First introduced in 1966, who knew that the Toyota Corolla would live on to become such an enduring nameplate?
In eight short years after its introduction, it became the best-selling car by 1974.
And by 1997 it surpassed the Volkswagen Beetle as the best-selling nameplate worldwide.
Now in its twelfth generation, I really wish that a Corolla would have been among my choices for a first car.
Don’t get me wrong I have no regrets about my 1984 Volvo GL. But Toyota Corollas get criminally overlooked.
Even knowing what I know about them today. In the economy car segment, it’s still not my first choice.
That honor goes to the Mazda3 because I’m hooked on its sporty feel. Let’s look at some of the reasons why the Toyota Corolla is so cheap.
Is Buying a Toyota Corolla Worth It?
Let’s forget for a moment how easy these cars are to buy and operate. The latest Corolla is a compact car you can get as a sedan or a hatchback.
The interior is more refined than the outgoing model and impresses with a wider stance giving it a more cushioned ride.
It has a 32/41 MPG. More standard safety features. And a touchscreen infotainment system.
Even on the used car market, the Toyota Corolla stands out with repair and maintenance costs that are virtually unbeatable supporting its sterling reputation for reliability.
I knew a coworker that was driving his 1994 Corolla with over 200,000 miles into 2016. Toyota Corollas are worth buying.
Is a Toyota Corolla Cheap to Buy?
Okay, let’s talk about it. The average car sales in America for 2021 was a little more than $40,000.
This figure includes used cars. A new Toyota Corolla base model L has a starting price of $20,075, which is about average for the compact car class.
A top tier Corolla XSE Apex Edition still only sets you back less than $30,000 at $28,360.
A brand-new bare bones Mazda3 starts out at $21,150. While a top range Mazda3 sedan or hatchback 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus easily eclipses $30,000 at $36,035.
Corollas are cheap to buy.
Are Corollas Really That Reliable?
According to Repair Pal, the Toyota Corolla is among the most reliable cars in its class.
In fact, it ranks number one in terms of reliability compared to other compact cars. And one of the most obvious reasons is its ultra-low repair costs.
Reports found that on average owners are paying a mere $362 a year to keep their Corolla road worthy.
Cars.com conducted an analysis of user reviews of the 11th gen 2014-2019 Toyota Corollas.
The most common issues reported was issues with Corolla’s cruise control along with complaints about acceleration and noise.
Keep reading to find out more about common issues with the Toyota Corolla.
How Long Can a Toyota Corolla Last?
Ten years and 300,000 miles is the official lifespan of a Toyota Corolla. I see Corollas from 1990 still on the road fairly regularly.
In fact, just to give you an idea of how ubiquitous these cars are, about two years ago I was looking into getting my hands on a 1987 Toyota Corolla FX.
Except for some paint issues the car was great.
To enjoy years of incredible comfort, reliability and safe driving with any car, maintenance matters.
When it comes to maintenance, you have to take into consideration factors like whether you do mostly city or highway driving.
And your driving style. Even with 100,000 miles on the clock the biggest items you’ll be replacing on a well-maintained Corolla is the coolant and spark plugs.
What Are Some of the Best Years for Corollas?
Nothing makes used car shopping easier than jumping behind the wheel of a Toyota Corolla.
According to Consumer Reports, every Toyota Corolla built between 2003 to 2008 is considered a good buy.
But while the 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 received an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 reliability rating.
2003 and 2004 models only managed 4 out of 5. However, all models received an owner satisfaction of 4 out of 5.
They also recommend the 2010 to 2013 Corollas. Although the reliability rating was 5 out of 5.
Owner satisfaction was only 3 out of 5 with 2013 scoring only 2 out of 5.
Every used 2014 to 2019 Corolla receives a 5 out of 5 reliability rating, except the 2019 model year which got a 4 out of 5.
Owner satisfaction for this generation was the lowest at 3 out of 5.
What Major Issues Do Toyota Corollas Have?
The six most common Toyota Corolla problems are:
- A creaking front suspension in the eleventh generation from 2014 to 2019.
- Excessive oil consumption in the XRS trim level from the 2.4-liter engine, specifically in the 2009 and 2010 model years.
- Blown head gasket in tenth generation Corollas from 2009 to 2013.
- Radio issues again in the eleventh generation.
- A check engine light resulting from a lean air-fuel ratio is common with ninth generation Corollas with the 1.8-liter 1ZZ-FE engine from 2003 to 2008.
- And the biggest most common issues with all Toyota Corollas for the last twenty years is the air bag. Sometimes the airbag doesn’t deploy after an accident.
Which Corolla Model is the Best?
If you’re in the market for a car that’s economical and reliable with low running costs, you can’t go wrong with a Corolla.
As we’ve seen from the Consumer Reports, there isn’t a Corolla that isn’t recommended. But if you dare to add driving performance to your list of desires, you need to consider trim levels.
The L, LE and XLE all use Toyota’s 1.8-liter engine which barely makes 140 horsepower.
You’ll want to opt for the SE or XSE models to satisfy your need for speed. Both trim levels come with a livelier 2.0-liter four-cylinder motor making a 169 HP.
And in some trim levels, this engine nets even better fuel economy than the 1.8.
The SE trim is the model that introduces the more powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
As a more performance focused Corolla, you get six-speed manual transmission.
And for about $2000 more than the base L trim, you also get features included in the LE and XLE models like climate control, power heated mirrors, more powerful LED headlights and a leather wrapped steering wheel.
Not only are you getting the 2.0 motor.
But the XSE also gives you a power driver’s seat, heated front seats and sunroof to compete with premium compact cars like the Mazda3.
Just note that these welcome extras push the price $3,000 higher than the SE trim.
Is Maintaining a Corolla Expensive?
The average annual maintenance cost for the compact car category is $526. Maintaining a Toyota Corolla for a year will only sets you back $362.
Toyota Corollas are relatively inexpensive to maintain. And yes, though Corollas are comparatively boring to drive.
The upshot is even after 100,000 miles, you still don’t get any major repair bills.
As I often tell people, there’s more to affording a car than coming up with a down payment and making the monthly payments on time.
Maintenance plays a big role in the ownership experience. Deferred maintenance wreaks havoc on reliability and the lifespan of any car.
Are Corollas Good for Long Distance Driving?
The 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid sedan has an impressive MPG of 53 city and 52 highway. That’s nearly 700 miles per gallon between fill ups.
Toyota left no stone unturned when it comes to safety features either.
All Corollas come standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which comes with a suite of Active features including: Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection; Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Automatic high beams; Lane tracing Assist and Road Sign Assist.
Additional features include Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert; ten airbags and the Star Safety System which includes vehicle stability control, traction control, electronic brake distribution, brake assist and smart stop technology.
These are Volvo levels of safety features designed to ensure your next road trip is a safe one.