Used Car Review

2009 Toyota Corolla: Used Car Review

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Used 2009 Toyota Corolla LE
Used 2009 Toyota Corolla
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author photo by Ron Sessions December 2014

The 2009 Toyota Corolla received a major redesign, ushering in the 10th generation of the popular model. As always, the 2009 model is focused on low-cost operation, practicality, quality and refinement. This front-wheel-drive compact sedan is comfortable and easy to drive. While it's no Prius, the Corolla's base 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine offers decent fuel economy, with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 35 miles per gallon on the highway. A sporty XRS model with a 158-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, ground-effect bodywork and 17-inch alloy wheels adds some spice.

The 2009 Corolla is a good option for entry-level sedan buyers looking for a car that has no-nonsense value, comes with highly rated reliability, includes good resale value and is backed by Toyota's extensive parts and service network.

What We Like

Good fuel economy with the 1.8-liter engine; generous interior storage; minimal hump on rear-seat floor; safety systems; sharp handling of XRS model

What We Don't

Plain vanilla exterior; mushy handling of nonsport models; small trunk; lazy acceleration with 1.8-liter engine; vague steering

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

All Corollas are equipped with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is not available.

The 2009 Corolla has two different engine options. The base Corolla, S, LE and XLE are equipped with a 1.8-liter, double-overhead camshaft (DOHC) 16-valve 4-cylinder engine. Output is a modest 132 hp, and it develops 128 lb-ft of torque. It burns regular unleaded gas and has an EPA rating of 26 mpg city/35 mpg hwy with the standard 5-speed manual transmission, and 26 mpg city/34 mpg hwy with the optional 4-speed automatic.

The sporty Corolla XRS features a 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder, which produces 158 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. It also runs on regular unleaded and is EPA-rated at 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy with either the standard 5-speed manual or the available 5-speed automatic.

Standard Features & Options

The 2009 Corolla is available in base, S, LE, XLE and XRS trims. The base Corolla comes with air conditioning, a satellite-radio-ready 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, a split-folding rear seat, intermittent wipers, a rear defroster, a center armrest, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, an outside temperature gauge, power mirrors, manual door locks and window winders, 195/65 tires on 15-in steel wheels, anti-lock 4-wheel disc brakes, dual front airbags, front-seat side airbags and roll-sensing head-curtain airbags.

The S upgrades include larger 205/55 tires on 16-in steel wheels, color-keyed front and rear spoilers, fog lamps, front sport seats, a trip computer, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a chrome exhaust tip and a 6-speaker stereo. Options on Corolla S models include a leather-trimmed shifter and leather-trimmed seats.

The LE trim adds standard power windows and door locks, a 4-speed automatic transmission and color-keyed side mirrors. The LE is also available with optional 16-in alloy wheels, a tilt/slide sunroof and remote keyless entry.

Moving up to the XLE trim adds 205/55-16 tires, variable intermittent wipers, remote keyless entry, Optitron gauges, a center console with a sliding armrest, woodgrain interior accents and rear-seat storage pockets. A JBL 8-speaker stereo with a 6-disc CD changer, SiriusXM radio and a navigation system are options.

The sportiest Corolla is the XRS. In addition to a larger standard 2.4-liter engine, the XRS gains standard stability and traction control, cruise control, ground-effect side skirts, a rear spoiler, fog lamps, 215/45 tires wrapping 17-in alloy wheels, interior chrome accents, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, and a front strut tower brace.


The Toyota Corolla is synonymous with affordable, reliable transportation. Now in its 10th generation, the Corolla has developed a reputation for great value from both its customers and various quality-rating organizations. Clean, low-mileage models retain their resale value and command higher used-car prices. But supply is plentiful, as the Corolla has been a top-selling compact sedan in the U.S. for several decades.

For a better idea of the 2009 Corolla's price range, check out, then search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2009 Corolla:

The big one: The accelerator pedal linkage may become stuck in the depressed position or the pedal may be trapped by the floor mats, which may lead to high vehicle speeds and increased crash risk.

In very low temperatures, the power brake booster port may freeze, leading to increased pedal effort and longer stopping distances.

A damaged connector in the steering column may deactivate the driver's airbag, increasing crash injury risk.

The power window master switch may overheat and melt, posing a fire risk.

The load-carrying labels on some Corollas are incorrect. An overloaded vehicle has an increased crash risk.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car for free.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

The 2009 Toyota Corolla received a 4-star rating from NHTSA for frontal impacts, passenger-side impacts and rollovers, as well as a 5-star rating for driver-side impacts.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2009 Corolla a Good rating for side impacts, roof strength, head restraint, seat crash performance and moderate-overlap front impacts.

Toyota covered the 2009 Corolla with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion-perforation warranty.

Toyota certified pre-owned (CPO) cars can't have more than 85,000 miles on the odometer and must be 6 years old or less. Every CPO Corolla undergoes a 160-point inspection and gets a Carfax report. The Toyota CPO warranty covers the whole car, bumper-to-bumper, for one year or 12,000 miles, extends the original powertrain warranty to 7 years/100,000 miles, and includes a year of roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

2009 Honda Civic -- The Civic is as roomy and practical as the Corolla, but handles better, is more fuel efficient and is more stylish. Civic buyers can choose from a wider variety of models, including a hot, 197-hp Si sedan or a 46-mpg hwy Civic Hybrid.

2009 Hyundai Elantra -- Offering just a bit more bang for your buck than the Corolla, the Hyundai Elantra offers nicer interior amenities, and a roomier cabin and trunk. Hyundai's vaunted 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty is less of a deal for used-car buyers, however, as the coverage shrinks to 5 years/60,000 miles for second owners.

AutoTrader's Advice

As a new car, it may be plain and unexciting, but the good thing about buying a used Corolla is that there's probably a lot of durable and reliable service remaining for subsequent owners. There are no bad choices or models to avoid, but as usual, a reasonably well-equipped LE or XLE with power windows and door locks, better seat fabric and an up-level stereo will be both more livable for you and easier to sell when it's time to get something else. The 2009 Corolla did have quite a few safety recalls, including the major one involving a sticking accelerator pedal, so make sure the car you're looking at has had all of these performed. Also, when available, look for a certified pre-owned model.

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Used 2009 Toyota Corolla LE
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2009 Toyota Corolla: Used Car Review - Autotrader