- Poised handling
- Well-built, inside and out
- Rides well
- Good crash performance
- Low power
- Engine gets coarse at high revs
- Side-impact crash results
The 2008 Toyota Corolla may be aging, but it’s aging well—though its engine can sound a little raspy.
Now that the Japanese automaker has added the Yaris to its lineup, the 2008 Toyota Corolla is the second least expensive car in its lineup (not counting the Scion cars). The 2008 Corolla is the last of its kind—Toyota is redesigning the car for the 2009 model year—and in its final year, the Corolla looks pretty much as it’s looked since it emerged in 2003. It’s modern, sober, and substantial, but hardly exciting or youthful. That feeling of sophistication carries to the interior, which is cleanly styled, easy to use, and surprisingly roomy.
A standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine makes 126 horsepower in the 2008 Toyota Corolla. It gets a bit rough at higher revs and isn't quiet about its work, but it does deliver 28/37 mpg with the five-speed manual, and 26/35 mpg with a four-speed automatic. The MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension couldn't be more ordinary in specification, but it's poised, composed, and driver-blunder-resistant. The handling limits are rather low, but the Corollas run smoothly and quietly. Throw in decent front disc/rear drum brakes (anti-lock brakes are optional on the S and LE) and excellent rack-and-pinion steering, and this is as close to a luxury car ride and experience as any small economy sedan has ever. Standard on all cars is a 60/40 folding rear seat and a CD player; all sorts of power options are available, and some versions even have “wood” trim that doesn’t look too bad.
Front-seat side and curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) are available as options for all model grades. The 2008 Toyota Corolla gets five star ratings in front crash protection from the NHTSA, along with four stars for side impact when outfitted with side airbags.