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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Roomy cabin, well designed boot

Against Drab cabin and not exciting to drive

Verdict Practical and reliable load-lugger

Go for… 2.0-litre diesel

Avoid… 1.6-litre petrol

Toyota Corolla Estate
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Toyota Corolla Estate full review with expert trade views

The Corolla may not be the ultimate in driving fun and it certainly isn’t as nimble as a Ford Focus, but Toyota has got its priorities right with this one. The Corolla estate is a safe, practical, reliable, solidly-built family car.

Inside, the dash is a lesson in clarity and design, even if the steering only adjusts for height and not reach on early versions. Everything is well placed and the quality of the plastics, seats and switchgear is high.

The cargo area is well thought out, too. It’s easy to fold the back seats and the boot is well shaped with a wide opening and little intrusion from the suspension.

To cap it all, the Corolla is even good to drive, with a good balance to the handling, which is safe and competent with an acceptable level of boy roll. On most roads you’ll find the Corolla comfortable and composed.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Customers not over keen on this model, T3 spec and 2.0 D-4D engine helps

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The 1.6-litre petrol produces 109bhp, while the post-2004 2.0 D-4D turbodiesel musters 114bhp and 207 lb ft. And, it’s that big wedge of pulling power that makes the difference between the two apparently similar engines.

If the car is fully laden and you and put your foot down in the 1.6, very little happens, whereas the diesel always hauls itself forward. It’s not the smoothest or most refined engine, but it is quieter than the petrol at speed.

Cars built before the July 2004 facelift had a less powerful 89bhp/159lb ft 2.0 turbodiesel, but it's worth paying the extra for the later version.

All models have good safety equipment, with driver, passenger and side airbags fitted as standard. Curtain airbags were added after the 2004 face-lift. Air-con was standard on just the T3 to begin with, but fitted on the T2 from July ’04. The major advantages enjoyed by later T3 models are alloy wheels and steering wheel stereo adjustment controls.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Good reliability, low failure rates - higher than average bills due to expensive Toyota parts

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Insurance isn’t too much of an issue with lower-spec T2 cars rated at group 5 and T3 trim attracting a group 6 rating.

And, the fuel economy needn't worry you, either. Toyota has always had a reputation for producing economical petrol engines and the 1.6-litre in the Corolla is no exception, with an official figure of 39.2mpg. The later diesel engine is a better bet than the earlier one as it returns 49.6mpg, as opposed to 47mpg.

The only time the costs don't look so great is when you have to take the car in for work. Servicing costs over three years are going to be higher than what you would pay if you were running a Ford Focus or a Peugeot 307 estate. However, you can cut your costs by choosing a diesel model, because its engine can run up 20,000 miles before it needs a service, whereas the petrol needs fettling every 10,000 miles.

Similarly, the average repair cost for a Toyota can be quite a bit higher than the cost of having a Nissan, Ford or Vauxhall rectified.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Customers not over keen on this model, T3 spec and 2.0 D-4D engine helps

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Toyota has a reliability and customer satisfaction record that most companies would kill for, and in general the sturdy build quality with which most models left the line is still evident many years later.

Having said all that, a visit to the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency website (www.vosa.gov.uk) shows that all is not rosy. There have been some serious concerns with the brakes, including the risk of the brake fluid leaking. Passenger airbags have given problems too and there is the chance that they may activate when turned off. Check the website and make sure that, if a recall was required, the work has been carried out.

While engines, gearboxes and interior trim enjoy a solid reputation, the Corolla estate can suffer a few annoying niggles such as condensation in the rear lights and squealing brakes. These glitches aside, this is a very reliable car.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Good reliability, low failure rates - higher than average bills due to expensive Toyota parts

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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