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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Good build quality, smooth petrol engines, reliability

Against Early diesel is sluggish and noisy, limited rear room

Verdict It’ll get you from A to B reliably and reasonably safely

Go for… 1.6 GLS

Avoid… 1.3

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

The Corolla has always sold in vast numbers around the world, but has had to endure something of a bland reputation. This model, introduced in 1997 and face-lifted in 2000, was designed to up the tempo a little, but neither version will go down in history as handsome.

The good, but not that good story continues on the road. Although the petrol engines are impressive, the Corolla’s drive is not on the pace of the equivalent Ford Focus or VW Golf. The ride feels too hard and the light steering too lifeless for the Corolla to sit in that company.

Similarly, although they're durable and hardwearing, the shiny plastics in the cabin aren’t quite up to the mark either.

However boot space is reasonable, and the Corolla’s safety features are impressive for a car launched in 1997. With twin airbags as standard it merited a three-star Euro NCAP safety rating at a time when the maximum possible score was four.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Reliable commuter. 1.3/1.4 are the best. 1.9 diesel clanky and unrefined. Forget rare saloon

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

If you're after a Corolla, the saloon arguably isn't the place to start, as it's less practical than the hatchback and much harder to find on the used market.

That's partly because, in this class, the UK is a hatchback market, but also because the Corolla saloon range was much smaller than the hatchback's. For a start, there was never a diesel engine in the car and only two petrol engines, each with its own trim level.

If you're choosing between these two, our advice is simple: go for the 1.6.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Reliable commuter. 1.3/1.4 are the best. 1.9 diesel clanky and unrefined. Forget rare saloon

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Like most Toyotas of this generation, the Corolla enjoys a reputation for being fairly easy on the pocket. For a start, insurance is very reasonable, as is fuel economy - although it would be even better if there was a diesel engine to choose from.

Official Toyota dealers may not be quite as cheap to pay per hour as a Skoda franchise, but the Japanese company’s hourly rate is on a par with Ford’s, Vauxhall’s and Peugeot’s. However, setting servicing costs aside, average repair rates will work out more expensive for the Toyota driver if the car is involved in an accident.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Reliable commuter. 1.3/1.4 are the best. 1.9 diesel clanky and unrefined. Forget rare saloon

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The Corolla enjoys a reputation for good, solid reliability and it’s been well proven with strong results in the JD Power Reliability Survey. The Warranty Direct Reliability index paints a positive picture, too, with an exceptionally low fault rate.

Despite all this, there are still things to look out for, and also a number of recall issues that you need to make sure have been addressed. Models built between November, 2001 and April, 2002 were recalled because of possible faults with the rear brakes. Cars built between March and May, 2002 have had brake pedal problems, while cars built between February and October, 2002 have suffered faulty automatic gearboxes.

If you are looking at a high-mileage car, make sure that the cambelt has been changed every 60,000 miles. Front wheel bearings can also give trouble as the miles mount and faulty engine electronic control units can lead to plunging performance.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Reliable commuter. 1.3/1.4 are the best. 1.9 diesel clanky and unrefined. Forget rare saloon

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide
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