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Used Toyota Corolla review: 2001-2007

EXPERT RATING
6
Graham Smith reviews the 2001-2007 Toyota Corolla as a used buy. The 9th generation Toyota Corolla arrived late in 2001. It was an all-new model, but followed closely in the wheel tracks of its predecessors. A conventional front-wheel drive small car, the Corolla was available as a four door sedan, a five door hatch,

Graham Smith reviews the 2001-2007 Toyota Corolla as a used buy.

The 9th generation Toyota Corolla arrived late in 2001. It was an all-new model, but followed closely in the wheel tracks of its predecessors.

A conventional front-wheel drive small car, the Corolla was available as a four door sedan, a five door hatch, and a four door wagon, making it an attractive option for small car buyers, whatever their needs and wants.

  • 2002 Toyota Corolla Ascent sedan 2002 Toyota Corolla Ascent sedan
  • 2002 Toyota Corolla Conquest hatch 2002 Toyota Corolla Conquest hatch
  • 2002 Toyota Corolla Conquest hatch 2002 Toyota Corolla Conquest hatch
  • 2002 Toyota Corolla Conquest wagon 2002 Toyota Corolla Conquest wagon
  • 2002 Toyota Corolla Levin hatch 2002 Toyota Corolla Levin hatch
  • 2002 Toyota Corolla Levin wagon 2002 Toyota Corolla Levin wagon
  • 2002 Toyota Corolla Ultima sedan 2002 Toyota Corolla Ultima sedan
  • 2002 Toyota Corolla Ultima interior 2002 Toyota Corolla Ultima interior
  • 2002 Toyota Corolla range 2002 Toyota Corolla range

Models

The model line-up consisted of the entry-level Ascent, then climbed through the Conquest, Levin and Ultima at the top of the range.

Forget touch screens and new-fangled tech like park assist. When you bought the Ascent you got a radio cassette sound system with four speakers, and a tilt-adjustable steering column, central locking, power mirrors, pair of cupholders in the centre console and intermittent wipers, but that was about it. Air-conditioning was available, but as an option.

A CD player and remote central locking became standard in 2002.

Air-conditioning and a CD stacker were added to the list in 2004.

The Conquest was a little better equipped from the get-go, with standard air conditioning, a CD player, and power front windows.

Being larger than the outgoing model with a taller body, the new Corolla's cabin was quite roomy.

In the Levin you also got remote keyless central locking and sports front seats.

As its name suggests the Ultima had the most of all, including velour trim, woodgrain, a CD stacker and six speakers, power windows front and rear, fog lamps, and 15-inch alloy wheels. Sat nav was an optional extra.

A sporty version, the Sportivo, was added to the choices in 2003. It too was feature-laden, with 16-inch alloy wheels, CD stacker with six speakers, climate control air con, fog lamps, leather sports seats, leather steering wheel, leather gear knob, power windows and mirrors, and a sports body kit. A sunroof was optional.

No Parking sensors or reversing camera were offered, nor was Bluetooth for syncing your iPhone or Android device.

  • 2003 Toyota Corolla Sportivo hatch 2003 Toyota Corolla Sportivo hatch
  • 2003 Toyota Corolla Sportivo interior 2003 Toyota Corolla Sportivo interior
  • 2003 Toyota Corolla Sportivo hatch 2003 Toyota Corolla Sportivo hatch

Roomy Cabin

Being larger than the outgoing model with a taller body, the new Corolla's cabin was quite roomy; the occupants sat more upright for decent front and rear legroom.

It was rated to seat five, but getting three in the rear seat was a bit of a squeeze. Four was more comfortable with two adults in the rear seat.

The sedan boasted a good sized boot, the hatch offered more flexibility with its split-fold rear seat, while the wagon delivered the most of all with its boxy shape.

There were plenty of storage options with a glove box, console, and cup holders.

Engine

The Ascent, Conquest, Levin and Ultima used a 1.8-litre fuel-injected four-cylinder petrol engine that boasted 100 kW (134 horsepower) and 171 Nm of torque.

With a spread of torque across the rev range it had enough zip to make it an easy driver in all situations, and also deliver good fuel economy.

Thanks to the sporty suspension tuning the handling was quite agile and responsive.

The power and torque of the engine was reduced slightly in 2004 when it was retuned to meet new emission standards, but its performance was largely undiminished.

The Sportivo had a more highly tuned version of the engine with 141 kW (189 horsepower) and 180 Nm of torque.

The gearbox options varied depending on the model. The Ascent, Conquest and Levin had the option of a four-speed automatic transmission and a five-speed manual, the Ultima came only with the four-speed auto, the Sportivo was only available with a six-speed manual.

  • 2005 Toyota Corolla Sportivo hatch 2005 Toyota Corolla Sportivo hatch
  • 2005 Toyota Corolla Sportivo hatch 2005 Toyota Corolla Sportivo hatch
  • 2005 Toyota Corolla Conquest hatch and Ultima sedan 2005 Toyota Corolla Conquest hatch and Ultima sedan

Driving

The performance was not exhilarating, but it was sufficiently zippy with a modest kerb weight and good response to make it a comfortable and easy driver around town and out on the highway.

With improved NVH the Corolla was quieter than its predecessor with reduced road noise and general mechanical noises to bother those inside.

While firmish, the ride was still comfortable, and thanks to the sporty suspension tuning the handling was quite agile and responsive.

Safety

If safety is a priority it's important to know that the Ascent and Conquest were only equipped with a driver's airbag as standard. To get the full safety kit in those models you had to stump up more for the optional Safety Pack.

An update in 2004 saw the Conquest get a passenger airbag.

The Levin was better equipped in that regard, in that it also had a passenger airbag and side front airbags, ABS braking, Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), seat belt pre-tensioners and load limiters.

It was the Ultima that had all of the safety gear standard, including front driver and passenger airbags, front side airbags, ABS braking, Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), seat belt pre-tensioners and load limiters.

Like the Ultima, the Sportivo was also blessed with a comprehensive array of safety gear. Included were driver and passenger front airbags, ABS antilock braking, Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), seat belt pre-tensioners and load limiters. Missing from the Sportivo were side front airbags.

ANCAP rated this model Corolla at four stars.

It was too early for electronic stability control, likewise for ISOFIX baby car seat location points (legal in Australia from 2014).

Any common issues?

Toyota has a well-earned reputation for reliability and the Corolla was as soundly engineered, well built and reliable as any other in the brand.

That doesn't mean things don't, or won't go wrong with it, they do, particularly now that on average the earliest examples could well have done 350,000km or more and even the last of the line could have racked up as much as 250,000km.

With that in mind it's important to shop around and look for a car with low kilometres that's in tip-top shape and has been serviced by the book.

Toyota recommended servicing every 10,000 km, with major services every 40,000 km. Service costs are modest, and to ensure a long and reliable life it's important that the servicing has been done as per the recommendation. This generation Corolla pre-dates eligibility for any current capped price servicing program.

While Toyota's reputation for reliability is generally impeccable the Corolla was caught up in a number of recalls.

The Corolla engines in this model used a cam timing chain, not a belt, eliminating the need for servicing.

While Toyota's reputation for reliability is generally impeccable the Corolla was caught up in a number of recalls that somewhat tarnished the company's image.

The most concerning recall related to the airbag inflators, which could malfunction in a crash.

Another related to the headlight dimmer switch, which could overheat and stop the headlights from working.

Cars fitted with a sunroof were recalled because the sunroof could be operated with the ignition turned on, which contravened the ADR.

To ensure the relevant reworks have been done check with a Toyota dealer.

MORE: If anything crops up, you'll probably find it on our Toyota Corolla problems page.

The original new car warranty was for 3 years or 100,000km.

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
2007 $2,200 $6,050
2006 $2,100 $5,720
2005 $2,400 $5,390
2004 $2,300 $5,390
2003 $2,300 $5,170
2002 $2,200 $5,060
2001 $2,200 $5,060

View all Toyota Corolla pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

$3,990
Based on 54 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$990
Highest Price
$6,999

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Ascent Seca 1.8L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,999 – 5,995 2001 Toyota Corolla 2001 Ascent Seca Pricing and Specs
ConqueST Seca 1.8L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $1,800 – 3,999 2001 Toyota Corolla 2001 ConqueST Seca Pricing and Specs
Levin Seca 1.8L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,400 – 4,070 2001 Toyota Corolla 2001 Levin Seca Pricing and Specs
Sportivo 1.8L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,400 – 4,070 2001 Toyota Corolla 2001 Sportivo Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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