1988 Toyota Corolla

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    Expert Reviews 1 of 4

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The Morning Call and Mcall.com

Toyota's Corolla lineup offers something for everybody - well, almost. This versatile lineup includes the FX and FX16 sporty hatchbacks; a station wagon; two sedans, SR5 and GT-S; sporty coupes, and now the All-Trac Wagon.

It may be somewhat hard to believe that the Corolla, Toyota's best-selling line, ''only'' has been around for 20 years. Somehow this model seems to have always been a part of the automotive scene. But the Corolla arrived in this country in 1968 as an entry into the low-price market.

This entry-level car had a manufacturer's suggested retail price of less than $1,800 and became almost an instant hit. In fact, because of the Corolla, Toyota, which barely established itself on the American market in 1958, became the number two import in the country in 1970. Not too many years later, Toyota did become the number one import, again with the help of the Corolla, which has more than 3-million sales to date.

That was a long time ago and although the Corolla is still the entry level car for Toyota, it can't very well be considered a cheap car. The strength of the yen and the general upgrading of all cars, has made the Corolla sort of an upscale small car, which, incidentally, is not a bad position to be in; there are consumers who are willing to spend for upscale small cars.

The test car, the all-new All-Trac Wagon is not only one of the most upscale of small cars it is also one of the newest ones around. If you haven't seen one, don't feel neglected; there aren't many of them on the market. In fact, the test car was the first one received by J.H. Bennett Toyota, 2300 Hanover Ave., Allentown.

Although June may not be the time that most people think of four-wheel drive vehicles, these particular full-time four-wheeling passenger cars are becoming increasing popular with more and more models being offered each year. The full-time four-wheel drive car is designed to run the dry highways as well as the snow covered highways, so it is a year around vehicle. And since it has a full-time system one does not have to worry about making decisions.

Obviously, there was little opportunity to use the test car on snow or ice but I did drive a Camry All-Trac in the winter through plenty of miserable weather and it did just great. And since the system is similar there is no reason to think the Corolla All-Trac Wagon won't do the same.

The Corolla All-Trac Wagon's full-time, all-wheel drive system uses a center differential to distribute drive torque equally between the front and rear axles. On manual transmission models, an interior switch locks the center differential, synchronizing the front and rear axles for maximum bad-weather traction. On automatic transmission models, the transaxle automatically locks the center differential when necessary.

The test vehicle was equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission, which meant the driver really didn 't have to do any thinking. Or, at least as far as the four-wheel drive system went. The automatic transmission will no doubt further broaden the appeal of this vehicle.

Aside from the four-wheel system, the All-Trac Wagon has to be one of the most handsome little vehicles around. Station wagons generally look like, well, station wagons, but Toyota managed to give this one an appealing shape and something we don't see much of these days, sculptured body lines. Add some rounded corners and flush body panels to further set it off. The test car also had the added appeal of a bright red exterior.

Basic dimensions on the Wagon include a wheelbase of 95.7 inches, overall length, 171.5 inches; width, 65.2 inches; height, 54.5 inches, and curb weight, 2,450 pounds. The interior has a passenger volume index of 88 cubic feet, which is about what to expect out of a small station wagon. Front seat room is very good, though the back seat will be a little tight for larg r adults. Cargo volume with the back seat in place measures a roomy 31 cubic feet.

Driving the All-Trac doesn't take a whole lot of effort and it is doubtful if many drivers can detect the difference between it and a two-wheel drive vehicle. Just drive the way you usually do and there won't be any problems. There will, of course, be a difference on slippery surfaces but on dry roadways there's no need to be concerned.

Handling is responsive and during hard maneuverings there is, again, little difference between the feel of a two-wheel drive vehicle. The basic suspension features MacPherson struts all around and rack-and-pinion steering.

Because of the four-wheel configuration, though, the application of power is somewhat different. Press the pedal to the metal from a standstill and the All-Trac takes off with no squeal and no torque steer. At first, acceleration does feel slow but a look at the speedometer will show a steady, though not spectacular, climb.

The All-Trac uses a double-overhead cam, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine. In fact, the entire Corolla lineup uses this rather unique type engine. The engine measures 1.6-liter/98-cubic-inches and is rated at 90 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 95 foot pounds torque at 3,600 rpm. This is a lot of rpm but a four-valve per cylinder engine develops its power at higher rpm. Unfortunately, the test car was not equipped with a tachometer so one could appreciate it.

Since this engine runs best at higher revs, you do have to put your foot into it most of the time. And with the four-speed automatic, it is a matter of a lot of downshifting; either by kicking in a lower gear through the accelerator pedal or locking out fourth gear on the shift selector column. The engine might be a little happier with the extra spread of gearing of the five- speed manual transmission. But the four-speed automatic can't be faulted.

Fuel mileage on the test car average 17 miles per gallon for city driving and 26 mpg over the highway. Because of the 9.5:1 compression ratio, unleaded premium would probably be a better choice of fuel.

Base price for the vehicle is $11,698. A long list of standard equipment comes with it including automatic transmission, power brakes, All-Weather Guard Package (heavier duty alternator, cooling system, battery, etc.), tinted glass, rear window defogger, split fold down rear seat backs and center console.

The test vehicle had a bottom line of $14,721, including a dealer handling charge of $695. The long list of options include air conditioning, $745; power steering, $245; multiplex radio, $300; rear window intermittent wiper/washer, $130; cargo area cover, $50; fabric update, $70; trim rings, $69; deluxe stripe, $109, and undercoating, $169. This is a long way down the road from the original $1,800 Corolla but, then, what else is new?

The Corolla is protected by a new warranty this year that covers virtually all components for 36 months/36,000 miles. Corrosion perforation is covered by a 5-year/unlimited mileage warranty.


    Expert Reviews 1 of 4

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