Toyota Corolla is a very popular car worldwide and became the number one seller of all time in 1997. It was built in many countries, including Australia. However, all are now imported.
It started as a small rear-wheel-drive, two-door sedan in 1966 and over the years has moved up to a small-medium car.
Most Corollas are four-door sedans and five-door hatchbacks. A station wagon was sold for many years, but was discontinued with the new model of April 2007.
The Toyota RAV4 shares some out of sight components with the Corolla and has become a big seller in its own right as buyers have moved to the convenience of SUVs.
Toyota Corolla has reasonable rear-seat room and a good-sized boot so is large enough to be considered as a family car if the children haven’t reached their mid-teen years.
Engines are all four-cylinder twin-cam units with a capacity of 1.8 or 2.0 litres. Almost all are conventional but the Corolla hybrid, sold from 2016 is an interesting option if you want to trim fuel costs.
Manual gearboxes are six-speed units. From the new model of 2018 it has rev matching to make it simpler for drivers. Automatic transmissions from the 2012 Corolla onwards are efficient CVT units.
Handling is fine if you drive a Corolla the way the great majority of owners do. Because the Corolla leans to the comfort side in the eternal handling/comfort compromise it’s pleasant to travel in.
Even Australian country roads, including dirt roads, don’t upset the ride overmuch. That’s partly due to the fact that Corollas were built in Australia for many years and local engineers did a lot of work on them. Indeed, to this day Aussies pass information back to Toyota’s engineers in Japan.
The Corolla is reasonably easy for good amateur mechanics to work on. We recommend having a workshop manual at your side. Anything affecting safety should be left strictly to a professional.
Spare parts and servicing are available through one of the biggest, most widely spread dealer networks in the Australia. Some outlets in the distant outback may not have less common components for the Corolla but can usually have them shipped in within a few business days.
Insurance premiums are usually at the lower end of the scale and there doesn’t seem to be a big variation amongst the big players in the business. Shop around, but be sure to compare the policies being offered.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Corollas with very big mileage for their age may have been hire cars. For some reason drivers of these often thrash these cars.
The engine should start within a couple of seconds and settle into a smooth idle immediately.
Listen for a rattle from the engine when it starts and check the oil light goes out quickly.
Manual gearboxes should be smooth and quiet in operation. Do some fast three-two downchanges as part of your test drive. If it baulks or crunches it may need an overhaul.
If you’ve never driven a continuously variable transmission (CVT) you may find it feels and sounds rather odd. This is normal and you’re likely to soon adapt to its operation.
Look carefully at the interior and boot for signs of damage or excessive wear.
Check for signs of panel damage or previous crash repairs. Easiest to spot are ripples in the body, best seen by looking at the car end-on in good light, also look for tiny spots of paint on unpainted areas.
Look at the condition of the engine oil, if it’s dark it may not have been changed according to Toyota’s recommendations. This can bring on faster wear.
Expect to pay from $2000 to $5000 for a pre-2010 Toyota Corolla; $4000 to $7000 for a 2010 Levin; $6000 to $10,000 for a 2012 Ascent Sport; $8000 to $12,000 for a 2016 SX; $10,000 to $15,000 for a 2015 Levin or a 2017 Ascent; $12,000 to $18,000 for a 2017 2017 SX; $13,000 to $19,000 for a 2016 ZR; $16,000 to $23,000 for a 2019 SX; $18,000 to $26,000 for a 2019 ZR; and $22,000 to $30,000 for a 2019 ZR Hybrid.
CAR BUYING TIP
Small cars with low kilometres on the clock have probably spent most of their lives in heavy-duty traffic with their engines cold. This is not good for their mechanical components.
RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at: www.productsafety.gov.au/products/transport/cars/