For 2009, the Toyota Corolla features two engine options, as well as several different transmissions that deliver acceptable driving performance and solid fuel economy.
Powering every version of the 2009 Toyota Corolla, with the exception of the XRS, is Toyota's 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, which Car and Driver points out "has 132 horsepower, up from 126" on last year's Corolla. Edmunds finds that this powerplant "delivers respectable acceleration in normal traffic situations." All four lower-end models of the Corolla Toyota offer one of two transmissions, which Motor Trend lists as either a "four-speed automatic" or a "five-speed manual."
The 2009 Toyota Corolla XRS, which Car and Driver says boasts "the Scion xB's 158-hp, 2.4-liter four cylinder engine," is offered in either the five-speed manual or five-speed automatic. Kelley Blue Book writes that on every 2009 Toyota Corolla except the XRS, "performance is adequate with the five-speed manual, less so with the automatic." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com appreciated the Toyota Corolla XRS's additional power, which ConsumerGuide says is "more than adequate...with the manual transmission."
For the 2009 Toyota Corolla, Edmunds claims that the EPA estimates fuel economy for the 1.8-liter engine to be "27 mpg city and 35 mpg highway" regardless of the transmission. The 2.4-liter engine suffers a drop in efficiency, posting EPA estimates of 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
Driving impressions of the Toyota Corolla varied depending on the type of driving involved. Edmunds notes that the Corolla Toyota "excels as a commuter car" with its "comfortable, controlled ride." More spirited driving yields disappointing results, with ConsumerGuide describing the XRS as unlikely to "excite enthusiast drivers," while "other models suffer copious noseplow in fast corners and react sluggishly to rapid turns of the wheel." Earning positive reviews were the brakes on the Toyota Corolla, which Kelley Blue Book feels are "strong and fade-free," although handling is "not up to some of the best of the competition."