The Toyota Corolla began selling in 1966 and in under ten years, became the best selling car in the world. Total sales, at a staggering 46 million Corollas sold, has surpassed every other make and model in history. In comparison, the Honda Civic has sold over approximately 17 million. The Corolla has a reputation for rock-solid reliability as well as being equipped with quality safety and tech features.
Toyota’s Corolla is considered a subcompact or compact car. It actually gained its name from its mid-to-full size predecessor, the Toyota Crown. Corolla is Latin for “small crown” which was appropriate, given that it was a smaller version of the Crown. Toyota has had manufacturing facilities in 18 countries, including 6 in the United States alone.
First Generation Toyota Corolla
The Toyota Corolla first debuted in November of 1966. This first generation is also known as the E10 model. It was available with a 1,100 cubic centimeter (cc) pushrod motor and became available as a fastback in 1968. The Corolla was originally a rear-wheel-drive car equipped with a 4-speed manual transmission or an optional 2-speed automatic transmission. In addition to the fastback configuration, the Corolla was also available as a 2-door sedan, 4-door sedan, and 4-door wagon. It was originally sold exclusively by the Toyota Auto Store in Japan and was not yet available in North America.
Second Generation Toyota Corolla
The second generation of the Toyota Corolla, also known as the E20, came with a restyle in 1970 when the body became more rounded. The Corolla was now available in North America, as well as Australia. Larger 1,400 and 1,600 cc motors also became available with the new generation. A higher trim level, the Corolla Levin, became available with a performance double overhead camshaft motor in 1972. Toyota began distribution to Indonesia in 1971. This generation was available as a coupe, sedan, wagon, or van.
Third Generation Toyota Corolla
The third generation of the Toyota Corolla, also known as the E30, became available in 1974 and ran through 1981. This generation was marked by a larger, heavier car featuring more rounded body lines. In North America a 2-door and 4-door sedan, wagon, hardtop coupe, sports coupe, and 3-door liftback were available. A Deluxe model offered optional features. This third generation of Corollas also marked its entry into the European market.
Fourth Generation Toyota Corolla
The fourth generation Toyota Corolla, debuting in 1979, featured a drastic facelift that squared off the body lines, especially the front and rear bumpers. The suspension was upgraded to a rear coil spring five-link rear end. Power steering also became available and the drivetrain was reconfigured from rear-wheel drive to primarily front-wheel drive in 1983, which it remains as today. Also In 1983, the one-millionth Toyota was produced, commemorated by a “One Million Edition” Corolla exclusive to the Japanese market.
Fifth Generation Toyota Corolla
In 1983 the fifth generation of the Toyota Corolla, the E80, was released with sharper body lines and a front-wheel drive layout. It was available with Sequential Overhead Cam (SOHC) and Direct Overhead Cam (DOHC) motors in four-door liftback, four-door sedan, and two-door hatchback configurations.
There was still one performance model, the AE86, which featured a rear-wheel drive drivetrain. The AE86 began a racing career in 1985 that ran through the rest of the generation’s life.
Sixth Generation Toyota Corolla
The sixth generation, the Toyota Corolla E90, began selling in 1987. Although this generation’s design was very similar to the fifth generation, the Corolla began to feel somewhat modern at this point. In Africa, this specific generation lasted all the way through 2006. It was also the last generation that would be considered a subcompact car. Later generations would all be labeled as compact cars.
It was offered in numerous trim levels, multiple formats and with different motors. There was even a high performance trim called the GT-i. The GT-I was offered with a 4A-GE motor that was co-developed with help from the Yamaha Motor Corporation.
Seventh Generation Toyota Corolla
In 1991 Toyota released the E100 Corolla which was an all-around larger vehicle than previous generations. The larger format pushed it into the compact car class. Body lines were much more rounded than before, which aided in aerodynamics.
Eighth Generation Toyota Corolla
The eighth generation Toyota Corolla underwent a slight redesign in 1997 when the headlights, tail lights and hubcaps were restyled. The next year in 1997 the wagon was discontinued as well as the coupe, leaving only the four-door sedan. For the first time since the Corolla’s inception, all units were produced by North American factories, rather than being shipped from oversees.
Ninth Generation Toyota Corolla
The ninth generation Toyota Corolla was released in North America in 2002. It was longer, wider, had new interior features, and more rounded body lines. The look was refreshed in 2005 with a new grille, tail lights, hubcaps, and interior features.
Tenth Generation Toyota Corolla
The tenth generation Toyota Corolla was introduced in 2007. It included a facelift but remained similar to the previous generation. Upgrades were aplenty from electronic power steering to upgraded suspension, interior materials, and more.
Eleventh Generation Toyota Corolla
The eleventh generation was only released in Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Bangladesh, Singapore, and Sri Lanka. For North America, the tenth generation Corolla continued production.
Twelfth Generation Toyota Corolla
The twelfth, and present generation Toyota Corolla, was released in 2018. A hatchback version was reintroduced for this generation. A 2.0-liter motor pairs with either a six-speed manual transmission or a 10-speed automatic transmission which can provide an impressive 35 mile per gallon average. Tech features abound, including an infotainment system and Toyota Safety Sense, which integrates collision avoidance features.