Toyota Corolla Performance
The 2008 Corolla's smooth, reliable ride isn't exciting, but is good enough. Car and Driver says the Corolla isn't really fast or exciting to drive, but it is very predictable."
Acceleration and Power
Under the hood, the Corolla packs a 1.8-liter, 126-horsepower engine that puts out 122 pound-feet of torque. Kelley Blue Book calls it "peppy" and "one of the best in the industry," but the reviewer also finds that the Corolla "does struggle a bit in high elevations or with a carload of people onboard." Cars.com reports that the four-cylinder engine is "quiet, smooth and refined," but Consumer Guide calls it "disappointingly noisy."
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the engine is rated at 28 miles per gallon in the city and 37 on the highway with a manual transmission, and 26/35 city/highway with the automatic transmission -- a "minimal appetite for fuel," according to Kelley Blue Book.
Mixed reviews indicate that the Corolla has a split personality when it comes to acceleration. Auto Mall USA says the engine "delivers good acceleration performance," and About.com comments, "A light stab of the throttle gave me all the power I needed, with plenty left in reserve even when cruising the freeway at ten above the limit." Given that the Corolla's automatic transmission has only four speeds, that's high praise. However, others note that the Corolla is less than speedy. Car and Driver complains that "just keeping up on the Interstate requires a heavy foot -- and spurs." According to Edmunds, "the Corolla's acceleration is acceptable but nothing more."
BusinessWeek is one of the most vocal critics, complaining, "The Corolla is an unabashed economy car, and it drives like one." The reviewer claims that, despite reported acceleration of 0 to 60 miles per hour in nine seconds, the fastest the tested Corolla got was 10.1 seconds -- "much slower than the Honda Civic, with a 1.8-liter engine and automatic transmission."
The engine is paired with a standard five-speed manual overdrive transmission that reviewers say is on par with more expensive vehicles. A four-speed electronically controlled automatic overdrive transmission is optional. Cars.com praises both the "slick manual and auto transmissions." And, during any acceleration lags, the transmission adds a nice bonus: a shift logic function that helps hold a gear longer if driving conditions call for it.
Handling and Braking
While the Corolla's engine is perceived as so-so, reviewers find that it offers some zest in the handling department. About.com says the Corolla's behavior on twisty roads is "surprising," although "it stops short of being fun to drive." Cars.com comments that the Corolla "offers the sort of agile and predictable response you want should you have to suddenly swerve to avoid an accident." Automobile Magazine also heaps praise, noting, "The Corolla has to be one of the best handling front-wheel drive cars I've driven. It stops like a Porsche, and with no electronic driving aids it allowed me to enjoy driving again."
However, the Auto Channel feels differently, commenting, "On our cloverleaf freeway entrance the Corolla didn't feel like a car I wanted to push too hard," but also noting that "it got up to speed in plenty of time, which not all economy cars will do." Reviewers also find that while its handling remains a bit staid, the Corolla's controls respond pleasantly to the lightest touch: "Drive it with your fingertips, even at tire-squeal speeds," says Cars.com.
Reviewers are pleased with the Corolla's "excellent rack-and-pinion steering," which makes it "as close to a luxury car ride as any small economy sedan has ever offered," according to Edmunds. The 2008 Corolla utilizes an independent MacPherson strut front suspension, and a torsion beam rear suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars. Most reviewers, like Cars.com, have only minor complaints. "Though the taut suspension does little to filter out bumps and potholes, the Corolla is very maneuverable," the reviewer says. "The ride gets a bit choppy on the highway, with a lot of up and down suspension motions, but body roll is effectively controlled when cornering."