1993 Toyota Tercel Base 1.5 from North America


Cheap and reliable transportation


Bought with bad cylinder.

General Comments:

This car was the first car that I did not share with someone else. It was a dirt cheap emergency buy. I used it as a daily commuter for a 70-mile round trip for seven months and put 11000 miles on it. It got me there. It got me back. That's really all you ought to ask of such a basic car.

While the car was otherwise mechanically sound, there was some serious oil leakage from the bad cylinder. It drank about a quart every 200 miles. It had its days. On the bad days, which became more frequent over time, it would die if you let it idle. I could have done without the hassle but must say that keeping it from dying by keeping it revved up did wonders for my abilities as a stick driver.

Clearly engine durability is not the Tercel's strong point. No junkyard wanted it because the only thing that they could sell was the engine--Tercel engines were apparently in demand because of issues like mine.

Still, this car, as long as it has a working motor, is an excellent little car to drive. It offers little in terms of comfort but is perfect as a single-user commuter. It handles surprisingly well for its size, particular in tight spaces and on corners.

Gas mileage was brilliant. Even though the car cost me a small fortune in oil, its gas requirements were very modest and I routinely got around 40 mpg out of it. Other maintenance costs were minimal.

Its construction was fine. Although the interior is mostly cheap hard plastic, it was still in good shape after ten years. The body and frame, likewise, held up well.

I'd give a Tercel of that generation a second look if it has under 100K miles on it. Its size and road behaviour are ideal for beginning drivers and single commuters.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st April, 2008

1993 Toyota Tercel base model coupe 1.5 liter from North America


Almost indestructible


Nothing went wrong.

General Comments:

I now dream about the gas mileage this car used to get. It was a four speed stick, and when I owned it in '94, I used to fill it up for about 7$ to maybe 9$, and that would last a few weeks if I remember correctly. I bought this car to drive to college mainly, and I beat it with no mercy the whole time. If it had had a tachometer, I would have been afraid to look at it half the time. It was fun to drive, like a go cart. I bounced it through fields, wound the gears out most of the time, and slid it around bends like I was running from the police. Back then I changed oil once in a while, and that was the only thing that I ever did to this car other than put gas in it, and one set of front tires. The car never so much as sputtered or missed a beat. I sold it later for a four-wheel drive, and I wish I still had it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th March, 2006

18th Mar 2006, 15:16

How did you survive on the highway with a 4 speed stick?

18th Mar 2006, 21:39

Well, that is where winding the gears out to get up to speed came into play! I can't remember the horsepower rating for that little 4-banger, but I used 'em all trying to get onto the highway from an uphill ramp and not get killed.

15th Sep 2018, 06:21

I absolutely love my Tercel. Driving down the highway can be a bit sketchy though, because everything seems a whole lot more loose than at lower speeds. By that I mean the steering feels a whole lot more sensitive at 70+ mph than at 55 mph and below. Not sure if that’s the lack of power steering or the type of steering assembly the car has. Either way, I love it all the same.