2009 Toyota Corolla XRSEnlarge Photo
Either the automotive calendar year has shrunk even further, or the folks at Toyota are overly eager for you to add to their bottom line by purchasing a 2010 Toyota Corolla or 2010 Toyota Matrix, both available starting late February. Regardless, you'll soon be able get newly standard traction control and VSC (vehicle stability control) for the same MSRP (Corolla) or just a slight increase (Matrix).
Ho-hum, you say - more invisible, rarely-used technology on two rather uninspired transportation pods. Not so fast: both traction control and vehicle stability control are pretty remarkable technologies that can save your hide in emergency maneuvers, extreme weather, or while trying to recover from moments of stupidity (i.e. texting "b home in jst a s3c"). Formerly the domain of fancy luxury cars from Germany, these safety watchdogs spring into effect the nanosecond danger looms, keeping you on the road and your insurance premiums unscathed. These two features in a car starting at $15,350 (base Corolla 5-speed) is nothing short of impressive.
2009 Toyota Matrix XRSEnlarge Photo
Helping to erase your notions of the plain vanilla 2008 Corolla, the latest generation, released for '09, is definitely a solid French vanilla, progressing to an engaging rocky road in XRS trim. The base 1.8-liter four is no slouch, benefitting from variable-valve timing on both intake and exhaust camshafts. And the power-hungry can step up to XRS trim, featuring the Camry's torquey 2.4-liter four that gives a nice shove in the back. With the 1.8-liter, Corollas earn EPA ratings of 26/34; 2.4-liter models yield 22/30.
The Matrix, also redesigned for '09, strikes a great balance between funky, sporty, and convenient. Over in our Car Reviews section we commented: "can’t make up your mind between coupe, sedan, or SUV? The versatile, economical, and safe new 2009 Toyota Matrix might be the solution." Prices for the 2010 Matrix begin $201 higher than last year. The Matrix uses the same engines found in the Corolla. Mileage, impressive for the segment, is as follows: