1998 Toyota Corolla Review
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.
Most helpful consumer reviews
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.
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... :-)
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.
LE 4dr Sedan
Great and reliable car. In 60,000 miles, all I've done is change the oil!