Used Toyota Corolla Saloon 1997 - 2002 review

Category: Family car

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

Toyota Corolla Saloon (97 - 04)
  • Toyota Corolla Saloon (97 - 04)
  • Toyota Corolla Saloon (97 - 04)
Used Toyota Corolla Saloon 1997 - 2002 review
Star rating

What's the used Toyota Corolla saloon like?

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.


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

  • Good build quality, smooth petrol engines
  • reliability
  • Early diesel is sluggish and noisy, limited rear room

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.

Ownership cost

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

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

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.

Our recommendations

Which used Toyota Corolla saloon should I buy?

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.


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