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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
“Maneuvers neatly in town and takes curves acceptably”
“Peppy 1.8-liter engine and five-speed manual”
Kelley Blue Book
“Passing on two-lane roads requires planning”
Much like the 2008 Toyota Corolla’s styling, performance won’t leave you breathless, but it is far more than adequate for a compact sedan.
Every trim level of the 2008 Toyota Corolla (three in total: the CE, LE, and S) features the same 126-hp four-cylinder engine that puts power down to the front wheels through either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual. At first glance, this may give the Corolla the appearance of being underpowered, but Auto123.com points out that “we used to get around fine with 85-hp cars 20 years ago, so 126 ponies is more than enough for city and highway driving.”
However, BusinessWeek calls it “pokey” with the optional automatic transmission, and notes that it’s “much slower” than the Honda Civic, its chief rival. With the Corolla, Toyota’s built a car that’s not engaging to drive, even though “firmer steering, better-damped ride, and bigger brakes” distinguish it from the previous Corolla. Toyota’s engineered in enough performance for the city, but Cars.com reports that “on the highway…the engine's modest power ratings limit the Corolla's performance; the automatic-transmission Corolla I tested only had a minimal amount of power for quick passing.” Car and Driver sums it up: “Just keeping up on the interstate requires a heavy foot — and spurs.”
The 2008 Toyota Corolla delivers 28/37 mpg with the five-speed manual, and 26/35 mpg with a four-speed automatic.
Handling is nothing remarkable, but the ride is of a better quality than usual among compact cars. Cars.com finds the 2008 Toyota Corolla to be “very maneuverable” and “body roll is effectively controlled when cornering,” but feels that “the ride gets a bit choppy on the highway.” Cornering isn’t its forte: with the Corolla, Toyota has designed a “carefully executed solution to your transportation problem,” Car and Driver suggests. “For recreation, look elsewhere.”
TheCarConnection.com’s experience leads to the same conclusion with the Corolla. Toyota’s 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 achieved.
The 2008 Toyota Camry is no thrill ride, but it handles city driving with sheer competence.