Toyota is doing an admirable job of selling vehicles. The Camry continues to be the top-selling car in the United States, despite intense competition from Honda's Accord and Ford's Taurus. In truck land, Toyota's Tacoma is one of the best-selling non-domestic trucks in America. Throw in the success of the company's all-conquering Land Cruiser (see our recent full-sized SUV comparison for complete details), and it would seem that Toyota has got this automobile thing all figured out.
It would seem that way, but a recent jaunt in the 1999 Corolla proved that even Toyota is not perfect. Our test model was done up in LE trim, which meant that body-colored side molding, power exterior mirrors, power windows, air conditioning, outside temperature indicator and a tachometer were included in the $14,868 sticker price. With its $800 automatic transmission and $420 destination charge, our Corolla was over 16 grand even before adding the California Emissions or antilock brakes.
That much cash, plus a Toyota nameplate, should equal "great car." But in the Corolla's case, it doesn't. Certainly the compact Toyota has many of the traits we've come to expect from this company, including excellent build quality, superior ergonomics and a secure, rattle-free ride. But for every one of the Corolla's strengths, an equally annoying weakness exists, sapping the car's overall appeal and relegating it to mediocre status, at best.
Let's discuss the Corolla's worst characteristic, first. Not since the initial generation of Saturn vehicles have I (a 6-foot adult male) been in a car with such painfully inadequate legroom. With the driver's seat jammed up against its rear position stops, and the upper seat back set at my preferred angle, (which, admittedly, is nearly vertical, as opposed to the "Barca lounger" position that so many drivers use) my feet were completely tangled in the Corolla's pedals. Normally, in a small, four-cylinder car I prefer a manual transmission to maximize the driving experience, but due to the cramped space and restricted movement of my feet, I honestly don't think I could have safely navigated a manual-shift Corolla.
Checking the specs on its various competitors, I found that while the Corolla is on the low end of the front legroom spectrum, most vehicles fall within an inch or two of the little Toyota, and a few small cars, like the Daewoo Nubira, are listed with less front legroom. Yet a recent drive in the Daewoo Nubira turned up no legroom issues, and actually proved it to be a comfortable car. So what gives? Obviously, vehicle specs don't tell the whole story. Several factors, including seat angle, seat height and pedal placement come into play when operating a car, which is why test drives are so crucial for determining whether or not a vehicle will fit you.
While front seat legroom may be less of an issue for smaller drivers who sit at a reclined position, the Corolla's rear seat legroom is just plain feeble. It took only a few moments to realize that normal-sized adults will not fit back there. This notion was confirmed by checking its specs versus the competition. For instance, the Corolla has considerably less rear legroom than Honda's Civic, Dodge's Neon, and Mazda's Protégé. It even falls short in this aspect when compared to the less-expensive subcompacts from Kia and Hyundai.
Of course, there are aspects of the Corolla that few competitors (with the exception of Honda) can match, including Toyota's run-forever reputation and the previously mentioned build-quality issue. As expected, our test unit was meticulously finished in a sparkling shade of silver enamel. Body-panel gaps were tight and consistent. Interior ergonomics (with the exception of pedal use) were flawless and included a white-faced gauge cluster with an almost Lexus-like orange glow at night. Toyota also managed to pack a multitude of interior storage compartments into the Corolla, including a small pullout drawer in the dash, just to the left of the gauges, and a large bin under the HVAC controls.
This level of quality continues under the hood, where the 1.8-liter engine is outfitted with a shimmering intake manifold that would make several aftermarket companies jealous. Service points are logically placed and easy to locate and best of all, the 120 horsepower and 122 foot-pounds of torque supplied by this engine are enough to propel the Corolla from zero to 60 in just nine seconds. On a few occasions, however, the Corolla did feel underpowered, but this was only when the automatic refused to downshift into first gear. With the five-speed manual taking advantage of that torque number, the Toyota would be fully capable of earning "fun-to-drive" status.
Even with the automatic this compact proved entertaining in the twisties. An independent front and rear suspension, outfitted with stabilizer bars at each end, kept body movement to a minimum and disposed of midcorner bumps with little drama. The 14-inch wheel and tire combo remained quiet at highway speeds, yet secure when assaulting corners. A final bonus was the thick, well-padded steering wheel that seemed meant for cornering duty. Only during braking maneuvers did the Corolla's performance fall short, with a stiff pedal that required substantial effort and didn't feel power-assisted in the least. A 60-to-zero stopping distance of 150 feet confirmed our sense of inadequate braking ability. We wondered if the number of heavy options on our model, such as the sunroof, side airbags and even the ABS, simply overworked the brake system.
Additional complaints were levied against the optional sound system that produced muddy bass tones and had poor reception. We also ran into a problem when trying to fold down the rear seat. One of the locking clamps for the rear seat back was jammed shut, requiring us to pop the trunk and yank directly on the cable to open it. Even after the clamp was open, it seemed likely to jam again. Once we did get the rear seat back to fold forward, we ran into a problem with the rear headrests hitting the front seats. Almost as if there wasn't enough interior room in the Corolla...
There's no denying that a compact car with features like side impact airbags, a sliding sunroof (as opposed to those weak "pop up" units), and alloy wheels makes for an attractive package. But at $18,000, a buyer could get a brand-new base Camry or Accord, which would actually carry five people in comfort. And if that same buyer is willing to buy a slightly used sedan, a well-optioned Camry could be had easily for $18,000.
Shopping the other end of the price scale looks even worse for the Corolla. For instance, a brand-new base Kia Sephia, which will hold five adults comfortably and has a more powerful engine, starts out over $3,200 cheaper than the cramped Toyota. And even a fully loaded Sephia LS would be cheaper than our test model, while still including many of the same options. It's tough to compare a Kia to a Toyota when such a disparity exists between the companies' reputations. But, having driven both cars within a few weeks of each other, and as a fully declared fan of Toyota design and build quality, I can say without hesitation that I would buy the Kia first. It may not offer the trouble-free experience of the Corolla, but it would be substantially cheaper and I would at least fit in it, along with my family and friends.
Is the 1999 Toyota Corolla a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 1999 Toyota Corolla and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 1999 Corolla featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process All of our reviews are written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
How do people like the 1999 Toyota Corolla? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 1999 Toyota Corolla and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 1999 Corolla 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 1999 Corolla.
Review I purchased a used 1999 Toyota Corolla LE with a 1.8L 4spd automatic trans w/ OD in 2014 with approx 150,000 miles on it. It had been well taken care of by the previous owner, and I continued the same maintenance with regular oil changes, etc. I took it to Riverview Toyota in Mesa, AZ for my regular maintenance and they never fleeced me or recommended anything other than the oil changes and other regular maintenance. The brake pads were kind of making a slow grind and I took it into Riverview and they were honest and told me the previous owner didn't install ceramic brake pads (at a non Toyota shop) and the grind was nothing, don't worry about it they said keep driving it and ignore the non-ceramic brake pad sound (they could have lied and charged me for new brakes but they didn't). I only mention the dealership because the honest service I got from the manufacturer was half the experience of owning this car. THIS MODEL IS BULLET PROOF!!! It ran perfectly, was quick in city and highway driving, and had a smooth ride, and the seats were pretty comfortable and like new. The engine uses a timing chain so no need to worry about timing belts coming apart and causing damage. As you know, timing chains typically outlast the life of a car. I never had any problems with a/c, power windows, locks, or other stuff either. The trunk is pretty spacious and the rear seats fold down to extend the cargo capacity with a opening to the trunk. This is the little car that keeps going and going. I just sold it to a neighbor with 180k on it and he loves it too. If there was anything I could complain about it would be the low profile and it is hard to get in and out for larger / taller people. Rock chips on the front were pretty bad and it appears the paint doesn't hold up well over the years but my car was white so it didn't look bad at all. I put a cheap $30 "pleather" bra on the front and it looked pretty good. If you want a reliable car that will start every time, this is the car. I would drive this car to Alaska and back, no problem. Gas mileage in this car is awesome too. I would buy another one, and recommend this car to anyone.
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What options are available on the 1999 Toyota Corolla?
Available Toyota Corolla 1999 Submodel Types: Sedan
Available Trims: LE, S Plus, S, SE, L, CE, XSE, XLE, LE Eco, LE Plus, S Premium, Base, LE Premium, 50th Anniversary Special Edition, Special Edition, LE Eco Plus, S Special Edition, XRS, LE Eco Premium, VE, DX, LE Special Edition, LE Eco w/Premium Package
Exterior Colors: Black Sand Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Slate Metallic, Super White, Barcelona Red Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Galactic Aqua Mica, Blue Crush Metallic, Falcon Gray Metallic, Brown Sugar Metallic, Blizzard Pearl, 4Evergreen Mica, Silver Streak Mica, Desert Sand Mica, Nautical Blue Metallic, Blue Streak Metallic, Indigo Ink Pearl, Impulse Red Pearl, Phantom Gray Pearl, Tropical Sea Metallic, Cactus Mica, Impulse Red, Lunar Mist Metallic, Sandy Beach Metallic, Capri Sea Metallic, Hot Lava, Moonshadow Gray Metallic, Black, Sandrift Metallic, Silverstream Opal, Absolutely Red, Black Cherry Pearl, Black Currant Metallic, Charcoal Gray Metallic, Dark Blue Pearl, Medium Gray Metallic, Mineral Green, Super Red, Venetian Red Pearl, Woodland Pearl
Interior Colors: Ash Fabric cloth, Ash/Dark Gray Fabric premium cloth, Black Softex/Black Fabric leatherette/cloth, Black/Brown Fabric premium cloth, Ash cloth, Black Mixed Media Fabric leatherette/cloth, Black Softex leatherette, Ivory Fabric cloth, Steel Grey Fabric cloth, Dark Charcoal premium cloth, Almond Fabric premium cloth, Dark Charcoal cloth, Bisque cloth, Black Softex/Steel Blue Fabric leatherette/cloth, Vivid Blue Mixed Fabric leatherette/cloth, Light Gray, Amber Fabric cloth, Beige cloth, Black Mixed Media Fabric w/Black Cherry Stitching leatherette/cloth, Pebble Beige, Stone cloth, Black, Black Softex/Black Amber Fabric leatherette/cloth, Dark Charcoal/Orange cloth, Orangezest Mixed Media Fabric leatherette/cloth, Bisque leather
Popular Features: Rear Bench Seats, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Tire Pressure Warning, Aux Audio Inputs, Stability Control, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Trip Computer, Bluetooth, USB Inputs, Upgraded Headlights, Back-up camera, Auto Climate Control, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Pre-collision safety system, Sunroof/Moonroof, Keyless Entry/Start, Alarm, Navigation, Heated seats, Power Driver Seat, Upgraded Stereo, Leather Seats