1998 Toyota Corolla LE 1.8


It's not bad, but it's not great


Struts/springs front and rear (50,000 miles), $300 (self repaired).

Airbag/seat belt sensor (50,000 miles), $0 (self repaired).

General Comments:

Exterior - This car isn't winning any contests here. It's got head lights, tail lights, model badges, and comes painted in a variety of vanilla options (and one red), including three variations of tan. My model is 'champagne metallic', the tannest of tans. Kinda silver, kinda brown, maybe orange, it exemplifies what this car is about, being everything to everyone.

Interior - The interior of this 98 Corolla is based on function rather than form. And it excels in this department. Everything is easy to reach, find, and operate so you can keep your eyes on the road and not on the radio. Quality is surprisingly decent for an econobox commuter of this era. There is a good attention to detail, and no squeaks or rattles or mystery thumps behind the dash. The upholstery is a study in why abstract patterns are no longer vogue. Noise control is good for a car of this size and class; there is some intrusive noise over the rougher California highways here. It reminds me a bit of my dentist's waiting room. It's a simple, well put together place that's not a bad place to spend your commute.

Driving impressions - The steering is a touch heavier than what I'm used to in a Toyota, and it would be nice if there wasn't so much body roll; I've installed stiffer struts and springs in my car to combat this, but it lends to a harsher louder ride. The car is light and feels easily toss-able and is nimble in city traffic, but can get tossed about by cross winds on the open highway. The 1.8L inline 4 engine makes 120 HP and 122 ft lb torque. This is more than adequate to propel the car in city driving, and in getting up to highway speeds, there is some effort required on more serious grades, and the Corolla certainly won't win any races.

Reliability - I replaced the struts at 50,000 miles as the car had been sitting since 2001 and the seals had dried up and leaked.

There was also a loose SRS sensor attachment, causing an ABS light at 50,000 miles.

Aside from regular maintenance and tire rotations, everything has gone fine on this car, and I hope its legacy of reliability carries on into the future.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th May, 2015

28th May 2015, 14:12

Very honest review of a pretty honest little car. One thing though... you've replaced the struts and springs for better ones to improve handling... on a '98 Corolla 1.8 auto?! I'd seriously think about just buying something that handles better anyway if it bothers you!!

29th May 2015, 23:06

Writer here. The struts were bad when I got the car, so since I was already replacing them, I went with a slightly stiffer set, but by no means a real 'performance' set of struts. Overall I'm happy with steering feel, but I wanted to reduce a bit of the body roll that was going on.

1998 Toyota Corolla LE 1.8


I hate it but respect it. More reliable than your body's organs!



General Comments:

I hate how it looks, how it drives, how it steers, and how it handles. It is the ugliest, most boring car brand in current production, but do I care about all that? No, I wanted a $1800 workhorse, and got rid of it as soon as I no longer needed it.

The low power band means you can shift at 2500 or less, so it's quiet and smooth. The suspension is very smooth; you won't expect that from a small cheap car. Get on the highway, and that soft suspension transmits every single road irregularity and it becomes miserable. Also, mine had a shake after 60 mph that didn't go with alignment or balancing, and the car isn't crashed. Don't speed, tight maneuver, or take corners fast with that econobox; it body-rolls like a freakin' boat. Newer Corollas are stiffer for stability purposes, and have a smoother highway ride.

30 MPG pure city driving. Never made a trip in it, but with long gear ratios, doing 60 at a low 2000 RPM, that thing can do more than 40 MPG.

It's a great first car and emergency car that will never let you, and if for some reason you can stand sitting in this thing and looking at it, then it's perfect.

Civics perform better ("ricers made it a shame car") and are reliable in stock condition, but nothing beats a Corolla that you can literally not change the oil and it will keep running. A guy on a Toyota forum said he blew a Corolla engine after 90k miles of not changing the oil! I don't recommend this at all, but it proves how reliable that thing is; many have passed 1 million miles.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st March, 2013

21st Mar 2013, 06:51

If you're still running on the original suspension, it'll definitely be tired.

When I got mine, I replaced the springs, shocks and bushes, and it drove like a dream and was tight enough to have a bit of fun with.

When I got it, the tired components made it roll around and float.

Suspension lasts about perhaps 10-15 years before it needs to be replaced, unless you want to float about.