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  • Reasonable rear seat space
  • Good size boot


  • Lax down-low torque

Toyota Corolla is now in its 50th year in Australia and has consistently been a major player for that entire period, even more so in the last few years when it has been in number one spot outright.

Corolla was built in Melbourne until 1999 and fully imported from Japan since then. Significant improvements were made by Australian engineers to suit them to our conditions. Though the cars are no longer made here Australia continues to provide engineering information to Japan and there’s little doubt Corollas worldwide are all the better for this.

The Australian-built Corollas are getting on in years so we’ll concentrate on the Japanese built ones in this used-car feature. However, there are still many good ones pre-2000 and, while their built quality isn’t quite up to that of the Japanese-made models, you may care to dabble in them as well.

Corollas had conservative styling that was sometimes criticised by trendy people, but it suited the sensible buyers who preferred a less striking shape. In any case, the all-new model of November 2012 took a neat direction midway between conservative and sleek. It has been the best selling car in Australia for most of its life so the designers have obviously got it just right.

Most Corollas are four-door sedans and five-door hatchbacks. A station wagon was sold until the model change of April 2007. While the wagon is a practical machine and has a good load area it was never particularly popular as buyers prefer the macho feel of compact SUVs to sensible station wagons.

Toyota Corolla has reasonable rear-seat room and a good-sized boot so is large enough to be considered as a family car if the children haven’t reached their mid-teen years.

Engines are all four-cylinder units with a capacity of 1.8 litres. Manual gearboxes were five-speed units until the all-new model of May 2007 when a six-speed was installed. An exception to this is the Celica-engined Sportivo which has a close-ratio six-speed unit.

The automatic transmission was a four-speed unit until the 2012 Corolla and an efficient CVT was introduced. Performance from the old four-speeder can be marginal so take it for a test drive to see if it’s okay for you.

The first Corolla Sportivo was introduced in March 2001 - and disappeared from import list before the end of the year. It had rather half-hearted styling-and-suspension changes, but no more engine performance.

Much better was the Sportivo from May 2003 until 2006, it used a variant of the hot Toyota Celica 1.8-litre engine. There’s plenty of power high up the scale, up to 141kW at the peak, but down-low torque is noticeably lacking so driving can be irritating unless you are a full-on sports enthusiast.

The 2001 Toyota Corolla Sport l did have a turbo engine with plenty of grunt, but it was expensive and didn’t sell well, so is relatively rare. As it’s something out of the ordinary it may become a low-level classic in years to come and perhaps even increase in value. No promises, though.

The Corolla is easy for the good amateur mechanic to work on. We recommend having a workshop manual at your side. Anything affecting safety should be left to a professional.

Spare parts and servicing are available through one of the biggest, most widely spread dealer networks in the Australia. Some outlets in the outback may not stock less common components for the Corolla but can usually have them shipped in within a few business days.

Insurance premiums are usually low on all but the turbocharged Sport and full-house Sportivo models.

What to look for

Check for signs of panel damage or previous crash repairs. Easiest to spot are ripples in the body, best seen by looking at the car end on in good light; watch for paint colours that don’t match correctly; look for tiny spots of paint on areas like glass, badges and rubbing strips that should be paint free.

Look carefully at the interior and boot for signs of damage or excessive wear caused by the hurly-burly of family transporting.

The engine should start within a couple of seconds and settle into a smooth idle within seconds. Listen for a rattle from it when it does start and check the oil light goes out quickly.

Look for smoke from the exhaust pipe when the engine is accelerated hard after having been idling for a minute or so.

Make sure the brakes don't pull the car to one side when they are applied hard and that ABS, if fitted, works correctly. A pulsation through the brake pedal under hard braking will tell you all is the ABS is working.

Toyota Corolla 2000: Ascent Seca

Safety Rating
Engine Type Inline 4, 1.8L
Fuel Type Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency 8.5L/100km (combined)
Seating 5
Price From $2,420 - $3,850


How much?

Set your budget between:
$2000 and $4000 for a 2000 Toyota Corolla Conquest
$3500 to $6000 for a 2003 Levin
$5000 and $8000 for a 2006 Conquest
$8000 and $12,000 for a 2008 Levin
$10,000 and$15,000 for s 2010 Ultima
$12,000 and $17,000 for a 2012 Conquest
$15,000 and $21,000 for a 2012 Levin
$16,000 to $22,000 for a 2014 Ultima

Car buying tip

No matter how good a reputation a vehicle has for long life and reliability it still makes sense to get a full professional inspection before purchase.

Have you owned a Corolla? Let us know in the comments below.

Click here to see more Toyota Corolla pricing and spec info.

Pricing Guides

Based on 288 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months.

Range and Specs

Vehicle Specs Price*
Ascent 1.8L, Unleaded Petrol, 6 SPEED MANUAL $9,900 - $13,530
Ascent Sport 1.8L, Unleaded Petrol, 6 SPEED MANUAL $12,540 - $16,720
Levin SX 1.8L, Unleaded Petrol, 6 SPEED MANUAL $12,320 - $16,390
See all 2015 Toyota Corolla in the Range
*Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price
Ewan Kennedy
Contributing Journalist
Ewan Kennedy is the director of Marque Motoring and occasional CarsGuide contributor. An automotive expert with decades of experience, Kennedy has a specialist knowledge of a vehicle’s technical elements.
About Author
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication. Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.