2002 Toyota Corolla

The Good:
– Reliable and solidly built
– Low running costs
– Large interior
The Bad:
– Tall styling
– High used car prices
– Base model low on features

Toyota Corolla is the one of the best-selling compact sedans in the United Arab Emirates. It is reliable, refined and has good resale value. The new interior is large, and the seats are comfortable and supportive. Big heating and air conditioning controls, simple, straightforward radio controls, well-designed cup holders, and plenty of cubbies for storing stuff make for a convenient interior. Getting in and out of this four-door sedan is easy and the back seat is surprisingly roomy and comfortable. The four-cylinder engine revs smoothly and delivers good fuel economy. Both the manual and the automatic transmissions offer smooth shifting, and the manual is very easy to operate. All models have a smooth, comfortable ride and offer decent handling. Redesigned and re-engineered for 2002, the Toyota Corolla is relatively unchanged since then.

Toyota Corolla comes in two body styles, a four-door sedan and a station wagon. Corollas come with either a 1.3-litre or a 1.8-litre four-cylinder 16-valve engine and a choice of a manual or automatic transmission Two trim levels are available: XLi and high-level GLi. However, the wagon is only available in XLi trim.

The basic XLi comes standard with air conditioning (with an air filter), AM/FM/cassette stereo system, power steering, intermittent wipers, digital clock and trunk lamp, and a manual gearbox. It also gets 185/70R14 tyres, cloth interior and full wheel caps. Power windows, power steering, automatic gearbox and keyless entry are available as an optional package. The 2002 models had 1.3-litre 87 hp and 1.8-litre 138 hp engines.

The upscale GLi trim gets an automatic gearbox, remote keyless entry, power windows and mirrors, halogen headlamps, and variable intermittent wipers, along with 195/60R15 tyres, alloy wheels, front airbags and rear spoiler. Options include a leather interior and moonroof. Other options that are available on both the XLi and GLi include sporty body kits, TV and DVD players, and more stylish 15″ alloy wheels.

The Toyota Corolla looks like a small Camry. Thick A-pillars at the front and thick C-pillars at the rear give the Corolla a solid look and hefty bumpers add to its substantial appearance. At the rear, the Corolla has a high trunk line in keeping with the car’s high belt line. The taillights match the shape of the headlights nicely. The doors have reasonably wide openings, which makes getting in and out easier. That’s a benefit of the long wheelbase, which also means that the rear wheel wells do not protrude into the rear door as much as they do on some cars. Another benefit of a longer wheelbase is shorter overhangs at the front and rear (the distance from the wheels to the ends of the car). Short overhangs improve the car’s looks, and the handling.

Redesigned for 2002, Toyota Corolla is longer and taller than previous models. It is four inches longer and has a 102-inch wheelbase that is more than five inches longer than pre-2002 models. It’s more than three inches taller while having the same width as the old model.

The interior is where the Corolla really shines. Inside, it doesn’t feel like a small car, and it doesn’t feel cheap, like many compacts feel. Big and/or tall people will find the accommodations somewhat cramped, but shorter people may find the Corolla fits them perfectly. There’s plenty of front legroom and headroom and there’s a decent amount of room in the back for two average-size adults. Although there are seat belts for a third rear-seat passenger, there’s definitely a shortage of space for that person. Materials used in the seats appear classy with nice fit and finish. The driver’s seat has a much more substantial feel than in many cars in this price range, which makes it more comfortable for long journeys. Even the doors shut with a pleasant thud thanks to sound deadening felt mounted inside the door panels.

Take a look inside a Corolla with optional leather seating and you could easily imagine you’re looking inside a luxury car instead of a compact. The optional leather seats have a luxurious soft pleated finish. The radio is located high up so it is easy to reach while the three large round knobs for the heating and air conditioning system are located below. The handle for the parking brake is located on the left of the center console so there’s room for a small storage cubbyhole on the right. Storage spaces are quite generous with small pockets in each door and the glove box is large. The rear seats split 60/40 to allow access from the trunk, though the opening is not that large, limiting pass-through with large cargo. The trunk is one of the biggest in this class. The gooseneck hinges intrude into the cargo space and can crush fragile items if they are in the way. Many auto manufacturers have switched to the scissor-type hinges that are located outside the storage space, though this design often results in a smaller trunk opening.

The Toyota Corolla is smooth, convenient, and easy to drive. For many owners, this car quickly fades into the background, allowing them to focus on other aspects of their lives. It’s hard to find faults with this car. The GLi only got a 145-horsepower four-cylinder engine so its acceleration performance is not scintillating. But it accelerates briskly onto freeways and we never found ourselves beating on the steering wheel, wishing for more power. The engine is quiet, however, and feels smooth and refined. It has a fairly broad power band, making for linear acceleration. The electronically-controlled 4-speed automatic transmission is nicely matched with the engine. It includes a shift logic system that helps hold a gear longer than it might otherwise if it senses the car is going up an incline or the driver wants plenty of power while passing. For those who enjoy doing their own shifting, the five-speed manual allows for more performance as the engine’s power can be better utilized. It shifts easily via a relatively tall shifter. Both the gearbox and clutch are smooth and easy to operate.

The power steering is just right, providing a nice feel without being too stiff or sloppy. The suspension has been tuned to give a smooth ride, which is helped by a relatively long wheelbase. Body roll (lean) is minimal and the car feels secure and stable at highway speeds. The suspension is soft and does a good job of soaking up bumps and road vibration, giving the Corolla a nice, smooth ride that we really liked.

Toyota Corolla is the car to consider if you’re looking for a sophisticated and utterly reliable sub-compact sedan that blends in so well it’s almost non-existent. The Corolla boasts a high-quality, ergonomically excellent interior, and it rides well with a relatively soft suspension. It isn’t a sports sedan, but the engine is smooth and sophisticated. In short, the Corolla is arguably the best compact sedan for non-enthusiasts.

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