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Toyota Corolla History: Exploring All Generations and Redesigns

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Toyota Corolla is a reputed Japanese car brand with high-quality designs and numerous technical innovations. Looking at the history of Toyota Corolla , it is not difficult to understand why Toyota has become the best-selling Japanese brand. 

Reliability, low maintenance cost, and durability are the prime factors making the Toyota Corolla a prime choice among people looking for budget-friendly vehicles. Its history dates back to its inception in 1966. From 1966 and across 12 generations, Toyota has sold more than 50 million models across the globe as of 2023. 

Let’s go through the complete evolution of the Toyota Corolla to see how this brand has reached its goal of selling most vehicles in the world.   

History of Toyota Corolla 

Corolla has maintained its reputation through constant innovation. The history of the Toyota Corolla has seen 12 generations in its journey over 75 years. 

Let’s look into all the generations and see how the Toyota Corolla has evolved over time.

First Generation Toyota Corolla E10 (1966-1970)

E10 was the first generation of Toyota Corolla launched in 1966. It was available in 2 different car body types i.e. two and four-door saloons and two-door station wagons. It had three layouts: a front engine with front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and four-wheel drive. 

This vehicle stunned the world with innovative features and advanced technology, such as bucket-type front seats, floor-mounted gear levers, and enough room for rear-seat passengers.

It featured a 1.1-liter K-series engine generating 59 horsepower and 83 Nm of torque. The old engine was replaced with a 1.2-liter one that produced 67 horsepower and 94 Nm of torque. This is a modest but considerable gain over the prototype’s 44 horsepower output. 

The K-series engines were paired with three transmission options, including 

  • Floor-mounted 2-speed automatic transmission 
  • Steering column-mounted 4-speed manual 
  • Fully synchronized 4-wheel manual transmission 

2-speed automatic and 4-speed manual transmission were featured for the very first time in a Japanese car. Furthermore, its interior had high-end features of that time, including a radio, a center console box, and a heater. At first, the first generation featured drum brakes; however, midway through the generation, it introduced disc brakes as an option. 

Second Generation Toyota Corolla E20 (1970-1974)

The 2nd generation model was introduced in 1970. This vehicle was restyled and modified to offer greater competence with enhanced performance. The car had the option of two types of engines, the 1400cc and 1600 cc OHV engine. Moreover, it also supported a rear wheel drive, a front-engine with three body styles including 

  • 2-door coupe 
  • 2/4-door sedan 
  • 3/5 door station Wagon 
  • 3/5-door van 

However, shortly after the launch of the second generation, Toyota added a T-series 1.4-liter engine producing 85 hp further to enhance the performance of the Corolla in the high-speed period. 

For the first time in the history of Toyota Corolla a new coupe body style was introduced alongside wagon station and sedan. Also, disc brakes came as standard in all models of Toyota Corolla. 

The Corolla came with a 5-speed manual transmission, improving the power at high speeds. More than 2.4 million units of 2nd generation were produced before the third generation’s debut. With remarkable innovation, comfortable interior, and outclass fuel efficiency, in a matter of 8 years, Toyota became one of the best-selling brands in 1974. 

Third Generation Toyota Corolla (1974-1979)

The third generation Corolla models were launched in 1974 with the following engine line-up 

  • 1.2-liter 3K-H engine 
  • 1.4-liter T –series engine 
  • 1.6-liter 2T engine 
  • 2T-G twin-cam engine 

However, this engine couldn’t meet strict emission standards in 1975. Toyota resolved this issue by equipping catalytic converters in the 1.6 and 1.4-liter T-U engines.  Compared to 2nd generation, four models were launched by Corolla in 1974 i.e. E30, E40, E50, and E60. These were more heavier and extensive models of Corolla. 

Moreover, Toyota Corolla models featured a semi-fast back and hard-top design for the first time. Also, there were significant improvements in the brand regarding vibration, noise, and harness (NVH). To enhance safety, Toyota also introduced features such as impact-absorbing body structure and three-point seat belts as standard on all models. 

Fourth Generation Toyota Corolla (1979-1983)

There was substantial modification in the fourth-generation model in 1979. Being a popular model in a very short time, Toyota continued to make improvements in the new generation.


This generation came with different body designs, including sedans, vans, hardtops, coupes, and lifts. Furthermore, Toyota featured a more aerodynamic exterior with aesthetic and sophisticated interior design. 

In 4rth generation, a 1.8-liter engine and 1.3 and 1.5-liter engines were introduced. Toyota discontinued the 1.8-liter engine in 1981 by introducing the Lightweight Advanced Super Response Engine (LASER). Some of the standout features in the 4th generation include a square halogen headlight type and an electrically adjusted side mirror. 

Fifth Generation Toyota Corolla (1983-1987)

The fifth generation model launched in 1983 showed some major changes. In this generation of the history of Toyota Corolla, the front-engine, front-wheel drive system configuration had taken the place of the front-engine, rear-wheel drive system layout. The fifth-generation Toyota Corolla included the following engine line-up 

  • 1.3 liter SOHC
  • 1.5-liter 
  • 1.6-liter EFI 
  • 1.8-liter diesel 

Compared to old Toyota models, this generation was sportier and featured an expanded head and legroom for the passengers. Also, a sunroof and central locking car doors were available as an option. On average, 2300 units of this vehicle were produced on a daily basis, which was an all-time high production rate.  

6th Generation of Toyota Corolla (1988-1992)

6th generation of Toyota Corolla debuted in 1988, offering various engine options, including 

  • 1.3-litre engine 
  • 1.5-litre engine 
  • 1.6-litre engine 
  • 1.8-litre diesel engine 

Toyota discontinued its rear-wheel drive model and launched a four-wheel drive system in the station wagon and Corolla sedan on the front-drive wheel layout.  The high-end Corolla models of this generation featured Toyota Electronic Modulated Suspension (TEMS) to enhance the drive quality further. 

What’s impressive is that 308,000 units of this generation were sold in Japan only. This vehicle successfully became one of the best-selling vehicles around the globe because it offered luxury, usability, and quality to the customers. 

Seventh Generation Toyota Corolla (1992-1997)

Toyota debuted its seventh-generation model with an efficient production system in 1992. This generation was a better version than all the previous generations, offering more functionality and comfort. The petrol engine line-up stayed the same except for the 1.6-liter engine that features a twin cam and sports twin cam with hp 115 and 164, respectively. 

With extended width, height, wheelbase, and styling, this vehicle gave an image of a higher-grade model. This model was larger, heavier, and more aerodynamic than the models it replaced. 

Also, the 2.0-litre engine replaced the 1.8-litre one. The integrated front bumper and horizontal radiator grille complemented its sporty exterior. Lastly, projector fog lamps along with airbags were introduced in Toyota Corolla’s history in the 7th generation. 

Eight Generation Toyota Corolla (1997-2000)

The 8th generation Toyota Corolla rolled out in 1996 with four different body types, including a three-door hatchback, a five-door lift back, a four-door saloon, and a five-door estate. This generation was featured in a 1.6-litre engine coupled to the six-speed gearbox.  

During the reign of the 8th generation, the Toyota Corolla became the best-selling vehicle of all time. Even today, you can find Toyota Corolla second-hand models from the 8th and 9th generations in many people’s garages. 

With a fully independent front and rear suspension, Toyota drivers can enjoy remarkable driving dynamics and impressive comfort levels with enhanced appeal. 

It also offered amazing safety features, including an anti-lock braking system (ABS), twin airbags, and three-point seatbelts. This generation also won the manufacturer’s championship in 1999. This win also played its part in the popularity of the Toyota Corolla. 

Ninth Generation Toyota Corolla (2000-2006)

In the 20th century, the ninth generation of the Toyota model was launched with minor upgrades. This model added more safety features, including traction control and stability control. With minor upgrades, the engine line-up stayed the same.

Engines were paired with the 4-speed automatic transmission and 6-speed manual transmission. It had an updated design language with larger exterior dimensions. It was available in 6 variants Xli, GLi, 2.oD, 2.oD saloon. 

With 2600 wheelbase, this model became the most spacious version of the Toyota Corolla. The Lexus premium models inspired the interior of the 9th generation Toyota Corolla. 

Since the introduction of the Toyota Corolla in 1966, around 32 million Toyota Corolla models were sold globally.  You can still purchase ninth-generation Toyota Corolla models. The 2000 – 2006 Toyota Corolla price in the USA varies from $3,000 to $10,000. 

Tenth Generation Toyota Corolla (2006-2011)

Toyota Corolla continued its popularity with its designs and innovations. In 2006, the 10th generation of the Toyota Corolla was launched. This generation came with modern infotainment features with improved safety, enhanced comfort level, a parking assist system, and automatic climate control. 

When it comes to safety, this generation celebrates an impressive reputation for its reliability and can carry on for thousands of miles without causing issues. 

Also, this model generates a low level of road and wind noise thanks to relatively robust and decent-quality materials. The engine line-up included 1.5-liter VVT-I and 1.8-liter Dual VVT-I engines. Also, both engines were coupled with CVT-I transmission. 

The feature that sets both engines apart is that the 1.8-liter model came with a 7-speed sequential gearbox. 

Eleventh Generation Toyota Corolla (2011-2018)

Keeping the demands and preferences of consumers in mind, the 11th generation of Toyota Corolla was launched with smaller dimensions. 

The 11th generation Toyota Corolla is equipped with a 1.8-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine with CVT-I transmission for enhanced performance and fuel economy. The focus of this generation is on improving the design and safety technologies. Also, this generation focused on improving safety technologies and design. 

12th Generation Toyota Corolla (2018-Present)

Currently, the 12th generation Toyota Corolla is on the run. The models from this generation are more comfortable with updated suspension and stiffer springs. The engine specification, however, varies from region to region. For example, the Toyota Corolla for sale in UAE is equipped with a 1.6-litre engine producing 121hp. This generation also included modern safety features and a roomy interior. 

Toyota Corolla 2023

In 2023, Toyota has continued the tradition of keeping pace with changes in the automotive industry and preferring the needs and demands of customers. The latest models of Toyota are equipped with greater functionality and faster response. Toyota is also introducing incredibly fuel-efficient hybrid models with front or all-wheel drive. 

The new 2023 Toyota Corolla range is more refined with a contemporary appearance. The interior design is more modern, with premium new graphics, trims, and embossed patterns. 

Final Thought 

Toyota Corolla history is filled with innovation concerning design and technology. Corolla has maintained its position by manufacturing best-selling vehicles in the world. You can browse popular models of Toyota and get your hands on both new and used Toyota Corolla cars for sale.

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