Corolla bang for your buck

Without the Corolla, Toyota might not be where it is today — Number One worldwide.

Without the Corolla, Toyota might not be where it is today — Number One worldwide.

Since 1967, more than 1,125,061 Corolla’s have been sold in Canada alone.

Now in its 10th generation, the Corolla is built in 16 plants around the world including here in Canada in Cambridge, Ont., where the 2010 model is rolling off the line. In fact, Cambridge is the second largest Corolla plant on the planet.

And Cambridge had a part of play in the design of this significant vehicle.

It might not sound like much, but Canadian input included making sure the footwell pedal spacing could accommodate winter boots and that the door pockets could hold a variety of sizes of ice scrapers.

This extended to making sure the same pockets could accommodate personal electronics like cellphones and the larger PDAs used in North America. And, lastly, the door cupholders had to be big enough to hold a Tim’s or Slushie.

There are four models starting with the base CE, the mid-trim level S, the near-luxury equipped LE and the sporty XRS. All but the XRS get a 1.8-litre, DOHC inline four-cylinder producing 132 hp and 128 lb/ft of torque with a choice of a standard five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic on the CE and S with the automatic standard on the LE.

Tested here is the CE with automatic transmission with a fuel consumption rating of 7.6L/100 km city and 5.7L/100 km highway which equates to 37 mpg in the city and 50 mpg on the highway. The manual is marginally better at 7.5/5.6L/100 km city/highway.

In common with most new cars there days, the 2010 Corolla is much bigger in flesh than it looks on websites or in brochures. With an overall length of 4,540 mm (178.7 in) and a wheelbase of 1,465 mm (102.4 in) the Corolla is well and truly pushing the outer limits as a “compact” car.

The CE tested here has a base price of $16,160, the four-speed automatic adding $1,000.

So what can you expect from a sub-$20,000 car?

Fuel economy was already mentioned but the engine itself is a marvel of technology with dual variable valve timing, fuel injection, direct ignition and even a fly-by-wire throttle system with intelligence. The latter looks at speed, fuel consumption and load and works out the best way to optimize power with efficiency while limiting emissions.

Even though this is a base car, it doesn’t feel cheap. The cloth seats are comfy and supportive at the same time and large enough for ample-sized persons such as myself.

The three-spoke steering wheel has both telescope and tilt; pretty good for a sub-$20,000 car.

There is a difference between an inexpensive car and a cheap car and buyers known the difference.

It’s not so much a secret of Toyota’s success, but a core philosophy and why the Corolla remains so popular, not just here in Canada, but around the world.

2010 Toyota Corolla CE
Type: Compact sedan
Price: Base, $16,169, as tested $19,335
Engine: 1.8-litre, four-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC
HP/Torque: 132 hp, 128 lb/ft

• Affordable
• Compact car with space
• Good fuel economy

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