Well into its fourth decade of production, the compact Toyota Corolla is the best-selling car in automotive history. And with good reason: This is the quintessential economy car. It’s small, inexpensive, fuel-efficient and reliable. Put gas in it, give it the occasional oil change and it will provide dependable transportation well past the 100,000-mile mark. Since its 1968 introduction in the U.S., the Toyota Corolla has come in a variety of body styles, including a sedan, coupe, hatchback and wagon. The latest Corolla 11th generation model boasts significant increases in fuel economy and rear passenger room, and also has more distinctive styling. The Corolla makes an excellent choice for those seeking a comfortable, reliable and economical compact car.
10th-Generation Toyota Corolla 2009 – 2013
The previous (10th-generation) Toyota Corolla was produced from 2009 through 2013. It was essentially the same size as the one before it, except it was a little wider, which created additional hip- and shoulder room. Trim levels initially consisted of base, LE, S, XLE and XRS. Base Corollas had full power accessories, keyless entry, air-conditioning and a CD player with auxiliary audio jack. The LE added 16-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and iPod connectivity. The S provided a sporty look with foglights, body styling accents, upgraded cloth upholstery and metallic interior trim. Major options included a sunroof, a navigation system, satellite radio and Bluetooth streaming audio.
A 1.8-liter inline-four cylinder engine with 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque powered all but the XRS. A five-speed manual transmission was standard on them, but most were fitted with an optional four-speed automatic. The XRS came with a 2.4-liter four good for 158 hp and 162 lb-ft mated to a five-speed manual, with a five-speed automatic as optional.
9th-Generation Toyota Corolla 2003 – 2008
The ninth-generation Toyota Corolla was produced from 2003-’08 and came in CE, S, LE and XRS trim levels. The CE was a basic economy car but came with essentials like air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat and a CD player. The Corolla S offered a few more conveniences, while adding a lower body kit, rear spoiler and smoked headlamps for a faux sport sedan look. The XRS was the only truly sporty member of the Toyota Corolla family. It had a more powerful engine, a firmer suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and alloy wheels.
For power, the CE, S and LE had a 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated for 126 hp. The XRS, which was only produced for 2004 and ’05, had a higher-revving 1.8-liter four good for 164 hp. Acceleration was definitely quicker. Additionally, the XRS was only available with a manual transmission, whereas other Corollas could be equipped with a manual or automatic. Changes to the ninth-generation Corolla were few but potentially significant for used-car shoppers. Notably, side curtain airbags, stability control and a JBL audio system were all newly available for the 2005 model year.
One thing to keep in mind if you’re shopping for a used Toyota Corolla sedan built before 2003 is that GM sold an identical model called the Prizm under the Chevrolet and Geo brands.