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I spend the last 24 hours ...

  #1  
Old 10-28-2012, 10:49 PM
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I spend the last 24 hours ...

... buried in Toyota Corolla forums :P

I was intrigued by the question from a Corolla owner and decided to see what the community was like. And beyond that, if it might be possible to buy a cheap (and comfortable!) 03-12 Corolla - with a bulletproof 1.8L with a very decent (I think underappreciated) gearbox and add some suspension mods for handling goodness and a low pressure turbo for some extra power.

Basically, a cheap and interesting way to get a safe, comfortable, powerful daily driver for not much money and some interesting modification challenges.

And it turns out ...
1) The Corolla community is pretty open and friendly and I'm glad to see that. Even the performance forum is full of good people. Support is key.
2) Suspension mods for the Corolla are no problem. TRD has done them a favor by offering lowering springs and sway bars; there's another company too. Scale is the reason even not-sporty-cars have stuff available for this purpose. Serious performance equipment is lacking, and I assume if you want to drop the Corolla enough to make it a serious performance machine, you're now screwing up the suspension geometry. If that's your goal, might want something with higher suspension mounts :P
3) There ARE supercharged options available for the 2.4L but a they're super expensive; the 1.8 has a very unfulfilled need for a turbo kit at an affordable price. This was a surprise to me and the tuning seems to be the major issue - there is no problem mocking up the hardware, and because other OEMs use the 1.8 for forced-induction applications it can be done.
4) Amusingly they look UP to the Civic Si as a seriously performance benchmark. It's always, "sure, turbo your Corolla S if you like but if you want a REAL car go buy a Civic Si; Honda owns the cheap performance space." As a Honda guy, I consider the Si to be a good engine in a not-terribly-impressive chassis; and I think they fall short of a few competitors (Mazda, Ford, even VW) in power ... so to see that the Si might be a conquest car for Honda simply because they bother to do it is interesting :D

Maybe I should go drive one?
 
  #2  
Old 10-29-2012, 02:02 AM
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I just got done driving my moms 06 Corolla and hated every minute of it.
 
  #3  
Old 10-29-2012, 10:53 AM
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My sister used to have a ZZE121 Corolla from 2000 and I used to drive it once in a while. It's a just little too soft and squidgy for my taste, preferring the straight and long drive. The 3ZZ-FE engine sounds pretty nice when revved hard, but it's a shame it doesn't seem to enjoy it. At least the brakes are solid, with a firm and progressive pedal. It's got its merits but it really isn't for me.

My sis now drives an FD1 Civic 1.8 A/T. I'm surprised how much the Civic aped the old ZZE121 Corolla - Honda lost something along the way I believe. It revs good and the suspension's okay, but it feels really awkward and just feels "too big" to drive properly. In some ways the Civic is actually worse than the Toyota, most noticeably in brake feel. Next to an EF or a GD's progressive brake pedal the FD's is an on/off switch.

Lastly a friend of mine took us aboard his 2012 Corolla. It's just as plush and as relaxing as the old ZZE121 we used to have but that A/C is really cold, even turned down to minimum. My bladder fought a losing battle with it.

Just sharin' my experience. If you decide to tinker with a late-model Corolla and see what you can do with it, do share it here. I'd love to see what you do with it. :)
 
  #4  
Old 10-29-2012, 11:12 AM
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Well. I'd have to GET a late model corolla first and they don't seem to depreciate, like, hardly at all.
 
  #5  
Old 10-29-2012, 11:55 AM
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I moved from a 2001 Chevy Prizm (which is, of course, a Corolla with Chevy badges). It was a comfortable and generally reliable car, but had no pretense of being sporty; the Fit is a lot zippier feeling. (Part of this naturally is just comparing a thoroughly used car with 150,000+ miles and a four-speed automatic transmission to a brand new car with a five-speed manual; but there's more to it than that.)

The Prizm definitely had softer suspension tuning than the Fit, even with brand new shocks and struts and such. The seats were comfy enough, but not greatly bolstered. The handling is competent, and even pretty decent on rough/back roads, but there is a lot of body roll and general discontent when pushed hard. The stock motor (and rather long in the tooth automatic) are not especially powerful; acceleration is adequate for daily driving, but passing in tight quarters is tricky at best.

Prior to the 2001 Prizm, I did have a 1996 5-speed manual Prizm. I don't know how much the manual gearboxes have changed with Toyota, but it never struck me as either superb or awful. The Fit's manual is definitely more fun and precise feeling.

The 2001 era Prizms have a known propensity for burning oil, apparently because of inadequately specified rings that wear out pretty quickly. It's something to keep in mind when shopping for a car. I think they resolved that in some later years. Other than that, the engine wasn't terrible to use or work on, and pretty much unkillable. I did have to clean the MAF sensor a few times.

Adjusting valve lash looked to be quite a production (as I suspect is generally the case with DOHC engines): you had to check it with a feeler gauge, as with any engine, and then use some rather specialized tools to pull out little shims from between the valves and the camshafts. These shims would then be measured with a micrometer, and redistributed or replaced as needed to get the proper clearances all around, as determined mathematically. Presumably, there would be a fair bit of downtime while replacements are ordered and delivered, unless one happens to have a set lying around the garage.
 
  #6  
Old 10-29-2012, 11:58 AM
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meh, i had a 03 or 04 (i dont remember since im trying to forget the bad memories) back in the day which i bought for the wife to use. biggest mistake ever. the thing is not a car. it's just a cheap couch with a steering wheel, basically.

i was so happy when it was involved in a perfect accident where noone was hurt, damage in excess of $5K which the other party paid. sold the damn thing within a year of ownership as soon as it came out of the bodyshop. i drove it from the bodyshop to a dealer to trade in before carfax. lol :D AND i got basically about what i paid cash for it.

someone gave me another change. it was a great lesson learned. never buy a corolla.
 
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Old 10-29-2012, 12:53 PM
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my friend had a 07 corolla i believe he blew the transmission up at 20k :D had a mad whole lol anywho his warranty covered it but still scary i was in the car
 
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Old 10-31-2012, 02:32 PM
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I'd daily a well maintained XRS 5MT in a heartbeat...
 
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Old 10-31-2012, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Wanderer. View Post
I'd daily a well maintained XRS 5MT in a heartbeat...
april fools is still like 5months away....
 
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Old 10-31-2012, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by kenchan View Post
april fools is still like 5months away....
lol

2005 vintage with 2ZZ

A friend of mine had one and used to toss the hell out of it, I thought it was a totally cool under the radar car, like an Si but probably wouldn't get stolen.

They were 6 speed I guess, I never knew that.
 
  #11  
Old 10-31-2012, 03:28 PM
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I dug up some reviews for the Corolla/Matrix XRS -- apparently it wasn't compelling to most reviewers because the engine was powerful but boring, and the major controls didn't quite "work together" to make it fun for very long. But at the same time, it was a bit cheaper than an Si or competing sport compacts.

This type of review doesn't surprise me - the pre Akio Toyoda era, I bet you had to struggle to justify a sport model at all, and then once you built your first prototype the managers would say "who cares if the major controls work together, it's good enough, no one is really going to notice and our test track is cluttered with longevity-testing Camrys for the next six months anyway ... just go put it on sale. Definitely don't spend any marketing dollars on it, ok?"

In my mind Toyota stopped making these sort of things because they were substandard, and we're just in a waiting period while Akio forces through performance models done the right way. Hopefully the MR-S guys haven't all retired. The Scion is the most notable, but I even see hope in models like the Avalon that just launched :P
 
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Old 10-31-2012, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by fujisawa View Post
I dug up some reviews for the Corolla/Matrix XRS -- apparently it wasn't compelling to most reviewers because the engine was powerful but boring, and the major controls didn't quite "work together" to make it fun for very long. But at the same time, it was a bit cheaper than an Si or competing sport compacts.
Anyone who thinks an engine that is designed by Yamaha, square, with 11.5-1 CR, VVTi and makes peak power between 6200 and 8000 RPM is boring can take a hike.

Unless they're talking about the Camry motor, then yeah, I agree lol
 
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Old 10-31-2012, 03:58 PM
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the LFA sounds nice. but i suppose we're talking about a borolla. :D
 
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Old 10-31-2012, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by kenchan View Post
the LFA sounds nice. but i suppose we're talking about a borolla. :D
?

It is in the Corolla, same engine they put in the Lotus, just slightly detuned.
 
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Old 10-31-2012, 06:26 PM
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Lotus uses the Corolla engines in the Elise and Exige, as well as the Camry engine in the Evora, but they write their own ECU tune.
 
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Old 10-31-2012, 06:34 PM
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The 2.4 is yamaha? I didn't know Toyota did things like that. I thought it was straight out of the Camry. Unless you're talking about another engine. In any case, you'll have to source it so I can believe it :P

Fun fact: Yamaha designed parts of the original 2000GT. Including the interior wood. Made from their pianos.
 
  #17  
Old 10-31-2012, 06:43 PM
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Ah ha you are talking about the 1.8L used in the FIRST XRS. The SECOND one uses a 2.4L from the Camry. That seems a bit less exciting if you ask me (and was probably what I was reading reviews of).

The 1.8L is a version of the base 1.8L, and Yamaha was asked to use the same block and make a high-output version through a new head and some other stuff. This was also used in the MR2, Celica and Elise.
 
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Old 10-31-2012, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by fujisawa View Post
Ah ha you are talking about the 1.8L used in the FIRST XRS. The SECOND one uses a 2.4L from the Camry. That seems a bit less exciting if you ask me (and was probably what I was reading reviews of).

The 1.8L is a version of the base 1.8L, and Yamaha was asked to use the same block and make a high-output version through a new head and some other stuff. This was also used in the MR2, Celica and Elise.
Yes that one! No I am not interested in the Camry motor haha

That's why I said a "well maintained XRS", I should have been specific on MY

Correction edit: The 1ZZ was used on the MR2 Spyder (unfortunately) and Celica GT, the Celica GTS got the 2ZZ along with the Elise.
 

Last edited by Wanderer.; 10-31-2012 at 08:06 PM.
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Old 10-31-2012, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Wanderer. View Post
?

It is in the Corolla, same engine they put in the Lotus, just slightly detuned.
oh i was referring to 'toyotas' in general.
 
  #20  
Old 11-03-2012, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by fujisawa View Post
The 2.4 is yamaha? I didn't know Toyota did things like that. I thought it was straight out of the Camry. Unless you're talking about another engine. In any case, you'll have to source it so I can believe it :P

Fun fact: Yamaha designed parts of the original 2000GT. Including the interior wood. Made from their pianos.
I remember reading once that the Echo engine now used in the Yaris was also designed or built by Yamaha.
 
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