The Toyota Corolla is the World’s Best-Selling Car Ever

Exportation of the Toyota Corolla from Japan to the United States began in March of 1968. At the time, this compact car was available as a two door coupe, a four door sedan or a two door wagon. The 1.1 liter 4 cylinder engine with 4 speed manual transmission provided the power, at the time, to the smallest car Toyota had ever introduced to the American marketplace. Since then, the original simple design and reliable mechanical engineering of the Corolla have served as the foundation for many future generations of this car which went on to become the most popular car line in automotive history. With the exception of the Land Cruiser, the Corolla is the oldest Toyota model still manufactured and produced as of the 2007 model year.

The Toyota Corolla is the world’s best-selling car ever, with more than 30 million sold across ten distinct generations. Although the car hasn’t been sold in the UK since February 2007, as it was superseded here by the Auris, it continues to be sold in overseas markets. The Corolla owes it popularity to the fact that owning one is utterly painless, if not especially rewarding. Cheap to buy and run, the cars have always been unfailingly reliable, astonishingly well equipped and supremely practical. However, even when offered in enthusiast guise, the cars have tended to be not especially well received by the press. That hasn’t deterred millions of buyers from selecting the Corolla though, because the cars have always excelled where it matters.

The Corolla is a true mixed bag of a car. On the one hand it’s dull in its interior and exterior design as well as unexciting (if competent) dynamically. But it’s practical, reliable, economical and very easy to live with – and that one latter point is enough to swing it for many people. Around 30 million of them in fact. Which just goes to show that to build a successful car, you don’t need to create something with any particular flair.

No car has ever sold in greater quantities than the Toyota Corolla, and while that’s because there were nine different generations sold in the UK before it was superseded by the Auris in 2007, it’s also because the Corolla has always had much to offer. However, despite being one of the easiest cars to own, the Corolla is far from perfect; such unfailing reliability comes at a price.

Accurately describing the Corolla using purely positive terms is not an easy task; this is definitely a vehicle which was designed as an appliance rather than as something to excite the senses. Face lifted cars (post-June 2004) are a bit less bland and a bit more modern than earlier editions, but there isn’t much in it.

You’d think that a 1.4-liter turbo diesel would be far too weedy to allow a relatively large car like the Corolla to perform with any alacrity. However, with 89bhp on tap and a useful 140lb ft of torque, you can make decent progress with the D-4D – things are helped enormously by the more competent handling that the car enjoys over its predecessors. The car’s top speed is 112mph while its 0-60mph time is 13.3 seconds.


Dec 2001: The new, ninth-generation Corolla hatch and Corolla Verso (estate) went on sale. There was a choice of 1.4, 1.6 or 1.8-litre petrol engines along with a 2.0-litre turbo diesel unit.
Sep 2002: A saloon was introduced, but few were sold in the UK.
Jun 2004: A face lifted Corolla was now available, with a revised nose and tail plus better equipment levels. At the same time, the 1.4 D-4D replaced the previous 2.0 D-4D turbo diesel.
Nov 2005: A supercharged Corolla went on sale. Aimed at the enthusiast, the car wasn’t especially well received as its dynamics were not especially convincing.


Toyota uses various translations of the word ‘crown’ for its key models. The name Corolla is taken from the Latin for ‘small crown’.
Over the years there have been numerous Corolla spin-offs, including the Corolla Ceres, Corolla Levin and Corolla Matrix, as well as the Corolla Verso, Corolla Rumion and Corolla Spacio. However, not all models have referenced the Corolla originals. These include the Sprinter Trueno, Allex and Blade.
The Corolla has also been available via other car manufacturers. Over the years, the car has also been offered as the Holden Nova, Chevrolet Nova, Chevrolet Prizm and Geo Prizm.