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Toyota Corolla 2012

It’s not the most scintillating car to drive, but it’s solid and comfortable. And apparently, this iteration uses some of the technologies found in Toyota’s Lexus models

Ted LaturnusIn 2012, the Toyota Corolla sedan accounted for 40 percent of the company’s total Canadian sales. It had been at or near the top of the sales heap in the compact car category for the previous two decades.

This generation of the Corolla received a re-do in 2009, apparently styled in part in Turin, Italy. But it was still built in Cambridge, Ont.

Three basic models were offered: CE, LE and S. The engine was a 1.8-litre four-cylinder that developed 132 horsepower. And you could get it with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.

It’s not the most scintillating car to drive, but it’s solid and comfortable.

Apparently, this iteration of the Corolla also uses some of the technologies found in Toyota’s Lexus models. For example, the body structure features 130 welding points, compared to just 40 on the previous version, and the car’s torsion rigidity is dramatically superior to its predecessor.


Standard equipment level is high, with telescoping steering, 60/40 split folding rear seat, anti-locking brakes, and a full complement of front, side and side-curtain airbags in all models. Extras include larger wheels and tires, fog lamps, a satellite-ready audio system, cruise control, traction control and steering-wheel-mounted controls.

Surprisingly, Transport Canada has four safety recalls on file for this year of the Corolla. One concerns a possibly flawed driver’s side power window master switch that could fail because of inadequate lubrication during assembly. Owners were cautioned not to try to lubricate this switch themselves, as that could result in it overheating and possibly melting. A specialized grease is required, which dealers will apply.

There were also two recalls regarding the infamous floormat/accelerator pedal imbroglio and another for issues with the PCV valve that could lead to flawed brake performance.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had these four issues on file, as well as 16 technical service bulletins. These ranged from charcoal canisters within the emissions control system that may take on water, glitches with the charging system, problems with the “feel” of the steering mechanism, trunk lids that won’t stay fully open, and a variety of electrical gremlins associated with cold-weather driving conditions.

Unsurprisingly, Consumer Reports liked this one, giving it top marks in most categories. There seemed to be problems with the cooling system, brakes, and paint and trim. Otherwise, it’s mostly sweetness and light, and CR gave that generation of Corolla a “better than average” used car prediction rating.

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Some comments to CR from owners:

  • “would buy another one”;
  • “it does everything well, but nothing is outstanding”;
  • “good value for the money”;
  • “did not expect a Lexus … did not pay for one.”

CR also gave the 2012 Corolla its Good Bet designation.

Although marketing researcher J.D. Power liked the ’12 Corolla, they weren’t over the moon about it. It got top marks for things like body and interior dependability and features dependability but seemed to fall a bit short in terms of style and instrumentation. It received a “better than most” rating for overall dependability but an “about average” grade for overall quality.

Corollas have always held their value, so don’t expect any bargains with this one. From a base price of around $15,450 in 2012, it’s still fetching anywhere from $10,000 to the mid-teens on today’s used car market. People tend to hold on to this one.

2012 Toyota Corolla 

Original base price: $15,450|
Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder
Horsepower: 132 at 6,000 rpm
Torque: 128-foot-pounds at 4,400 rpm
Transmission: four- or five-speed automatic or five-speed manual
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 7.5 city and 5.6 highway, with five-speed manual transmission and regular gas
Alternatives: Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3, Dodge Avenger, Volkswagen Jetta, Nissan Sentra, Kia Spectra

Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). For interview requests, click here.

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