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SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide

NEW CAR REVIEW

1996 Toyota Corolla DX Wagon

by Carey Russ

The Corolla has long been a mainstay in the Toyota product line. First introduced in the U. S. in 1968, the current sixth generation made its appearance in the 1993 model year. It is an international car, one of the best-selling cars in the world, and is built in different countries around the world. Three-quarters of the American-market models are made in North America, either in Fremont, California, or in Ontario, Canada. Wagons are produced in Japan. The Corolla models sold in this country have come a long way from the basic-transportation sedans of nearly thirty years ago.

The Corolla has some small trim and detail changes for 1996, place. It's not a luxury car by any means, but it is far from being a basic econobox. Good synthetic materials are used for upholstery and trim and everything is put together with typical Toyota quality in fit and finish. The front bucket seats worked well on a 200-mile highway trip. The rear seat can fold down for increased cargo capacity. When the rear seat is up, a cover may be placed over the cargo area for security. The wagon has an inch more rear headroom than the sedan. My fully-equipped DX wagon had power steering, windows and door locks, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, air conditioning, a rear-window defogger and wiper, cruise control, and an AM/FM/cassette sound system. There is no shortage of amenities for any use.

SAFETY: Standard safety equipment includes driver and passenger airbags, side-impact protection beams, child-safety rear door locks, and 3-point front and outboard rear seat belts with automatic and emergency locking. Antilock brakes are optionally available.

ROADABILITY: Toyota knows how to make small cars that work well. The Corolla DX wagon is very refined for a small, economical car. It has fully-independent strut-type suspension that combines a smooth ride with good handling characteristics. Thanks to Lexus- derived soundproofing technology, the car is very quiet, with only small amounts of wind and road noise. A large amount of glass means great visibility. It can go over 400 miles between fuel stops, with no reason to stop and stretch in between. 1968 was a long time ago.

PERFORMANCE: Considering that the Corolla DX wagon is a small station wagon, not a sports car, it has no lack of power. The 1.8-liter, 16-valve, dual overhead cam 4-cylinder engine makes 105 horsepower, with 117 lb-ft of torque at a low 2800 rpm for good initial acceleration. That is more than merely adequate for around- town use, commuting, and merging into highway traffic. The car is quite capable of acceleration up steep grades that once defeated small cars. The optional 4-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission shifts very smoothly and quietly, and doesn't hunt between gears on hills.

CONCLUSIONS: The Toyota Corolla DX wagon provides a combination of quality, space, power, and fuel economy that can make it a good choice for anyone needing a small wagon.

SPECIFICATIONS
1996 Toyota Corolla DX Wagon
Base Price               $ 15,858
Price As Tested          $ 19,390
Engine Type              inline 4-cylinder, dohc, 16-valve;
			 1.8 liter / 108 cu. in.

Horsepower               105 @ 5200
Torque (lb-ft)           117 @ 2800
Transmission             4-speed electronically-controlled automatic

Wheelbase / Length       97.0 in. / 172 in.
Curb Weight              2480 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower    23.6
Fuel Capacity            13.2 gal.
Fuel Requirement         unleaded regular
Tires                    185/65 R14 Firestone FR680 m+s
Brakes, front/rear       vented disc / drum
Suspension, front/rear   independent MacPherson strut
                         /independent strut
Drivetrain               front engine /front wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
city / highway / observed     27/34/32
0 to 60 mph                   10.5 sec
1/4 mile (E.T.)               17.8 sec
Coefficient of Drag (cd)      .34

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