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2001 Toyota Corolla REVIEW logo 4/6/2017

Con: Cramped and uncomfortable interior, mushy suspension, non-descript styling, lousy stereo ergonomics.

Pro: Smooth ride, spunky motor, tight build quality, refined bits and pieces, optional side airbags.

Edmunds Say: Reliable but bland, the 2001 Toyota Corolla is a conservative pick in the economy sedan class.

What’s New: For the 2001 Toyota Corolla, the midgrade CE trim replaces entry-level VE, top-line LE replaces midgrade CE and a sporty new CE-based S model debuts. Front and rear lighting is restyled, and the fascia up front is tweaked and now includes a chrome-ringed grille. An internal trunk release has been added, along with a push-button fresh/recirculate control for the ventilation system. Two new colors replace an equal number of shades that are fading away.

Review: Toyota's venerable Corolla has gone through many changes since it was first introduced in 1968. Over the course of its long life, the Corolla has appeared as a hatchback, coupe, wagon and sedan. The world has seen enough people fall in love with this car to make it the best-selling nameplate in the history of automobiles.

Now, while that's neat and all, we're sure that what's really important to you and your wallet is whether this modern Corolla still has what it takes to stomp out its competitors. In short, it doesn't.

Dating to 1998, the current Corolla faces stiff competition from the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda Protege, and Nissan Sentra, all of which have been substantially redesigned or newly introduced since this particular Toyota was fresh out of the blocks. And they are all more satisfying cars.

To help fend them off until the next redesign, the Corolla comes equipped with a zippy, smooth-revving, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder aluminum engine that cranks out 125 horsepower, thanks to a variable valve timing and lift system that Toyota calls VVT-i. VVT-i employs continuously variable intake valve timing to provide greater engine performance, better fuel economy and reduced pollution over a wide rev range. When equipped with a manual transmission, this car pulls strongly. Automatic gearboxes are available too, including a technologically advanced (Not!) three-speed unit on base models.

Three trim levels are available on the slightly restyled 2001 Corolla. Base CE, better-equipped LE, and sporty S. The new S model includes "sporty" trim, fog lights, fake leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a tachometer with outside temperature display, among other things.

This year, Toyota is also freshening the exterior styling in a bid to draw buyers into showrooms. Changes include a revised front end with chrome-ringed grille, new headlights and taillights, and body-colored trim for LE and S models. Impulse Red and Indigo Ink replace Venetian Red Pearl and Twilight Blue Pearl on the color palette. Inside, a button has been added to control fresh/recirculated airflow, and in the trunk, and an internal release handle keeps kids from getting trapped.

Our biggest gripe with the Corolla is minimal legroom for both the driver and passengers, and the horribly uncomfortable seats. Center stack ergonomics also aren't up to standards in the class, and the soft suspension keels over in turns, making the tires howl in pain. But the ride is smooth, the cabin is quiet at speed, side airbags are an unusual option for the class, and the parts used in the car's construction exude quality.

Few competitors can match Toyota's run-forever reputation and high levels of build quality. But with lots of better cars competing for slices of the econo-sedan pie, Toyota has its work cut out for it in 2001. Especially since the Chevrolet Prizm, an identical twin of the Corolla, is sold with big, fat, juicy rebates at the Chevy dealer down the street.


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