50 Years of the Toyota Corolla

50 Years of the Toyota Corolla

2016 marks 50 years of the Toyota Corolla and for the past 20 years or so it’s been one of the world’s bestselling cars.

For most of its history the Corolla has been the benchmark for a solid small car (along with the Honda Civic), and is basic reliable transportation.

I did my driver’s education in a seventh generation Corolla (1987-1991), in the spring of 1993. A little brown one with 160,000 miles on it but still drove strong.

See I worked part time at my high school (Brother Rice), and we didn’t have drivers ed so you’d have to go to the nearest public school but it didn’t work out. So I went to evening drivers ed at a private driving school (the old Len Scaduto driving school), in suburban Oak Lawn.

At the time we had two Nissans at home, my mother’s 1984 Sentra wagon and my dad’s 1986 200 SX and I had practiced drove with my dad on the Sentra. But the Corolla was more solid.

That little car helped me get my permit and my license, so I’m grateful for that.

I bought a 2007 Toyota Corolla S in 2008, I had wanted one since the ninth generation came out in 2003. It was what you expect from a Corolla, solid car, one of the most comfortable seats I’ve ever sat in and a nice thick steering wheel.

But this was during Toyota’s acceleration recall & crisis and this car was affected and had more recalls and problems than I can remember. I dealt with it for 2 ½ years and then sold the car at a loss, I really wanted to like it but it had too many issues.

However my mother bought a certified pre owned 2015 Corolla last year and it looks like Toyota is back to making solid, reliable cars.

I drove her Corolla for the first time a few weeks ago and its textbook Corolla, small, reliable, solid feel on the road, nice thick steering wheel and reliable transportation.

Now a Corolla may look “sporty” but driving wise it’s not. I’ve owned three Mazdas, they are “sporty”, or as they call it “zoom zoom”.

A Corolla is not that, its gas efficient but going fast and handling corners is not its forte.

However it is versatile and is bigger than it looks, yes the front can be tight for us “full figured guys”, in the words of Chicago White Sox baseball commentator Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, but otherwise it’s a comfortable little car. The trunk will surprise you with room, especially with the rear seats folded down.

I use to haul plenty of stuff in my Corolla, I would load up at the local hardware store and use it like a small truck and it was up for the task.

Not to mention for a factory stereo it was not bad, Toyota used to have Sony systems, not sure what they use now, though you know me, I changed mine out for a Pioneer head unit.

And the new Corollas have some “tech”, my mother’s has the backup camera and the HVAC system is simple but not plain and is what you might expect in a larger Camry.

So the Corolla remains one of the most popular cars in the world and it’s no surprise, its size makes it easy to drive and park anywhere, its price is reasonable (starting around $ 20,000), and once again it’s reliable.


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