Compact car; Built in USA, Canada
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,000 – $4,200*

1998 Toyota Corolla LE

1998 Toyota Corolla LE

1998 Toyota Corolla LE

1998 Toyota Corolla interior

1998 Toyota Corolla CE

  • Fuel economy
  • Maneuverability
  • Rear-seat room

Ranked as a Best Buy for new-car shoppers, Corolla is also appealing secondhand–but prices aren’t the lowest by any means in the subcompact league.


Slightly larger and more powerful than the previous Corolla, the redesigned ’98 models also offered the option of front side airbags. Available only as a 4-door sedan, the new Corolla rode the same wheelbase as before, but measured two inches longer. Most interior dimensions grew just slightly. As before, Corolla’s design and powertrain were shared with the Chevrolet Prizm. Base VE, CE, and top-line LE models went on sale. All models used the same 120-horsepower, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine. Five-speed manual shift was standard. A 3-speed automatic transmission was optional on the VE model, and a 4-speed automatic on the CE and LE. Optional on all models, the new side airbags were mounted to the front seatbacks. Antilock brakes were optional on all Corollas.

Yearly Updates

1999 Corolla
Changes were few in the new design’s second season. All models now had a front stabilizer bar.
2000 Corolla
Adoption of VVT-i variable-valve timing added 5 horsepower to the Corolla’s engine. A tilt steering wheel became standard on CE and LE models.
2001 Corolla
Corolla got new front and rear fascias for 2001. The VE model was dropped, and the CE lost such standard features as tilt steering wheel, cassette player, rear defogger, and split/fold rear seat. Also new for 2001 was a sport-oriented S model with color-keyed trim, fog lights, wider tires, and tachometer.
2002 Corolla
With an all-new sedan due in February as an ’03 model, Corolla was unchanged for 2002.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

All Corollas had the same engine: a dual-overhead-cam 4-cylinder, rated at 120 horsepower. Either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic (3-speed on the low-budget VE edition) might be installed. Engine output rose to 125 horsepower for 2000.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/110
Engine HP 120-125
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 122-126
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic


Road Test

Although the new car feels stronger at higher engine speeds, automatic-transmission models feel somewhat sluggish at first, failing to deliver a sharp jump off the line from a standstill. Acceleration, in fact, ranks about average for a subcompact. In addition, turning on the air conditioner deadens performance noticeably. The 4-speed automatic transmission provides smooth, timely upshifts and prompt downshifts for passing, but seems to cut engine power slightly during gear changes.

Corolla suspensions are tuned to provide a comfortable ride, rather than sporty handling. Bumps are absorbed nicely, with good straightline stability, but high-speed turns produce excessive body roll. This drawback is especially noticeable in the 1998 VE and CE, which lacked the LE model’s front stabilizer bar. The front stabilizer went into all 1999 models, but body roll remains apparent–though the car is agile and predictable.

All told, the ride is even quieter than before, with only moderate wind and road noise at highway speeds. Yes, the engine thrashes when worked hard, but it settles down nicely at cruising speeds. Braking with the optional ABS is swift and undramatic–just as it should be.

Like previous Corollas, this latest version is short on back-seat space, and not exactly bountiful up front, either. With average-sized folks seated up front, medium-sized adults can squeeze into the rear seats. Knee room will be snug, however. If front seats are moved more than halfway back, rear leg room becomes extremely tight. On the plus side, back doors are wide enough at the bottom so average-sized people slip easily through the openings.

A low cowl and beltline help to give the driver a commanding position. Reaching the radio and climate controls is a bit of a stretch, but all are simple to use and clearly marked. Though useful in size, the trunk has hinges that dip down into the load space when the lid is closed.


Model Tested: 2002 Toyota Corolla LE

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 7
Ride Quality - 4
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 4
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
Cargo Room - 2


Value - 5

Total: 43


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
97.0 174.0 66.7 54.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
12.1 13.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 36.9 42.5 33.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Corolla 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
Rear Passenger Injury - 3


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 115
Injury 147
Theft 109

Trouble Spots

Description: On cars with side impact protection, the company advises that replacement seat covers (leather or cloth) not be installed or the side airbags may not work properly. (1998)
Cruise control
Description: Some models may not shift into overdrive when the cruise control is on. A new cruise-control computer is available. (1998)
Description: The dome light may not work when switched to “On,” requiring replacement of the dome-light assembly. (1998)
Rough idle
Description: Fuel injectors on 1.8-liter engine may cause rough idle and the check-engine light to illuminate. (1999)
Water leak
Description: The rear quarter windows leak and a new molding strip will be installed under the normal warranty. (1998)

Recall History

Description: Some lug nuts on cars distributed by Gulf States Toyota, Inc. are defective, causing loss of torque, fatigue fracture of wheel, and possible loss of wheel.
1999-2002 w/factory alluminum alloy wheels
Description: The wheel’s lug nuts may not have been secured properly, leading to possible wheel separation with driving. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2002 Corolla
Description: Passenger-side frontal airbag inflator may rupture upon deployment and spray metal fragments at the passenger.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.