What Are The Best And Worst Years For The Toyota Corolla?

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The Toyota Corolla made its debut back in 1966 for the international market and took two years before being available in the United States.

Since then, it has had 12 successful generations of cars of various models, selling a very respectable average of 1.5 million units per year. The Toyota Corolla has become one of the best-selling cars, amassing a reputation for reliability and excellence.

However, not every model has crossed the bar the brand has set for itself, with various engine problems and absurd repair costs.

Here are the best and worst years for Toyota Corolla:

Best Years for Toyota Corolla:

  1. 1997
  2. 2020
  3. 2021
  4. 2022
  5. 2008
  6. 2016
  7. 2018
  8. 2016

Worst Years for Toyota Corolla:

  1. 2002
  2. 2009
  3. 2014
  4. 2010
  5. 2015
  6. 2000
  7. 2001
  8. 2003

Now that we know which years are the best and worst let’s see why this is so!

List Of The Best Years For The Toyota Corolla: What Years To Buy

The best years of the Toyota Corolla are the prime years to buy the model, where the car was filled to the brim with quality and reliability and lacked many of the problems other years would face.

#1 Best Year: 1997 Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla is the definition of old and reliable so that it has easily made the top spot on this list.

A stalwart companion of any driver, the 1997 Corolla can drive hundreds of thousands of miles with little to no repairs. Even after owning it for more than 20 years, owners have praised the vehicle for its handling and snappy heating and cooling system.

Hailed as one of the best automobiles in history, it has a well-designed interior, a great number of safety features, and is extremely fun to drive.

The durability and quality of this car are staggeringly high. Mileage is considerably low, even when compared to the newer models of its competitors.

#2 Best Year: 2020 Toyota Corolla

The recent generation of Toyota Corolla has been off to a good start, and this is the model which started it all.

Starting off the latest generation with a solid model, the Corolla 2020 was introduced with a redesign which not only boosted the visual appeal of the vehicle class but also raised the standards of the typical sedan, offering a solid interior, more luxuries, and exceptional safety technology and being more engaging to drive.

The improved handling and suspensions offer a smooth driving experience while also having a great fuel economy and quiet engine.

#3 Best Year: 2021 Toyota Corolla

After the success of the Corolla 2020 model, the company had to maintain its course to provide good vehicles and secure the status of the new generation of cars.

The Corolla 2021 managed to do so with relative ease, providing a long list of safety features, high fuel economy, comfortable ride quality, and easy-to-drive controls.

The Apex edition of this year’s model boasts the handling and offers optional performance tires which do the same. This edition was the company’s attempt to increase the enjoyment, which is a step in the right direction.

#4 Best Year: 2022 Toyota Corolla

Being the third in the current lineup of the latest generation of Corolla, the 2022 Toyota Corolla boasts the same features that its predecessors had; the plethora of safety features, the solid fuel economy, and all-around comfortability, both while driving and otherwise.

The model comes with a hybrid version to save on fuel, an automatic braking system, along various driver-assist tools. While there is no addition of a new feature or any notable difference, it does not stop this car from driving its way onto this list.

#5 Best Year: 2008 Toyota Corolla

The 2008 Toyota Corolla was the last of its generation and the least reliable car for some time, since the next model.

The Corolla 2009, was infamous for its myriad of problems and heavy criticism. Despite not going for a redesign, the product was still well ahead of its competitors.

The 2008 Corolla has proven its reliability by providing its drivers with agile handling; linear stopping with optional anti-lock brakes, a great transmission that matches the engine it is connected to, and tops it off with a solid fuel economy.

#6 Best Year: 2016 Toyota Corolla

The generation of Toyota Corollas before this latest one was mixed. Some models received both high praise and grueling criticism. Many people can agree that the 2016 Corolla was one of the better ones of the generation.

This 5-seater was easily competing with the likes of Ford and Mazda, offering a high fuel economy, a lot of legroom despite the small size of the car, user-friendly controls and interfaces, and an overall quality ride which I could not let go unnoticed.

#7 Best Year: 2018 Toyota Corolla

The 2018 Toyota Corolla is your standard 4-wheel drive, five-seater Sedan. Still, it rises onto this list with updated visuals, design, and a solid array of modern features and takes a prominent position.

The Corolla 2018 is a contented blend of handling and comfort, offering comforting front seats and good room for the back seat while having great gas mileage with a mix of style.

Many safety features and lots of technical features like touch screen and app connectivity improve user comfort.

#8 Best Year: 2016 Toyota Corolla

The Corolla 2016 covers all of the basics a typical sedan should. Where it lacks in the fun department, it makes up for by being a well-rounded crowd pleaser. It provides the driver with smart fuel consumption and a solid fuel economy.

A car of its size offers a lot of legroom and, for the price of purchase, a lot of standard equipment, with a pleasant and user-friendly interface and a smooth ride offering on both the highway and the city streets, great for its price.

List Of The Worst Years For The Toyota Corolla: What Years To Avoid

As great as Toyota’s Corolla model cars are, there are some years when the models were just not there in terms of their standard.

Here are some of those times:

#1 Worst Year: 2002 Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla saw major changes in the 2001 to 2005 generation of cars. This brought about a bunch of issues in the vehicle.

Specifically, the 2002 Toyota Corolla saw a lot of complaints from issues ranging from engine problems to issues regarding the seat belts and airbags, which the NHSTA invoked.

In terms of issues regarding the engine, there were complaints about the engine using too much oil, engine failure, tapping sounds originating from the engine, and buzzing noises coming from the engine upon acceleration.

The repair cost for the excessive oil usage problem requires a lot of money to fix, and it usually occurs around 97000 miles of usage of the vehicle.

#2 Worst Year: 2009 Toyota Corolla

2009’s model of the Toyota Corolla was faced with some heavy criticism. This was for good reason as the car had a myriad of problems.

It had a very large number of complaints from both the users and the NHTSA. The complaints were regarding the engine, seat belts, and airbags.

The issues with the engine included problems like car surging, engine noises, sudden loss of power, accelerator getting stuck; check engine light being on when there isn’t a problem in the engine, and the car just refusing to start up.

#3 Worst Year: 2014 Toyota Corolla

Within a few years and with quite a few problems, the 2014 Toyota Corolla model faced many problems. One of the major problems to return was the one that first appeared in the 2001 model.

This was the check engine light problem due to the EVAP system. The difference was that, unlike the 2001 model, the light did not completely stop working. Instead, it gave false indications.

The solution to this was the same as the 2001 model, which was to replace the EVAP canister.

#4 Worst Year: 2010 Toyota Corolla

After having seen the abomination that was the 2009 model, in terms of issues, the 2010 Toyota Corolla came under a magnifying glass, and rightfully so.

This model also faces a lot of complaints from the NHTSA regarding the seat belts and airbags. Other than that, there were also complaints regarding the paint and the vehicle’s body.

However, the most glaring issue brought to light with this model was the problem with the steering wheel. There were reports of the steering wheel failing, causing some pretty bad accidents.

#5 Worst Year: 2015 Toyota Corolla

The 2015 model seemed to be relatively better in terms of problems than its predecessor, the 2014 model. However, it still had a lot of them. One of them was that the 1.3 variant of the 2015 model was severely underpowered.

The model had very high fuel consumption, about 6.5 to 7 miles per quarter gallon, which is not good. Other than that, none of the variants of this model had traction control. This is an especially dangerous problem that you should be aware of.

#6 Worst Year: 2000 Toyota Corolla

The 2000 Toyota Corolla was the last model in the 1996 to 2000 generation. This model was infamous for its habit of burning excessive amounts of oil. On top of using too much oil, this car also had a problem with oil leakage.

This issue was so bad that a running joke about this model is that it burns more oil than gas. People have reported that the issue only temporarily gets resolved after getting repaired and goes back to how it is, so it is not worth it.

#7 Worst Year: 2001 Toyota Corolla

Much like its preceding model, the Corolla 2000, the 2001’s model of the Toyota Corolla sadly had the problem of excessive oil usage. Although it was not as bad as it was in the 2000 model, it was still a hassle to maintain the vehicle with this issue present.

There was also the issue of the inactive check engine light. This was quite a dangerous problem because the light could stay off even if something was seriously wrong with the car. This was because of the new EVAP system that this car came with.

#8 Worst Year: 2003 Toyota Corolla

The major cause of concern regarding the 2003 Toyota Corolla was the transmission issues. This made this model face quite a lot of complaints.

The problems reported were about transmission failure and the transmission and differential failure. There was also the problem of a noisy transaxle.

These issues occurred at around 116,000 miles of driving and cost about $2830 for repairs. There were reports of seat belt issues and airbag issues as well. Airbags were reported to not work in crashes causing 44 reported injuries.

What Are The Most Common Problems With The Toyota Corolla?

Like any other company, Toyota is not perfect, and certain models can easily be prone to problems, whether unintentional or side-effects of cutting corners in places in need of financial assistance.

Here are a few of the various problems found in the average Toyota Corolla:

1. Transmission Failure

Models in the early 200s were known for transmission failure despite regular maintenance. The transmission would give up in the middle of driving, sometimes releasing a grinding sound before doing so. This is a dangerous problem and expensive to fix.

2. Excessive Oil Use

Several models have had this issue where they are consuming more oil than required, having to be replaced in less than a month. While the problem source was unclear, the solution ranged from part replacement to the entire engine being replaced.

3. Faulty Airbags

This problem leads to the recall of over 5.8 million cars. There were quite a few problems with them. The first was the chance of the airbag exploding, launching metal components at riders.

One was the airbag not deploying at all. Another was a faulty sensing system. Newer models don’t have this problem but beware of older ones.

4. EVAP Issues

A wide range of models had an issue with the EVAP system, which triggered the check engine light for no apparent reason.

The problem was hard to diagnose; many people considered charcoal canister failure or a faulty gas cap. This issue could worsen if not repaired.

If you’re enjoying reading my guide, you probably want to check out this article on Why Won’t My Toyota Corolla Start?

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Which Year Of Corolla Is Most Reliable?

The most reliable model has been the 1997 model of the Toyota Corolla. This model is over 20 years old and is still running in the cities today speaks for itself.

The most that owners have had to do throughout this entire time is get the AC repaired/replaced or get a new set of tires. The design and comfort provided by this car were well ahead of its time when this model was released.

Q2. What Is A Good Year For A Used Toyota Corolla?

Several things need to be considered when answering this question. The most important one is your budget for buying a used Corolla.

The generation of cars between 2004 and 2009 is something you should consider if you are looking to save some money while having a reliable vehicle.

If that is not the case, and you have a bit more money at hand, you can go for models released between 2015 and 2020.

Q3. Is A Used Toyota Corolla A Good To Buy?

There are upsides and downsides to buying a used car, no matter what type or model. As for Toyota Corollas, they are quite long-lasting vehicles. This means that you can look for models as old as 7-8 years.

Buying a new car is cool, but you can save quite a lot of money if you consider purchasing a used car. Whatever car you decide on buying, make sure to test it out first before completing your purchase.

Q4. How Long Will A Toyota Corolla Last?

Toyota Corollas have been known to last up to 10 years. Although, as with any other vehicle, a regular maintenance schedule is required to make that happen. Neglecting this can mean that you will have to face expensive problems in the long run.

With this proper maintenance, you can have a car that will last up to 300,000 miles. If you are looking to buy a used one, you should look for a model within this ten-year of usage range to get the most out of it.

For more information, you can also read this article: How Long Do Toyota Corollas Last?

Q5. What Is The Difference Between Corolla L And LE?

Many things differentiate the L and LE Toyota Corolla models. One of them is the design of the two cars.

The LE model has a better interior design than the L model. Chrome metallic finishes in both the interior and the door handles can be found in LE while not in L.

The seat materials are different on both. The LE features automatic regulation for air conditioning, and the L models require that to be done manually.

Conclusion

The Toyota brand has been known for the wide array of vehicles it has produced, and the Corolla series has been nothing short of the company’s best and most well-known series yet. With over 40 years of making exceptional vehicle models, the Toyota Corolla is a series that many people are familiar with.

Producing recent models which are putting the brand back into the spotlight and older and reliable cars such as the model 1997, there are bound to be a few rough patches that the company will hit, such as the 2002 model, which is widely hated, the company persists in making efforts to produce quality vehicles.

Now that you know the best and worst years for Toyota Corolla, you can purchase one of their models with the required knowledge needed.