2002 Corolla New Car Test Drive
Toyota's Corolla is one of the most trusted vehicles sold in the U.S. Many choose it as their first new car, and with good reason. For more than three decades, the Corolla has earned a reputation for delivering reliable, durable, and comfortable transportation. Every Toyota vehicle sold, from the entry-level Echo to the premium Lexus sedans and SUVs, is built to an extremely high standard. If you pay a little extra for a Toyota, that's what you're getting in return.
Changes for 2001 include a realigned product mix. The base Corolla is now the CE, followed by a new S version and topping out with the LE model. The S version comes with standard fog lamps, color-keyed body side moldings, door handles, and front grill, a leather-like wrap for the steering wheel, and a few other touches that imply sportiness. It receives no mechanical or performance-minded upgrades.
Three models are available: CE ($12,568); S ($12,793); LE ($13,383).
All Corollas are four-door sedans powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. All come standard with a five-speed manual gearbox. A three-speed automatic is a $415 option for the CE; a four-speed automatic is an $815 option for S and CE. Side-impact airbags are options for all three versions, but you have to step up to either the S or LE to get antilock brakes.
Most people opt for the S or the well-equipped LE. CE is a low-price car with all but the most basic amenities optional. None of the models are exactly luxurious unless extras are ordered, but they fulfill transportation needs well.
CE gets the plainest interior fabrics, and even a digital clock costs extra. It's hard to imagine anyone but fleet customers will go for a CE without air conditioning. Add much equipment to one and its price begins to climb to that of the S. By ordering options, an S can be equipped to be a virtual twin to the LE. Standard equipment for the top-of-the-line LE includes power steering, variable-speed intermittent windshield wipers, outside temperature gauge, rear-window defogger, and a four-speaker sound system.
Start ordering options and you may suffer sticker shock. The CE's base price appears to put the Corolla squarely in the bargain category, right down there in rock-bottom land with many competitors. But by the time you've driven away in a fully equipped LE the tab has climbed toward midsize territory.