Toyota Corolla – 2009 First Drive: Dynasties come and go – in sports, business and politics – but there’s a common element among all of them: consistency. Those at No. 1 don’t change things on a whim. Nor do they take risks. Adjustments are reserved for an actual threat. While the runners-up take chances, try to create new trends or attempt some razzle-dazzle to gain ground, the No. 1 practices its own version of watchful waiting.
In the nebulous world of automotive marketing, perception, features and price drive sales. Such is the case with the Toyota Corolla, the best-selling passenger car in history – a title it has held for 10 years. But it isn’t that way because Corolla was always the best, cheapest or most loaded car out there. Perception plays a large part, and in this case that perception is about the “safe” choice. Not necessarily safe in the crash test sense, though that’s a consideration, but safe in that intangible belief that picking Corolla means nothing will go wrong. It’s what a great many people want and need a car to be. Despite that definition shifting from time to time, Toyota has kept pace enough to keep Corolla No. 1.
To keep that streak going with the newest generation 2009 Corolla, Toyota has made several changes. Antilock brakes and six airbags are now standard on all trim levels, and the higher-performance XRS model is returning. The S, unfortunately, remains an offshoot of the base model with no performance enhancements. Also new this year is the availability of a navigation system on the S, XLE and XRS. Those top three trim levels can be equipped with Bluetooth wireless, while every audio system has an auxiliary jack. All good additions to a basically good car, but nothing risky has been added, subtracted or changed. So, No. 1 is still a safe choice.
The Corolla’s origins go back nearly 40 years. The 2009 model is the 10th generation of a car that has outsold all others worldwide: According to Toyota, more than 30 million have been produced.