Used Toyota Corolla Estate 1997 - 2004 review

Category: Estate car

It'll just about cope with family life, but it's dull to drive

Toyota Corolla Estate (97 - 04)
  • Toyota Corolla Estate (97 - 04)
  • Toyota Corolla Estate (97 - 04)
Used Toyota Corolla Estate 1997 - 2004 review
Star rating

What's the used Toyota Corolla estate like?

The Corolla's estate body may say 'family car', but the truth is rather different, as the poor rear legroom prevents this car being the ideal family transport. It's okay for kids in the back, but adults will struggle.

Drop those easy folding rear seats, though, and the Corolla estate is transformed into a roomy load lugger. All models were fitted with roof rails and luggage covers as standard, too, and that all adds to the sense of practicality.


It'll just about cope with family life, but it's dull to drive

  • Solidly built and reliable
  • Pastics, rear legroom
  • ride and handling are all poor

In fact, the whole car comes across as a workhorse. The shiny plastics on the dashboard have a cheap feel to them, but as the miles mount up, they prove durable and hardwearing.

Sadly, it's no more than workmanlike on the road, either. While the Corolla's handling is safe and predictable, it isn't much fun. The ride is hard and lumpy and the steering vague and inert. A Peugeot 306 estate of similar age will put a bigger smile on your face, but won't match the Toyota's reliability.

Ownership cost

What used Toyota Corolla estate will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Toyota Corolla estate?

To cut a long story short, the newer the car, the better its fuel economy will be - although the post-2000 face-lifted versions are pricier. For example, the early 1.3-litre achieved 40mpg and the later 1.4 matched that, while providing increased power and performance.

After February 2000, the VVT-i 1.6-litre provided 39mpg compared with just 34mpg for the previous version. And, the 2.0 D-4D gave 47mpg compared with the 42mpg of the earlier 2.0- and 1.9-litre diesels.

For all that, though, remember you need to do your sums before opting for a D-4D. It'll be more expensive than petrol versions to buy and you need to do a reasonably high mileage to make up for the extra it costs in lower fuel bills.

Insurance ranges from a reasonable group 6 to 9, and independent Toyota garages are no more expensive to pay per hour than their Ford, Fiat and Nissan counterparts, so this is not an expensive car to run.

Our recommendations

Which used Toyota Corolla estate should I buy?

Avoid the 1.3-litre petrol engine and its gravely misleading Sportif title. Rice puddings emerge from encounters with this engine with their skins very much intact - its weedy 89lb ft of pulling power just isn't up to the job. The 109bhp 1.6-litre petrol and the 71bhp 2.0-litre diesel do a better, if not brilliant, job.

Improvements came in 2000. Toyota gave the Corolla a new twin-headlamp face, and the estate got fresh engines. Both the 94bhp 1.4-litre petrol and 108bhp 1.6 use Toyota's VVT-i variable valve timing technology to great effect.

Toyota introduced a 1.9-litre diesel engine in February 2000 which was okay, but the 88bhp 2.0 D4-D turbodiesel, which arrived a year later, is the one to go for. Find a GS-spec model from a used car supermarket and you'll have the perfect combination.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Toyota Corolla estate?