2003 Toyota Celica Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Toyota Celica Hatchback


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Toyota Celica Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.8 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 140 hp @ 6400 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 23/30 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2003 Toyota Celica

  • A distinctive and entertaining sport coupe biased toward performance rather than convenience.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Radical styling, rev-happy GT-S engine, outstanding steering/braking/handling.

  • Cons

    Mediocre interior materials, difficult-to-master GT-S six-speed shifter, doesn't offer much in terms of features.

  • What's New for 2003

    The 2003 Toyota Celica has been revised with freshened front and rear styling. In front, the Celica gets a new bumper and fascia with a…

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (73 total reviews)

Great car

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Vehicle: 2003 Toyota Celica GT 2dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 5M)

This is what I have to say about these certain Topics: Fuel Economy: Excellent for a car of this style. A sport car style with great mileage. People will appreciate this car when gas prices shoot up. I get 33 mpg (mix highway/city). GTS model required premium gas. Performance: Under powered but that's alright, but that is the trade off for good mileage. GT model gets 140hp while the GTS gets 180hp. Either model is fun to drive. If you think 140hp GT sucks compared to the GTS's 180hp, keep in mind that the 2013 VW golf hybrid turbo makes 170hp.. GT or GTS is equally a great buy. But if you like the sound of "Lift" (similar sound to VTEC) get the GTS.

Fantastic car

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Vehicle: 2003 Toyota Celica GT 2dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 4A)

It surprised me how well Celicas retained their value, then I drove one! I'd been eyeballing them for a couple months and when I finally had enough cash to buy it outright, I didn't hesitate to scoop one up. I disagree with the sports car classification but it is quick. Having owned a junky '97 Sebring and still owning a '70 El Camino, both problematic, it's great to have a car where I only need to do routine maintenance and it runs like a top. My Celica has almost 94,000 miles on it and I can probably get another 100,000 out of it before it starts to really fall apart!

It's a great car for

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Vehicle: 2003 Toyota Celica GT 2dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 5M)

I absolutely love my car. It's an absolutely great car for the price (I could not find a better one in its class). Toyota did cheap out on a few things like some materials they use (like for seats) is really shoddy. But, it's cause they managed to make this car perform better than its predecessor while making the price cheaper. The car handles like a dream even for a FWD. It's not the fastest in its class but it's an absolute ball to drive. So far it's been reliable but I've only had it for a year so take that as you will. It does have some buzzes rattles and the seats have wear out parts but it seems so far the stuff that matters like engine is solid.


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Vehicle: 2003 Toyota Celica GT 2dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 5M)

I have purchased many cars in my lifetime, but I must say that I really like this car. It has a good sound system, and is very sporty. I am always receiving compliments on it even though it is 6 years old! I am single, so I wasn't the least bit concerned about a 4 door. It is very economical and I fill up my tank way less than previously. All in all, I couldn't ask for a better vehicle.

My '03 celica

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Vehicle: 2003 Toyota Celica GT 2dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 5M)

This was my first brand spanking new car at 40yrs of age. I wanted a car that was sporty, yet economical. This car suits me fine since I am only 5'1". My children are all older so I really didn't care about the comfort of the backseat. We have taken it on many road trips, it is a bit cramped for my husband who is 5'9", but if I drive (which I always do) he can adjust and we always bring plenty of pillows. I do not regret for a moment buying this car since I do put about 27,000 miles/year on her, but she is holding up wonderfully even in the worst weather the Northeast has to offer. Thanks Toyota, I love my Celica :)

True love

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Vehicle: 2003 Toyota Celica GT-S 2dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 6M)

I bought this beautiful Celica a year and a half ago and its been nothing short of amazing. The way it grabs the road, the power of LIFT (GT-S only) and no hesitation at speeds way above 100 is mind blowing. I love the looks I get from people who often confuse it with Lamborghinis and Ferraris, only to be further shocked that it's by Toyota. An amazing car, especially in Solar Yellow.

Gas Mileage


  • 23
  • cty
  • 30
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2003 Toyota Celica Review

What's New for 2003

The 2003 Toyota Celica has been revised with freshened front and rear styling. In front, the Celica gets a new bumper and fascia with a wider upper air intake. Newly available high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights complement the car's advanced styling, and redesigned rear lights echo the projector-style look. Inside, Toyota has redesigned the center dash cluster for improved legibility and added a standard JBL audio system to the GT-S model. A power antenna is now standard on JBL-equipped models. Finally, you can get two new colors: Solar Yellow and Zephyr Blue Metallic.


Until this current body style, Celicas were generally considered slow, overweight and expensive. Detractors claimed they were "secretaries' cars." But not this one. Introduced in 2000, the latest Toyota Celica is a sharp performer. Styled in California by Calty Design Research, the Celica's cab-forward shape features a high-fashion look with racecar design elements. Sharp-edge panels, dramatic plunging curves, a tall tail and a radically lowered front fascia create stark contrasts. For 2003, Toyota has further updated the Celica's front-end styling and added optional projector-style high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights. Particularly in GT-S trim, the Celica is the martial arts action hero of sport coupes. It is quick, nimble and an absolute joy to drive on curvy roads because of the responsive steering. Used for commuting, however, the Celica's somewhat stiff ride and high-strung power train take their toll. If all you want is a sporty look, more relaxed cruisers like the Hyundai Tiburon or the Mitsubishi Eclipse might be better choices. Or, if you want something in the middle, the Acura RSX is a car to consider. However, the 2003 Toyota Celica is still a favorite of ours, and we have no problem recommending it to those who want a fairly affordable and entertaining vehicle.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The front-drive 2003 Toyota Celica is a two-door hatchback. There are two trim levels: GT and GT-S. Though the GT has an attractive price, its feature list is rather scant. You'll get the basics like air conditioning and a CD player, but power windows and locks, cruise control and a rear wiper are all optional. These features are standard on the GT-S, along with its higher-horsepower engine. The GT-S also has bigger brakes, alloy wheels, fog lamps, a JBL sound system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and sport pedals. On either car, you can order larger 16-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, a rear wing, keyless entry and the so-called "action package," which includes additional aerodynamic body effects. On the GT-S only, you can order leather seats and, for 2003, HID headlights.

Powertrains and Performance

A 1.8-liter four-cylinder dual-overhead camshaft engine powers the Celica GT-S. Codeveloped with Yamaha, it hits an impressive mark of 100 horsepower per liter of displacement, for a total of 180 at a quite high 7,600 rpm. It also makes 133 pound-feet of torque. The GT model's 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is less powerful but more tractable; it makes 140 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. Celica GT and GT-S are available with different variations of automatic and manual transmissions. The GT comes standard with a five-speed manual gearbox. The manual transmission in the GT-S features six forward gears. Performance is enhanced with this transmission, but extra concentration is required when shifting, as the shifter's gates are closely spaced and it's possible to select a wrong gear. Optional on both trims is a four-speed automatic transmission. The GT-S' version has E-shift steering wheel-mounted buttons. These allow for "manual" shifting of the automatic transmission.


Besides the usual safety equipment, the Celica offers ABS and side-impact airbags as optional equipment. It also has an Emergency Locking Retractor (ELR) seatbelt for the driver and ALR/ELR seatbelts for all other passengers. In NHTSA crash testing, the 2003 Toyota Celica earned four stars for the driver and front passenger in frontal impacts and three stars for side impacts.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Celica's interior is stylish, functional and comfortable for two adults and a healthy amount of their gear. A simple, downswept dash layout, big analog gauges, sporty bucket seats, faux-drilled metal pedals and fashionable metallic silver accents add to Celica's cockpit ambience, but material quality is less than impressive. Both GT and GT-S offer a center console big enough to hold eight CD cases, as well as two oversize cups. The rear seat can accommodate two people and can also be folded forward, providing additional cargo space.

Driving Impressions

The Celica's suspension, steering and braking systems provide outstanding handling and performance. The GT-S with the six-speed transmission is definitely the version to pick if you like to drive. The trade-off, however, is a stiffer ride quality and an engine that is quite peaky in its delivery.

Talk About The 2003 Celica