1993 Toyota Tercel Base 1.5 from North America
Cheap and reliable transportation
Bought with bad cylinder.
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