The History of Toyota Corolla



It is small. It is simple. It is comfortable. It is affordable. It is reliable. It is Toyota Corolla. Since 1966, this car model as made an enormous impact in the automotive consumer market. Becoming a world bestseller surpassing the Volkswagen Beetle in number of overall sales, and reaching the 44 million sales mark in 2016. For 54 years, Toyota keep giving consumers reason to have the corolla as a go-to car. With a subcompact design between 1966 to 1991 and a compact design since 1991, the corolla sure makes a budget friendly car to have. With 12 generations and 45 million models sold, Corolla is the world’s best-selling vehicle for very obvious reasons.


Having the predecessor, Toyota Publica, Toyota aimed at building an efficient and affordable and reliable rear-wheel drive, sub compact car. Toyota with that in mind perfectly executed and delivered a subcompact model that the world would come to rely on and love.

Variation and Class

With E representing the chassis design or chassis designation code, each generation had various chassis code defining them. The 1st generation Corolla, 1966 to 1970, had a E10 chassis design and started with a 1100cc K pushrod engine type which comes with a 1.1-litre (60hp) or a 1.2-litre engine (65hp). Also, this 1st generation model had a MacPherson strut front suspension and 4-speed full-synchronized manual transmission. The Corolla model brought new technology, innovative features and a simple design to the automotive market which turned out to have a high reception with consumers. All corolla model was manufactured and sold from Japan through their corolla store and US export started in 1968.

Between 1970 to 1974, the 2nd generation, the corolla took a more rounded approach to the design of their new model, with increase in size and comfort and power and speed. The 1400cc T and 1600 cc 2T, 1.2-litre OHV engine alongside an automatic gearbox is found with the Corolla model. Toyota decided to increase from a 1.2-litre OHV engine to a new 1.6-litre engine with 102-hp in 1971. Also, a SR5 model with 5-speed manual transmission was introduced. The chassis code for this generation was E20.

With increasing emission regulations, improvements had to be made with the Corolla model. The rounded body shape was still in use though the 3rd generation (1974 to 1979) went with a heavier and bigger size. With 5 different models, the 2-door model used the 1.2-litre engine while the remaining used the 1.6-litre engine. In terms of transmission, the standard 4-speed manual with an optional 3-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual was in place. Also, the SR5 had a 5-speed manual as default transmission.

The 4th generation, 1979 to 1983, saw a change to an angular or square-edged design. Another change was the move to a coil spring suspension system. In terms of engine specifications, the 1.8-litre OHV engine with a 75hp was used alongside an optional fuel injection feature. Also, a 4-speed unit was implemented in 1982, and the 1.6-litre overhead cam engine was introduced. The wagon and van body style from the 3rd gen was discontinued in 1987.

The 5th generation came with a move from rear-drive to a front-wheel-drive with an 1839 cc 1.6-litre engine and a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. The SR5 coupe maintained the rear-drive setup. The corolla GT-S was introduced with a 1.6-litre DOHC engine – 112 hp. The E80 chassis was used from 1983 to 1987. The 6th generation, 1987 to 1991, moved from the edged design to a little rounded edge. This brought a refined look and feel. Variants engines were used with all the models – 1.3 litre 2E, 1.3 Litre 4A-GZE at 165 hp. Now, the Corolla GT-S produced 130hp.

Now, the 7th generation, 1991 to 1995, had a larger and a completely rounded design. Toyota moved to a fully compact car style with two body styles, sedan and front-wheel-drive wagon. The engine specifications range from 1.6 litre engine – 105 hp (for places with stricter emission laws, 100hp) to 1.8 litre on higher trims. During this period, it officially became the world’s best seller.

In the 8th generation (E110), which lasted from 1997 to 2001, variations in design for three major markets; Europe and Australasia, Japan, Asia and South America, North America were made.  The 1ZZ-FE engine was introduced to the international market. Also, only the sedan body style was available in the US made in California. The 1.8 litre engine which toped at 120 hp had a choice select of transmission; 3-speed automatic, 4-speed automatic, 5-speed manual. The new model in the 9th generation (2000 to 2006) was based on the E130 Corolla Altis with a 1.8 litre engine with 130 hp. With the transmission having the 4-speed automatic and 5-speed manual to go with. New style was also brought bare especially with the Sporty XRS version (170 hp). In this generation, the Corolla EX was also produced.

Two major model design, Japan (E140 narrow) and international (E140/E150 wide) became the norm for the Toyota Corolla between 2006 and 2012. With the standard trim, a 1.8-litre engine which produced 132hp and the XRS trim with a 2.4-litre engine at a massive 158hp. The 5-speed manual transmission was available with both trims with the 5-speed automatic only optional with the XRS. The 10th generation brought with it massive changes with the interior and exterior design.

Still maintaining the two model design, Japan and International, with difference in the front and rear styling, the 11th generation, 2012 to 2018, had a 1.8 litre engine – 132 hp (similar to the previous generation). Toyota introduced the Eco with 140 hp with all the models having variable transmission – 4-speed automatic, 6-speed manual.

In the 12th generation, which started in 2018 and still counting, Toyota decided to switching things up to three general models; the hatchback, the station wagon and the sedan. The hatchback is majorly available to the US, European market. With the sedan available to the China alongside US, Japan, Australia). Most of the specifications with 11th generation remaining the same.

Safety Features and Reliability

In terms of safety, the Toyota Corolla as over the years introduced various safety features such as the Toyota Safety Sense which as the forward collision warning with pedestrian warning as well as full-speed adaptive cruise control. Steering assist, Lane departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, stability control, anti-lock brake system is also among the numerous safety systems that make the Corolla model a very safe car to use.

Using various data from Corolla consumers, the Toyota Corolla scores a 4.5 out of 5 rating in terms of reliability and issues. Most consumers rarely have issues with the Corolla model and find it very strong in handling tough situations. Even the warranty coverage that Toyota furthers pushes the reliability.

Acclaim and Reception

With the 2020 model, it was considered the Green Car of the Year, and also considered a 5-star overall safety rating car.  In the previous years, the Corolla have won the car of the year from various platforms. In terms of sales, the Corolla model is the highest selling nameplate in the world with over 46 million sales.


From the above information, it is without a doubt that the Corolla car is a reliable and efficient car which fulfils the consumers need. With a massive sale volume, the Corolla does what many car models are doing and seem to miss for many consecutive years.