1998 Toyota Corolla LE 1.8 from North America
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).
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.