Toyota's popular front-drive compact gets a small power boost as its major change for this year. Though Corolla was designed in Japan, North American models are built either in Canada or at a California plant Toyota shares with General Motors. Chevrolet sells a similar sedan as the Prizm.
Corolla comes in three price levels VE, CE and LE and the VE is clearly the price leader. Power windows, locks and mirrors, a tilt steering column, cruise control and a CD player are standard or optional on the others but not available on the VE. While the CE and LE have more comfort and convenience features, they hold the same number of passengers as the VE five. The CE and LE come with a remote trunk release and a 60/40 split rear seat that expands the 12.1-cubic-foot cargo capacity of the trunk.
Under the Hood
The addition of variable-valve technology to the 1.8-liter four-cylinder boosts horsepower from 120 to 125 and helps Toyota meet California's standards for Low Emission Vehicles. On the VE, the engine teams with either a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic. On the CE and LE, the optional automatic has four forward speeds.
Side-impact airbags are optional on all three models, and anti-lock brakes are optional on the CE and VE. Toyota says the bumpers can withstand a 5-mph collision without damage, a claim some larger cars and even some trucks can't make.
One of the blue-chip models in the small-car segment, the Corolla offers an impressive blend of economy, refinement, reliability and durability that is hard to beat. The engine delivers snappy acceleration, the ride is smooth and Corolla is quieter than several larger sedans.