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by Tim Beissmann

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