1990 Toyota Corona GL 2.0L 3S-FE carburetor petrol


A cheap, reliable and competent kitchen appliance... I mean automobile


Oil light stayed on for around 6 seconds when the car was started in the morning. There were no disconcerting noises from the engine during this time though, and I was told by a few knowledgeable souls that in these cars it's nothing to worry too much about.

The right front CV joint was knackered, and made loud clicking sounds whenever I made a sharp turn. Didn't fail its WoF on this, and being a daily beater, I just drove it as is without it getting any worse. When I traded this car, my supplying of a new CV joint was part of the deal!

What I assume was the factory Alpine stereo (I've seen similar ones in other Corona's) quit shortly after purchase, I fiddled around with it, but couldn't get it working again. Once again, just drove the car as is.

There might have been a few more foibles, but certainly nothing serious or unusual given the car's age.

General Comments:

These cars are perfect for use as a cheap daily driver; the only compromise you might not be able to live with is safety (these weren't highly regarded in that respect even when new).

Mine had the carbed 2 liter 3S-FE engine, which provided adequate power and torque, and though the 4 speed automatic transmission didn't always keep it in the power band, I found it fine for motorway cruising. If I bought another, I'd probably make sure it has EFI and/or a manual gearbox; there doesn't seem to be much difference in price between variants.

The driving position is alright, more suited to relaxed driving than anything spirited, and the seats are comfortable enough with a nice adjustable lumbar cushion. Like most Japanese cars I've driven, the foot rest (left of the brake pedal) was positioned for people with very short legs, so it was promptly removed and relocated to the boot. Interior room is good enough for front seat passengers, okay for those in the rear, and boot space is plentiful.

Visibility, like nearly all cars made prior to 1995 or thereabouts, is pretty much excellent. Even though my Corona was the 4 door hatchback with relatively thick C pillars, I could easily see out of it, and blind spots were not a problem.

What I found truly remarkable about this car was its near complete lack of engine noise at idle. You could kneel behind it with your ear a few centimeters from the exhaust and barely notice the engine was running! That's not to say this was the case while driving though, you still heard it meander through the gears pretty clearly.

Handling in the dry was less than satisfactory. The suspension felt rather soggy and tuned for comfort rather than performance, which was fine for what I used the car for. Handling in the wet, however, was ATROCIOUS! The rear end would slide at almost no provocation at all, I learned to take roundabouts at 10kph and really slowed down for even gentle curves when the roads were slippery. The brakes were very bad in these conditions too, locking up far too easily. Whether this was due to worn suspension components, inadequate shocks or cheap tires I have no idea, as I haven't driven any other Corona models to compare it with. Despite these characteristics, I learned to live with them after a while, but anyone unfamiliar with unforgiving cars might find it all a bit too scary.

Overall, this car served its purpose as cheap, reliable, basic transportation. Old Coronas are very practical and should give good service if treated well, and they're easy to fix if anything goes wrong, too. What I couldn't forgive about this car (and this says far more about my mindset as a human being than the car itself) was its blandness. I got so bored with the mind-numbing driving "experience" I opted to trade it for something more fun, less practical, and what turned out to be the biggest automotive mistake I've made so far... a Toyota MR2!

If you need a work hack and don't care about cars being exciting, interesting, a reflection of their owners personality or any of that other romanticist propaganda, the old Coronas will certainly serve you well.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th July, 2015

1990 Toyota Corona EXIV FE Saloon 2.0L petrol


A cheap sports-luxury import sedan


Nothing out of the ordinary has gone wrong with the car at all. The only parts requiring replacement are those that are normally replaced/repaired at regular intervals and those resulting from general wear and tear, including:

*Timing Belt (due 100,000km) replaced at 104,000 however was still in good order when it was replaced.

*Power steering rack boot split.

*Small oil leaks from engine rocker cover gasket, and auto trans. pan gasket.

*Dash is starting to show signs of splitting/cracking, and steering wheel is badly split on the underside of the top of the wheel.

*Overdrive, in the 4-speed automatic is a little difficult to engage when the engine is cold.

General Comments:

If you want something a little different and head turning, the ST182 Corona EXIV is definitely both of these! Although it is almost 15 years old, it still looks modern.

Thanks to aftermarket KONI adjustable front springs, sports suspension and the standard strut brace, it handles like a go kart and feels really tight in corners.

The 3S-FE engine, more commonly featured in the SV-21 series Camrys, is super-reliable and suprisingly spritely. Fuel usage is not a big problem, I usually get about 500-550 kilometres out of a tank, which I think is quite acceptable.

The 4-speed automatic is silky smooth most of the time, the only exception, however is when the engine and trans is cold, overdrive is a bit difficult to engage, but rectifies itself after a few minutes, then its smooth sailing.

The interior is excellent; with velour sports-derived seats, well laid-out dashboard, and convenient features like electric windows, central locking, tilt/tele steering column, electric mirrors (with a fold-in feature to prevent scrapes), air-conditioning and what seems to be a Toyota luxury trademark, the air-purifier.

Its isn't difficult, nor extremely expensive to modify this car to stand out in a crowd; I have a set of 16x7 ALT mags, rear spoiler and a MOMO Leather/Wood combination steering wheel, and it attracts onlookers wherever I go. I love it!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th June, 2004