Toyota Corolla Review: 1966 -2021 Model Year Differences, Improvements, and Features

toyota corolla review model year and differences

The Toyota Corolla is a series of compact cars (formerly subcompact) manufactured by the Toyota Motor Corporation. 

By 1974 Corolla was the best-selling car worldwide since its introduction in 1966 and has been one of the best-selling cars in the world since then. The Corolla became the best-selling nameplate in the world in 1997, surpassing the Volkswagen Beetle.

Previous models were mostly rear-wheel drive, while later models have been front-wheel drive. 4WD drive versions have also been produced.

1966 – 1969 (1st generation)

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In November 1966 the 1st generation Corolla was introduced with the new K pushrod 1100 cc engine. In 1968 the Corolla Sprinter was introduced as the fastback version and exclusive to a Toyota Japan dealership retail outlet called Toyota Auto Store.

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1970 – 1973 (2nd generation)

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The Corolla E20 was released in May 1970, it was restyled and featured a more rounded body. In this generation, mutually exclusive Corolla and Sprinter names were used to differentiate between 2 slightly different treatments of trim and sheet metal. The Sprinter Trueno and Corolla Levin names were introduced as the enhanced performance versions of the Sprinter and Corolla respectively. They were fitted with a double overhead camshaft version of the 2T engine that was introduced in March 1972.

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The 2nd generation came only with the (3K) 1.2L engine powered 2-door KE20 and was available as a wagon and sedan. The 2nd generation is powered by a single system brake with no booster, solid discs on the rear, and front drums. The 4-door KE20 was available in New Zealand.

1974 – 1978 (3rd generation)

The 3rd generation brought bigger, heavier, and rounder Sprinters and Corollas. The Sprinters were given E40 codes while the Corollas were given E30 codes. In March 1976 a facelift saw most Corolla E30 models replaced by alike E50 models and most Sprinter E40 models were replaced by alike E60 models. The Corolla E30 is fitted with retracting front seat belts.

Other Austrasian markets were served with the Corolla KE20 which was available as a 2-door sedan, 4-door sedan, 2-door panel van (KE36), and 4-door wagon (KE38). These models were all fitted with a 3K engine and mated with a K40 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission.

Later KE5x models were introduced as a 4-door sedan or 2-door coupe (a true pillarless design) with 4K engine. Due to the addition of side impact protection in the doors, the KE55 was 50 kg heavier, but due to a change in the body metal and seam sealing, they are prone to rust. Later Corolla KE55 also used plastic-ended bumper bars as opposed to the all chrome bumpers of the previous models but included a back sway bar for the first time.

1979 – 1982 (4th generation)

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In March 1979 the 4th generation received a major restyle brought a square-edged design. The Corolla’s had a simpler treatment of the taillights, grille, and headlights while the Sprinter used a sculptured treatment, slightly more complex.  

The 4th generation received a new A-series engine to the range as a running change. Also, this generation was the last model to use the T series and K “hicam” engines. As an extra-cost option on Japanese market vehicles, the Fuel injection was introduced.

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Until June 1987 the van and wagon continued to be made after the rest of the range was replaced by the E80 generation.

1983 – 1986 (5th generation)

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The 5th generation started production in 1983 and received the redesign on a contemporary sharp-edged and a sloping front bonnet, no-frills style was brought in during May 1983. In this generation, the new 1C 1839 cc diesel engine was added to the range with the E80 Series. Re-badged E80 Sprinters were sold in the U.S. as the 5th generation Chevrolet Nova from 1985. As an extra-cost option internationally fuel injection was introduced.

Except for the AE85 and AE86, most models used the front-wheel-drive layout, which was to be the last Corollas offered in FR or the rear-wheel-drive layout. The Sprinter (including the Sprinter Trueno) also used the AE85 and AE86 chassis codes. The Sprinter was nearly twin to the Corolla, differing only by minor body styling changes such as pop-up headlights.

1987 – 1990 (6th generation)

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This is the 6th generation introduced in May 1987 this generation came up with an aerodynamic style and was more rounded. The 6th generation came with a more refined feel than older models and other older subcompacts. Most models were now fitted with front-wheel drive, along with a few AWD All-Trac models. 

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In this generation, many engines were used on a wide array of models and trim levels, ranging from the 2E 1.3L to the 165 hp supercharged 4A-GZE. 

1991 – 1994 (7th generation)

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The 7th generation started production in June 1991 and the Corollas received a redesign to be heavier, larger, and have a completely aerodynamic, rounded shape of the 1990s. The somewhat larger Corolla was now in the compact class in the United States, rather than subcompact, and the coupé was still available in some markets, known as the AE101 Corolla Levin. With this generation carburetors were mostly retired.

1995 – 1999 (8th generation)

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In May 1995 the production of the E110 Corolla started. This generation received a design that was slightly altered throughout but retained a look similar to that of the E100. In 1998, Non-Japanese Corollas received the new 1ZZ-FE engine for the first time.

The 1ZZ-FE engine had aluminum cylinder heads and an aluminum engine block, which made this generation powered by this motor lighter than versions powered by A-series engines that cast iron blocks with aluminum heads. 

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The 8th generation was delayed in North America until mid-1997 (US 1998 model year), where it had unique front and rear styling.

2000 – 2005 (9th generation)

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The 9th generation Corolla was introduced in Japan in August 2000 with a model code E120, with more technology and edgier styling to bring the nameplate into the 21st century. This version was sold in the Middle East, Japan, Australasia, and Europe.

In mid-2001, the E120 Corolla Altis received a refreshed look and was slightly longer and wider than the E120 for other markets, but with similar interior and body panels. 

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This generation fitted with several engines options such as 1.3L 2NZ-FE I4, 1.4L 4ZZ-FE I4, 1.5L 1NZ-FE I4, 1.6L 1ZR-FE I4, 1.6L 3ZZ-FE I4, 1.8L 1ZZ-FE I4, 1.8L 2ZZ-GE I4, 1.8L 2ZZ-GE s/c I4 (Australia & Europe) petrol engine, 1.4L 1ND-TV D-4D turbo I4, 2.0L 1CD-FTV D-4D turbo I4, 2.0L 2C I4 (Asia) and 2.2L 3C-E I4 (Japan) diesel engine. These engines were mated to either a 4-speed U340E automatic (Japan), 4-speed Aisin automatic (North America & Europe), 5-speed manual, 5-speed Multimode Manual Transmission, or 6-speed manual transmission.

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In late 2006 to early 2007, the Corolla E120 series was replaced by the E140 or E150 series but the E120 continued to be produced in China until 2017.

2006 – 2011 (10th generation)

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This is the 10th generation of cars sold by Toyota under the Corolla nameplate known as E140/E150. In this generation, the Corolla hatchback was replaced by the Toyota Auris in Japan and Europe but was still badged “Corolla” in New Zealand and Australia.

The 2006 – 2011 Corolla (E140) was released in Japan on 10 October 2006. The Corolla saloon is now known as the Corolla Axio, the name Axio was created from the Greek word “Axia”, meaning “things with value”. 

The Axio is equipped with Toyota’s latest intelligent parking-assist system, and a backup camera monitor is standard. The Luxel is the highest trim level, equipped with additional features such as Tiptronic transmission and Dynamic radar Cruise Control. The G mid-range model is powered by a set of projector headlamps, Push button start, a factory-fitted audio system with steering audio controls, automatic climate controls, and speedometer clusters with additional tachometer clusters.

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The 10th generation Corolla fitted with several engines options such as 1.3L 2NZ-FE I4, 1.4L 4ZZ-FE I4, 1.5L 1NZ-FE I4, 1.5L 1NZ-FE Turbo I4, 1.6L 3ZZ-FE I4, 1.6L 1ZR-FE I4, 1.8L 1ZZ-FE I4, 1.8L 2ZR-FE I4, 1.8L 2ZR-FBE (E85/petrol; Thailand), 2.0L 3ZR-FE I4, 2.4L 2AZ-FE I4 petrol engine, 1.4L 1ND-TV D-4D turbo I4, 2.0L 2C-III I4, 2.0L 1CD-FTV D-4D turbo I4 diesel engine. These engines are linked to either a 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual, 7-speed CVT-I, 4-speed U140E Super ECT automatic, 5-speed U150E automatic, or 6-speed MMT (Multi-Mode Transmission) semi-automatic transmission.

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The Corolla Axio GT is a model based on the Axio N2 race car. It is powered by a 1NZ-FE turbocharged engine rated 148 bhp and 196 Nm, intercooler, 5-speed manual transmission, TRD Sportivo suspension, ‘GT’ emblem, leather shift knob, ‘TRD Turbo’ front spoiler, aero grille,  side mudguard,  rear spoiler, enhanced clutch cover, drive monitor, and grey interior.

2012 – 2017 (11th generation)

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The 2012 – 2017 Corolla known for its chassis code E170/E180 is a series of Corolla found in the 11th generation that has been sold internationally since 2013.

From April 2014 the Corolla Altis was available in India in 2 engine forms, petrol and diesel engines. The 1.8L 2ZR-FE is powered by petrol and the 1.4L D-4D engine with variable Nozzle turbo and intercooler is powered by diesel.

Its features include rain-sensing wipers, an 8-way power-adjustable seat with lumbar support, 60/40 reclining rear seats, LED headlamps, and 16-inch alloy wheels on the top-end GL and VL variants, with all variants receiving LED taillamps.

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Other available engine options in the 11th generation Corolla include the 1.2L 8NR-FTS I4 (turbocharged), 1.2L 9NR-FTS I4 (China), 1.3L 2NZ-FE I4, 1.6L 1ZR-FAE I4, 1.6L 1ZR-FBE I4 (Flexi fuel E85), 1.8L 2ZR-FE I4, 1.8L 2ZR-FXE I4 (hybrid), 1.8L 2ZR-FBE I4 (Flexi fuel E85), 2.0L 3ZR-FE I4, 2.0L 3ZR-FBE I4 (Flexi fuel E85) petrol engine, 1.4L 1ND-TV I4 (turbo), 2.0L 1AD-FTV I4 diesel engine. These engines are attached to a 5/6-speed manual, 4-speed automatic, or 7/8-speed Super CVT-i automatic ECVT transmission.

On 24 March 2016, the Corolla E170 for the international market received a facelift. It features a full-width lower grille that houses the fog lamps, a thinner upper grille with a chrome garnish, and sleeker LED headlamps with new LED light guides. At the back, the tail lamps adopt new LED clusters and the chrome strip is thinner.

2018 – the present (12th generation)

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The 2018 – the present model Corolla is the 12th generation of the Corolla, a compact car (C-segment) manufactured by Toyota. This generation was introduced in 2018 and has also grown to include estate (station wagon) and hatchback configurations in addition to the saloon (sedan).

In 2018 at the Geneva Motor Show the Corolla E210 series was first introduced. The E210 Corolla is powered by a transverse engine powered by flex-fuel, petrol, or a hybrid of petrol and electric.

With a 1.6% global market share as of 2020, the twelfth-generation Corolla was the best-selling passenger vehicle in the world.

Depending on the market, the Corolla hatchback comes fitted with either a 1.2L 8NR-FTS turbocharged petrol, 1.8L 2ZR-FXE hybrid petrol, 2.0L M20A-FKS Dynamic Force petrol, or 2.0L M20A-FXS Dynamic Force hybrid petrol engine, while the Corolla Touring Sports comes fitted with either a 1.2L 8NR-FTS turbocharged petrol, 1.8L 2ZR-FAE naturally aspirated petrol, 1.8L 2ZR-FXE hybrid petrol, or 2.0L M20A-FXS hybrid petrol engine.

On the other hand, the Corolla E210 also comes with several other engine options such as the 1.2L 8NR-FTS turbo I4, 1.2 L 9NR-FTS turbo I4 (China), 1.5L M15A-FKS I3, 1.6L 1ZR-FE/1ZR-FAE I4, 2ZR-FE/2ZR-FAE 1.8L I4, M20A-FKS 2.0L I4 petrol engine, 1ZR-FBE 1.6L I4, 1.8L 2ZR-FBE I4, M20A-FKB 2.0L I4 petrol flex-fuel, 2ZR-FXE 1.8L I4, M20A-FXS 2.0L I4 petrol hybrid. These engines are attached to either a 6-speed EG60 manual, 6-speed EC65 manual, or K120 CVT with physical first gear K313 CVT Hybrid Synergy Drive (eCVT).

The 2022 Toyota Corolla is an attractive compact car that’s loaded with standard active safety features and has comfortable ride quality and sporty models of its own. The Corolla is offered as a sedan or a hatchback. Both have unique designs, but uncharacteristically the hatch has a smaller back seat and less cargo space than the sedan. Select models can be had with a manual transmission, and the sedan offers an exceptionally fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain. 

Inside, the Corolla sedan and hatchback share a modernized dashboard and soft-touch materials. Most models have push-button start and passive entry.

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Both models have a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot, and a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The large touchscreen bezel dominates the dashboard, but its various hard buttons and rotary volume, and tuning knobs help keep the driver’s eyes on the road during use. Top options include an upgraded JBL audio system and wireless charging.

The entire Corolla lineup also offers a host of standard safety and driver-assistance technologies such as forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control.

The Corolla sedan uses a 1.8L 4-cylinder 139-hp that sends power to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The zestier versions have a 2.0L 4-cylinder, 169-hp that pairs with a CVT or optional 6-speed manual. Only the sedan offers a hybrid powertrain while all Corolla hatchbacks have a larger engine.

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Final Verdict

Toyota Corolla is among the legendary brand in the Toyota lineup which has a long outstanding history in the automotive industry. Corolla is the best-selling vehicle around the world and is the one among the vehicle that performs well in fuel efficiency, is easy to maintain, and has affordable running costs and reliability.

If you plan to purchase a Corolla, the 6th generation to the latest generation is suitable due to the technology equipped in those cars. If you want to purchase just visit BE FORWARD.

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Written by: Josephat Lukaza

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