By Jeremy Cato

The Corollas that Toyota made from 1993-1997 have proven to be excellent little commuter cars, but initially they weren’t good enough for Toyota. You can see this for yourself. Scan the Buyer’s Alerts and you’ll come across a number of running improvements Toyota made to improve the operation of such things as the power windows and the compact disc player, as well as the automatic transmission and the suspension.

Toyota calls this kaizan, or continuous improvement. What it means to you, the used car buyer, is that a 1995, ’96 or ’97 Corolla is very likely a better factory product than a 1993 or a ’94.

That said, all Corollas built during this period are likely to be a completely painless car. Just get in, turn the key and go – as long as regular service has been maintained. You can reasonably expect 220,000-260,000 km of relatively trouble-free life from this version of the Corolla – again, as long as the maintenance work has been done.

Certainly that’s what owner surveys from the Canadian Automobile Association, Consumer’s Union and J.D. Power and Associates have determined. No wonder the Corolla is the best-selling car in history.

Toyota introduced what was then a spanking new version of the Corolla for 1993 (the next generation arrived for 1998). The 1998-2002 cars were very good but the 1993-1997 Corolla made a more impressive statement about what Toyota thought was possible in basic transportation.

The Corolla lineup was more diverse in 1993, too. Back then Toyota sold a Corolla sedan and a five-door station wagon version that was ideal for family chores.

The engine of choice for either wagon or sedan is a 1.8-litre four-banger (115 hp). This smooth, quiet reliable and effective engine delivers 90 per cent of its torque between 1,600-5,800 rpm.

Also, the new-for-’93 Corolla was much better than the version which preceded it. Aside from being bigger, it was a remarkably refined car. In fact, the interior space in the ’93 Corolla is about equal to an older Toyota Camry. Not really a small car back then.

The ’93 Corolla arrived with an impressively rigid body structure that muffled noisy vibrations. Not only that, steel panels in the dashboard, rear housing and floor panels were sandwiched with asphalt to reduce noise dramatically.

Then we have the overall attention to detail. The door locks and controls such as turning signals operate with a solid feel and a satisfying click. Colours and tones blend seamlessly and the carpeting and upholstery fabrics even on older cars have proven, in general, to be durable.

Corollas have won all sorts of awards over the years. The 1993-1997 cars, though, were special – not unlike the 1992-96 version of the Toyota Camry. If you find one with low mileage and in otherwise good shape, buy it.

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site,, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site,

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see

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