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  • Pleasant & smooth drive, crisp instrumentation, roomy cabin
  • A touch pricey, asthmatic performance, conservatively styled

OUR RATING
6 / 10



2009 Toyota Corolla Review & Road Test
2009 Toyota Corolla Review & Road Test
by Matt Brogan

Corolling in ultimate style

Model Tested:

  • 2009 Toyota ZRE152R Corolla Ultima 1.8-litre, automatic, sedan – $31,990 (RRP)

Options:

  • Metallic Paint $350 (Fitted – Shimmer)

CarAdvice Rating:

A lot of people refer to the humble yet popular Corolla as “white goods” motoring which, if you are to take the glass half-full attitude, translates to a reliable, affordable and necessary piece of household equipment – not such a bad thing.

That being the case then in our push-button, touch-screen world it could well be said that the Corolla Ultima is indeed white goods motoring in the truest sense of the meaning – albeit with a stainless steel finish.

Though it might be viewed as conservative stylistically, the Corolla Ultima does set itself rightly at the top of the model range with a few subtle styling cues lending the upper spec sedan a little more class than its poorer siblings.

2009 Toyota Corolla Review & Road Test
2009 Toyota Corolla Review & Road Test
2009 Toyota Corolla Review & Road Test
2009 Toyota Corolla Review & Road Test


Handsome 16-inch alloy wheels with front and rear mudflaps, xenon-bulbed auto headlamps with washers and height adjustment, front fog lamps and chrome bright work under the side glass all do their bit in adding to the car’s overall appeal, without that is challenging convention or making any elitist statements.

Inside the roomy and well laid-out cabin you’ll find all the mod-cons you would expect of a top shelf small sedan including leather upholstery, leather wrapped tilt/slide steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, single-zone climate control, auto-dimming rear view mirror, rain sensing wipers, cruise control, smart card entry with push button starter, trip computer, power windows and mirrors and a six CD tuner with Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and auxiliary input.

The instrumentation, known as an ‘Optitron Combimetre’ in Toyota speak, is a stand-out item for me as it is very attractive, crisp, and informative while at the same time being simple to navigate. All ancillary controls too fall readily to hand providing no challenge to those who might be challenged by the whizz-bang equipment levels found in some similarly spec’ed rivals.

While the gadgetary offerings from the Corolla Ultima are indeed rewarding, the performance on hand is anything but, and while it’s certainly not the worst performing car I’ve driven in this category, the 1.8-litre VVTi four-cylinder it is a little asthmatic, especially with four adults on board.

Developing 100kW @ 6000rpm (and 175Nm @ 4400rpm) the written down figure isn’t really the issue, it’s the car’s ability to utilise the power effectively which is hampered primarily by a dated and slow to react four-speed automatic.

Although the transmission is very smooth of shift it is reluctant to kick-down in a timely manner meaning overtaking opportunities need to be a long planned affair. But should you intend a more leisurely, city-based role for your own Corolla Ultima this may not prove such an issue.

The ride is above average, comfortably settled yet not so firm as to be bothersome, and despite the torsion beam rear end (strut front), the Corolla Ultima manages fairly confident handling that is now assisted by ESP (or VSC in Toyota terms).

Add to this dual front, side, curtain and a driver’s knee airbag, as well as ABS with EBA and EBD, then it is a given the Corolla Ultima will achieve maximum points when next ANCAP tested (Corolla has not yet been tested with ESP – previous model scored 34.96 out of a possible 37 points to achieve five-stars).

Light but true steering feel somehow offers the driver an unremarkable level of feedback from the front wheels once at highway speeds while contrarily braking is sure and progressive with fade evident only after repeated excessive application.

An ample boot allows 450-litres of cargo to be carried with the seats up though this can be nearly doubled thanks to a 60:40 split fold back seat. The boot also houses a full-size (steel) spare wheel under the floor.

So while it may not get your heart racing in terms of looks or performance the Corolla Ultima is a pleasant and smooth drive with enough in the way of comfort and kit to keep you abreast of modern small-sedan motoring.

Were it a little cheaper the Corolla Ultima would have scored higher in our ratings but with Korea’s top-shelf rivals offering the same level of spec’ for much less coin it’s a worthy 3.5 wheels.

CarAdvice Overall Rating:
How does it Drive:
How does it Look:
How does it Go:

Specifications:

  • Engine: 1798cc DOHC four-cylinder (16 valve)
  • Power: 100kW @ 6000rpm
  • Torque: 175Nm @ 4400rpm
  • Induction: Multi-Point
  • Transmission: Four-speed automatic
  • Driven Wheels: Front
  • Brakes: Discs with ABS, EBA & EBD
  • Top Speed: 192km/h
  • 0-100km/h: 11.1 seconds
  • CO2 Emissions: 173 grams per kilometre
  • Fuel Consumption: 7.4 litres per 100km (ADR)
  • Fuel Consumption: 8.5 litres per 100km (As Tested)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 55 litres
  • Fuel Type: 91RON Petrol
  • ANCAP Rating: New model TBC (previously five-stars)
  • Airbags: Front, Side, Curtain & Driver’s Knee
  • Safety: ESP with Traction Control
  • Spare Wheel: 16-inch steel (Full Size)
  • Suspension: Strut (F) / Torsion Beam (R)
  • Cargo Capacity: 450 litres (Seats Up)
  • Tow Capacity: 1300kg (Braked)
  • Turning Circle: 10.4 metres
  • Warranty: Three Year / 100,000 kilometre
  • Weight: 1285kg (Tare)
  • Wheels: Alloy 16 x 6.5-inch


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TOYOTA COROLLA BREAKDOWN

2009 Toyota Corolla Review & Road Test
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Toyota Corolla Specs

ASCENT : ZRE152R : 1.8L MULTI POINT F/INJ - 4 SP AUTOMATIC - UNLEADED PETROL - 4D SEDAN
Car Details
Make
TOYOTA
Model
COROLLA
Variant
ASCENT
Series
ZRE152R
Year
2009
Body Type
4D SEDAN
Seats
5
Pricing
New Price
N/A
Private Sale
$8,250 - $9,380
Dealer Retail
$9,810 - $11,660
Dealer Trade
$6,600 - $7,500
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
MULTI POINT F/INJ
Engine Size
1.8L
Max. Torque
175Nm @  4400rpm
Max. Power
100kW @  6000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
76W/kg
Bore & Stroke
80.5x88.3mm
Compression Ratio
10
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
4 SP AUTOMATIC
Drive Type
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
4.237
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
55Litres
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.4L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1315
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1475mm
Length
4540mm
Width
1760mm
Ground Clearance
102mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1300  Unbrake:450
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.4
Front Rim Size
6x15
Rear Rim Size
6x15
Front Tyres
195/65 R15
Rear Tyres
195/65 R15
Wheel Base
2600
Front Track
1535
Rear Track
1532
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Lower control arm, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Trailing arm, Torsion bar, Coil Spring, Gas damper
Standard Features
Comfort
Air Conditioning
Control & Handling
Electronic Brake Force Distribution
Driver
Power Steering, Trip Computer
Entertainment
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Exterior
Power Mirrors
Interior
Cloth Trim, Power Windows Front
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Exterior
Metallic Paint
Safety
Safety Pack
Other
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Front Floor
Country of Origin
Japan