any longer or taller than last year's car, it rides on a wider track, and this opens up noticeably more hip- and shoulder room in the cabin. The addition of a telescoping steering wheel improves upon the Corolla's historically awkward driving position, while new features like an auxiliary audio input, keyless startup and a navigation system with real-time traffic updates bring Toyota's compact sedan into the 21st century in terms of feature content.

Since fuel economy is another big reason people buy Toyota Corollas, most versions of this sedan continue to use an efficient 1.8-liter four-cylinder. This engine is heavily revised for 2009 and now features variable timing for both its intake and exhaust valves. Power increases are modest on paper, but the results are apparent on the road: In spite of a 200-pound weight gain, the 2009 Toyota Corolla is a touch quicker than the '08 model and capable of returning comparable gas mileage.

Most of the Corolla's rivals offer larger engine options, though, and for '09, Toyota is following suit. The high-line XRS trim level returns to the model line, and it's motivated by a 158-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline-4, which promises to shave a second off the car's 0-60-mph time. In keeping with its heightened performance focus, the Corolla XRS has quicker steering, bigger wheels and a front strut tower brace.

With two engines and five trim levels at their disposal, most 2009 Toyota Corolla buyers will have little difficulty equipping one to taste. Although competitors such as the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, Mitsubishi Lancer and Nissan Sentra offer comparable interior room and amenities, Toyota's compact sedan remains a fine choice for a commuter car given its composed ride quality, above-average gas mileage and high overall level of refinement. However, we question whether the company has done enough to meet increased expectations for performance and handling in this class. Even in sporty XRS trim, the '09 Corolla does little to engage its driver. Shopped against genuinely entertaining alternatives like the Mazda 3, Civic and Lancer, Toyota's economy sedan remains a tough sell.

2009 Toyota Corolla models

The 2009 Toyota Corolla is a compact economy sedan. It's available in five trim levels -- base, LE, S, XLE and XRS. Base Corollas start you out with 15-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, an MP3/WMA-capable CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and power mirrors. The LE gains power windows and locks, along with body-color exterior mirrors. If you select the Corolla S, the LE's equipment upgrades move to the options list, but you gain 16-inch steel wheels, full underbody spoilers, foglights, sport seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an extra pair of stereo speakers.

Essentially a luxury version of the LE, the new Corolla XLE also gets the 16-inch wheels and upgraded stereo while adding amenities like a sliding center armrest, wood-grain interior trim, electroluminescent gauges, keyless entry and variable intermittent wipers. The top-of-the-line XRS, meanwhile, builds upon the S model's equipment list. Although it forgoes some of the XLE's standard conveniences, it adds a larger engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension and steering, a front strut tower brace, a rear deck spoiler and chrome interior trim. Cruise control is also standard on the XRS; it's optional on other Corollas.

Heated mirrors and satellite radio are optional across the Toyota Corolla line, while the S, XLE and XRS are eligible for a sunroof, an upgraded JBL sound system and a navigation system (with real-time traffic). Leather upholstery is available on the S and XRS only.

2009 Highlights

Completely redesigned, the 2009 Toyota Corolla looks much the same as last year's model but is a bit larger inside and out. Highlights on the new car include an available 2.4-liter engine and a navigation system.

Performance & mpg

With the exception of the XRS, all 2009 Toyota Corollas are motivated by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 132 hp and 128 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission driving the front wheels is standard, and a four-speed automatic is optional. You can look forward to 27 mpg city and 35 mpg highway EPA ratings with either transmission.

Selecting the Corolla XRS entitles you to a 2.4-liter engine good for 158 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. Fuel economy drops significantly, with a 22/30 rating for both transmissions.

Safety

Every Toyota Corolla comes with antilock brakes, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. Stability control is standard on the XRS and optional on other Corollas. Only the XRS has four-wheel disc brakes; other Corollas have rear drums.

Driving

Most buyers will be content with the base 1.8-liter engine, which delivers respectable acceleration in normal traffic situations. We recorded a 9.1-second 0-60-mph time in a manual-shift Corolla with the 1.8-liter, and our test car returned an impressive 29.8 mpg in mixed driving. Although the five-speed's shifter feels firm and decisive moving through the gates, we suspect its abrupt, at-the-floor clutch engagement will push many buyers to the automatic. Upgrading to the 2.4-liter engine provides a gratifying increase in low-end torque, though it does come at the expense of fuel economy.

Regardless of which trim level you choose, the 2009 Toyota Corolla excels as a commuter car, as the suspension delivers a comfortable, controlled ride. Handling is uninspiring, however. Body roll is decently controlled, but the electric steering on non-XRS models provides so little feedback, you may find yourself making corrections simply to keep the car traveling in a straight line. Toyota retuned this setup for the XRS, and indeed its steering feels crisper and weightier. Driven on a back road, the Corolla XRS is undeniably a capable compact sedan, but compared to rivals like the Mazda 3, Civic and Lancer, it's not a very entertaining one.

Interior

Cabin design is a strong point for the 2009 Toyota Corolla. The driving position better accommodates drivers of different sizes than in past years, and the control layout is as ergonomic as they come. Storage is more than ample up front, particularly with the addition of a double glovebox, though the provisions are a bit stingy in back. Materials quality is high, and fit and finish is consistent with Toyota's historically high standards. In back, the Corolla offers plenty of space for children and just enough room for adults. The trunk measures 12.3 cubic feet (average for this class) and has a wide opening.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2009 Toyota Corolla.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

200,000 miles
77thue77,03/08/2018
LE 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A)
I bought this car when it was year old with about 10,000 miles and it just turned over 200,000 miles. There are two things this car does fantastically 1. RELIABILITY and 2. GAS MILEAGE. Only a few minor things have needed to be fixed over the past 9 years on this vehicle, it is a champ and continues to run very well. This car could easily last a few more years. Now, this car is about the most uninspiring and bland driving experience I have ever had in a car, so make no mistake, there is nothing fun about driving this car - however if you love saving money by having a low cost of ownership, it is a blast!!
Our best car ever!
Dave C.,10/12/2015
S 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A)
Cons: It's noisy on the highway (probably due to limited interior insulation). Pros: Extremely reliable; We bought it new in June, 2008 and now (Oct., 2015) are still driving it with over 132,000 miles. The only real repair, other than the wearables, (tires, brakes, etc.) has been a rear wheel hub replacement ($500. expense) which was necessary due to a bad internal sensor. We found out later that a properly-inserted pipe cleaner might have cleaned off the dirty, not defective, sensor and eliminated even that repair expense. We really like our Corolla and consider it to be our most dependable, and economical vehicle evr. PS: We have been driving for 41 years and have had well over 20 vehicles in that time period.
Toyota Reliability
B A Miller,08/06/2018
LE 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A)
Totally Reliable. 10 years of no problems!
Toyota Corolla continues to surprise.
Mary Hansen,06/29/2016
LE 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A)
I researched before I bought the Corolla - I needed good gas mileage, enough room for the grandkids, and a comfortable ride. The Corolla has surprised me with its comfort, 27 mpg mixed hiway/street, and how well it has retained its good looks. The car is clean and functional with everything I need to comfortably get from A to Z. My only disappointment is that the car doesn't have Bluetooth or USB ports. It does have an auxiliary port that connects to the radio, so I am able to listen to books, music, news - whatever. I would highly recommend the Corolla as a sharp little vehicle with good response on the road.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2009 Toyota Corolla

Used 2009 Toyota Corolla Overview

The Used 2009 Toyota Corolla is offered in the following submodels: Corolla Sedan. Available styles include LE 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A), 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A), S 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A), XRS 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 5A), XRS 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 5M), 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M), S 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M), and XLE 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A). Pre-owned Toyota Corolla models are available with a 1.8 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 132 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2009 Toyota Corolla comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic.

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Toyota Corolla?

Price comparisons for Used 2009 Toyota Corolla trim styles:

  • The Used 2009 Toyota Corolla LE is priced between $6,500 and$11,998 with odometer readings between 66083 and148573 miles.
  • The Used 2009 Toyota Corolla Base is priced between $6,990 and$10,990 with odometer readings between 46849 and101888 miles.
  • The Used 2009 Toyota Corolla S is priced between $13,900 and$13,995 with odometer readings between 116220 and137239 miles.

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Which used 2009 Toyota Corollas are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2009 Toyota Corolla for sale near. There are currently 19 used and CPO 2009 Corollas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,300 and mileage as low as 46849 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2009 Toyota Corolla.

Can't find a used 2009 Toyota Corollas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Toyota Corolla for sale - 5 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $20,165.

Find a used Toyota for sale - 2 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $8,295.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota Corolla for sale - 7 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $25,104.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota for sale - 10 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $12,688.

Should I lease or buy a 2009 Toyota Corolla?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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