Used Toyota Corolla 2009-2013 review

Overall rating: 5 Star Rating: Recommended
Updated: August 4, 2013
2012 Toyota Corolla
2012 Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla is a reliable compact sedan with a practical roomy interior and a soft smooth ride. It holds its value well and is easy to sell. Fuel economy is another plus.

The interior is plain, but roomy and comfortable. The seats are higher off the floor than in many other small cars, making entry and exit easier. The rear seat space is better than in many other compacts like Mitsubishi Lancer, Hyundai Elantra or Nissan Sentra. The trunk is wide, with a large opening and the rear seats fold down. The audio auxiliary input is standard, the USB port is available on late models. Maintenance costs are moderate, common problems are mostly minor, read more below.

2012 Toyota Corolla
2012 Toyota Corolla interior. Click for larger photo
Toyota Corolla trunk
The trunk offers 12.3 cu. ft. of cargo space.

Powertrain: The base engine is the 132-hp 1.8L 4-cylinder DOHC. It's a very reliable and easy to maintain engine. The XRS comes with the 158-hp 2.4L 4-cylinder. Transmission choices include a 4-speed automatic (5-speed automatic in XRS) or 5-speed manual.

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.

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 driving, the 1.8L automatic Corolla can drive up to 380 miles (612 km) on a 13.2-gallon (50.0L) tank.
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 Corolla XRS has disc brakes on all 4 wheels; other models come with rear drum brakes. The steering is electrically powered. 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.

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.

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Toyota Corolla 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 minor engine issues.
Read about safety, pros and cons, what to look for in a used Toyota Corolla on the next page.


Toyota Corolla double glovebox Toyota Corolla dashboard Rear view Toyota Corolla rear seat Rear seats folded down Toyota Corolla 1.8L engine