2010 Toyota Corolla
Base price: $15,600 – $18,960
As tested: $19,129 (LE); $24,084 (XRS)
MPG: 27 city/35 highway (1.8L); 22 city/30 highway (2.4L)
- Good fuel economy
- New standard stability control
- Well equipped
- Worse fuel economy with bigger engine
By Rebecca Antioco
The world’s best-selling car gets an update
This review was originally written for the 2009 model year.
Little of substance has changed for 2010.
With more than 30 million units sold, the Toyota Corolla is the best-selling car in the world. Toyota estimates that about a quarter of its buyers are in their 60s, with an almost equal number in their 20s. It appeals across generations — and has become a bestseller — because of its dependability, capability and overall competence.
After last model year’s redesign, 2010 sees no changes, other than the addition of standard stability control. In addition to sporty styling changes, last model year’s upgrades included a telescoping steering wheel, auxiliary input for an MP3 player, an available navigation system with real-time traffic info, and a new electronic rack-and-pinion power steering system.
Corolla comes in five trim levels: base, S, LE, XLE and XRS. A new 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 132-horsepower and a five-speed manual transmission are standard, with a four-speed automatic as an option, on all but the XRS. Opt for the XRS and you’ll get the new 2.4-liter 158-horsepower engine and a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.
Standard features on the base model include air conditioning, CD stereo system with auxiliary input jack, power mirrors and tilt/telescoping steering wheel. The LE adds power windows and locks and color-keyed mirrors. Upgrade to the XLE and you’ll get intermittent wipers, remote keyless entry, wood grain trim, a sliding armrest on the center console and rear seat pockets.
The S is the sportier model, featuring a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, sport seats and metallic interior trim. To those features, the XRS adds cruise control, a rear deck spoiler and chrome interior trim.
We had the chance to drive the 2010 LE, and the 2009 XLE and the XRS models. The interior on all models is attractive and comfortable, with intuitively laid-out controls and comfortable seating position. We especially like the addition of the telescoping feature for the steering wheel, which affords more versatility and comfort in driving position.
Our LE tester came with the optional cruise control and remote keyless entry ($495), upgraded stereo system with six-disc CD changer ($240), alloy wheels ($580) and satellite radio ($359). Annoyingly, floor and trunk mats are also an additional $200.
Most drivers will find performance from the base engine to be more than adequate (I managed to score a speeding ticket while driving it). The four-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, but my lone complaint remains with the steering. When traveling down the freeway, I always felt the need to correct, or just hold on tight to keep the vehicle going in a straight line.
The 2.4-liter engine has more oomph, but you’ll sacrifice in fuel economy. The five-speed manual shifts smoothly, and the steering is tuned to be a bit weightier than it is on the XLE. Still, while sportier than the other Corolla models, those looking for a small performance-oriented sedan might look to the Lancer or the Civic for a more inspired driving experience.
Safetywise, the Corolla performs well, as expected from Toyota. In frontal crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Corolla received the highest rating, Good. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave it the highest five-star rating for driver protection in side impacts, and a second-best four-star rating in front impacts for driver and front passenger, side impacts for rear passengers and in rollover protection. And with the addition of stability control as a standard feature on all models, Toyota ups the safety quotient.
It’s hard to find fault with the Corolla. It’s a good everyday driver with XRS option that provides a little more power for those who want it. It’s a comfortable ride and achieves admirable fuel economy numbers. If you want a reliable, dependable, practical ride, Corolla’s your choice. However, those looking for a bit more driving excitement will want to try the aforementioned competitors or the Mazda3 for a little more pizzazz.