The Toyota Corolla is a series of compact cars manufactured and marketed by the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota since 1966. Introduced in 1966, the Corolla was the best-selling car worldwide by 1974 and has been one of the best-selling cars in the world since then. The 12th-generation Toyota Corolla offers impressive fuel efficiency and an abundance of standard safety features in a compact package that looks far more exciting than it is to drive. Toyota also makes significant trim-level and powertrain changes to the Corolla for 2023.
History of the Toyota Corolla
First Generation Toyota Corolla (E10; 1966–1970)
The first generation Corolla was introduced in November 1966 with the new 1100 cc K pushrod engine. The Corolla Sprinter was introduced as the fastback version in 1968, and exclusive to a Toyota Japan dealership retail outlet called Toyota Auto Store. The first-generation Corolla was not long-lived in the United States, launching in Japan in 1966 but only hitting American shores in 1968. That first-generation Corolla—a budget-friendly, 1.1L inline four-cylinder-powered machine—was a departure from the muscle machines of the era. Even though the Corolla wasn't as cool as, say, a '69 Chevrolet Camaro Z28, these early Corollas did help establish Toyota in the United States.
Second Generation Toyota Corolla (E20; 1970–1974)
In May 1970, the E20 was restyled with a more rounded body. The now mutually exclusive Corolla and Sprinter names were used to differentiate between two slightly different treatments of sheet metal and trim. The Corolla Levin and Sprinter Trueno names were introduced as the enhanced performance version of the Corolla and Sprinter respectively when a double overhead camshaft version of the 2T engine was introduced in March 1972 (TE27). In September 1970, the 1400 cc T and 1600 cc 2T OHV engines were added to the range. In Australia, only the 1.2L engine (3K) powered 2-door KE20 was available as a sedan and wagon/panel van. In New Zealand, the 4-door KE20 was available. Most models stopped production in July 1974 but the KE26 wagon and van were still marketed in Japan alongside the new 30-series, until production finally ended in May 1978.
Third Generation Toyota Corolla (E30, E40, E50, E60; 1974–1979)
April 1974 brought rounder, bigger, and heavier Corollas and Sprinters. The range was rounded out with the addition of a two-door liftback. The Corollas were given E30 codes while the Sprinters were given E40 codes. A facelift in March 1976 saw most Corolla E30 models replaced by equivalent E50 models and most Sprinter E40 models were replaced by equivalent E60 models. The E30 Corolla was fitted with retracting front seat belts. In Australia, KE3x was available as a 4-door sedan, 2-door sedan, 2-door panel van (KE36), and 4-door wagon (KE38). All had 3K engines and K40 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic gearbox. Later KE5x models were available as 4-door sedans or 2-door coupes (a true pillarless design) with 4K engines.
Fourth Generation Toyota Corolla (E70; 1979–1983)
A major restyle in March 1979 brought a square-edged design. The Corollas had a simpler treatment of the grill, headlights, and tail lights while the Sprinter used a slightly more complex, sculptured treatment. The new A series engines were added to the range as a running change. This was the last model to use the K "hicam" and T series engines. Fuel injection was introduced as an extra cost option on Japanese market vehicles. The wagon and van continued to be made until June 1987 after the rest of the range was replaced by the E80 generation.
Fifth Generation Toyota Corolla (E80; 1983–1987)
A sloping front bonnet and a contemporary sharp-edged, no-frills style were brought in in May 1983. The new 1839 cc 1C diesel engine was added to the range with the E80 Series. From 1985, re-badged E80 Sprinters were sold in the U.S. as the fifth-generation Chevrolet Nova. Fuel injection was introduced as an extra-cost option internationally. Most models now used the front-wheel drive layout except the AE85 and AE86, which were to be the last Corollas offered in the rear-wheel drive or FR layout. The AE85 and AE86 chassis codes were also used for the Sprinter (including the Sprinter Trueno). The Sprinter was nearly identical to the Corolla, differing only by minor body styling changes such as pop-up headlights. This generation was made until 1990 in Venezuela.
Sixth Generation Toyota Corolla (E90; 1987–1991)
A somewhat more rounded and aerodynamic style was used for the E90 introduced in May 1987. Overall this generation has a more refined feel than older Corollas and other older subcompacts. Most models were now front-wheel drive, along with a few AWD All-Trac models. Many engines were used on a wide array of trim levels and models, ranging from the 1.3L 2E to the 123 kilowatts (165 hp) supercharged 4A-GZE. In the US, the E90 Sprinter was built and sold as both the Toyota Sprinter and the Geo Prizm. In Australia, the E90 Corolla was built and sold as both the Toyota Corolla and the Holden Nova.
Seventh Generation Toyota Corolla (E100; 1991–1994)
In June 1991, Corollas received a redesign to be larger, heavier, and have the completely rounded, aerodynamic shape of the 1990s. In the United States, the somewhat larger Corolla was now in the compact class, rather than subcompact, and the coupé was still available in some markets, known as the AE101 Corolla Levin. Carburetors were mostly retired with this generation.
Eighth Generation Toyota Corolla (E110; 1995–2000)
Production of the E110 Corolla started in May 1995. The design of the car was slightly altered throughout but retained a look similar to that of the E100. In 1998, for the first time, some non-Japanese Corollas received the new 1ZZ-FE engine. The 1ZZ-FE engine had an aluminum engine block and aluminum cylinder heads, which made models powered by this motor lighter than versions powered by A-series engines which had cast iron blocks with aluminum heads. The model range began to change as Toyota decided styling differences would improve sales in different markets. This generation was delayed in North America until mid-1997 (the US 1998 model year) when it had unique front and rear styling. Europe and Australasia received versions of their own as well. In Pakistan, this model was halted in November 1998, while production was closed in March 2002.
Ninth Generation Toyota Corolla (E120, E130; 2000–2006)
In August 2000, the E120 ninth-generation Corolla was introduced in Japan, with edgier styling and more technology to bring the nameplate into the 21st century. This version was sold in Japan, Australasia, Europe, and the Middle East. In mid-2001, the E120 Corolla Altis was released. The North American release was delayed until March 2002 (for the 2003 model year). The E130 was sold in North America from 2003 to 2008. The E120 continued in parallel in separate markets to the E130. The station wagon model is called the Corolla Fielder in Japan. Production in Japan ended in January 2007 (for Corolla Runx and Allex), but production in North America continued until October 2007. Production continued in China as the Corolla EX until February 2017.
Tenth Generation Toyota Corolla (E140, E150; 2006–2012)
The tenth generation of the E140 Corolla was introduced in October 2006. Japanese markets called the sedan Corolla Axio. The station wagon retained the Corolla Fielder name. For international markets, a wider version of the E140 was sold with different styling, with the Southeast Asian, Pakistani, Indian, and Taiwanese markets retaining the Corolla Altis branding. Production continued from June 2014 until 2020 in South Africa as the entry-level Corolla Quest. In Australasia, the related first-generation Toyota Auris was also sold as the Corolla hatchback alongside the sedan body shape of the International E140 Corolla.
Eleventh Generation Toyota Corolla (E160, E170, E180; 2012–2018)
The 11th-generation Corolla rolled onto our shores in 2013 with a ton of high-tech features that consumers desired—even demanded—from entry-level cars.
High-tech features like adaptive cruise control and the Toyota Safety Sense-P safety suite are only among a handful of additions to this tech-heavy Toyota. This generation also pushed the Corolla further upmarket with a nicer overall interior. Toyota also replaced the traditional automatic transmission with a more fuel-efficient continuously variable transmission.
Twelfth Generation Toyota Corolla (E210; 2018–Present)
The twelfth generation Corolla in hatchback body style was unveiled as a pre-production model in early March 2018 at the Geneva Motor Show as the Auris. The production version of the Corolla Hatchback for the North American market was unveiled on 28 March 2018 at the New York International Auto Show, with the official details and photos revealed on 22 March 2018. The estate variation of the twelfth-generation Corolla, called the Corolla Touring Sports (simply called Corolla Touring in Japan), was unveiled at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. The sedan variation of the Corolla was unveiled simultaneously between 15 and 16 November 2018 in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, United States, and in China at the 2018 Guangzhou International Motor Show.
For the 2023 model year, Toyota retails the Toyota Corolla with a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $22,645 for the base LE Sedan, rising to its top-spec XSE Sedan variant at around $27,795.
- 2023 Toyota Corolla LE Sedan - $22,645
- 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE Sedan - $23,895
- 2023 Toyota Corolla SE Hatchback - $24,060
- 2023 Toyota Corolla SE Sedan - $25,085
- 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE Sedan - $26,335
- 2023 Toyota Corolla XSE Hatchback - $27,525
- 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XLE Sedan - $27,695
- 2023 Toyota Corolla XSE Sedan - $27,795
Features of the Toyota Corolla
The Toyota Corolla sedan we review here is an attractive offering in the segment, with J-shaped LED headlights, a gaping grille, and a handsome rear end that features a faux diffuser and vent-shaped reflectors. 15-inch steel wheels are fitted to the base L model and the Hybrid variant, with 16s on the LE trim. All other models feature alloy wheels, with these available in 16-inch (XLE) and 18-inch sizing (SE, SE Nightshade, XSE) with various finishes. Upper trims also feature chrome twin exhaust tips, while the SE Nightshade version adds numerous black accents to the door handles, mirror caps, badges, and even the shark-fin roof antenna and trunk spoiler. The Apex Edition, available for both SE and XSE models, is a sporty special edition and comes with a unique black aero kit with bronze accents, as well as a unique front spoiler, fog light covers, rocker panels, and rear diffuser. A trunk spoiler - color-keyed for the SE Apex Edition and black for the XSE Apex Edition - is standard, while unique 18-inch wheels are standard, making for an attractive exterior in this spec. Hybrid models have blue-tinted Toyota logos to differentiate them from the rest of the range.
The Corolla's interior is nothing uncommon for the segment, with plenty of plastics and a simple, ergonomic layout. However, those plastics feel great and are rarely interrupted by hard plastics, and most of the inferior materials aren't on high-traffic touchpoints. The central touchscreen display sits proudly atop the dash, while a small TFT screen aids the driver. Overall, it looks and feels appealing, and there's no cause for concern when it comes to building quality. The seats are comfortable too, and the cabin is spacious, although taller individuals may be slightly happier in the front, whereas some trims offer heated seats.
Specs and Performance of the Toyota Corolla
- 1.2 L 8NR-FTS turbo I4
- 1.2 L 9NR-FTS turbo I4 (China)
- 1.5 L M15A-FKS I3
- 1.5 L M15B-FKS I3 (China)
- 1.5 L M15C-FKS I3 (China; Levin)
- 1.6 L 1ZR-FE/1ZR-FAE I4
- 1.8 L 2ZR-FE/2ZR-FAE I4
- 2.0 L M20A-FKS I4
- 2.0 L M20C-FKS I4 (China; Levin GT)
- 2.0 L M20E-FKS I4 (China; Allion)
- 1.6 L 1ZR-FBE I4
- 1.8 L 2ZR-FBE I4
- 2.0 L M20A-FKB I4
- 1.8 L 2ZR-FXE I4
- 1.8 L 8ZR-FXE I4 (China)
- 2.0 L M20A-FXS I4
The Toyota Corolla has never been a shrine to performance, and 2022's version is no different. The Corolla comes with a choice of two gas engines, both of which are four-cylinder motors with no forced induction, and a hybrid setup. The entry-level engine is a 1.8L that produces 139 hp and 126 lb-ft, and as you can guess, a 0-60 mph time of fewer than 10 seconds is all you can ask for here. The 2.0L is slightly better with its 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque, but this engine still only motivates the Corolla to get from 0 to 60 mph in eight seconds. The hybrid Corolla uses the 1.8L four-pot combined with two electric motors for anemic outputs of 121 hp and 105 lb-ft. Dimension-wise, the international Toyota Corolla measures 4,630 mm (182.3 in) long, 1,780 mm (70.1 in) wide, and 1,435–1,455 mm (56.5–57.3 in) high. Its wheelbase measures 2,700 mm (106.3 in) and has a curb weight of 2,844–3,153 lbs (1,290–1,430 kg).
Since its debut in 1966, the Toyota Corolla has become an iconic staple on roads worldwide. After successful generations of evolution and innovation, it's no surprise that the vehicle is now one of the top-selling cars on a global scale.
Recently released for 2023, this year marks yet another milestone as drivers enjoy Toyota's twelfth model reincarnation.