Toyota tries to make its front-drive Corolla more appealing to young buyers by giving it a face-lift and a sporty S model. The subcompact Corolla sedan got an early jump on the model year when sales of 01 models started in May 2000.
The S model fits between the base CE and the upscale LE. Last years cheapest model, the VE, is gone.
Chevrolet sells a clone of the Corolla as the Prizm, which has different styling but uses the same front-drive platform and mechanical components. Both are built at a plant the two companies share in California. Some Corollas sold in the United States also are built in Ontario, Canada.
Toyotas current plans call for the Corolla to be redesigned for the 2003 model year, when it is expected to get more youthful styling.
This years face-lift encompasses a new front fascia, multireflector halogen headlamps, a lower front bumper and chrome trim, and new taillights. The new S model adds color-keyed side moldings, grille and rear mudguards.
The Corolla is 174 inches long about an inch shorter than the Honda Civic or Ford Focus.
The Corollas standard equipment is skimpy compared to some rivals. Air conditioning and power windows, locks and mirrors are optional even on the top-of-the-line LE, which is the only model that comes with a standard cassette player.
All models seat five. The S and LE come with a remote trunk release and a 60/40 split rear seat that expands the trunks cargo capacity to 12.1 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
All models use a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 125 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard across the board. A three-speed automatic is optional on the CE, and a four-speed automatic is optional on the S and LE.
Side-impact airbags are optional on all three models, and antilock brakes are optional on the S and LE. Toyota says the bumpers can withstand a 5-mph collision without damage a claim some larger cars and even some trucks cant make.
The Corolla is one of the blue-chip models in the small-car segment, offering an impressive blend of economy, refinement, reliability and durability that is hard to beat. The engine delivers snappy acceleration, the ride is smooth, and the Corolla is quieter than several larger sedans.
Conservative styling and a bland image, however, have steered young buyers away from the Corolla to cars such as the Honda Civic, Volkswagen Jetta and Ford Focus. Image aside, this is still one of the best subcompacts on the market.