1998 Toyota Corolla Review

Used Corolla for sale
List Price Estimate:$549 - $1,297
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • All-new with a great engine, new body, and first-in-segment side-impact airbags, the 1998 Toyota Corolla is the best thing to hit the compact car market since the original VW Beetle.
  • Shape is a bit dull.

Vehicle overview

The Toyota Corolla has been through many iterations since it was first introduced in 1968. Over the course of its long life, the Corolla has appeared as a hatchback, coupe, wagon and sedan. The world has seen enough people fall in love with this car to make it the second best selling vehicle in history.

Totally redesigned, the new Toyota Corolla is set to increase its global sales record and become the standard against which all small cars will be compared. Why? Because there is nothing like it, other than the re-badged Chevrolet Prizm, that carries this level of refinement and convenience in the sub-$20,000 price class.

We think that the most exciting change to the Corolla occurs under the car's hood. Nestled between the grille and the firewall is a 1.8-liter all-aluminum DOHC four-cylinder engine that cranks out 120 horsepower and 122 foot-pounds of torque. This high-revving engine not only provides the Corolla with more power than last year's motor, it does so while being 10 percent more fuel-efficient. When glued to a five-speed manual transmission, this engine will reward drivers with 31 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the freeway.

Equally impressive is Toyota's newfound commitment to safety. In 1998 all Corollas are available with four-wheel antilock brakes and side-impact airbags. You heard that right, Toyota's bargain-priced Corolla is the cheapest car that driver's concerned about their safety can outfit with seat-mounted side airbags. Those with kids will be happy to know that CE and LE models can be ordered with an integrated child seat.

Also new in 1998 is the car's body. We think the new look is attractive, but this little sedan follows typical Toyota policy and does nothing that will visually offend. This unfortunately means that there is nothing visually exciting about the car, either. Aesthetics aside, the Corolla's new shape does a good job of reducing the cars NVH levels, thanks to flush-mounted side windows and sound-deadening techniques borrowed from the Lexus magicians. Also improved by the new body is the Corolla's torsional rigidity, an important factor in making this car more fun to drive than its predecessor.

Toyota is on a roll, offering up fine products faster than an Amway salesman at a flea market. The Corolla is sure to be a hit with the just-starting-out crowd as well as empty nesters that simply don't need a large sedan anymore. Levels of safety and refinement usually don't come this cheap. We predict that the Corolla will steal plenty of sales from the Honda Civic and Nissan Altima.

1998 Highlights

The 1998 Toyota Corolla is completely redesigned this year with a new engine, new sheet metal and a new standard for safety in compact cars: optional front passenger side-impact airbags.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1998 Toyota Corolla.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

3.38 out of 5 stars
It Just Won't Die
CE 4dr Sedan
This is a really good car. 12 years, it's still going pretty great. My mom's trying to get two more years out of it, which WILL happen, before she gets a new one. If you're looking for a reliable car for many years from now, this car is for you. No major breakdowns, except the "check engine" light has been going off. The mechanic says it's because a wire keeps getting bumped. For the love of pete.
5 out of 5 stars
Can't wait to hit 20 years / 200,000 miles!
LE 4dr Sedan
I bought my '98 Corolla second-hand for $2,600 in 2011 at 138,000 miles and have put almost 60,000 miles on it in those 6 years. It didn't look that great (lots of dings and dents from the previous owner), but it's what's on the INSIDE that counts! This car has reliably taken on 1,500+ mile road trips multiple times per year, every year, as well as some local driving on really bad roads. In the past 6 years, the only repairs I've ever had to do, besides regular oil changes (every 3-4,000 miles, full synthetic), brake pads (just once!), and tires (just once!), is 1) fix an exhaust hole (likely caused by my not-so-gentle driving habits on terrible roads), 2) replace the brake and fuel lines that were rusted (thanks to salty snowy roads), 3) replace the window motor on the driver's side window, and 4) the only time I actually had to get towed was when the grommet that holds the shift cable broke - but this was my bad, the car had given me (gentle and then more insistent) hints for a month that something was wrong with the shifter cable (e.g. difficulty moving the knob into reverse), but I delayed taking the car to the mechanic until it actually broke. Also, if I hadn't turned the car off when this grommet broke, I would have been able to drive the car to the mechanic since it was stuck in Drive (but alas, due to safety reasons, once I turned the car off, it wouldn't turn on since it wasn't in Park or Neutral). None of these repairs were costly. Basically, this car is SUPER RELIABLE. And I get an amazing 38 miles per gallon on highway driving even when my car is piled full of heavy stuff, and about 36 mpg in city driving. And the a/c still works (remarkable in a car almost 20 years old), I just had to recharge it twice in 6 years. The only things I don't like about the car's driving performance is 1) without anti-lock brakes, it's not the best at fast emergency braking, though I have learned how to pump the brakes, I don't tailgate anyway, and I am an alert driver, so it's not been an issue for me, and 2) the car is so lightweight that it has more of a tendency to hydroplane in heavy rain than my prior car did... so I just take it easy on the speed in heavy rain and drive safely. The car's looks are boring and there are small cosmetic and non-essential-mechanical things that haven't aged well: the automatic locks don't work as well as they used to (now I have to manually lock and unlock the rear driver's side door), the cassette player is no longer accepting my cassette adaptor and so I have to use an FM transmitter to play music off my phone, the trim on the inside of the car near the doors is peeling off, the trunk is starting to be a little misshapen from my constant towing of multiple bicycles on a rear rack over bad roads, the coffee-cup holder is in the worst place (blocks access to the cigarette lighter port) and is shallow - I've had multiple drinks tip over - and -the weirdest thing - if I don't park the car straight, with the steering wheel straight, then when I try to turn the car back on, the key won't turn unless I grab the top of the steering wheel and pull it towards me. Whatever, I don't mind doing that except it's annoying to have to explain this to parking attendants or friends who are borrowing my car, LOL. BUT WHO CARES, THIS CARE IS GONNA KEEP GOING FOR ANOTHER 100,000 or 200,000 miles!!!! The doors are gonna fall off this thing before the engine quits! Whenever I take my car to a mechanic, they marvel at how well the engine works and its condition. I trust this car more than any other for long-distance road trips. It's a keeper. It's decently comfortable for long distances; I have a bad back, but I get much less back pain on long road trips in this Corolla than in my prior car, a '95 Legacy (which, by the way, is ALSO an awesome and reliable car... I bet I would still be driving the '95 Legacy if I hadn't broken something major when driving quickly over a sinkhole disguised as a puddle... I tell you, I am hard on my cars, drive them fast on really bad roads). If you can find an old '98 Corolla and just want a super-reliable, fuel-efficient old car that doesn't leave you stranded and doesn't cost much to maintain, buy it! I heard that the '98-'02 Corollas are very similar, so likely any Corolla in these years will be a keeper. They don't make cars like this anymore. I don't WANT to get a newer car. I LIKE being able to change my own oil and have inexpensive repairs, and it's always easy to find a used part in a junkyard or online, so the infrequent repairs are cheap. I am gonna drive this car for many more years... :-)
4.5 out of 5 stars
Nothing ever goes wrong with this car.
LE 4dr Sedan
Seriously, I bought it new 12 years ago, it has about 90,000 miles on it, it's gotten all its regular maintenance, and nothing serious has ever gone wrong with it. The only thing that doesn't work is that the 2nd radio button sticks. The engine's a bit underpowered, but you will not find a more reliable car. Also, the Toyota vehicles that had issues with accelerators were all 1990 or later, so 1980 is a good year for used models. It's comfy. I have a bad lower back, and the lumbar support is fantastic! It actually makes my back feel better, which is great for long drives. Unbelievably good gas mileage. I am very happy with this car and would recommend it to anyone.
4.25 out of 5 stars
Corolla LE
LE 4dr Sedan
Great and reliable car. In 60,000 miles, all I've done is change the oil!


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1998 Toyota Corolla

Used 1998 Toyota Corolla Overview

The Used 1998 Toyota Corolla is offered in the following submodels: Corolla Sedan. Available styles include CE 4dr Sedan, LE 4dr Sedan, and VE 4dr Sedan. Pre-owned Toyota Corolla models are available with a 1.8 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 120 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1998 Toyota Corolla comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1998 Toyota Corolla?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1998 Toyota Corollas are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1998 Toyota Corolla for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1998 Toyota Corolla.

Can't find a used 1998 Toyota Corollas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Toyota Corolla for sale - 3 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $17,778.

Find a used Toyota for sale - 5 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $10,319.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota Corolla for sale - 9 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $22,683.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota for sale - 7 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $25,554.

Should I lease or buy a 1998 Toyota Corolla?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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