August 2010

Constantly Great

There are few constants, other than change. One thing that has both changed and stayed constantly at the top of its class is the Toyota Corolla. The 2010 Toyota Corolla is one of the freshest designs on the road, being just a year old. Toyota turned to styling studios in Turin, Italy when designing the Corolla's all-new look that debuted in 2009.

All Corollas cut a sporty profile that looks like the little brother of the expressively-styled Camry. The sweeping design of the roof looks sporty and provides plenty of interior room. Aerodynamic attention-to-detail aids fuel economy and reduces wind noise. Corolla S and XRS models are fitted with a sporty-looking body kit that adds a front spoiler, rocker moldings and a rear spoiler, as well as panels under the car to better manage airflow.

Despite fully revamping it just a year ago, Toyota still found room to improve the Corolla for 2010. Safety is enhanced in the 2010 Corolla by the addition of Vehicle Stability Control, which means that all Corollas now have Toyota's Star Safety System as standard equipment. The Star Safety System combines stability control, antilock brakes, brakeforce distribution and brake assist for more safety and value than can be commonly found elsewhere.

The sporty undertones of the Corolla's styling aren't let down by the powertrain either. The standard choice is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder good for 132 hp and 128 lb/ft of torque. The dual overhead cam engine was new in 2009 and features Toyota's dual VVT-i variable valve timing to keep a toe in both the performance and efficiency pools. Internal components are designed for reduced friction, and both the standard five-speed manual transmission and optional electronically-controlled four-speed automatic transmission make the most efficient use of the engine's refined power.

An upsized 2.4-liter four-cylinder is available in the Corolla XRS and boosts power to 158 hp and 162 lb/ft of torque. The big four is calmed by a balance shaft to keep vibration at bay, and both the automatic and manual transmissions are five-speed units with the 2.4-liter engine.

Despite the compact size and high value levels, the Corolla is more than just a small, affordable car. The bodyshell is built for strength, using high-tensile steel in strategic locations. Not only is it rigidly constructed, the Corolla is lightweight, a further enhancement for both fuel economy and responsive handling. The MacPherson front struts and torsion-beam rear suspension enable secure handling, a comfortable ride and are packaged efficiently to maximize passenger and trunk space. Corolla XRS models are given a strut-tower brace to stiffen the front suspension and improve handling response. Electric power steering reduces drag on the engine and varies the level of assist to suit conditions as well.

All Corollas are equipped with air conditioning, front and side-curtain airbags, a satellite-ready CD audio system and a tilt/telescope steering wheel, among the highlights. Stepping up to the Corolla LE adds power windows and locks and color-keyed power mirrors while the XLE upsizes the tires and wheels to 16-inch rolling stock and adds keyless entry, Optitron gauges lifted from the Lexus toy bin, wood trim and a center console. Corolla S and XRS are the sporty versions with the S adding spoilers, foglamps, sportier seat bolsters and a six-speaker audio system. The XRS builds on the Corolla S and adds the beefy 2.4-liter engine, bracing, chrome accents inside and larger 17-inch alloy wheels.

A small, economical car that has room for five people in its surprisingly spacious and well-equipped interior is an accurate way to describe the 2010 Toyota Corolla (MSRP $15,450). Built with Toyota's studied precision and equipped with powertrains that are both energetic and frugal, the Corolla covers all the bases.

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