Toyota Corolla News
Corolla News | Corolla Picture Gallery | Corolla Reviews | Corolla Specs

 Index / Toyota Corolla News / Toyota Corolla






What do people think
about Toyota Corolla ?
Adequate power with the 5spd
Quiet ride (you'll be breaking speeding laws and not even know it).
Smooth suspension
Engine is very refined
Fuel economy
Interior space
Cargo space
Styling
A lot of car for your money...

Pictures from
Picture Gallery
1998
1998 toyota corolla
1997
1997 toyota corolla
1996
1996 toyota corolla
1995
1995 toyota corolla
1994
1994 toyota corolla
1993
1993 toyota corolla
1992
1992 toyota corolla
1991
1991 toyota corolla
1990
1990 toyota corolla
1989
1989 toyota corolla
1988
1988 toyota corolla
1987
1987 toyota corolla
1985
1985 toyota corolla
1979
1979 toyota corolla

    
Toyota Corolla

Lately the marketing types of the world have been calling it "brand equity," but in the real world it's always been plain old reputation. Carmakers don't get a good reputation just by showing up, they develop one over years by delivering either great or lousy products, treating customers right or like cattle and building cars people either want or ignore. Great word of mouth is a manufacturer's best asset, while a lousy rep is almost impossible to overcome.

No manufacturer is better known for building stalwart, reliable cars than Toyota. And the car that built that reputation was the Corolla.

Just about everyone seems to have a Corolla in their past. Maybe it was the beater you drove through high school, never once changing the oil, cleaning the interior or asking the squirrels to move from their nest in the trunk. Perhaps it was the first new car you bought with just 60 easy payments, or the car your grandmother drove when she decided to simplify her life in retirement. Corollas have been practically ubiquitous and never terribly exciting.

Except for the Land Cruiser, the Corolla name is the oldest in Toyota's current inventory of American products. It's also the first car Toyota made in America. And with over 30 million Corollas sold worldwide, it's the most popular car line in history.

First Generation (1968-1969)

Extreme simplicity was at the core of the first Corolla's engineering. Introduced during 1966 in Japan, the first Corolla came to the United States in the summer of 1968 riding on a 90-inch wheelbase in two-door coupe, four-door sedan and two-door wagon body styles. It was the smallest car Toyota had sold in America up until that time. A 60-horsepower, 1.1-liter overhead valve four-cylinder mounted longitudinally in the engine bay sent power to a four-speed manual transmission and then to a solid rear axle. An automatic transmission wasn't yet on the options list.

The first Corolla's unibody structure had a strut front suspension and mounted the rear axle on a pair of leaf springs. There was nothing sophisticated about the first Corolla and it wasn't pretty, but it was so simple that there were almost no parts to break.

Toyota worked hard through the '60s to overcome the then common perception that Japanese products were shoddy. And cars such as the compact Corona did an effective job of making that point. The Corolla, with prices starting under $1,700, showed that even when Toyota built a smaller, cheaper car, quality didn't suffer.

Second Generation (1970-1974)

As good a car as the first Corolla was, it was really too small and underpowered for North American tastes. The second Corolla showed up for the 1970 model year with a wheelbase stretched to 91.9 inches and power coming from a new 1.2-liter version of the OHV four making 73 horsepower. The strut front and leaf spring rear suspension carried forward.

Slight though the nearly two-inch wheelbase stretch may seem, and with minimal styling changes, the 1970 Corolla was a significantly more comfortable and confident machine than the '69 version, and an automatic transmission was now offered to widen its appeal. It quickly became the second best-selling car on the planet.

The Corolla got even better during the 1971 model year as the engine grew to 1.6 liters and output expanded to 102 horsepower. The grille was redesigned for the 1972 model year, becoming fussier to no great aesthetic advantage. There were few changes for either 1973 or 1974 other than larger bumpers to accommodate federal regulations and the introduction of sporty SR5 models with five-speed manual transmissions.

Third Generation (1975-1978)

Rather bizarrely styled, the 1975 Corollas featured a raised center section in the grille that carried back to more angular bodies. But then again, a lot of cars from the '70s were bizarrely styled.

A total of five Corolla models was available for 1975. The price leader, a two-door sedan powered by a 1.2-liter engine, was joined by a four-door sedan, a two-door hardtop, a sport-oriented SR5 hardtop and a five-door station wagon ?? all powered by the 1.6-liter four. The standard transmission in all models, except the SR5, was a four-speed manual. A five-speed manual was again standard in the SR5 and optional in the other Corollas. A three-speed automatic was also available. Emissions standards were stiffening during the mid-'70s and a catalytic converter was included in the '75 Corolla for the first time.

A new three-door hatchback was added to the Corolla line for 1976. Called the "Liftback" by Toyota, it looked a bit like a sporty two-door station wagon instead of a traditional fastback or economy car like a Ford Pinto. With a split fold-down rear seat, Toyota hoped the Liftback would account for up to 30 percent of Corolla sales in the United States.

Also introduced for '76, and sharing its front-end styling with the Liftback, was a new Corolla Sport Coupe in both standard and SR5 configurations. The fastback styling of the Sport Coupe gave Toyota a sporty car to sell that was slightly less expensive than the larger Celica.

Front-end styling of the sedans and wagons was modified for 1977 with a more conventional grille but these were never particularly attractive cars; they were overwrought in their details and undistinguished in their shapes. But they seemed to run forever.

The third-generation Corolla played out its life virtually unchanged during the 1978 model year.

Fourth Generation (1979-1983)

With a new chassis, the 1979 Corolla was a more sophisticated and satisfying car than any Corolla before it. But before this generation was through, it would get better still.

The 1979 Corolla finally dispensed with the rugged but primitive leaf spring rear suspension in favor of a more compliant coil spring system (the station wagon continued to use the leaves). The new unibody above that suspension was larger (the wheelbase was now 94.5 inches), stronger and more attractive in a boxy, clean-cut sort of way. A new 75-horsepower, 1.8-liter version of the OHV four powered the new Corolla with four- and five-speed manual and three-speed automatic transmissions available.

Particularly attractive during this generation was the SR5 in Sport Coupe, Hatchback and Liftback semiwagon configurations. With their effective use of detailing, they looked more expensive than they actually were.

While the 1980 and 1981 Corolla lines carried over from 1979 intact, in 1982 the automatic transmission was upgraded to a four-speed unit ?? a rare level of sophistication for an economy car of the era.

The big Corolla news for 1983 was a new 1.6-liter overhead cam engine that was both smoother and more powerful than the previous 1.8. But it was only a hint of what was to come next.

Fifth Generation (1984-1987)

Toyota finally succumbed to the emerging front-drive orthodoxy of the '80s with the introduction of the front-drive Corolla sedan for 1984. However, the SR5 Coupe and Liftback and the station wagon continued atop the previous-generation Corolla's rear-drive chassis.

The front-drive Corolla was as conventional as it had been in a rear-driver layout. The same 1.6-liter, SOHC engine used in the rear-drive Corolla sat transversely in the front-driver's engine bay feeding either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The rear was held up on coil springs. A few early fifth-generation front-drive Corollas were powered by a four-cylinder diesel.

Midway through the 1984 model year, the rear-drive Corolla coupe and Liftback were offered with a new dual-overhead cam, 16-valve version of the 1.6-liter four rated at a robust 124 horsepower. The resulting Corolla GT-S is now a classic of sorts, a highly tossable, fun-to-drive vehicle that has attracted a cult following of "drifters" who slide their vehicles through corners as a motorsport form in Japan. This DOHC engine, along with the front-drive Corolla's five-speed transaxle, also served as the drivetrain in the midengine MR2, which came to America in early 1985.

Through 1985 and 1986, the Corolla lineup stayed pretty much intact. Then in 1987 a new front-drive Corolla "FX" coupe was introduced. Produced at the NUMMI joint venture production plant in California (run by both Toyota and General Motors), the FX was a conventional hatchback in the Volkswagen Rabbit mold and was available with either the SOHC or DOHC, 1.6-liter engine. When equipped with the DOHC engine, it was known as the FX16. The FX also marked the start of Corolla production in North America.

Sixth Generation (1988-1992)

With the 1988 redesign, the rear-drive Corolla coupe and Liftback were replaced with a new front-drive coupe. While enthusiasts wept, the new Corolla coupe and Corolla GT-S were in fact significantly more refined and capable than the rear-drivers they replaced. They just weren't as much fun.

More conservatively styled than the ultraboxy fifth-generation sedan, the sixth-generation sedan was now built at both the NUMMI plant in California and in Japan, while the coupes and wagons came only from Japan. The station wagon was available with either front-wheel drive or full-time All-Trac all-wheel drive. Trim levels were base DX and better-equipped LE for the sedan, DX and SR5 for the wagon and SR5 and GT-S for the coupe. The FX hatchback was still part of the mix, though it was discontinued after a year.

The sixth-generation Corolla was built using the same 95.6-inch wheelbase as the fifth, but it was almost an inch wider. A slightly different version of the Corolla body (sold in Japan as the Sprinter) with identical mechanical pieces would be built at the NUMMI plant and branded the Geo Prizm. Sedans, coupes and front-drive wagons rode on a fully independent strut suspension, while the All-Trac wagons retained a solid rear axle with coil springs.

All engines were DOHC, 16-valve inline four-cylinders ?? the sedans, front-drive wagon and SR5 coupe got a carbureted 90-hp motor; the All-Trac wagons got a fuel-injected 100-hp version and the GT-S won the day with a 115-hp EFI version. Transmission choices were familiar ?? a standard five-speed manual with the option of a three- or four-speed automatic, depending on the trim level. Thirteen-inch wheels were standard, though the GT-S got 14-inch wheels, as well as four-wheel disc brakes and a six-way adjustable driver seat with sport bolstering. Otherwise, equipment levels on the sixth-generation Corolla were a bit spartan by today's standards as most conveniences, like air conditioning, power steering, dual outside mirrors and a stereo, were optional.

There were no changes for 1989, except for the addition of an All-Trac sedan to the lineup; it lasted only a year. All Corollas benefited from fuel injection in 1990, and the base engine was now rated for 102 hp. Meanwhile, the GT-S enjoyed a significant bump in horsepower ?? now measured at 130 ?? and five additional lb-ft of torque for a total of 105. In addition, an entry-level standard sedan was added to the lineup ?? it had all the basic Corolla equipment, including cloth upholstery, but wore a skinnier set of tires and could only be optioned with the three-speed automatic if you didn't want to shift your own gears.

The coupes were discontinued after the 1991 model year. Aside from a few new paint colors, the only change for 1992 was that you could only get the highline LE sedan with the four-speed automatic.

Seventh Generation (1993-1997)

Significantly larger than the car it replaced (it rode on a 97.0-inch wheelbase), the 1993 Corolla sedan and wagon moved up a size classification from "subcompact" to "compact" according to the EPA. But there were no more Corolla coupes or all-wheel-drive wagons. Sedans were offered in standard, DX and LE trim, while a front-wheel-drive wagon was offered in DX trim only. All cars rode on a fully independent suspension, though DX and LE models benefited from an additional stabilizer bar in front.

Power for the basic Corolla sedan came from the same 1.6-liter engine used in the sixth-generation car (output was 105 hp, except in California, Massachusetts and New York, where it was rated for just 100 due to more stringent emissions requirements), but a new 1.8-liter, DOHC, 16-valve four making 115 horsepower was offered in the ritzier Corolla DX and LE models. A five-speed manual was standard, with a three-speed autobox optional on the base sedan and a four-speed optional on all other models. All cars came with 14-inch wheels and front disc/rear drum brakes; ABS was optional across the line. Height-adjustable seatbelts and a driver-side front airbag were standard in '93; the front passenger got one, too, in 1994. Also new that year were locking retractor seatbelts in passengers' positions and CFC-free refrigerant for cars with air conditioning.

The DX sedan got new upholstery, all audio systems were redesigned and the 1.8-liter engine lost 10 horsepower for 1995 in order to comply with stricter emissions regulations, but it did get a smidge more torque for a total of 117 lb-ft (versus 115 previously). The LE model was discontinued for 1996. Additionally, the front grille received a color-keyed frame and the taillight panels were revised with the DX getting a full-width treatment (the base sedan got gray cladding). Inside, the interior trim was revised, and an integrated child seat was added to the options list. Upgrades to the manual transmission yielded shorter throws, improved feel and more positive gear engagement.

In 1997, the DX wagon was dropped, but a special CE (Classic Edition) sedan was offered and it incorporated a number of popular features in one value-priced package. Among the standard goodies were power windows and locks, A/C, power steering, a four-speaker stereo, manual remote mirrors and special floor mats and exterior badging. All models received additional side-impact protection to meet new federal standards. And for the first time, during '97, all the Corollas sold in the United States were built in North America at the NUMMI plant in California and the TMMC plant in Canada. By the end of the 1997 model year, the Corolla had become the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, overtaking the VW Beetle.

Eighth Generation (1998-2002)

The Corolla grew again in its eighth iteration, but it managed to lose some weight and increase its fuel mileage thanks to a new engine and a generally more efficient drivetrain. The big chunk of that weight savings and drivetrain efficiency came in the form of an all-new, all-aluminum 1.8-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine rated at a healthy 120 horsepower ?? exactly twice what the engine in the first Corolla was rated back in 1968. Fuel economy was improved by 10 percent over the previous generation; with the standard five-speed manual, a Corolla could pull down 31 mpg in the city and 38 on the highway.

Only a sedan was offered this time around, and there were three trim levels ?? base VE, midlevel CE and highline LE. The VE was stuck with an optional three-speed automatic, while CE and LE buyers qualified for the four-speed unit. Equipment levels were much the same as on the previous generation, though base cars now came with power steering and dual exterior mirrors. ABS remained optional on all models, and there were new extras like side airbags and a CD player.

With its simple yet elegant exterior, and handsome interior, the 1998 Corolla was a mature machine among such adolescent competitors as the Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra. It was also comparatively expensive and short on rear-seat legroom, but sales remained strong, with Toyota putting 248,195 Corollas into customers' garages during 1998. The nearly identical Prizm (now badged as a Chevrolet) continued to be built alongside the Corolla at NUMMI.

Changes for 1999 were minor. The VE model was given a cassette stereo, and the LE now came standard with last year's Touring Package items, including a front stabilizer bar, wider 14-inch tires, a tachometer and various exterior cosmetic enhancements. In 2000, the company added its VVT-i variable valve timing system to the 1.8-liter engine, which boosted output to 125 horsepower, made for a fatter torque curve and allowed the Corolla to achieve low emission vehicle (LEV) status. New front and rear fascias, headlights and taillights appeared in 2001, as did a quasisporty S version of this popular compact. S models came with unique wheel covers, foglights, intermittent wipers and color-keyed moldings, mudguards and grille. Inside, it offered sportier upholstery, a tachometer and a faux leather-wrapped wheel. In sum, the S was more about cosmetic upgrades than actual sport. Meanwhile, the base VE model disappeared ?? the CE took its place, along with its unloved three-speed automatic. For 2002, the Corolla line was unchanged, though Toyota lowered the prices for the optional value packages.

Ninth Generation (2003-Present)

While Toyota claims its 2003 Corolla sedan has been designed to attract younger buyers, it actually looks like a shrunken Camry. Available as a base CE, luxury LE or somewhat sporty S, the new Corolla rides on a 102.4-inch wheelbase, which is more than five inches longer than the Corolla it replaces, and just 0.7 inch shorter than the current Honda Civic sedan. But 178.3 inches in overall length, it's 3.7 inches longer than the Civic. In fact, this new Corolla has exactly the same wheelbase as the original 1983 Camry and stretches out 2.7 inches longer than that car.

The new Corolla's structural integrity would have been impressive in a Lexus a few years ago. The strut front and torsion beam rear suspension are ordinary, but it's poised and the front disc/rear drum brakes work well (ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution is optional on all Corollas). Add in excellent rack-and-pinion steering, and this is as close to a luxury car ride as any small economy sedan has ever offered. The Corolla still isn't as sharp a handler as some competitors (Mazda Proteg?, Nissan Sentra and Ford Focus, for example), but that doesn't matter to the primary audience.

The engine is an evolutionary development of the all-aluminum 1.8-liter, DOHC, 16-valve engine from the previous Corolla and is now rated at 130 horsepower. The five-speed manual transmission's shifter is precise, and even the base CE-grade Corolla has four gears in its optional automatic. Equipment levels are up, too; the CE comes with air conditioning with micron filtration, a CD player, power mirrors and 15-inch wheels. The LE even comes with fake wood accents and can be optioned with leather upholstery.

Compared to the wide variety of Corollas available in years past, 2003's trio of sedans seems sparse. But like every Corolla before them, they're built to provide years of trouble-free driving. They're also more comfortable ?? and roomier ?? than ever.

Edmunds.com/Inside Line





Toyota Corolla
Japanese Import Car, New & Used Car, 2007