Best & Worst Toyota Corolla Years [Models To Avoid]

Based on our analysis of every Toyota Corolla model from 1998 to the latest models, we have categorized the best & worst years of the Corolla.

This guide will reveal the best and worst years for Toyota Carollas in the latest generations.

To provide a comprehensive overview of Corolla’s journey from 1998 to now, I’ve meticulously compiled data from reliable sources like NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and VehicleHistory.

This article will examine each generation of Toyota Carolla and provide insights into performance, technological advancements, resale values, and common problems and recalls.

Let’s get started!

Toyota Corolla Generations

Its journey began in 1966 with the introduction of the Toyota Corolla. It quickly gained attention due to its fuel efficiency, affordability, and reliability as Toyota’s compact car. The first model had a simple 1.1-liter engine and was designed for average consumers.

Based on the following table, you can see all the generations of Toyota Corolla since 1998:

GenerationYears
8th generation (E110)1998-2002
9th generation (E120/E130)2003-2008
10th generation (E140/E150)2009-2013
11th generation (E170)2014-2019
12th generation (E210)2020-Present

Design, technology, and performance have all changed tremendously over the decades. Generational differences can substantially influence purchasing decisions, so highlighting these distinctions is crucial.

Toyota Corolla Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

To categorize the Best & Worst Toyota Corolla Years, we take into account a variety of factors. The following are among them:

  • Reliability reported by owners (surveys)
  • Maintenance costs on an annual basis
  • Ratings based on safety
  • Reliability scores from Consumer Reports
  • Scores of owner satisfaction from Consumer Reports
  • Recalls, complaints, and investigations by the NHTSA
  • Ratings by Edmunds owners
  • Ratings of JD Power owners
  • Ratings of Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owners
  • Ratings by VehicleHistory owners
  • Ratings of owners on Cars.com

This visual representation provides a comprehensive overview of ratings from the aforementioned sources.

Based on the data gathered, I’ve categorized all Toyota Corolla model years as best, neutral, and worst.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
8th generation (E110)200020012002N/A19981999
9th generation (E120/E130)200720082005200320042006
10th generation (E140/E150)20122013201120092010
11th generation (E170)201620172018201920152014
12th generation (E210)2021202220232024N/A2020

“Neutral Years” represent models that have neither excelled nor faltered significantly. Neither were exceptional good nor bad, but they possessed a good balance of qualities.

It is important to consider factors such as NHTSA recalls. Our classifications can be influenced by the number of complaints or recalls associated with a car, which indicates reduced reliability.

Here are the best, neutral, and worst years for the Toyota Carolla.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Corolla 8th Generation [1998-2002]

Best & Worst Toyota Corolla Years

Toyota’s eighth generation Corolla, introduced in 1998, reinforced the company’s reputation as a reliable, efficient, and affordable automobile manufacturer.

The Toyota Corolla’s best years in the eighth generation are between 2000 and 2002, while the Corolla’s worst years are 1998 and 1999.

The Best Years: 2000, 2001, 2002

Often lauded for their improved engineering and features, Toyota Corolla models from 2000 to 2002 are considered among the best of the first generation.

With an average of 27 city/34 highway mpg, these models were primarily powered by the 1.8L 1ZZ-FE VVT-i engine.

The 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmissions cater to a variety of driving styles.

As far as trim levels are concerned, the CE, LE, and S trims offer varying levels of comfort and aesthetics, with the S trim in particular featuring sportier design elements.

Furthermore, advanced airbag systems and improved braking mechanisms were introduced during these years, which enhanced the technology and safety of vehicles.

It is worth noting, however, that these models weren’t without their faults. These years were characterized by excessive oil consumption, although at a lower level than prior generations.

The Worst Years: 1998, 1999

NHTSA owner complaints indicate that the Toyota Corolla years 1998 and 1999 are the ones to avoid due to engine and powertrain problems.

In 1998 and 1999, Corolla models faced several issues that damaged their reputations. There were frequent complaints about engine problems, including oil leaks.

As a result, not only was the Corolla’s reputation for reliability tarnished, but it also posed potential long-term damage risks.

The braking system also made a grinding noise when users applied the brakes, suggesting a possible issue.

Another problem was the failure of the power steering unit. These problematic years do not affect the Corolla’s core characteristic – being an affordable, efficient vehicle. However, they pose significant challenges to owners, making them less recommended in retrospective evaluations.

Toyota Corolla recalls and complaints from 1998 and 1999 are available on the NHTSA website.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Corolla 9th Generation [2003-2008]

Best & Worst Toyota Corolla Years

In 2003, Toyota unveiled the ninth generation of its Corolla compact car, a testament to its commitment to staying ahead in the compact car segment.

Toyota Corolla years 2003, 2004, and 2006 should be avoided at all costs. During Carolla’s ninth generation, 2007 and 2008 were her best years.

The Best Years: 2007, 2008

With fewer recalls and owner complaints in the 2007 and 2008 model years, Toyota has committed to refining the Corolla.

Fuel economy for the Toyota Corolla in 2007 and 2008 was 26 city / 35 highway mpg when equipped with the 1.8L 1ZZ-FE engine and available automatic or manual transmission.

Customers could choose from CE, LE, and sporty S trims based on their preferences.

In addition to side-curtain airbags, a number of new safety features were introduced in these years.

These models still suffered from sporadic AC malfunctions even after early recalls for Engine Control Module (ECM) problems.

The Neutral Years: 2005

What are the pros and cons of the 2005 Toyota Corolla? Corolla’s 2005 model year served as a transitional phase with its decent performance.

Although it retained the 1.8L 1ZZ-FE engine and transmission options, this year was mainly known for its Engine Control Module (ECM) malfunctions, which led to frequent illumination of the “Check Engine” light and, in worst-case scenarios, caused the engine to stall.

Even so, this model year didn’t suffer from many of the issues that plagued its less favored siblings and landed in a neutral spot.

It appears that Toyota was proactive in addressing significant concerns, as evidenced by the various recalls, especially for the ECM for 1ZZ-FE engines.

The Worst Years: 2003, 2004, 2006

You should stay away from the Toyota Corolla model years 2003, 2004, and 2006 based upon the most owner complaints and recalls registered by the NHTSA.

There were persistent oil leaks, transmission glitches, and internal noises in the 2003 and 2004 Toyota Corollas.

In addition, the 2006 Toyota Corolla, despite being an improvement over its immediate predecessor, had engine problems.

There have been many reports of ECM malfunctions, causing the “Check Engine” light to come on, as well as crashes due to engine stalls.

Aside from engine troubles, air conditioner problems and transmission failures also plagued these years, making them less desirable.

NHTSA recalls and complaints for Toyota Corolla 2003, 2004, 2006.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Corolla 10th Generation [2009-2013]

Best & Worst Toyota Corolla Years

Toyota Corolla’s tenth generation introduced more modern styling cues and a revised technological package, cementing the vehicle’s reputation for reliability and economy.

While 2012 and 2013 are the best years to buy a Toyota Corolla, 2009 and 2010 are the worst years to buy a Toyota Corolla.

The Best Years: 2012, 2013

In several areas, the best Toyota Corolla years of the tenth generation – 2012 and 2013 – stand out.

There was a 1.8L 2ZR-FE engine, paired with a 4-speed automatic transmission or a 5-speed manual transmission on the 2012 and 2013 Toyota Corolla models.

A 27 mpg city/33 mpg highway average was achieved with these powertrains, offering consumers a good balance of performance and fuel efficiency.

There were also safety enhancements, including enhanced braking and stability control.

There have been some reports of excessive oil consumption even with these well-regarded models.

Despite this, Consumer Reports and J.D. Power received exceptional ratings these years.

The Neutral Years: 2011

Toyota’s 2011 Corolla exemplifies transitional refinement.

Earlier in the generation, the 1.8L 2ZR-FE engine and transmission were retained, ensuring reliable performance and impressive fuel economy.

With the integration of a revised audio system and navigation system, Toyota made strides in the technological arena.

Although it was a leap forward, there were no setbacks. There have been reports of unexpected stalls caused by the ECM (Electronic Control Module) of the vehicle.

These concerns were somewhat mitigated by Toyota’s quick response through service bulletins and recalls, putting the 2011 model in the neutral category.

The Worst Years: 2009, 2010

Is the Toyota Carolla model from 2009 and 2010 a good car? It’s not. Over 1000 complaints have been filed against the Toyota Corolla in 2009 and 2010, making these years the most problematic for the Toyota Corolla.

From excessive oil consumption to overheating and unintended acceleration, the 2009 and 2010 Toyota Corolla models had a lot of problems.

There were significant safety risks associated with the loss of power steering assist. Many reports of malfunctioning Electronic Control Modules (ECMs) and gear slippage were reported.

A sticky accelerator pedal, which posed a potential safety risk, and an obstructed brake vacuum intake port were also recalled.

The Consumer Reports reliability and owner satisfaction scores for these model years reflect these concerns.

Toyota Corolla recalls and complaints from 2009 and 2010.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Corolla 11th Generation [2014-2019]

Best & Worst Toyota Corolla Years

Toyota Corolla’s 11th generation featured an aggressive, contemporary design compared to previous generations.

In the eleventh generation of Toyota Corolla, 2016-2019 are the best years. In the current generation, 2014 is the only year you should avoid buying a Toyota Corolla.

The Best Years: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Which year of Toyota Corolla is most reliable? According to Consumer Reports, the model years 2016 to 2019 are the most reliable and best Toyota Corolla years.

In these years, the engine was a powerful 1.8L two-cylinder 2ZR-FAE with Valvematic technology.

Averaging 28 city/36 highway mpg, these models offered impressive fuel efficiency when equipped with a CVT or a six-speed manual transmission.

Toyota’s Safety Sense-P suite and enhanced safety features elevated the Corolla’s safety ratings. There were also upgrades to the cabin materials and infotainment system.

The Neutral Years: 2015

Toyota’s 2015 Corolla was a commendable car, but it was eclipsed by its successors.

With the same 1.8L 2ZR-FAE engine as its predecessor, it largely carried over its powertrain configuration.

The availability of advanced safety options was somewhat limited, but the standard backup camera and improved dashboard ergonomics were appreciated.

Nevertheless, it was not able to reach the heights of the following models due to transmission hiccups and infotainment system glitches.

The Worst Years: 2014

This is the worst Toyota Carolla year of the generation based on the comparatively higher number of owner complaints.

Many drivers reported hesitation, jerking, and unintended acceleration while driving the 2014 Toyota Corolla.

Occasionally, touchscreen malfunctions caused frustration with the infotainment system.

The Corolla set a new standard for design and technology in this model year, but these ambitious steps were marred by problems.

As a result of Toyota’s rapid response to some of these concerns, it demonstrated its commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.

NHTSA recalls and complaints for 2014 Toyota Corollas.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Corolla 12th Generation [2020-Present]

Best & Worst Toyota Corolla Years

The 12th-generation Toyota Corolla is built on the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform, offering improved stability, handling, and ride comfort.

Based on the ratings, 2020 is the least reliable year of the Toyota Carolla generation, while 2021-2024 are the most reliable.

The Best Years: 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024

The twelfth generation Toyota Corolla had its best years between 2021 and 2024, especially when it came to powertrain options.

With a Direct Shift-CVT and a 2.0L Dynamic-Force 4-cylinder engine, the 2.0L served as a favorite engine under the hood, delivering around 31 mpg in the city or 40 mpg on the highway.

Certain trims are available with an Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) that is praised for providing a highly engaging driving experience.

With Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alerts, and pre-collision systems became standard.

The cabin is a technological haven with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a variety of connectivity options.

Corolla’s position as a leading compact sedan was further elevated in 2023 and 2024 due to these integrations.

The Worst Years: 2020

In spite of its revolutionary aspirations, Toyota Carolla’s worst year – 2020 – had some critics.

A redesigned interior and advanced driver-assist technology were commendable features, but they weren’t enough to overcome its shortcomings.

Minor issues with the infotainment system and CVT performance were reported by some drivers.

Additionally, platforms such as J.D. Power and Consumer Reports gave it comparatively low ratings.

The first year of a newly launched generation poses challenges, despite being instrumental in paving the way for subsequent refinements.

Toyota Carolla recalls and complaints from the NHTSA for 2020.

Common Toyota Corolla Problems

Common Toyota Corolla Problems

The Toyota Corolla has a number of issues across model years, despite its legendary reliability. You should be aware of these Toyota Corolla problems:

Excessive oil consumption

There has been a complaint from Corolla owners that their engines consume too much oil.

 Oil issues have mostly been reported with 2002 and 2009 model years, even in vehicles barely a year old. Oil thickening, piston ring replacement, and engine replacement are some of the most common solutions.

Faulty transmission

Transmission failures have been reported in Corollas, despite regular maintenance. It has been reported that many people have heard clunking and grinding sounds before their cars stopped. In 2003, the Corolla seems to have suffered the most transmission failures. In most cases, rebuilding or replacing the transmission will cost upwards of $1,200.

Slow engine startup

The starting of some Corollas has been reported to be slow. Usually, this problem occurs between 100,000 and 125,000 miles. It is usually a faulty starter that causes this problem, so the starter solenoid should be replaced. The 2015 Corolla is most likely to experience this problem.

Lit check engine light

Typically occurring in 1998-2016 Corollas, this issue is caused by the evaporative emission (EVAP) system. Faulty gas caps or failures of charcoal canisters are two potential causes.

Musty and moldy A/C system

HVAC systems were defective in many Toyota vehicles. This problem is most noticeable when the air conditioning smells musty or moldy. The musty smell not only degrades the interior air quality, but can also cause health problems for occupants.

Especially common are complaints about older Corollas, although similar complaints have also been reported about 2009 Toyotas. Toyota’s A/C systems are accused of failing to remove water properly from the evaporators and enclosures due to these grievances, which eventually led to a lawsuit.

Soy coating attracts rodents

Toyota’s electrical wire coating is made of soy, which is more eco-friendly and also cheaper. Rodents, however, were highly attracted to soy materials for nest building. Because the damage is not covered by warranty, owners have had to pay between $2,000 and $9,000 to repair it.

Faulty mass airflow sensor

Mass airflow sensors were reportedly defective in Corolla models between 1998 and 2010. In order to maintain the vehicle’s performance and acceleration, the sensors need to be cleaned more frequently. Furthermore, a check engine light may also be displayed as a result of the issue. Replacing the sensor is the most common fix.

Read: Best & Worst Honda CR-V Years
Read: Best & Worst Toyota RAV4 Years
Read: Best & Worst Honda Civic Years
Read: Best & Worst Toyota Camry Years
Read: Best & Worst Subaru Forester Years

FAQs: Toyota Corolla Years to Avoid

Which Toyota Corolla years should I avoid buying as used?

Models from 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2009, and 2014 are not recommended. It has been identified that these models are more likely to experience excessive oil consumption, transmission problems, and other reliability issues.

What are the main problems reported with the Toyota Corolla models from 2000 to 2009?

The Toyota Corolla models from 2000 to 2009, particularly the 2002 and 2009 models, frequently consumed excessive amounts of oil. Both the 2003 and 2009 models had transmission problems, and the 2009 model also suffered from cooling system problems because of a failed water pump.

Is there a Toyota Corolla year known for having the most problems, and what are they?

Among the many problems associated with the 2009 Toyota Corolla are excessive oil consumption and water pump failures. The vehicle’s reliability may be negatively affected by these issues, leading to significant repair costs.

What common problems should potential Toyota Corolla owners be aware of?

The Toyota Corolla has a number of problems, including excessive oil consumption, faulty transmissions, slow engine starts, illuminated check engine lights due to the EVAP system, musty and moldy air conditioning, soy coating attracting rodents, and faulty mass airflow sensors.

Are Toyota Corollas typically reliable?

The Toyota Corolla has a bulletproof reputation. The car is a favorite of most people looking for reliable and efficient transportation, with over 50 million sold worldwide. Don’t buy any Corolla, however, since some model years are problematic (Hint: some years from the 2000s are the most problematic).

How much does a used Toyota Corolla typically cost?

With a tight supply of second-hand cars and higher interest rates, a good reputation often translates into higher prices; the Corolla is a good example. Compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic, used Corollas are more expensive now. CoPilot Price Pulse reports that the average price of a 2009 Toyota Corolla is $8,939. It might cost half as much in normal times. There is still a high price tag on newer examples. It costs $20,113 to buy a 2019 Corolla. In a regular market, the car would be worth about one-third less.

Is the Toyota Corolla a good car to purchase?

For someone looking for reliable transportation without spending a fortune on maintenance and repair, the Toyota Corolla is a great choice. You can, however, learn more about the Toyota Corolla’s most reliable years for a better ownership experience.

Conclusion

In reviewing the Toyota Corolla’s history, the years 2008, 2012, 2013, 2016-2019, and 2021-2024 stand out as the most notable for their blend of performance, design, and reliability, making them the top choices for prospective buyers.

Which year was your favorite or worst for Toyota Corollas?

Let us know what you think in the comments!

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