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1997 Toyota Corolla REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/6/2017

Con: Poor value

Pro: Excellent build quality, reputation for bulletproof reliability

What’s New: For the 1997 Toyota Corolla, the Classic Edition (CE) debuts and the slow-selling DX Wagon gets the ax.

Review: Toyota has a winner with the Corolla; after 30 years of production it has become the second best-selling car in automotive history. We feel that this is due to its solid engineering, available safety features, and fun-to-drive attributes when equipped with a five-speed manual transmisson.

The Corolla is a fine car with good handling characteristics, a well-designed interior, and attractive, if not earth-shattering, looks. Additionally, the optional antilock brakes, better than average crash test scores and integrated child seat on DX models go a long way toward making the Corolla a reasonably affordable, safe, compact family-sedan.

The wagon variant disappears for 1997, and Toyota introduces a new CE trim level that stands for Classic Edition. The CE is essentially a Standard model with a package of upgrades not normally found on the lower level Corolla. Corollas get revised door trim this year, and side impact beams that meet 1997 federal standards. Nothing else new here, as Toyota prepares to retire the current edition and introduce a new, improved Corolla for 1998.

Unfortunately for Toyota, there is a good reason to skip the Corolla when shopping for a new car; the Geo Prizm. Built on the same assembly line as the Corolla, out of the same parts and by the same workers, the Prizm is everything that the Corolla is and more. Most importantly the Prizm is significantly cheaper than the Corolla and comes with a roadside assistance warranty that the Corolla lacks. We like the Corolla, but we would buy the Prizm.

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