2009 Toyota Corolla XRS

Over the past three decades, the Toyota Corolla has become synonymous with basic, dependable transportation. Contrary to the chrome wheels, racy body cladding, and leather seating, this XRS model is just that - basic. The I-4 is adequately powerful and the five-speed automatic is smooth, but there's hardly a single feature on this test example that isn't offered (or bested) by a competitor.

That may prove problematic, as the compact car segment grows increasingly competitive here in North America. Honda's Civic has the Corolla out-classed in terms of both ride and interior quality, to say nothing of the mature Volkswagen Jetta and Mazda 3. Even Ford's Focus - which drives better than the Corolla - manages to entice buyers with the gadgets included with the Sync package, and the improved European model is expected to arrive in the next year or so.

For those looking for a compact Camry, the Corolla is the car of choice, but for those looking for some additional content or charm, there are plenty of competitors that offer both.

Evan McCausland, Web Producer

I don't think someone who "aspires to own a shiny new Toyota Prius...someday" would spend $24,000 on a Corolla (the lower models of Prius cost LESS than this Corolla)
Whoa! Those pictures were taken less than a mile from where I work.

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