Toyota chose this week's SEMA show to unveil their all-new 2009 Corolla compact sedan and Matrix compact wagon, which will go on sale next February. (For those not familiar, SEMA is the Specialty Equipment Market Association. The SEMA show is basically the Mecca of automotive customization, and a place where auto manufacturers often reveal custom show cars. Introducing a production model at SEMA is unusual -- and rather interesting.)
So let's talk about the cars. For enthusiasts, the big news is that the hot-rod XRS versions of both the Corolla and Matrix will return. While the old Corolla XRS and Matrix XRS used souped-up version of the Corolla's 1.8 liter four-banger, the new versions get some real teeth -- the 2.4 liter engine found in several other Toyotas including the 2008 Scion xB. It makes less horsepower than the old XRS, but a lot more torque. Very promising.
Styling-wise, the new Corolla reminds me a lot of the current Corolla with the addition of styling cues from the Yaris sedan. It's conservative, but I like it. As for the Matrix... Well, I can't say that I'm a fan. The proportions are odd -- especially when viewed from the rear -- and the wheels look too small. It kind of reminds me of a cross between the Suzuki Aerio hatch and the 2001 Hyundai Tiburon. Maybe it'll look better in person.
Take a closer look at the new Matrix and Corolla:
What do you think of the new look? Click the "comments" link below and share your thoughts. -- Aaron Gold
Photos © Toyota