2009 Toyota Corolla. Where's the Flavor?

By Automotive Staff | April 02, 2008
Nearly two years ago at the unveiling of the latest and somewhat futuristic looking Honda Civic, it is rumored that Toyota engineers were sent into a tailspin. Higher up bosses were not happy with the extremely conservative look of their new Corolla and pushed back its release six months for a restyle. Having now seen the latest Corolla, WE ask, what did they do exactly? For one, we can see that the steering wheel is new and it has some snazzy looking interior door handles. If the body looks any different to someone out there, we beg you to please point it out. Adding insult to injury, most of the mechanicals are carryover, including an ancient four speed automatic for basic models. Does this smell like something GM would have pulled on consumers just a few years back? This now brings us to the cost part of the equation. For a base model Corolla with said automatic they are asking a little over $16,000. This does not include power windows, locks or cruise control. We assume this base model will be almost impossible to find on dealer lots and will most likely be a rent-me special. For the creature comforts we all take for granted the cost is more like $18,000. Now these prices could be understandable if there was some aspect of the car that made me desire it over its myriad competitors like the Mazda3, Honda Civic, or even the Chevrolet Cobalt. While most of these cars are used by people as unassuming commuter vehicles, there is no need for anyone to drive a boring penalty box. We are no longer living in the age of the Pinto and the Pacer, thankfully. Let’s look at the Cobalt for a minute. It, too, has only a four speed automatic but has quite a bit more power and costs about 2-3 thousand less than a Corolla before incentives. Why on earth would we spend more on a Corolla than an equally worthy Cobalt? But in all honesty, though, we would spend that little bit extra on the new Civic. While the styling might look a little bit too “Battlestar Galactica” spaceship to some, it is refreshingly different and sporty. Add to that the fact that Honda bothered to design a completely new and more efficient engine/drivetrain combination. But for most people, a new car is just an appliance to get from point A to point B. Well, in our opinion, the two most appliance-like subcompacts out there are the Cobalt and new Corolla. As with most appliances we purchase like refrigerators and washing machines, cost and comfort features are of paramount importance. The fact of the matter is, you just get more for your money with a Chevy. So should we count Toyota out of the subcompact sales race? Not exactly. Toyota as a brand still has a lot of cachet with consumers and the Corolla will no doubt sell like hot cakes. Without syrup, that is.