Used Toyota Corolla 2009-2013 review
2012 Toyota Corolla
Toyota Corolla is one of the most reliable cars on the road. It's a comfortable compact sedan with a practical roomy interior and a soft smooth ride. The 1.8L Corolla is not fast or sporty, but is easy to drive and you know it will start every morning and get you where you need to be. The Corolla holds its value well and is easy to maintain. Fuel economy is not bad too. The interior is simple but functional with plenty of headroom and legroom in the front. Rear seat space is a bit tight, but better than in many other compacts like Mitsubishi Lancer, Hyundai Elantra or Nissan Sentra. The trunk is wide, with a large opening. Rear seats fold down. The audio auxiliary input is standard, the USB port is available on late models. In the US, the 2009 Corolla was offered in base, S, LE, upscale XLE and sporty XRS trims. The XLE and XRS were discontinued for 2011 and the L trim became the base level for 2012. In Canada, four models were offered: CE, LE, S and XRS. The well-equipped LE is the most popular trim level. For 2011, the Corolla exterior was refreshed with newer head- and taillights, grill and trunk lid.
2012 Toyota Corolla interior. Click for larger photo
The trunk offers 12.3 cu. ft. of cargo space.
Powertrain: The base engine is the 132-hp 1.8L 4-cylinder DOHC. The XRS comes with the 158-hp 2.4L 4-cylinder. Both engines are very reliable and easy to maintain. Transmission choices include a 4-speed automatic (5-speed automatic in XRS) or 5-speed manual.
Fuel Economy: The EPA rates the 2011 Corolla with a 1.8L engine and an automatic transmission at 26/34 mpg or 9.0/6.9 L/100 km. With 20% city 80% highway use, the 1.8L automatic Corolla can drive up to 380 miles (612 km) on one 13.2-gallon (50.0L) tank of gas.
The manual Corolla has even better fuel economy: 28/35 mpg or 8.4/6.7 liters per hundred kilometers. With a manual transmission, you will be saving around 100 dollars a year on fuel costs compared to the automatic.
Mechanical: The XRS has disc brakes on all 4 wheels; other models come with rear drum brakes. The steering is electrically powered. The sporty XRS has a front sport strut tower brace and a rear spoiler. Antilock brakes are standard; Vehicle Stability control was available in early models; standard on all US models from 2010. The Canadian Corolla received standard Vehicle Stability Control for 2011. The 2009-2010 Toyota Corolla scored 4 stars for both the driver and the front passenger in the NHTSA frontal crash tests. In the side crash tests, the Corolla got 5 stars for the driver and 4 stars for the rear passenger. In 2011, the NHTSA introduced tougher tests, where the 2011 Corolla scored 4 stars in frontal and rollover tests, but only 2 stars in the side crash tests. The upgraded 2012 and 2013 Corolla has earned 5 stars in the side crash tests and 4 stars in the frontal and rollover tests.
Timing belt or chain: Both, the 1.8L and 2.4L engines have a timing chain; there is no timing belt. A timing chain doesn't need to be replaced unless there is a problem with it.
Handling and ride: On the road, the Corolla drives nicely. The ride is soft and quiet; road imperfections are well absorbed by the suspension. The 1.8L engine is adequate for daily driving.
The electrical steering is light and feels OK in the city, but is a bit vague around the center position when driving on the highway.
Reliability and common problems: The Corolla is pretty reliable and with good maintenance can last very long. Consumer Reports rates a used Toyota Corolla as 'Good Bet'. Common complaints include a leaking water pump, various noises, brakes wearing fast and some minor engine issues.
Pros: Reliability, fuel economy for 1.8L engine, crash test scores, easy handling and smooth ride, practical spacious interior, easy to maintain, resale value.
Cons: Plain styling, steering feel on the highway, interior plastic is not of the top quality, engine is a bit underpowered with a full load.
Year to year changes: Toyota Corolla got minor facelift for 2011 with new front grill, head- and taillights, updated bumpers and trunk lid. For 2012, the Corolla received a few feature upgrades, including a new standard audio system with the USB port, Bluetooth and steering audio controls for the US and Canadian LE trim. The US Corolla L received power windows, power door locks and remote keyless entry.
What to look for when buying a used Toyota Corolla: As a first step, check the history records to find out if there were any issues in the past, like accidents or flood damage or if the vehicle was used as a rental. Check the service records to see if the oil changes were done regularly.
When inspecting a car, check the engine oil level; if it's very low, the engine may consume oil. If the engine makes loud rattling noise or smokes when started cold, avoid the car. Watch out for leaks in the engine compartment. An abnormal noise coming from the passenger side of the engine compartment could indicate a bad belt tensioner or a failing water pump. Make sure to test all the electrical accessories, including the air conditioner and the audio auxiliary input. During the test drive, see how the automatic transmission shifts; all shifts should be smooth, without noises, jerks or delays. Read more what to look for when buying a used car. When choosing between a few cars, it's worth it to pay more for the well-maintained one. Before buying, have the car properly inspected by a mechanic.
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Maintenance: To keep your engine in good condition, have your oil changes done regularly. The Scheduled Maintenance Guide for the US 2009 Corolla recommends changing engine oil every six months or 5,000 miles. The Owner's manual for the US 2009 Corolla says SAE 0W-20 is the best choice for good fuel economy and good starting in cold weather. SAE 0W-20 is typically synthetic. For the US 2012, Toyota recommends replacing 0W-20 engine oil every 10,000 miles if the car is operated in normal conditions and every 5,000 miles for
severe conditions including driving only short trips, excessive idling, towing, etc. Our advice: even with synthetic, changing oil every 5,000 miles will help keep your engine in good shape longer. It's also important to check the oil level periodically and top up if needed, because some amount of oil is consumed as you drive.
If you want better traction on snow, consider installing winter tires.
You can find the electronic version of an owner's manual, maintenance schedule and how-to videos at the US Toyota Owners website.
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Where to check for recalls: Safety Recalls - NHTSA or Transport Canada - Road Safety Recalls
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2011 Toyota Corolla specifications
| Overall length:
| 178.7 in (4540 mm)
69.3 in (1760 mm)
57.7 in (1465 mm)
102.4 in (2600 mm)
38.8 in - without sunroof
37.2 in - without sunroof
|| 37.1 ft. (11.3 m)
LE and S:
|| 12.3 cu. ft (350 liters)
| CE, LE and S:
| 1.8L 4-Cylinder, DOHC, 16-Valve, Dual VVT-i
132 hp @ 6000 rpm
128 lb. ft. @ 4400 rpm
2.4L 4-Cylinder, DOHC, 16-Valve, VVT-i
158 hp @ 6000 rpm
162 lb. ft. @ 4400 rpm
|EPA Fuel Economy (US mpg, L/100 km):|
| 1.8L Manual:
| city: 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km)
hwy: 35 mpg (6.7 L/100 km)
city: 26 mpg (9.0 L/100 km)
hwy: 34 mpg (6.9 L/100 km)
city: 22 mpg (10.7 L/100 km)
hwy: 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km)
city: 22 mpg (10.7 L/100 km)
hwy: 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km)
|Recommended Fuel:|| 87 Unleaded
|Fuel Tank Capacity:
||11.0 US gal (50.0 liters)
|Engine Oil Capacity:|
|Drain and refill with filter
1.8L 4-cylinder (2ZR-FE) engine:
2.4L 4-cylinder (2AZ-FE) engine:
4.4 US qt. (4.2 L, 3.7 Imp. qt.)
4.0 US qt. (3.8 L, 3.3 Imp. qt.)