Thursday, May 30, 2013

Used Car Review - Toyota Corona (1993-1999)

Our last candidate for the elections, despite the name, tries to win the general buyers' wallets as well as the seat. Myk Belmonte invites you to discover a rather forgotten name.

1993-1999 Toyota Corona

If the 90s premium sedans had an election back in year 1995 (this was the time Fidel Ramos was president), the Accord would definitely be Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (she used a senator) since this topped the polls as well as the sales leader for that category. The Mitsubishi Galant and Toyota Corona would be Francisco Tatad and Gregorio Honasan II in the sales charts due to the fact while they sold well, they are not as that visible as the sales leader. The Mazda 626 and Nissan Altima fared outside the top 12 since these two are not popular among buyers of this category. Worse, the Altima can be compared with Rosemarie Arenas, who placed 19 out of 20 candidates.

The T190 Corona, as what I am featuring in this review, was made available in March 1992 in most international markets under the Corona and Carina names. Sold in sedan, liftback, station wagon, hardtop sedan, and even a van version. Interestingly enough, this was the last that those outside Japan can buy and drive a brand new Corona, as the T210 model was only exclusive for the Japanese market. Toyota pulled the plug for international markets in 1998.

Filipinos had a love affair with Coronas (not the disposed Chief Justice nor the imported beer from Mexico), but with a Toyota badge. You get the image but with the maintenance costs of a Corolla, that was the appeal of the Corona locally. The T190 was made available in 1993 and did battle with the Accord and Galant. Time had passed in which the Camry replaced this vehicle in 1998, although you can buy one until 1999, which are basically leftover units. From launch, the only trim available is the EX Saloon but one year after the 1995 revision, the Exsior model was introduced with extended bumpers and red/amber tail lamps. The Exsior spawned a second model, the LE which had leather upholstery.

Value and Costs
This vehicle is a victim of low residuals that targets premium sedans having an engine displacement of two liters. Not also to be helped by the discontinued nameplate, T190 Coronas can be acquired in the range of P120,000-P180,000. In that range, direct rivals of the same period can be had for the same sum. Either way, careful research is the key since the Corona targets those who want things smooth.

Common problems that hit the T190 involves the leak from the pump and rack, map sensor, water leak in the trunk, power antenna, and the suspension bushing. But despite these maladies, you can buy parts easily and they are cheap. Fuel economy is no match to a 1.6 Corolla GLi of a same time.

Exterior and Interior
European inspired is the term to describe the outside of the Corona, but the car remains Japanese at heart. 1993 to early 1995 models have their license plates mounted in the rear bumper, as opposed to the facelift's integrated to the trunk. 1995 saw its bumpers, both front and back, sporting a black trim and a three piece spoiler was made standard. Exsior models have (and can be distinguished by their) extended bumpers, and the mix of red and amber tail lamps. It is understated luxury here, but with the European touch.

Inside, it is your typical Toyota interior. Controls are legible and placed within reasonable distance from the driver. Interestingly enough, climate controls are more of the rotator type (which is common among cars nowadays) than the slide ones which are vogue during that time. Black finish was used and faux wood is only available on the Exsior LE. Most models have fabric seats but the Exsior LE gets leather seating, and other exclusive items include an air purifier and the above mentioned wood trim. Airbags and ABS Brakes come standard with 1995 and later models. Interior room is definitely excellent, but driver visibility is somewhat poor no thanks to the high cowl, high dashboard layout, and low seating position.

There is only one engine option for PHDM Coronas back then. It is a 3S-FE 1,998cc which carries 126hp at 5,600rpm and 177Nm at 4,400rpm. A strength typical for Toyotas are available power in the low to mid revs, but go beyond 5,000rpm it loses stream. But then, if you have the love for modification, slapping in a 3S-GE or 3S-GTE is a cake and you'll be driving like the devil in no time.

Driving Impressions
Let me remind you one thing, the Corona is not a treat for the driver due to the seats positioned very low, and a dull steering. It does not drive like a barge, but since it is a smooth operator, your passengers would love it more, thanks to the large space in the rear.

The Corona is one outstanding premium sedan from the noughties, buy one if you want comfort for less cash. But if economy is a priority, a 1.6 vehicle from the same period is a better choice. Besides, both of them have the same prices and there is the freedom of choice for the buyer. Vote (or shall I say buy) wisely.

The Good:
  • Smooth ride
  • Reliable
  • Reasonable amount of interior room
The Bad:
  • Not great on higher rpms
  • Fuel guzzler
  • Good luck if the power steering fluid leaks
The Pick: EX Saloon

Engine: 1,998cc 3S-FE I4 gasoline
Power: 126hp @ 5,600rpm
Torque: 177Nm @ 4,400rpm
Fuel Consumption: 4-7km/L (city), 7-10km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: No data available

Price (New): P800,000-P900,000 (estimated)
Price (Now): P120,000-P180,000
Rivals: Honda Accord, Mitsubishi Galant, Nissan Altima, Mazda 626
On Sale: 1993-1999 (production until 1998)

Toyorama - (02) 712-0105

Photos courtesy of

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