Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Used Car Review - Toyota Corolla (1993-1998)

Who wants to reminisce their college days during the 90s? Whether you are married, a college boy, or even a kid, there is no escape for this car. You'll see this as a taxi, police car, or even privately owned. Myk Belmonte invites you to go back in time with this car and relieve some memories as we take off.

1993-1998 Toyota Corolla

Thanks to user GTi of tsikot.com for supplying some data!

Filipinos have a very soft spot for Corollas. Locally, the 1988-1992 Corolla is nicknamed as the "Small Body", but other nicks such as "16 Valve" and "SKD" (acronym for Semi Knock Down) were also used by enthusiasts. Two generations after, the 1998-2001 Corolla had the name of "Love Life". But the 1993-1998 Corolla had people call it the "Big Body."

Heavier, larger, and visually more aerodynamic than the model it replaced, with development chief Dr. Akihiko Saito wanted to develop a "mini-Lexus", after the success of the marque. With the model being sold around the world and with multiple variants which includes a sedan, hatchback, coupe, and station wagon variants. Produced from 1991-1998 worldwide, it was one of Toyota's successful vehicles.

Three variants were made available for the Filipino consumer, the base XL, mid-level XE, and the top end GLI. Limited edition variants sprouted out which included a Limited variant with stickers in Gold, an SE Limited variant, a TRD variant, and shockingly, a TOMS variant. With Toyota's fabled reliability, Filipinos purchased Corollas in an instant. From Manong Pulis to Kuya Taxi Driver to that working family man, the AE101 Corolla found home in different Filipino garages.

Value and Costs
From P100,000-P175,000, one can get a second hand Corolla with varying state of condition. Early generation variants are priced lower while later models do have prices within P160,000-P175,000. As much as possible, find a stock unit to encounter fewer headaches from ex-taxi units (which you could currently count) to modified units (it was a favorite of drag racers).

Cost of maintenance is much affordable despite its age. Parts are aplenty from the original ones to replacement parts to third party ones. If you're considering an XL or XE variant, check the carburetor if it works fine. Automatics are not available in the 1.3 variants

Exterior and Interior
Designed to mimic a Lexus, the Corolla lends out a luxury touch on the outside. Credit the Lexus-like styling since it aimed to be heavier, larger, and completely round. The design is purely 90's, with that aerodynamic theme which is associated from cars during that time.

Going inside, it can fit five warm bodies in it. The Corolla Big Body was able to introduce several firsts in the market which includes rear seatbelts, front cup holders (added in late 1994), and a driver's airbag (placed in late 1995). Controls are logically placed and easy to manipulate, which is one of the Corolla's strong points.

Standard norm among compact sedans in the 90s are engine choices of a carburetor and a fuel injected engine. XL and XE variants are fitted with a 2E 1,295cc which has 72hp at 6,000rpm and 98Nm at 3,600rpm while GLI variants do have a 1,587cc 4A-FE engine with 113hp at 5,800rpm and 137Nm at 4,800rpm. It may look conservative but they do have enormous low end power, which is the Corolla's selling point over its competitors. And mind you, the Carburetor engine is freakin' fast in stock form.

Driving Impressions
If it's a Corolla, it must be comfortable. Yes, this is true. Corollas are comfortable to ride in, and a lot of commuters attest to this back then. The line-up of engines are all fuel efficient, and do have an abundance of low end torque, which is an advantage when one is planning to drive in the city. Those driving an XL variant from a vehicle with power steering must have the time and patience of driving a car without one. As local parlance calls it "pawis steering", it takes an amount of physical work for someone to steer in a mall parking lot.

The Corolla sells well for a good and a right reason. Parts are cheap, fuel efficient, reliable, and comfortable to ride in. It may be aplenty like that annoying Justin Bieber song, but it serves the purpose right. Buyers who are seeking a car good for everyday usage in a budget, the "Big Body" Corolla is a solid choice, despite its decade old age. Still, it would be a classic one time.

The Good:
  • Very comfortable ride
  • Painless maintenance cost
  • The legendary Toyota reliability
The Bad:
  • Carburetor is a money pit, especially if the unit is not well maintained
  • Power Steering unavailable on XL
  • Hard plastics abound (picky motorists would complain)
The Pick: 1.6 GLi in MT or AT

Engines: 1,295cc 2E Carburetor and 1,587cc 4A-FE I4 gasoline
Power: 72hp @ 6,000rpm (1.3), 113hp @ 5,800rpm (1.6)
Torque: 98Nm @ 3,600rpm (1.3), 137Nm @ 4,800rpm (1.6)
Fuel Consumption: 8-11km/L (city); 10-13km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front and rear independent McPherson struts

Price (New): P340,000-P570,000 (range)
Price (Now): P100,000-P175,000
Rivals: Nissan Sentra, Mitsubishi Lancer, Honda Civic, Mazda 323 Famillia
On Sale: 1993-Early 1998
Toyota Corolla Club Philippines

Toyota Balintawak North - 917-7215
Toyota Quezon Avenue - 731-5123
Toyota Cubao - 911-0651

Photos courtesy of olx.com http://baguiocity.olx.com.ph/toyota-corolla-gli-1997-automatic-iid-128292382


  1. An uncle of mine has a big-body Corolla, but it's a Canadian-made one fitted with the 1.8L 7A-FE engine and A/T, currently converted to also run on CNG.

  2. Sir Myk, can you give us reviews for the corolla 1988-1992 models please..? 1993-1998 is the only available review posted, please sir Myk..?

  3. I have one right now in very good condition. Thanx so much.

  4. Mine is an XE '97. Reliable car, easy to maintain, never had a major problem, abundant spare parts. Thnx.