A history of the Toyota Corolla over the generations

In our first vehicle spotlight, we have decided to do an in-depth history of the most prolific selling vehicle of all time: the Toyota Corolla and all its generations.  When it comes to great cheap cars, the Corolla stands at the top of its class. 

The Toyota Corolla is about as bullet proof and time-tested as it gets when it comes to your basic vehicle.  Although there is nothing basic about the Corolla’s rich 50+ year history.

There have been 11 generations of the Toyota Corolla, all being quite popular, with a 12th generation on its way.  Each generation Corolla shares the same concept that has helped keep Toyota on top: reliability, affordability, and efficiency.  Each generation included different models ranging from a 2-door couple, to 5 door wagons and vans. 

timeline of toyota corolla generations

Toyota Corolla Generations

The images below were taken from Toyota-global.com. For each generation, there are many different models which may or may not appear in the list below.

1st generation (E10): 1966–1970

first generation toyota corolla

The most wanted car by the market — presented to the world by bringing together the essence of Toyota’s technology”

The first generation Toyota Corolla was released in Japan in 1966, but made its way over to America in 1968.  There were two body styles introduced initially, a 2/4 door sedan, and a 2 door station wagon.  The first iteration of the Corolla came with very high praise, and soon became the best selling vehicle in its class. Australia was the Corolla’s first export market, receiving exported Corolla’s in November 1966.

  • Price: $1,700 USD (525,000 ¥)
  • Vehicle weight: 730 kg
  • Transmission: 4-speed manual with floorshift
  • Max. output: 64PS / 6400 RPM

2nd generation(E20): 1970–1974

second generation toyota corolla

“Comprehensively enhanced performance for the high speed era”

The second generation Corolla was released in 1970 and featured a ‘coke-bottle styling’ from the Japanese auto makers. Engine sizes ranged from 1.2 L – 1.6 L depending on the trim level.  One of the biggest change aside from the styling came in the suspension for the second generation as the front suspension was greatly improved with the use of a swaybar. During its second generation, the Corolla became the second highest selling vehicle in the world.

  • Vehicle weight: 850 kg
  • Transmission:  4-speed manual with floorshift
  • Max. output: 86PS / 6000 RPM

3rd generation (E30, E40, E50, E60): 1974–1979

third generation toyota corolla

“The ultimate family car born after an uphill battle.”

The third generation Corolla featured harder lines, giving it a more robust image than the previous generation. The newer Corolla was made as a Sedan, Hardtop coupe, Wagon, Sports coupe, and Liftback in North America, while Japan had a few additional models. However, during this time sales were underwhelming in Japan, but quite the opposite overseas. Record breaking figures for Toyota were achieved once again.

  • Vehicle weight: 890 kg
  • Transmission:  4-speed manual
  • Max. output: 91PS / 6000 RPM

4th generation (E70): 1979–1983

fourth generation toyota corolla

“Luxury car status and features, with excellent fuel economy,”

A trip into the 80’s brings the fourth generation Corolla with impressive fuel economy while being branded as a luxury vehicle. The demand for fuel economy was at an all time high. Oil prices skyrocketed as the supply was reduced due to conflicts in the Middle East .  Toyota listened to the people and introduced diesel engine equipped models into their lineup.  The fourth generation Corolla also surpassed the Volkswagen Golf for production volume of worldwide passenger vehicles. By March 1983, Toyota had produced 10 million Corollas which reached 116 different nations.

  • Vehicle weight: 850 kg
  • Transmission:  3-speed automatic
  • Max. output: 80PS / 5600 RPM

5th generation(E80): 1983–1987

fifth generation toyota corolla

“A spacious interior in a compact sedan. Clearing the hurdles to meet world standards.”

The fifth generation Corolla had a more boxy design, with harder lines. Alternatively, a sister-nameplate was also sold in partnership between Toyota and GM called the Toyota Splinter.  The fifth generation was considered to be one of the most popular Corollas, as 3.3 million units were produced around the world.  This was also the first generation Corolla to start incorporating front wheel drive into some of its models.

  • Vehicle weight: 890 kg
  • Transmission:  5-speed manual
  • Max. output: 83PS / 5600 RPM

6th generation (E90): 1987–1991

sixth generation toyota corolla

“A new tale in Japanese vehicles has begun. The birth of the all new Corolla, a new grade Toyota sedan.”

In the sixth generation Corolla, a more contemporary and stylish design was incorporated. This Corolla had a true 80s look and feel to it, and it is not uncommon to still see this gen Corolla on the road today.  By now, all Corollas were front-wheel-drive as rear-wheel-drive models were no longer being produced as of 1987.  Four different body types were available for this Corolla, which featured engines ranging from a 1.3-liter, to a Supercharged 1.8-liter diesel engine.

  • Vehicle weight: 960 kg
  • Transmission:  5-speed manual
  • Max. output: 94PS / 6000 RPM

7th generation (E100): 1991–1995

seventh generation toyota corolla

“Big and Safety.”

The seventh generation Corolla was bigger and heavier than previous generations.  It was also more aerodynamic than ever before and had a sportier feel to it.  There were two different body types upon release, which included the sedan and 2-door coupe.  Later on, a wagon and van were added to the lineup. Interior design improvements were also significant with this new generation of Corolla, as quality materials were continued to be used by Toyota. The engine size came in 6 different variations, ranging from a 1.3-liter to the 2.0-liter diesel engine.

  • Vehicle weight: 1,010 kg
  • Transmission:  5-speed manual
  • Max. output: 105PS / 6000 RPM

8th generation (E110): 1995–2000

“Convey a slim, healthy image with a beautiful shape.”

This was the last generation of Corolla to have an equivalent Sprinter model. One of Toyota’s main focus when engineering the eighth generation Corolla was to save energy and resources by reducing the vehicles weight.  Extra strides were also made for maintaining and improving safety and collision with the reduced weight.  They achieved this by adding new impact absorption steering column, SRS airbags, and emergency locking seatbelts.

  • Vehicle weight: 1020 kg
  • Transmission:  4-speed automatic with 2WAY OD
  • Max. output: 100PS / 5600 RPM

9th generation (E120, E130): 2000–2007

ninth generation toyota corolla

“New Century Value.”

The all new ninth generation Corolla focused on performance and quality above anything else. It was also designed to appeal to a wider audience, as data suggested that the Corolla was more popular with older generations.  By this time, there had been a decrease in brand strength to the point where Toyota flirted with the idea of changing the name from Corolla, to something newer and edgier.  Ultimately, this re-branding idea was rejected.  Towards the end of the ninth generation, the total number of Corollas produced reached nearly 32 million units.
  • Vehicle weight: 1,060 kg
  • Transmission:  4-speed automatic Super ECT
  • Max. output: 110PS / 6000 RPM

10th generation (E140, E150): 2006-2013

tenth generation toyota corolla

“The DNA successfully inherited for 40 years about to open up a new flower”

40 years had passed when the 10th generation Corolla was released, and the new model took a more global approach than ever before.  To satisfy needs from Europe, North America, and Asia, Toyota focused on technology, performance, cabin space, and user friendliness.  A newly designed interior, front grill, and bumpers were just a few parts of the changes the 10th generation saw from a design perspective.

  • Vehicle weight: 1,350 kg
  • Transmission: 5-speed automatic CVT / 5-speed manual
  • Max. output: 108PS /6000 rpm.  

11th generation (E160, E170): 2012–present

eleventh generation toyota corolla

“I believe this new model clearly breathes the Corolla DNA that has been inherited over a period of 47 years.”

The 11th and current generation Corolla saw a sleek and trendy new design. The biggest change in the E170 model was the vehicle size with the wheelbase approximately 4 inches larger, giving the .  The E170 model was released internationally, and what you will see in North America, whereas the smaller E160 was released in Japan,  Chinese, and Sri Lankan markets.  Newer technology such as a touch screen infotainment system and a backup camera can be found in this generation.  As usual, great fuel economy and safety features come standard.

  • Vehicle weight: 1,245 – 1300 kg
  • Transmission: 5-speed automatic CVT  
  • Max. output: 110PS / 4800 RPM

Since its inception in 1966, Toyota has sold over 43,000,000 Corolla’s worldwide in over 150 different countries, making it the most popular nameplate of all time.  In July 2013, the Toyota Corolla reached the 40,000,000 sold marker, something no other automaker has accomplished.

During this time, the Toyota Corolla has had many different variations and gone by alternate names depending on the market. Here are just some of the different names the Toyota Corolla has gone by:

  • Corolla Allex
  • Corolla Blade
  • Corolla Ceres
  • Corolla Fielder
  • Corolla Levin
  • Corolla Matrix
  • Corolla Rukus
  • Corolla Rumion
  • Corolla RunX
  • Corolla Seca
  • Corolla Spacio
  • Corolla Tercel
  • Corolla Verso

When did Toyota come to Canada?

The first Toyota’s were imported to Canadian dealerships from Japan in 1964. The Corolla appeared in these Canadian dealerships shortly after.

Toyota has been making vehicles on Canadian soil since 1988. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) is considered to be one of the top five manufacturing organizations for Toyota, with its three plants located in Southern Ontario.

It’s first year, 153 vehicles were built in Canada.  Today, we have the means to build over 500,000 Toyota vehicles annually with the manufacturing plants in Cambridge Ontario and Woodstock Ontario.

The manufacturing plants in Canada have been globally recognized, receiving more awards than any other manufacturing plant in North or South America.

Toyota has had special moments with their customers

After Toyota announced that 40 million Corolla’s had been sold, they followed up this statement by saying that these popular vehicles sell so fast, they were unable to officially track the 40 millionth sold vehicle.

[QUOTE] If you bought a Toyota Corolla last month, your new car just might be the 40 millionth Corolla ever sold. It’s not about the number, but the number sums it up: Happy customers have made Corolla the best-selling automotive nameplate in history.

This is a much different approach than when Toyota sold their 50 millionth vehicle to a lucky customer.  Instead of issuing a public thank you in the Corolla’s case, when the 50 millionth Toyota was sold, an NYPD officer from New York received a special house visit from Toyota Group President to let him know that his newly purchased vehicle would be fully paid for.  To top off this great news, they also gave him a FREE Toyota Rav-4!

A story like this by a company with such a rich history doesn’t happen all too often, but certainly adds to the legacy and reputation Toyota has built for themselves over the decades.

At the very beginning

The strong reputation that Toyota has maintained with its consumer base started back in 1966 when Toyota released the first generation Corolla. At that time, Tokyo had just recently hosted the summer Olympics in 1964, and as a result, the city streets and highway infrastructure began to expand with paved roads.

tokyo in 1963

Image of Tokyo in 1963 – photo cred: Japan Times

The market was ready for the Corolla as the demand and availability of family vehicles started to increase.  The timing was perfect, and when the Corolla debuted in October 1966, it was met with a very positive reception.

After being on the market for only one month, the Corolla surpassed its main competitor, the Nissan Sunny (Nissan Sentra) in auto sales.  Shortly after this, Toyota began a full-scale exporting strategy shipping vehicles around the world to different continents.

map of exported toyota corollas

By 1970, the Corolla became Toyota’s most exported model.

Why do people love Corollas so much?

why you should buy a toyota corolla infographic

It’s simple. The Corolla is the staple of reliability for a relatively cheap price. Add in good fuel economy and safety features on top to make the Corolla even more appealing for many different types of situations and lifestyles.

Toyota has also done a really good job branding the Corolla to the point where you know what you get with it.  You know you will get one of the best bangs for your buck out of any vehicle on the market today.  You also know that your Corolla will last 10+ years with minimal issues and maintenance costs.

Everything we know about the 12th generation Corolla

The debut of the 12th generation Toyota Corolla will most likely take place in mid-to-late 2018.  This means the next generation model will most likely appear in the 2019 model.

The 11th generation Corolla came out in Japan earlier than in North America, so can expect the same to happen with the 12th.

There is also information online about Toyota working on a new hatchback version of the Corolla.  Below are a few spy shots we found online from various Toyota forums on the internet:

12th generation corolla front spy shot

12th generation corolla back spy shot

There are rumors that the new Toyota Corolla will have a BMW engine since the alliance was forged between Toyota & BMW in 2011.  This has yet to be confirmed however. [We will update this when more information becomes available].

It has also been speculated that the 12th Generation Corolla will use the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). This architecture has already been adopted on the certain Toyota models, including the Toyota Prius and new 2018 Toyota Camry. In a nutshell, the main benefits of TNGA will be more fuel effecient cars, more powerful powertrains, and a more environmentally friendly footprint.  The architecture strengthens the core of the vehicle, and will also share parts from different models.  Sharing parts will help manufacturers as they will be able to build various vehicles at the same time.

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2018-02-28T15:03:22-05:00 November 15th, 2017|Vehicle Spotlight|

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