1997 Toyota Corolla LE 1.8 from North America


Feels like it'll last forever


Apart from the usual maintenance (oil, brakes), the only expense has been for new engine mounts recently, as there was considerable vibration in cold weather until the car was warmed up.

The gear selector light went out a while ago, and apparently replacement involves taking almost the whole car to pieces, so I won't bother.

General Comments:

Still gets good mileage. On a trip from Vancouver Island to Reno last summer, the average was 35 MPG.

Not a powerhouse, but the engine does the job. It's a very smooth and pleasant car to drive. Some people say the seats are a bit hard, but I like them and the driving position is just right for me. I never feel tired after a long journey.

Like another owner here, I like my older Corolla so much I bought my daughter one (a 1994) for university. It's a bit more spartan (base model), but has all the same virtues as mine.

Once these eventually wear out, I'll probably get some more! The newer Corollas don't seem to be in the same class for build quality and reliability. I'm happy to be cheap and cheerful.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th February, 2014

1st Mar 2014, 03:13

Keep buying / driving these 90's Toyotas. They are very economical and reliable. Avoid the newer ones (post 2005); that is when all the recalls occurred and quality went downhill. American and Korean manufacturers have really stepped up quality and design recently; Toyota now has catching up to do.

27th Jul 2014, 09:24

I'm about to buy a 1997 with 130k miles. Are you sure this is a reliable car?

27th Jul 2014, 12:09

Oh, absolutely.

28th Jul 2014, 23:31

The 1993-1999 Corollas are probably the most reliable and well put together Corolla you can get. There is always a chance you can buy a lemon that was poorly maintained, but if this car is not reliable - no other car in the world will match up to this reliability. Honda claims they do - I personally think they have good motors, but the gearboxes, shocks, CV joints, engine mounts, wheel bearing and many other aux parts seem to wear out lot faster, and the body feels like a paper bag.

1997 Toyota Corolla DX 1.8 from North America


Liked it so well I bought another one just like it for my daughter!


Normal maintenance - timing belt, brake pads, tires, struts, battery, etc. All lasted at least as long as the manual stated.

Radiator - crack in the plastic top at 200,000 miles.

Power steering hose leaking, 190,000 miles.

Rack and pinion leaking, 190,000 miles.

Most of the interior bulbs had to be replaced over time; some were real pains to replace.

Passenger seat belt buckle just failed at 300,000 miles.

Motor mounts - when they go bad, the car will vibrate at idle, it will even make the door locks rattle.

Seat belt retractors - have always been weak, retract slowly or not at all. Probably my biggest complaint.

White paint is peeling off some areas like the edge of the trunk. This seems to be common for lots of white cars from the 90's. I see white Fords, Chevys and Hondas, all with the peeling problem. I don't know about other colors.

All 4 speakers turned to dust a few years back, replaced with cheap after market speakers. For a stock radio, that's all you need.

General Comments:

Interior still looks great after all this time.

I see a lot of people saying the seats are uncomfortable, but I'm 6ft tall and found them fine for cross country trips; I've done it several times. The interior is a bit tight, but not too bad.

Not a lot of power, but that's part of getting good MPG.

Interior noise level is pretty high at highway speeds. Get the 1.8L engine, not the 1.6, because the 1.8 has a little more power, and more importantly, the auto transmission is a 4 speed overdrive. The 1.6 has a 3 speed with no overdrive; which can be very tiring on a long trip, plus it hurts MPG on the highway.

I get 30-33 MPG, measured many times whenever I fill the tank. I don't baby it. Best ever was 38 MPG on a back-country road day trip of 300 miles with speed mostly under 65. That was just recently, too; the engine is still working like a new one!

This car was built back when the Japanese car makers were building their reliability reputation. Subaru, Toyota, and Honda were all truly superior up until about 1998. Since then, they have been living off that reputation, but the newer cars don't really justify it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st September, 2013

2nd Sep 2013, 17:48

The last paragraph of your review really does speak the truth.

28th Feb 2014, 13:18

+1, They don't make 'em like they used to, and the domestic makers are catching up. VW has really gone downhill too. Better off buying a Ford or something these days.

28th Jul 2014, 23:36

Fords are barely so called cars. Nothing appealing going for them. They're boring, drive bad, uncomfortable, they break down, and you name it. On NZ roads - a big percentage used to be Ford. About 80% of their population is now reduced. They used to build good cars, but they lost the plot.