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2010 Toyota Corolla Review

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2010 Toyota Corolla

SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyers Guide
SEE ALSO: E-Carmony: Is the 2010 Toyota Corolla Your Perfect Match?

2010 Toyota Corolla
An Urban Living Compact Sedan
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

I was looking forward to spending some time driving the Toyota Corolla. Why? For the past few weeks I’ve driven a variety of larger vehicles---a mid-size SUV, a 7-passenger crossover SUV and a mid-size sedan. Living in Chicago and negotiating all-things-city sometimes makes for tight squeezes. I realized immediately with the Corolla the ease in maneuvering the ramps and seemingly-narrow parking spaces in the large parking garage I use. Parallel parking became a snap, again. Getting through crowded intersections with buses, trash trucks, taxis and the like was a dream.

The Toyota Corolla is a formidable entry in the compact car segment and does what it is supposed to do very well. Many in-city residents are reverse commuters. That is, for example, notwithstanding Chicago’s excellent public transportation system, including to the suburbs, often a car is the way to get to your place of business for those who choose to take advantage of city living but whose job is out in the fringe ‘burbs or “collar” counties. The Corolla is a great single-occupant commuting car while at the same time can seat a total of 5, has a fairly roomy 12.3 cu.ft. trunk, a fold-down rear seat for the occasional larger-object transport job and is suitable for a weekend road trip.

Buyers of the Corolla, as well as other compact car offerings such as the Mada3, Nissan Versa, Honda Civic, Ford Focus and the all-new Chevy Cruze, are mainly interested in low purchase cost as well as high miles per dollar operating costs, along with high miles per gallon. But, the smallness of a compact brings other benefits like easy of maneuvering and parking and a sense of confidence in that the car is not too unwieldy. The small exterior “footprint” of a compact is a nice contributor to reducing congestion, too.

As an added value for customers and further decreasing owner operating costs--or increasing miles per dollar, as I like--Toyota recently announced that new Toyota vehicles will now come standard with Toyota Care. This new plan offers complimentary normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. Toyota is the first full-line brand to offer a complimentary maintenance plan standard on new Toyota vehicles within its line-up.

About the 2010 Corolla: The tenth-generation Corolla was introduced for the 2009 model year, 40 years after the first Corolla arrived in the United States. Since 1966, more than 30 million Corollas have been sold worldwide.

All Corolla models come standard with Toyota’s Star Safety System™ which includes Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRAC)

The Corolla is offered with a choice of fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines, a 1.8-liter that was new for 2009 and a 2.4-liter that was re-engineered for the new-generation Corolla. The 2010 Corolla is available in five trim-levels, Corolla, LE, SLE, S, and XRS. The Corolla LE, S and XLE are equipped with the 1.8-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine, which produces 132 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission comes standard with the 1.8-liter engine; a four-speed automatic Electronically Controlled Transmission (ECT) also is available.

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The Corolla XRS exclusively features the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine which produces 158 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. Power is transmitted through a five-speed manual transmission and is available with a five-speed automatic. Like the four-speed automatic paired with the 1.8-liter engine, the five-speed uses a torque converter with flex lockup for increased fuel efficiency, as well as uphill/downhill shift control.

EPA Estimated Fuel Economy for the 1.8 liter engine is 26 city and 35 highway mpg for the 5-speed, 26 city and 34 highway mpg for the automatic and for the 2.4 liter engine both transmissions are rated at 22 city and 30 highway mpg. The 1.8 liter automatic transmission Corolla LE I drove easily achieved this fuel economy and in steady-state highway cruising at 70 mph I was getting around 37-38 mpg—do this on a road trip and with the 13.2 gallon tank that’s near to 500 miles before refueling.

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The Corolla trim-level features P195/65 R15 tires; a heavy duty rear window defogger; satellite radio-capable AM/FM/CD audio with four speakers; air conditioning with air filter; driver and front passenger airbags; front seat-mounted side airbags and side curtain airbags; intermittent windshield wipers; two 12-volt power outlets; daytime running lights; black manual folding power mirrors; tilt and telescopic steering wheel; 60/40 split folding rear seats and even more.

The Corolla LE trim-level adds power windows, door locks and mirrors. In addition to features on the LE trim-level, the XLE trim-level adds P205/55 R16 tires with full wheel covers; variable intermittent wipers; remote keyless entry; Optitron gauges; center console with sliding armrests; wood grain trim; and driver and passenger rear-seat pockets.

The sporty Corolla S trim-level builds on the Standard grade, adding 205/55 R16 tires with full wheel covers; color-keyed front and rear underbody spoilers; fog lamps; front sport seats; leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; black headlamp housing; chrome exhaust tip; and AM/FM/CD satellite capable audio with six speakers.

At the top of the 2010 Corolla line, the 2.4-powered XRS trim-level features a rear deck spoiler; alloy wheels with 215/45 R17 tires; sport strut tower brace; XRS scuff plate; leather-trimmed shift lever and knob; cruise control; and interior chrome accent.

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As you can see, the Corolla offers something for everyone and is equipped with a well balanced suspension, has a very pleasing exterior design and a comfortable interior package that helps make a daily commute somewhat enjoyable.
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Seat fabric varies by model grade. A leather-trim interior is available on the S and XRS grades. The driving position and front seats are tailored to a wider range of driver heights. A standard tilt and telescope steering wheel in all models makes it easy for taller drivers to find a comfortable position, often times a reason larger-stature folks don’t even give consideration to a compact car.

2010 Corolla base pricing starts at $15,450 and goes up to $17,750 for the XLE. My Corolla LE test car topped out at $19,953. A freshened 2011 Corolla is expected in November. Corollas were assembled in Fremont, California and beginning in the Fall of 2011 they will be built at a new plant in Mississippi.

Something to think about: There is very often too much big-iron on the road with only a driver. We all should consider a compact car if it meets a high percentage of our regular needs. Rent the pickup or SUV or minivan for those occasional once or twice a year needs.

© Larry Nutson