2010 Toyota Corolla

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
September 26, 2009

Buying tip

The Toyota Corolla remains one of the most popular models in the mid-size sedan, but with tough competition from the likes of Honda, Chevrolet, and Mazda, there are some bargains to be had. Look for deals on the base models, but manual-equipped XRS models are also a favorite for value-minded buyers. TheCarConnection.com's editors strongly recommend the XRS model if you are after a Corolla, but be prepared to pay the price premium.

features & specs

4-Door Sedan Automatic
4-Door Sedan Automatic LE
4-Door Sedan Automatic S
26 city / 34 hwy
26 city / 34 hwy
26 city / 34 hwy

The 2010 Toyota Corolla has two different personalities: a bare-basic entry-level model and the sporty—but pricey—Corolla XRS.

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the 2010 Toyota Corolla to give you plenty of details and firsthand observations, and to compare it with other cars in its class. The car experts at TheCarConnection.com have also studied the latest road tests of the new 2010 Toyota Corolla to compile this conclusive review.

The 2010 Toyota Corolla is a car with two different personalities: There’s the base model for budget-conscious buyers and the sporty Corolla XRS for those after a little flair. Comparing both models with their prime rival, the Honda Civic, the base Corolla falls a little short in the performance and styling departments. The XRS does a better job, especially when it comes to power and handling, but loses out to the competition on price.

While the current Corolla is much more attractive than previous generations, one of the car’s biggest drawbacks remains its inability to excite the visual senses. The Corolla lacks the sporty and modern panache of many of its rivals, but this may be ideal for those who don’t want to stand out from the crowd.

Inside, base Corollas can feel a little cheap, but moving up to the LE adds features such as power windows, while the XLE gets wood grain trim. The XRS range-topper adds some leather trim and comfy sports bucket seats.

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The base 2010 Toyota Corolla and the better-equipped LE and XLE editions continue in 2010 with a standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder mill developing 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. Compared to the Honda Civic and Chevrolet Cobalt, the Toyota is slightly down on power; however, fuel economy for either the standard five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic is impressive, with an EPA rating of 27 mpg city, 35 highway. The Honda Civic, by comparison, gets 26 mpg city, 34 highway.

Upgrade to the premium XRS model and you get a 2.4-liter four-banger with 158 horsepower on tap. This engine is happy to rev, and a sweet shifting six-speed automatic is available as an option. When matched with the standard five-speed manual, the Corolla XRS will sprint from 0-60 mph in around eight seconds—not exactly scintillating performance but enough to raise the heart rate. Fuel economy is hardly impressive, at 22/30 mpg.

The 2010 Toyota Corolla features a fully independent suspension system, but with the lackluster power output from the base 1.8-liter engine, performance remains dull. Moving up to the Corolla XRS adds rear disc brakes and a tighter feel, but the electric power steering still lacks adequate feedback.

Safety is the Corolla’s strong suit, with anti-lock brakes, tire-pressure monitors, active headrests, and front, side, and curtain airbags all standard. Stability and traction control are now standard across the range as well.

The 2010 Toyota Corolla comes well equipped, with standard air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and CD player. Optional features include a navigation system and XM Satellite Radio—rare features in this segment. However, it still misses out on power windows or power locks in the base model.

There has been no price increase for the 2010 model year Corolla, despite the addition of electronic stability and traction control as standard across the range. Pricing kicks off at $15,350 for the standard sedan with a five-speed transmission and goes up to $20,050 for the sporty XRS with a five-speed automatic transmission.


2010 Toyota Corolla


The 2010 Toyota Corolla is never going to be the style setter for the mid-size sedan segment. It’s dull, but it works for those with expectations of anonymity.

The Toyota Corolla has always featured safe styling, but the current generation is certainly a little more daring than previous ones.

Exterior styling varies depending on what 2010 Toyota Corolla model you pick. Of the five trim levels on the 2010 Toyota Corolla, which Edmunds lists as "base, LE, S, XLE and XRS," the XRS is by far the most noticeable on the road.

All versions of the 2010 Toyota Corolla include what Kelley Blue Book calls "a trio of character lines" running from front to back, as well as a "low front air intake" that helps add "visual width below the Toyota signature mesh grill." Motor Trend finds that the new Toyota Corolla is "a longer, lower, wider" car than the outgoing model, which helps improve the car's appearance.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com find the cabin of the 2010 Toyota Corolla to be designed for practicality above all else. Cars.com observes that the "cabin seems affably tidy" and most everything about the interior of the Toyota Corolla "tailored for straightforward usability." However, this usability detracts from overall styling, which ConsumerGuide feels is "a noticeable step backwards from the previous-generation Corolla." According to Edmunds, "the 2010 Toyota Corolla's cabin is pleasant enough, but it doesn't stand out in any particular way." In addition, reviewers decree the sedan's 12.3 cubic feet of cargo space is lacking compared to the highly configurable cabins of the Honda Fit.

Review continues below

2010 Toyota Corolla


There’s no mistaking the 2010 Toyota Corolla for a performance sedan; however, the XRS offers some excitement—at the cost of fuel economy.

For 2010, the Toyota Corolla is available with two different engine options, as well as several different transmissions that deliver only average driving performance and adequate fuel economy.

Powering every version of the 2010 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.” Edmunds finds that this powerplant "delivers respectable acceleration in normal traffic situations." On all four lower-end models of the Corolla, Toyota offers one of two transmissions, which Motor Trend lists as either a "four-speed automatic" or a "five-speed manual."

The 2010 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 reports that on every 2010 Toyota Corolla except the XRS, "performance is adequate with the five-speed manual, less so with the automatic." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com appreciate the Toyota Corolla XRS's additional power.

For the 2010 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 understandably suffers, posting EPA estimates of 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

Driving impressions of the Toyota Corolla vary 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 are 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."

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2010 Toyota Corolla

Comfort & Quality

When it comes to reliability and build quality, the 2010 Toyota Corolla is hard to beat—especially when you consider the price and generous standard equipment.  

The Toyota name goes hand-in-hand with strong build quality and good reliability, and the 2010 Toyota Corolla is no exception. And for a compact sedan, the 2010 Toyota Corolla is equipped with a relatively roomy and comfortable passenger cabin. ConsumerGuide feels that, up front, "the seats are generally comfortable," and the back features "good legroom and foot space." Edmunds refers to the back of the 2010 Toyota Corolla as having "plenty of space for children and just enough room for adults."

Storage space in the 2010 Toyota Corolla is abundant, especially inside the cabin. Edmunds remarks that "storage is more than ample up front, particularly with the addition of a double glovebox, though the provisions are a bit stingy in back." Lift the trunklid and it’s a different story, with ConsumerGuide finding that "trunk volume is less than in most compact sedans," thanks to a "tall bumper lip, small opening, and intrusive lid hinges."

Fit and finish in the 2010 Toyota Corolla is a strong point, and the quality of materials is nice, especially on the upper-end models. Edmunds asserts that "fit and finish is consistent with Toyota's historically high standards." Cars.com also notes that the dash on the 2010 Toyota Corolla has "consistent, if not outstanding, quality." However, ConsumerGuide contends that this consistency inside the Corolla Toyota is not necessarily a good thing, since “many interior panels have a hollow, plastic feel to them.”

One area where the 2010 Toyota Corolla arguably is the class leader is on-road noise, vibration, and harshness. ConsumerGuide reviewers find that the 2010 Toyota Corolla features “fine wind suppression with little road noise, especially in models other than the XRS.” Motor Trend heaps on additional praise, saying the Toyota Corolla “must be the quietest car in its class, with less wind noise than many luxury cars.”

Review continues below

2010 Toyota Corolla


The Toyota Corolla is made even safer for 2010 thanks to the addition of electronic stability and traction control as standard.

When it comes to safety, the 2010 Toyota Corolla should boost confidence levels, as the car scores highly both in crash tests and available safety features.

Aside from commendable engineering, there are a number of safety features that work together to improve occupant protection. The 2010 Toyota Corolla comes standard with anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and active front head restraints.

During independent crash tests, the Toyota Corolla scores very well. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal government's testing agency, gives the 2010 Toyota Corolla four out of five stars for most impacts, and a full five stars for front side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awards the Corolla its highest rating, "good," for the frontal offset impact test.

Another important aspect of driving safety is outward visibility, and on the Toyota Corolla, “outward visibility is good,” according to ConsumerGuide. Most reviewers agree, which is why the 2010 Toyota Corolla rates highly for driver visibility.


2010 Toyota Corolla


The 2010 Toyota Corolla’s feature list is substantial, with items like an optional moonroof and navigation system available, though at a significant premium.

With the 2010 Toyota Corolla, or any car with five different trim levels, you can rest assured there will be a very varied level of standard and available features.

The car offers a healthy roster of options on the most basic versions, with Cars.com listing standard features as "air conditioning, power mirrors and a CD stereo with an auxiliary jack." Moving up the trim list on the Corolla Toyota, Edmunds finds that "the LE gains power windows and locks," while the XLE version of the 2010 Toyota Corolla adds "electroluminescent gauges, keyless entry and variable intermittent wipers." The well-equipped XRS, meanwhile, is available with the All-Weather and Power Packages, JBL audio, navigation and leather.

Heated mirrors are optional across the Toyota Corolla line, while the S, XLE, and XRS are eligible for a sunroof, an upgraded JBL sound system (with satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity), and a navigation system with real-time traffic.

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