New Car/Review

1997 TOYOTA COROLLA DX

by Tom Hagin

toyota

SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide


SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 14,988
     Price As Tested                                    $ 17,669
     Engine Type                             1.8 Liter I4 w/MFI*
     Engine Size                                  110cid/1762 cc
     Horsepower                                   105 @ 5200 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               117 @ 2800 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                       97"/66.3"/172"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     2474 Pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  13.2 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                      185/65R14
     Brakes (F/R)                                      Disc/drum
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                 50 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            27/34/30          
     0-60 MPH                                       10.5 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       18 seconds @ 76.5 mph
     Top-speed                                           105 mph


     * Multi-port fuel injection

Over its 30-year history as Toyota's workhorse commuter car, the Corolla has been very successful. It began as affordable, reliable transportation and to this day continues this theme. Available in Base and DX models, Corolla hasn't changed much since its redesign in '93, save for new door trim and a specially-contented Classic Edition model, which packages some of the more popular options onto the Base model.

OUTSIDE - Corolla looks quite a bit like the Toyota Camry, one of the best-selling vehicles on our shores. It is rounded somewhat to aid in aerodynamics, yet still possesses enough of a pointed shape to give it character. Its tail drops sharply, and the trunk is notched to provide a low lift-over height for loading cargo. The trunk will accept just over 12 cubic feet of gear, but will greatly expand when the lockable split rear seat is folded down. Color-keyed bumpers are standard on DX models, and our test car came equipped with optional same-color door handles, outside mirrors, bodyside molding and mudguards. Attractive wheelcovers resemble aluminum wheels, and come as standard equipment. Corolla DX models are distinguished by a reflector panel between the two rear taillamps, while the rest use gray cladding.

INSIDE - Toyota claims that Corolla can carry five, and it can, but three adults in back will find things a bit tight. Its seating is comfortable, however, with durable cloth-covered seats that give ample support for varying personal widths. All of the controls are well-placed and simple to reach, though we'd rather see rotary knobs for the ventilation system, instead of the slide controls currently used. Our test vehicle was well-equipped, and standard interior equipment includes a rear window defogger, remote fuel filler door and trunk releases, full carpeting, a center console and a fully lined trunk. It was optionally- equipped with Toyota's Extra Value package which included floor mats, air conditioning, power windows, door locks and outside mirrors, tilt steering and a four-speaker AM/FM cassette stereo. Cruise control is optional also, and adds important variable-speed intermittent wipers.

ON THE ROAD - Corolla DX models come with a 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine, with dual overhead camshafts and 16 valves. It produces 105 horsepower and 117 lb-ft of torque, with much of that torque coming down low in the rpm range. This gives it excellent off-line power, until just short of its 6000-rpm redline, where it quickly runs out of steam. It delivers good fuel economy, though, and we averaged around 30 mpg for the week. Frugal freeway driving stretched the mileage closer to thirty-five. A pair of transmissions are available: a five-speed manual is offered as standard equipment, and an electronically-controlled four- speed automatic is optional. Our test car used the automatic, and it proved very reliable and sophisticated.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Corolla's chassis features unit-body construction, four-wheel struts, tube shocks and coil springs, with A-arms up front, and lateral and trailing links in back. On Corolla DX models, a pair of stabilizer bars are used, and the tires are one size larger than those used on the Base model, which helps handling and stability. It handled safely and predictably enough, but it isn't overly nimble, and produced some body lean and the front end plowing when put under duress. It is softly sprung, so the ride is smooth and comfortable, although overloading things caused some bottoming of the suspension over pitched pavement. All Corolla models use front disc and rear drum brakes, and an anti-lock system is offered optionally. Slowing Corolla down from freeway speeds produced no drama, but we recommend the anti-lock braking system, which shortens the stopping distances and benefits stability on slippery roads.

SAFETY - Dual airbags, side-impact beams, child protector rear door locks and adjustable front shoulder belts are standard. ABS and a child safety seat are optional.

OPTIONS - The Value Package, which adds a Power Package (windows, locks and mirrors), is $2,587. Cruise control was a $290 extra. Mud guards were $80 - same-color door handles and side moldings $20.

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