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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Decent room, a solid interior and a good drive. It's reliable, too.

Against Gutless base diesel engine. It's rarer than the hatchback and expensive

Verdict This is the best Corolla ever, but not the best version of it

Go for… 1.6 petrol

Avoid… 89bhp 2.0 turbodiesel

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Toyota Corolla Saloon full review with expert trade views

While all previous versions of the Toyota Corollas may have enjoyed an enviable reputation for reliability, they also suffered from something of a white good’s feel. Yes, they did the job that was required of them, but like a fridge or washing machine, you didn’t particularly care for them.

This one is different. For a start, it looks more solid and expensive than previous models, something that’s reflected in the smartly designed, roomy, high-quality interior. And, unlike in previous versions there’s decent room for adults in the back seats.

Toyota also significantly improved the way the car drove with this model. It’s pretty much as good to drive as a Ford Focus, even though its handling may not be quite as involving. Comfort and composure are excellent in all conditions.

Last, but not least, safety and equipment levels are reasonable.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Uninspiring to look at and not many on the road. Simple control layout

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

It's not just for practical reasons that we prefer the hatchback over this saloon. Firstly, the four-door is far rarer on the used market and, secondly, its engine range is more limited.

As in the hatch, though, steer clear of the early, less powerful, 89bhp 2.0-litre D-4D engine which struggles when the car is fully laden. Its replacement, from May 2003, was only a 1.4-litre, but does a better job. Best of all is the eager-revving 109bhp 1.6 petrol, while the 95bhp 1.4 petrol puts in a reasonable, if less swift, performance.

Trim-wise, look for a T3 model, as air-con was only standard on T2 models following the facelift in July 2004. Our recommended model features climate control, alloy wheels and rear electric windows over the already generous spec of the base T2.

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

Even if you find the Corolla you’re after, don’t expect to pick it up for next to nothing. This version holds on to a higher proportion of its value than previous models and you’ll be able to pick up rivals like the Vauxhall Astra and the Renault Megane for less cash. Diesel Corollas hold their value better than petrols, making the 1.6 an even more appealing buy.

Running costs shouldn't be a problem, though. Insurance begins as low as group 3, and fuel economy is good right across the range. Of the two mainstream petrol engines the 1.4-litre is marginally the more economical. And, while the 2.0-litre turbodiesel returns decent economy, the 1.4 is even better.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Uninspiring to look at and not many on the road. Simple control layout

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

Toyota drivers seem to have little to complain about, according to What Car’s JD Power Customer Satisfaction Survey and other similar studies. Complaints that do exist centre on annoyances as opposed to major faults, things such as condensation in the rear lamp clusters and squealing brakes.

This Corolla has not been without its faults in other areas, but Toyota appears to have been quick to recognise and rectify them by issuing recalls. In 2002 there were recalls over brake concerns and possible gearbox damage. Front passenger airbag worries arose in 2004, more brake trouble in 2005 and further airbag concerns in 2006.

Full details are available at the Vehicle and Operator Safety Agency website at vosa.gov.uk. Just make sure the car you are considering has had the necessary work completed.

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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