The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Toyota Corolla has always been, and still is, “a solid, durable, and, above all, affordable” family sedan. This sporty 2009 XRS edition delivers decent power, handling, and braking. But if you choose all the options, the total cost comes to just $8,000 less than a Mercedes-Benz C300 sports sedan. That’s a lot for a “sportified version of one of the world’s best-selling econo-cars” that’s essentially a standard Corolla with cosmetic differences.

If you’re looking for excitement, “save your money and go elsewhere.” Toyota has sold 30 million Corollas since 1966, and obviously didn’t want to tinker with a winning formula. But complacency is rarely a good thing. Our test model was plagued by rough rides, numb steering, and a foul-smelling catalytic converter. The extra-cost electronic gauges “were fine at night” but hard to see in daylight.

Car and Driver
The XRS does many things. It’s faster to 60 mph than a standard Corolla, and it stops faster, too. “It has more roll stiffness, a firmer suspension,” and even looks more aggressive. Unfortunately, it’s missing one key ingredient, “and that’s fun.” The XRS has absolutely no personality. “It goes about its business in a matter-of-fact fashion.” If you want high-performance thrills, buy a Volkswagen GTI instead.