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2003 Toyota Corolla LE Road Test

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Khatir Soltani
2003 Toyota Corolla LE - The Compact Luxury Bar Has Been Raised

Want a brand-new Lexus for under $23,000? OK, it won't have the stylized 'L' on its front grille but take a seat inside a fully loaded Corolla LE and you won't be feeling the need to spend any more. That was my experience when I opened the driver's door and took in the compact Toyota's wood grain and leather swathed interior.

From the outside it looks a lot like a scaled down version of the recently remodeled and seriously upgraded Camry. Distinct dual lamp headlight clusters follow the hoods downward curvature to meet at opposite ends of an ovoid three-slat grille. Its profile rises gradually from the upper portion of its front fenders past color-keyed side mirrors, then traveling along a wedge-shaped beltline back to a raised deck lid, capped off with two large, rounded taillights. While current automotive trends have us believing new cars need to be sharp, edgy and angled, the Corolla dispels this theory with a decidedly round shape - and it works beautifully.

Inside, the round theme includes the expected steering wheel, gauges, three-dial heating and ventilation controls and ignition keyhole. The leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel is superb, and seems as if it was sourced directly from the sporty Celica. The gauges also work wonderfully, yet Toyota chose an odd dark green on white color scheme - either a positive or negative depending on your taste. The HVAC system is simple and easy to use yet doesn't incorporate an automatic climate control mode. As for the keyhole, well it's a keyhole.
Khatir Soltani
Khatir Soltani
Automotive expert
  • Over 6 years experience as a car reviewer
  • Over 50 test drives in the last year
  • Involved in discussions with virtually every auto manufacturer in Canada