2005 Toyota Corolla XRS© Toyota Motor Corporation
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I have a 2005 Corolla XRS. Actually, it is one of the first of the XRS trim ever built. The factory build date is 04/04. This is by far the most fun Corolla you can buy. I know that people don't buy a Corolla just to have fun, but if you are going to drive, then you might as well enjoy it. I used to own a 1999 Acura Integra GSR. I sold that car in 2005 to purchase a new car and I have regretted it ever since. It was a fuel efficient and fun car to drive. Then along comes the opportunity to buy an '05 Corolla XRS. I did some research on it and found that the performance numbers were identical to the GSR. I had to have it. This car definitely meets my expectations. Sure it was more expensive than a couple other options out there, but here are some interesting facts that you can look up if you want. The insurance on this car was half as much as a Civic EX of the same year. Civics are one of the most stolen cars in America and they are frequently modified and wrecked by young drivers. Why would I want to pay more for insurance on a car that has more than 40 horsepower less than the XRS? If I'm going to pay more for insurance, then it better be a faster car. The same holds true for buying the SRT-4 Neon. Call it what you want, but it is still a neon with a turbo. It screams 'Boy Racer' and is a very poorly built car. How many of them to do you see out there on the roads still? Most of them have either been wrecked or stolen and parted out. The insurance is ridiculous on that car too. Don't even get me started about buying a Nissan. If I were President of the US, the first thing I'd do is make it illegal to even own one of those pieces of garbage. I hate Nissans. The Corolla XRS is the ultimate sleeper car. They only made 6000 of them, so it is really rare to see them. Most people don't even know the difference between the XRS and the S trim. Visually there is very little difference at all. The grille trim is body matched on the XRS. The XRS is a little lower and the wheels are an inch larger. Other than that and the badge on the back, you wouldn't be able to spot an XRS in a crowd. Interiors on the XRS stand out from the base models and the S model for sure. The two tone seats are very cool and the dash is the coolest of all. The steering wheel is the classic TRD three spoke design and definitely one of my favorite things about the whole interior. Seeing the six speed shifter there is also very exciting. The only downer of the whole interior is that the rear seat doesn't fold down, but I seriously can't think of a time in the last three years that I have wished that it would. The engine is where this car really shines. Sure there are rattles, but what car doesn't have rattles? Every car has them. Sure it revs high, but that is what I like about it. The extra power that kicks in high in the rev line is a lot of fun on on-ramps and when you want to play with how fast you can accelerate. The suspension upgrades make the handling really nice too. I'm just a normal guy who doesn't have a lot of high end cars to compare this to. Sure, if you compare the spirited driving experience of the XRS to a turbo 4 cylinder you will have a different experience, but that isn't why you buy the XRS. You buy it because you want a sleeper car that will hold its own against most of the rest of the cars in the same class out there on the road. This car has the balls to get you out of the way when you need to and to get you caught up to traffic when you want to. It blends in and disappears and it is absolutely forgettable. ...unless you are the one driving the car. Then the experience is much different and will redefine your expectations for compact NA four cylinder cars. Don't get this car confused with the latest monstrosity that is wearing the XRS badge these days. This car has 170 hp. The new XRS has 158 hp and just a five speed. There is little to differentiate the new XRS with the base models or the S trim other than a little more power and a couple painted pieces. The only XRS worth buying is the 05 and 06. If you can find one then you will have a chance to own a truely great car that is tons of fun to drive and one that won't have you worried about immature 'racers' wanting to test you at every stop light or have someone want to steal it for whatever reason. I'll never sell my XRS.
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