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New Car/Review


Toyota Corolla LE (2001)

SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 14,198
     Price As Tested                                    $ 18,684
     Engine Type              DOHC 16-valve 1.8 Liter I4 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 109 cid/1794 cc
     Horsepower                                   125 @ 5800 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               126 @ 4000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                   97.0"/66.7"/174.0"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     2695 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  13.2 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          P185/65R14 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                           Disc (FRT)/drum (RR)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                 70 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.31


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            30/39/35
     0-60 MPH                                       10.5 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          17.0 seconds @ 80.6 mph
     Top-speed                                           100 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(The Toyota Corolla came on the Japanese market in 1966, according to Bob Hagin. "I was only a year old back then," says his son Matt.)

MATT - The Toyota Corolla is an old-timer on our market, Dad. It started its career here in '69 as a front-engined, rear-drive "econobox" with a 1.1-liter engine that usually outlasted the rust-prone body. The "cheapie" two-door sedan sold for around $1700 and according to the current value guide booklets, a really good one goes for not much less than that today.

BOB - I had a couple of those, Matt, and mine got just about the same fuel mileage as the new one we had for a week. Needless to say, the new version is lots more luxurious, as well as faster and quicker. It's also progressed up the ladder of prosperity and it's not the bottom- feeder in the Toyota motor pool any more. At 2700 pounds, it isn't a lightweight and it comes in three "flavors," the CE which is the "stripper" of the bunch; the LE which has lots of amenities and available options, and the S version, which is cosmetically more sporty than the other two.

MATT - All three have pretty much the same running gear. The powerplant is a 109 cubic-inch four-banger that puts out 125 horses and 126 pound-feet of torque. It's all-aluminum and uses an advanced form of variable valve timing that operates on the twin-cam four-valve-per- cylinder head. That's a lot of ponies for what is basically an economical family car that is built to last 200,000 miles. I was somewhat surprised to note that the cams are driven by a chain rather than a belt. In the long run, that knocks out a rather expensive belt change from the list of required maintenance items.

BOB - The standard transmission on all three Corolla models is a five-speed manual that provides very spirited performance and the best fuel mileage, I'm told. Our LE test car had a four-speed automatic that isn't bad if you don't want to shift for yourself but the base CE utilizes a less-expensive three-speed automatic. As I read the specifications on the three Corollas, it became obvious that the CE is designed to be used mostly in corporate fleets or as an airport rental.

MATT - The LE we had was fitted with all the bells-and-whistles can be packed into a relatively inexpensive car. The moonroof is a slide-and-tilt unit and a/c, power doors and windows, color-keyed outside mirrors and lots of other stuff is part of a value package. The options that I thought were useful were the cruise control, the anti- lock braking system and the side airbags. Those items added quite a bit to the price of the car, but they're well worth the money. The only cost-cutter that I found was the use of drum brakes in back.

BOB - I'm not crazy about the "emergency" spare that the Corollas carry, but since our car carried the optional aluminum wheels, a full-sized spare would have added an unnecessary expense for something that in most cases, will never come out of the trunk. Incidentally, the Corolla is the first Toyota that has an emergency in-trunk release just in case someone somehow gets locked up back there. The S version is part of Toyota's attack on the youth market that seems to go for economical but glitzy sedans now rather than performance-oriented coupes and convertibles. Our car had an embryonic spoiler on the trunk that's rather costly and of dubious value since the top speed of the Corolla is only 100 mph.

MATT - All the Corollas are made either in the USA or in Canada. In 1997 the Toyota Corolla became the best-selling car model name-plate of all time by pulling ahead of the VW Beetle but in reality it took six or seven "generations" to do it. Toyota does a good job of covering all the American market niches and this Corolla is a good example of that philosophy. They last a long time and are relatively trouble-free.

BOB - That's right, Matt. If Toyota had put a good coating of underseal on my '68 Corolla, it would be in my driveway still.