What is the Toyota Corolla?
The Toyota Corolla is the best selling car in the world (counting all years), and no wonder. It offers peppy acceleration, agile handling, excellent fuel economy, and a smooth, comfortable ride. For most people, the Corolla is about as good as it needs to get.
As an added bonus, the Corolla often tops J.D. Power's reliability ratings for small cars - beating the Civic, Focus, and Neon by a pretty good margin. Meanwhile, the Corolla tends to best all small cars in Consumer Reports' surveys. Last time we looked (in 2001), the Honda Civic was down there...below average...below the Neon... why do people buy Civics when the Corolla has a better standard engine, nicer and quieter ride, and uncontestable quality?
A corolla is the outer envelope or crowning portion of a flower. (The new Scion line is named after another flower term.)
Toyota Matrix - Corolla wagon
All reports - including ours - show the Toyota Matrix to be a winner, with the Celica-powered XRS version getting most of the accolades (we also have an XR report). It won't beat a PT Cruiser turbo, but it's fast...and more economical...and it's a Toyota.
Toyota Corolla production
Beginning in 1997, all Toyota Corollas were built in California (USA) and Canada - a far cry from Toyota's first days in the United States, when quick-to-rust, underpowered Coronas were brought in exclusively from Japan. One of the first "joint venture" plants, called NUMMI, was opened in California - using a former General Motors factory. The webmaster's 1976 Camaro, long gone now, was a testament to that plant’s poor quality. Under Toyota's management - featuring empowerment and continuous improvement - the plant quickly became one of the best in the world. There are few Corolla problems that can be attributed to assembly rather than parts.
For some more information on that plant (external link).
The Corolla combines excellent build quality with a smooth ride, quiet interior, and excellent gas mileage - it is not difficult to achieve 38 mpg in a five-speed 1999 1.8-liter Corolla. It does all this without sacrificing speed; the Corolla feels as fast as most of its competitors, and in fact is close in acceleration to the Civic, Focus, Cobalt, and other small cars in its price range. The 2.4 liter engine was a more user-friendly challenge to the higher-power versions of other small cars like Caliber SRT-4, Cobalt SS, etc.
Controls are all logical and well laid out, and the materials used in the interior would seem to preclude squeaks and rattles in the years ahead.
Toyota Corolla weaknesses
Handling is far better in some small cars. However, Corolla handling is still quite good, and it has high "throwability" - the driver's perception that (s)he can wrench the wheel and the car will follow. Buying better tires will have a substantial impact. More strength and weakness information is in our review.
See the sidebar on the left hand side of this page for links to our various sections - the Corolla forum, specs, performance tips, etc.