History of Toyota Corolla – An Iconic Sedan

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The name Corolla needs no introduction. It’s not just a car, it’s an icon in the automotive market. Toyota Corolla dates back to the time when there were no fancy schmancy sedans. Corolla was a trademark of comfort and style. Till this day, Corolla stands its ground in the big pool of sedans. Let’s have a look at the history of Toyota Corolla, where it came from, what changes it went through over the years, and where does it stand today.


all-toyota-corolla-generationsSince its early years of production, Toyota Corolla has been among the best-selling vehicles of the world. The primary reason attributed to this feat is the cars’ build, the superior engine, and constant upgrades in terms of style and features. The success of the Corolla is quite evident from the fact that the production of the vehicle is carried out in manufacturing plants in 15 different countries worldwide. Production of the Corolla spans over an era of 11 generations of vehicles. From its inception in the 1960s as a subcompact vehicle, Toyota Corolla evolved into a compact car in the 1990s.

  • First Ever Corolla

With the ‘E’ chassis design code, the first ever Corolla was unveiled in 1966 in Japan. The E10 was a rear-wheel drive, a manual transmission-based vehicle that supported a 90-inch long wheelbase. The car had a 60-horsepower 1.1 liter four-cylinder K pushrod engine. The build of the vehicle was rather simple, and was available in two-door and four-door models for the coupe and sedan body variants, respectively. It was being sold in the US in the late 1960s for under $1700, not placing that much of a burden on the consumers’ pockets.

  • Second Generation

May 1970 saw the launch of the E20, the second generation of Toyota Corolla. With an enhanced 1.2-liter OHV 73-horsepower engine, the new Corolla also supported automatic transmission and came with an increased wheelbase (91.9 inches, to be precise). With a rounder exterior, Toyota focused on enhancing the car’s comfort and did work a bit on its looks. Engine upgrades continued over the years, lifting the output to 102-horsepower at 1.6 liters. With all the improvements and upgrades, sales for the E20 soared, making it the then second best-selling car worldwide.

  • Third Generation

August of 1974 saw the manufacturing of the third generation (E30 to E60) of Toyota Corolla. A variety of Corolla vehicles were made available to the consumers during the span of this particular generation. With changes in the exterior were introduced, making it more elongated for certain versions of the car along with the added weight, the Corollas ranged from two-door hardtop to four-door sedan along with a five-door wagon model. Engines supported by these models started from the 1.2-liter 3K I4 type and went up to the 1.6 liters 12T I4 for some cars. With strict emissions regulations in practice during the particular era, Toyota took great precautions and focused on improving the technology made available in order to meet the standards. The improvements in the interior included seats with impact absorption quality along with upgrades such as handbrake warning light, seatbelts supporting emergency locking retractor, side window defrosting vents and others. The third generation of Toyota Corolla was crowned as the best-selling vehicle in the world, with sales reaching up to 300,000 cars per year.

  • 4th Generation

With manufacturing beginning in 1979, the fourth generation of the Corolla (E70) had big shoes to fill in following the success of the third generation line-up. Entailing a major shift in design that focused on aerodynamics, the number of doors available for the different types of Corolla ranged between 2 and 5 for the coupe, sedan, liftback, and station wagon. Engine power was lifted all the way up to 1770cc following an upgraded 1C I4 diesel variant at 1839cc for some of the Corolla models, with the prime focus towards fuel economy. To ensure stability while driving and offering comfort to the passengers at the same time as well, a four-link coil configuration system that supported a lateral rod was introduced for the first time for the Corolla’s suspension. Additional safety measures were made part of the vehicles, including half-shut door warning light, advanced disc brakes, and several other upgrades. With export figures reaching up to 500,000 cars every year, Corolla E70 proved to be a major hit, making it the number one top-selling vehicle in worldwide.

  • 5th Generation

Corolla’s fifth generation (E80) was introduced in 1983. E80 experienced multiple noteworthy changes: it was the first Corolla to shift to front-wheel drive. The fifth generation Corolla came with engine upgrades with increased outputs that complemented either the five-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission system. The Corollas of this era were the first ones to be designed through the Computer Aided Design (CAD) technology as Toyota made efforts to connect the new youthful style car with certain looks of the previous models. The E80 had more interior space as compared to its predecessors while passenger comfort was also improved. The Corollas introduced during this era were equipped with power windows, sunroof, and door mirrors. Power steering came as a big relief for the drivers as it was self-explanatory of the company’s efforts of continuing innovation. The overall suspension was also redesigned for the fifth generation Corolla.

  • 6th Generation

Production of the sixth generation (E90) of the Toyota Corolla spanned between 1987 and 1992. The overall looks of the car were significantly changed with the newer models having rounder edges. The manufacturers of this particular generation of the Corolla actively reviewed feedback in terms of vehicle design and adjustments from previous models and introduced high-level upgrades in the E90, assuring that the expectations of the clients are fully met and that an unforgettable, utterly pleasing driving experience is made certain. A range of engines was developed for the sixth generation Corolla that boasted innovation and quality:  a High-Mecha Twin Cam system was manufactured that combined superb performance and class efficiency. A whole new suspension—Toyota Electronic Modulated Suspension (TEMS)—was developed for the E90 series that adjusted according to the driving conditions (for racing series Corollas).

  • 7th Generation

E100 was the seventh generation of the Toyota Corolla that debuted in 1991. By now, the Corolla had become a globally recognized symbol of superior quality, aesthetics, and great performance. As per the usual expectation of upgrading and innovating, the all-new Corolla had a bodyshell that mostly comprised of galvanized steel. Interior space was increased, and efforts were made to make the drive quieter. Engines that ensured more power and efficiency made their way in the bonnet. Two diesel variants—2.0 liter 2C I4 and 2.2 liters 3C-E I4—were introduced for the E100; transmission ranged between 4 and 6 for the manual version and 3 to 4 for the automatic vehicles. In the UK in September of 1994, a driver’s airbag was made essential for all the new Corollas. By the end of 1997, figures reported Corolla to have surpassed the Volkswagen Beetle in order to be crowned as the most selling vehicle in history; a magnanimous feat indeed. Toyota resumed manufacturing the E100 Corolla till 1997.

  • 8th Generation

Production for the eighth generation of the Corolla (E110) had been initiated in 1995. With the turn of the century almost at the corner and client expectations at a new high, Toyota needed to continue with the miracle of the Corolla by upholding its tradition of assuring great performance and excellent quality. A brand new four-cylinder 1.8 liter DOHC aluminum-body engine was introduced for the eighth generation that secured greater fuel efficiency as compared to its predecessors. Multiple trims were introduced yet again for the new Corolla, with rounder shapes overall, new headlight designs, and with a 6-speed transmission for certain Japan or Europe based models. Other improvements included ABS, side airbags, CD-player, wheel covers, fog-lights and others. The superior engine quality of the models introduced in 2000 earned Corolla the Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) status.

  • 9th Generation

Introduced in the year 2000, the E120 was the ninth generation of the Toyota Corolla that was revolutionized as far as its design and exterior are concerned. The body of the E120 was unlike anything in comparison with its predecessors, as it boasted increased interior space, lesser turbulence during the drive, and was an aerodynamic marvel. The ninth generation saw the unveiling of nine new engines for the latest vehicles, including the introduction of the D-4D engine for the diesel variant, making sure top performance and fuel savings. A 5-speed MultiMode manual transmission system was also introduced for certain generation nine Corollas. In terms of car safety, Toyota launched a range of software-based features for the new Corolla, including anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), stability control, and traction control system, along with advanced airbags and improvements in the interior to ensure safety of the passengers if they ever came across a mishap on the road. According to official statistics, by the end of the June 2006, the number of Corollas on the road had gone past 31.6 million, out of which, 1.39 million were ninth generation Corollas that were sold in 2005 alone.

  • 10th Generation

E140 and E150 comprised the tenth generation of the Toyota Corolla that went into production in 2006. Not offering stark changes in design when compared with the ninth generation models, the Corollas of this generation were however elegant yet solid in terms of their build, and were made available in 4-door sedan and 5-door station wagon styles. The tenth generation entailed a wide variety of engines with capacities ranging between 1.3 liters and 2.4 liters for the petrol variant and the 1.4 liters and 2.0-liter D-4D engines for the diesel types. The transmission was taken all the way up to 7-speed Super CVT-I for some models while continuing with the manual and automatic variants for the rest of the production units. For the safety of the latest models, Toyota worked on the vehicles’ ABS, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), and the Traction Control (TRAC) systems.

  • 11th Generation

Currently, production of the Toyota Corolla has entered in its eleventh generation as the E170 models roam on the roads all across the globe following their production that kicked-off in 2013. With headlights that give a meaner look, the Corolla of the latest generation has grown in size, offering more passenger space. Only the sedan version of the E170 has been made available till the end of 2017, with the model arriving in seven trims. The eleventh generation Corolla boasts of unparalleled levels of fuel economy and offers exceptional safety with the Toyota Safety Sense P system that comprises of adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning with lane keeping assist. Enhanced features include keyless entry and ignition, sunroof, advanced audio system, and much more. With nine types of engines covering the different trims of the petrol and diesel vehicles and assuring top performance, the latest Corolla has been built as an environmentally friendly car that focuses on lesser emissions while guaranteeing great results with the drive.

Keeping in view Toyota’s exceptional treatment towards the Corolla models, it will certainly not be a mistake to assume that the brand has still much to offer in the future as it will continue moving forward in the path of innovation, while focusing towards customer loyalty, and upholding the traditions of a glorious past.

Which is your favorite Corolla generation, let us know in the comments section below.

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  1. Asim Zafar says

    Toyota Corolla is my all time favourite car, We had 1976 Corolla Station Weagon when I was a kid we kept that car for 30 years and sold it in 2006, I still miss it a lot. What a lovely and reliable car it was, My father imported it from Japan Brand new!

  2. Khurram says

    What a great informative article, nice work truly, the name Corolla still holds respect in its’ customers eyes and remains the highest selling car still. We, currently have 10th gen but, in my opinion 8th gen (Indus) has been the best so far.

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