2009 Toyota Corolla: Love/Hate


I’m not going to lie — I wasn’t exactly looking forward to my weekend with the 2009 Toyota Corolla. I’ve driven a series of vanilla four-door sedans since May, and it’s gotten a little boring. There was nothing inherently wrong with any of the cars, but “responsible” isn’t usually how you’d describe your summer dream car. Fortunately, I was spared total boredom when I discovered the Corolla I’d be driving was the sportier XRS version.

Loved: Sporty handling
Although the Corolla XRS isn’t going to win any land-speed records or anything, I was pleasantly surprised with its zip. With some of the other economy cars I’ve driven this summer, merging onto the expressways required stomping the gas pedal into the floor and crossing my fingers. The Corolla needed far less coaxing to ease into high-speed traffic. Changing lanes on the crowded Chicago-area interstates can even be a pleasant experience in a car that moves without hesitation, like the XRS did.


Hated: Hidden clock
Now, this may not seem like a big deal when you’re looking to buy a car, but this is something that will drive you absolutely bonkers approximately two years into owning the car, if not sooner. There is no full-time clock visible in this car. If you don’t wear a watch (I don’t) and stow your cell phone in your purse while driving like a good citizen (I do), you have to jump through a few hoops to make sure you’re not running late. The clock display is located in the tachometer where it shares a tiny screen with the outside temperature display and gas-mileage gauge. If you want to keep an eye on your fuel economy and the clock simultaneously, you’re out of luck. A clock seems like a basic and necessary piece of equipment in a car, and I just can’t figure out why Toyota would sacrifice a full-time clock on the Corolla’s dashboard.

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