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The Toyota Corolla has been given a facelift in time for the new year, but the most important changes are beneath the skin.

All new-look hatch models now come with electronic stability control (ESC) and traction control as standard and a minimum of four airbags.

Corolla Ascent and Levin SX models get front and side airbags, while the Levin ZR and Conquest models score seven airbags (front, side, curtains and driver’s knee).


The Ascent sedan remains the least well appointed, with just front airbags standard and side airbags and traction control optional.

Curtain airbags and ESC are not available as options.


The higher-spec Conquest and Ultima sedans both come with traction control and ESC as well as six airbags.

Visually the new hatch looks sharper thanks to tinted headlights and a remodelled bumper, but still retains the family resemblance with a broader grille and lower-air intake similar to the Prius.

The taillights and rear bumper have also undergone minor changes to suit the car’s more pointed, sporty styling.


The Conquest and Levin hatches get new 16-inch alloys, premium steering wheel with audio and other controls and a six-CD changer with a 4.3-inch TFT screen.

Audio equipment has been improved across the range with MP3/iPod/USB/Bluetooth all compatible and all standard, while the usual upgrades to the look and feel of interior trims and surfaces are also evident.

A flat-bottomed steering wheel, two fresh exterior colours (Levin SX and ZR) and an LED shift illumination display (ZR only) round out the changes.


Pricing (not including dealer delivery or statutory charges):

  • Manual hatch
    • Ascent $21,740 (+ $300 on previous model)
    • Conquest $24,500 (- $1000)
    • Levin SX $25,690 (+ $190)
    • Levin ZR $28,900 (- $1090)
2009 Toyota Corolla Seca Review
2009 Toyota Corolla Review


    Front is OK back is ugly and needs a 5 speed auto!

    • Golfschwein

      Does it really only have a 4 speed?

      • ABMPSV

        Yes only 4 speed that is why I personally would not buy Corolla. Today nearly everybody got min 5 speed auto.

        • http://aca Shane

          While i am not defending the Corolla for it’s 4-speed auto and agree it should atleast be a 5-speed – many of it’s competitors however are also laboured with a 4-speed auto and they include the Nissan Tiida, Hyundai I30, Kia Cerato, Subaru Impreza RX and the Ford Focus.

          My reference however is about 6 months old that may be different now and so i welcome any corrections / updates.

          * WHEELS July 2009 Small Car Mega Test.

          • Shak

            Correct, the only ones without a 4 speeder are the Golf and Cruze

          • Andrew M

            Lancer and mazda3 dont have 4 speed either.
            Focus also has a 6sp auto in its range on Diesel, but not standard, prob fair enough call on that

          • Tim

            The lack of a 5 spd auto isn’t a problem if you go for the 6 speed manual!

    • Wheelnut

      Looks like a Citroen C2 x’ed with an Audi A3

  • Shak

    The upgrades are good but it still looks like melted plastic.

  • D

    Toyota has done a good job of making another ugly car even uglier

  • Neil

    Like so many Toyota “facelifts”, the updated model ends up looking worse than the model it replaces. At least ESP is now standard.

    • Shak

      not across the range like its competitors.

  • Mitch

    whats with the weird squares on the rear, near the bottom.

    • Wheelnut

      I’d say they’re reflectors.. because several countries have Design Regulations which state that the back of a car must be somewhat reflective – mainly for safety reasons when driving at night.

  • davie

    With the exception of the 4 speed auto option, I believe toyota has answered criticism of the few issues that the hatch actually had.

    The rear styling is a bit fussy though.

    Overall this now seems like quite a convincing car to buy for the value minded motorist who wants a golf like vehicle with japanese origin

    • Shak

      this aint anywhere near the Golf quality.

      • Mark

        LOL, the previous gen5 Golf being made in South Africa was known for its poor quality. According to the JD Power Quality report, the Golf quality was way below that of Toyota Corolla.

        • Golfschwein

          What should mine have done by now, Mark?

          • Mark

            What do you mean ?

        • winD

          Mark there is a different between poor quality or poor reliability.

          Toyota had a very poor quality/Craftmanship (cheap feel plastic everywhere), where the golf uses higher level quality of material as you see them on Audis, Mercedes, or bmw.

          Golf May not be the most reliable car but it is way more fun to drive.

          So As a petrolhead I choose the Golf Any-day.

          • Mark

            WinD, I agree with you. The Golf is one of the best drive in the hatch category. The Golf might have higher quality materials, but it is not assembled together as well as the Corolla and certainly does not have the long term reliability of the Corolla.

            I have test driven the various Golfs many times. One of the thing stopping me from buying the Golf was the quality/reliability of the previous gen5 South African made Golf.

            The other problem with the Golf is the driver’s seat, the are not ergonomical. They are too long, highly inclined and there are no incline adjustment. This makes it very uncomfortable for people with short legs like myself. Very poor design.

            Now that the gen6 Golf is made in Germany, you will have to wait and see if the quality/reliability has improved. But the seat design is still the same as the old one.

          • winD

            Hi Mark,

            I had 2005 GTI mk 5, with no issue (not even a squeak or rattle) Maybe i was lucky.
            Even my 09 Mk5 golf r32 had a centre console rattle already, so I thought build quality ain’t that bad. And to mention the engine was build from Audi and it is Over engineer (they are build to LAST) and they won alot of engine of the year.
            Especially the 2.0 Litre turbo TFSI.

            The seat as you mention, you could be right ( as I don’t know the base model feel like), but the GTI and R32 equipped with one of the best Seat on the market (they are Recaro yet very hugging and comfortable).

            Volkswagen Golf (especially the 6th Gen) are not comparable to Toyota corolla anymore from any aspect:

            1. The Engine has more power, more economic, more green (1.4 turbo), more reliable (german over-engineering – Only Bmw engineering or merc can match this), and more smooth.

            2. Handling – full independent suspension vs non independent (nothing else there to point it out)

            3. Quality – It has touches of Audi build quality, very nice and feel very Expensive. And again it is not comparable

            4. Ride – It has the most refined ride on its class (It even had a thin layer of sound insulation on its windows)

            Overall Golf had an easy win over corolla.

  • Valet Dabess

    awh man wtf is wrong wht car manufacturers now… holden makes the e2 series and they look worse then the origionals, now toyota is facelifting and they look worse the the origionals too

  • gary

    I have to say I miss new astra a lot more after reading this post.

  • Yonny

    Toyota only moves years after all the others… Only Ford is as tardy when it comes to adding safety equipment as standard. And both are years behind Hyundai.

    Can’t wait for the standard fitment of ESP and side/curtain airbags. At least then you’ll be able to buy the base model of whatever it is you fancy and not have to special-order the vital safety options. Mitsubishi, I’m looking at you. Have you tried to find an ES Lancer with the optional safety pack? Very hard to find – but the RX model with rear wing and alloys are all over the place. Each to their own, I suppose, but I’d rather have the extra airbags than alloy wheels.

    • mmmmmmm

      when I inquired about an Lancer ES with the safety pack, the salesman laughed and asked how many months I was prepared to wait. He claimed to have never even seen one.

      • Yonny

        The salesman I spoke to said there wasn’t a single one (Lancer ES with safety pack) in the whole of NSW. He located 2 in Victoria, and 1 in Adelaide, and I was looking at a 2 to 3 week wait – or at least so he said! Now I’m wondering how long I would really have waited if I had ordered one.

        I was ready to buy last week – if they’d had one on site I’d have bought it. But I’ve never waited for a new car, and never will. Cars at this price point are basically commodity items and if I can’t get what I want from manufacturer A, I’ll go to manufacturer B.

      • tekkyy

        well thats the problem with imported cars isn’t it

        with the locally assembled car, the factory just make them according to demand

    • Andrew M

      Ford Tardy when it comes to adding safety equipment??

      Well in the aussie made stakes they were the first to gain 5 stars, and they still remain the safest.

      In the imported Euro container the Mondeo has a mountain of kit in it, and safety certainly isnt neglected

      • Yonny

        I was thinking more of the Focus, and the Fiesta. Stability control isn’t standard on either one, at the base model level.

  • pg

    just saw this yesterday, and i was about to take a photo of it, but then realised that i was about to take a photo of a corolla [non-ae86], and imediatley ran

  • http://caradvice.com.au V DUBBED

    And this is supposed to compete with Volkswagon Golf ha ha that’s funny. That’s all i have to say.

  • Frosty (back in Australia)

    Seen this updated model everyday for he last 5 weeks whilst I was in Thailand except the sedan also had indicators in the wing mirrors as well. The rear end on the sedan there has L.E.D brakelights. Funilly enough the Corolla is very popular there but I would say 99% of them over there are Fleet Taxi’s so without them I would say the Corolla is a very poor seller with more other types of cars on the road. Also encountered Hybrid Camry’s over there and V6 Camry’s which funilly enough look like the Aurium as well as 4 cylinder Camry’s that also look like the Aurium. I know most of us know the truth but Toyota still claim that the Aurium ia a Large car to compete with the Commodores and Falcons. Toyota may actually be guilty of missleading advertising claiming this. Saw many, many cars over there which have been slated to come to Australia in the next few years. Oh the Camry Hybrid did not look like a Aurium and looks exactly the same as photos of the Australian produced one. Whats the bet the one built here will be a CKD car assembled here with not one part being Australian.

    • Andrew M

      Corolla Taxis in Thailand???
      Well havent they moved on since I was last there from the Tuk-Tuks

      • mark

        frosty, do your research, toyota has a near 50% market share in thailand! and also in reguards to your comments on the fact their camry looks like the aurion…… well really! our camry is the same as the US and the rest of the world has the aurion shape as their camry. also alot of the whole large car claim comes from engine output! im not defending them just stating the fact.

  • Pacific

    Hey I just took the pictures of this new facelift Corolla (private car). Check these links:


    • Andrew M

      You must have felt like a nerd pulling a camera out over a Corolla…..

      • My Cars Called T-Rex


    • Mark

      Not too bad looking.

  • Pacific

    Still ugly

  • Hung Low

    This face lift will ensure that the Cruze sales will increase!
    Are they designing with braille these days?

    • Shak

      They cant increase, theres nothing to sell them.. Cruze waiting lists are backed up so far im surprised Holden dont freeze sales for a couple of months to try and get excess stock.

    • Devil’s Advocate

      Or even increase the sales of the nation’s no 1 selling private car, the one with an even uglier (in many eyes) facelift that still seems to be selling well, the Mazda 3…

      On a side note Hung Low, fleets don’t really care how a car looks… 😉

  • Jono

    Civic also doesn’t have a 4 speed auto. It has a 5 speed like the rest of the Honda range.

  • Neo Utopia

    For the highest selling car in the world Toyota obviously doesn’t care as much about how attractive many of their cars are (to the Caucasian eye), just the price and reliability to win contracts. For this intention this car makes sence to me, however for people to drive it for personal use and get a sence of enjoyment just bewilders me! Also, is it just me or the Golf 6 now seems pretty good value compared to this and similar, comparing all of the features of the Golf and not just the obvious ones of course.

  • Brad

    Seen the Golf mentioned more than a few times lately. Also seems to be ranking highly (or top) in a lot of reviews recently. I’m assuming VW has pulled up their game when it comes to reliability/repair costs since it doesn’t seem to come up in the reviews?

    That seemed to be one of most common complaints when it came to VW. Just wondering since I’m shopping about for a small car atm.

    • Eh

      VW has lifted their game in the past few years. I recently bought a Golf GTI and it is quite well made and put together. But like all continental cars – you will get a lemon from time to time or a Friday afternoon sample.

      Main complaints are creaks and queaks from the trim after a while. Some others have had problems with the DSG transmission but VW has been good at addressing issues. The DSG transmission is well worth the price of entry.

      Servicing costs are reasonable if you consider that service intervals are 15000kms instead of 7500.

      • Devil’s Advocate

        Eh, most cars now-a-days have service intervals of 15,000+km with some, like Subaru and Mazda, still in the “dark ages” with intervals of 10,000km. Then there is BMW for example that have up to 30,000km between servicing depending on model. So VW aren’t anything special in that department and service intervals is not the argument that it used to be. There aren’t many cars any more that have service intervals of 7500km.

  • Car Enthusiast

    I got 1 Simple Question,

    How the hell does Toyota keep managing to make its cars even uglier?

    And this isn’t just limited to the corrolla, almost all of their cars are ugly.

    I’m supprised they’re still selling.

    • Brad

      Dunno, I don’t think the front looks bad but the back could probably do with some improvement. I reckon the Megane is uglier – the rear end on that is ugh. Not overally excited by the i30 rear end either.

      Each to their own.

    • the enthusiast

      car enthusiast “i use that word very very loosly” if the toyota range is ugly what do you call anything from nissan, subaru, mazda 3&6,anything from vw, bmw 3 series & 5 series,anything from hyundai, holden barina , anything from daewoo, proton? you have to be joking right!

      • Car Enthusiast

        The Enthusiast,

        Its one thing to make an ugly car once or twice, and another thing to keep making ugly cars.

        – Nissan sure currently not all their cars are good looking, but prior to that they had some half decent cars.

        – Subaru pre-Toyota ownership had some good looking cars, liberty in particular. But since Toyota has brought them, their current cars have slowly been getting uglier.

        – Mazda, ill give u the bennefit of the doubt and let u call the current Mazda 3 a little ugly, everything else is pretty ok.

        – VW the only ugly car currently selling and im suprised they still sell it, The Bettle.

        – BMW, the 5 series GT, and X6, as for the rest of their cars they’re slightly ugly but not that bad, but once again prior to that the previous gen BMW not bad looking at all.

        – Barina, we’ll let u call the back of that thing ugly.

        – Daewoo, no longer selling in the Aussie market.

        – Proton, most of their Current cars are ugly.

        By the way dnt forget the Mother of ugly ducklings in the AUTOMOTIVE WORLD,
        – Ssangyong.

        My point is this, in the last 30 years almost, their has only been about 4 good looking Toyotas that got sold in the Aussie market.

        1993 – 1999 Toyota Supra
        1991 – 1996 Toyota MR2
        1990 Toyota celica (pop up headlight version)
        and the good old Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno

    • Mark

      Ugly is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Eh

    The front looks better now but they have gone and stuffed up the back. One step forward two steps back. But overall it is still ugly.

    I’m currently driving the pre-facelifted model with an Auto transmission – an Avis Hire Car with 40Ks on the clock. Colour me surprised – the damn thing is quite a nice drive. I have recently test driven the Focus, Fiesta, Civic and Colt, this Ascent isn’t half bad.

    Really good frontal and rear vision despite the large A-pillars. The rear view mirrors covers the blind spots really well too.

    Pretty well built compared to the competition -Plastics quality and fit/finish is way better than the Seth Efrikan Built Focus and on par with the Thai sourced Civic.

    Body panels and paint quality is also pretty good for the price of the car. Car feels well put together. Good NVH levels too, external and road noise is well damped and one doesn’t need to turn up the stereo to high to hear details in the music. Seats are comfy and the fabric is of a decent quality for the price the car is sold at. Interior is nice an roomy. The boot space is limited though in the hatch and for it’s size.

    Power steering is nicely weighted with enough feedback and handling is surpisingly good for a city car (not great but better than the competition). Brakes are spongy though and requires too much pedal travel before they bite.

    Fuel Economy is pretty good and it puts out enough power that the auto trans isn’t slow. Throttle response is good enough that I am able to switch lanes in fast traffic w/o having to worry about causing an accident.

    All in all – a surprisingly enjoyable car to drive but ugly as hell. I wouldn’t buy one. But I can see why it is a favourite with the Grannies, Young chicks and rental companies.

  • talk then think

    Can’t believe this s*** is worth more than my car brand new.

  • john a

    this looks like the model thats been avbl in indonesia for the last 3 years,why did it take so long to get to aus?

    • Andrew M

      Im sure plenty could explain the delay

      The boat broke down……

      Either that or they too had the boat parked off of Indonesia not coming to port till the government offered the cars free refuge.
      Perhaps they threatened to throw a few of the smaller cars over board so the government has now given them the nod to dock????

      Or maybe, just maybe Super Amart has won the contract to import them hence why it takes 3 years to get them just like a coffee table………

    • Andrew M

      You think they are being slow with the corolla…..

      When the “all new” Avalon debuted here, it was already 5 years old.

  • http://Caradive jordan


  • vid_ghost

    Nice car, i’m wondering what the next model change will look like.. facelifts are a little meh…

  • http://www.car-addicts.com ColdFire

    i’m not a big fan of facelift models, i don’t see the point of doing these , it’s a waste of time and money when they could do new models

  • buffy

    We ordered the new release Corolla Conquest, was told by salesman it came in Tidal blue, so was the only reason why we ordered. Then got a phone call later that week saying sorry we made a mistake only the Ultima came in tidal blue!!

    So seems like the some salespeople don’t even know what they are doing with the new release!! Why order them if they aren’t sure of the details themselves!! They said the info on the computer systems were incorrect. I was able to find out more on the new range in one minute on the internet, then the salespeople knew and they sell the cars!! Why can’t the colours come in all ranges of Corolla. The Corolla is one of the most reliable cars, any mechanic will tell you, and the RAC rated it one of the top in their reports.

    • Don

      It seems like your the one who doesn’t know what you’re doing. You actually ordered a corolla!?! Waste of money to be honest.

    • http://www.lebvoice.net Gudy

      I just ordered the conquest tidal blue hatchback yesterday, r u sure its not available in corolla’s?

  • Anthony

    I agree Don.
    Why would anyone choose a Corolla over a Volkswagen or Honda product.

  • Steve D

    I was made to buy one for our sons to drive (7 airbags for safety) – it’s an absolutely fugly car. But worse, I traded a 2001 corolla and the 2010 model is pathetic compared to the older better looking model. Far less storage space, boot on the hatch half the size of the 2001 model, very cramped inside the driver’s cabin, feels like driving a box with 4 wheels, absolutely no-where to put coins, CDs, and the two glove boxes are hard to reach and have minimal space. Assume it’s safer having the stability and traction controls but otherwise it’s slower and far less pleasant to drive – I miss our 2001 corolla big time. The speedometer is hard to read as is the orange illumated display which shows unintelligible useless info (eg average speed WTF ??). This new one is a total piece of KR@P !! As a hard core toyota buyer I hate it and am very disappointed!!

  • James

    My friends mum has the older model its awsome and it looks cool to. If was into little toyotas id get this or a Yaris.

  • Eunice

    I was fortunate to be in the position to finally buy my first brand new car and had always wanted a Toyota Corolla after 25 years of driving bad second hand cars. July 2010 I purchased a 2010 Toyota Corolla Conquest, it drives beautifully but only 2-3 months later my driver’s side window started to make a grinding sound when the window would downwards. My intelligence has never been so insulted, at the cars first service when I told them of the noise they said later they had ‘put oil down there’. This made it worse and next day returned car, after they looked at it (removed panel) they said it was ‘due to the weather’. I went to Toyota Dealer and had it booked in again, this time they returned it to me without realising they had not pressed firmly the door panel in so I returned it and the Manager thumped it back into place. The noise in window comes and goes, my fears of it returned has decided on me contacting Toyota again. It is booked in next week and I am demanding they replace window due to the scuff marks it has left on my drivers side car window. It is now 8-9 months new.