Toyota Corolla hatchback 2006-2012 used car review

The Toyota Corolla hatchback is one of the most reliable cars you can buy.

Richard Edwards
Richard Edwards
Expert Reviewer | Auto Media Group

The Toyota Corolla hatchback is one of the most reliable cars you can buy. It is easy to live with, though some competitors are better to drive.

Exterior , 4 out of 5 Drive , 3.5 out of 5 Safety , 5 out of 5 Value , 4 out of 5 Interior , 5 out of 5

Overall score , 4.3 out of 5

The good
  • Incredibly reliable, one of the best-built cars available
  • Comfortable and fuss-free on the road
  • Good size boot
The not-so-good
  • Four-speed automatic is okay though more gears would be better
  • Cars built before 2010 lack safety equipment

The tenth generation Toyota Corolla was launched internationally in late 2006. It was an all-new design, despite looking similar to the previous generation and sharing its engine and transmission. As well as the hatchback, Toyota sold a sedan model and a station wagon, a specially imported version of the Corolla Fielder from Japan. The Japanese import version of the car is called the Auris. It shares the same body but offers a wider range of engines, transmissions and specifications.

Inside and out

The Corolla has a very rounded look, with a short nose and rear to offer maximum interior space. This facelift model gets a new arrow-like slatted grille, modern-looking projector headlights and a chrome trim across the rear boot lid. Indicators in the door mirrors make them more visible to other drivers.

The interior feels very high quality. The steering wheel features a button to control trip computer displays set into the middle of the round, back-lit dials in the instrument pod. Controls for the CD-player stereo, manual air-conditioning and transmission are all set high on the centre console to make them easy to reach. 

This area is highlighted with shiny silver plastic trim, as are the door handles. Storage space is plentiful and includes two large glove boxes and an additional cubby in the triangular area under the centre console. Cup holders pop out from the far sides of the dash.

The front seats are firm and reasonably comfortable. Some drivers could find the seat base a little short and unsupportive. Rear seat space is acceptable with average legroom for this size of car and enough width for two adults and a child. The back seat is flat and has no uncomfortable lump for the centre passenger. The GX model does not have a centre armrest.

The boot is bigger than the official specification of 283 litres would indicate. We think two medium and two small suitcases will fit - enough for a short family trip. The rear seat can split 60/40 and fold forward to provide more space.

On the road

Three engines are available in the Corolla; a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol, and 1.4-litre and 2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesels. The petrol engine is by far the most common with only a handful of the diesel models sold. Our review vehicle is powered by the petrol engine, which provides a healthy amount of power at 100kW and 175Nm and is also quiet and smooth.

Expect reasonable performance even with a full load on board. A six-speed manual is an option. Most Corollas use a four-speed automatic. It’s smooth and smart to shift although the small number of gears makes it trickier for the car to find the best ratio, which reduces efficiency and refinement a little. Competitors at the time were beginning to offer five or six-speed automatics.

The Corolla rides and handles well. The ride is on the soft side, which makes it more comfortable for passengers. The same can be said for the steering and brakes, which are both responsive although they don’t offer the sportiness of a Mazda3. Interior noise - from both the engine and the road - is very limited.

A big rear window and headrests that sit flat against the back seat make rear visibility excellent from the driver’s seat. Neither a reversing camera nor parking sensors were standard in the car when new. We think most drivers will find they do not need either.

The Corolla is capable of average towing weights for a small car. Toyota suggests towing up to 450kg unbraked, which is a small trailer, or up to 1,300kg braked, a small trailer boat. The 1.4-litre diesel can only tow 1,000kg.


All Corollas of this generation carry a five-star ANCAP rating. However, not all feature the same level of safety equipment. Cars built before the 2010 facelift lack electronic stability control, and curtain airbags were optional on the GX. All models, regardless of age, feature anti-lock brakes, driver and passenger airbags, driver’s knee airbag and side airbags.

The rear seat features full shoulder-type belts in all three positions, which offer more protection than the lap-only type. ISOFIX child seat mounts are found in the rear window seats and there are three tether points behind.


There is nothing significant to consider regarding the reliability of this generation Corolla. Our trade contact shared his stories of cars travelling more than 200,000km with no repair costs outside of routine services. The engine uses a timing chain which does not need regular replacement.

It was pointed out that service schedules should be adhered to. The petrol engine loves regular servicing and fresh oil – it has the potential to sludge up and develop oil pressure issues if left with old and contaminated oil over an extended period.

Cost of ownership

Toyota recommends servicing the Corolla every year or 15,000km whichever comes first. A dealer quoted us $260 for this service.

RightCar estimates that over 14,000km of driving a year, a Corolla will cost $2,070 a year to fuel. The 55-litre fuel tank will cost $110 to fill and should take you 675km before the fuel light comes on.

A vehicle licence for the Corolla costs $99.02 a year, with the car in the second cheapest ACC levy group.

Trade Me Insurance estimates insurance for a Corolla valued at $9,720 will cost $45.02* per month. This is $1.50 less than a Mazda3.

Buyers’ guide

This generation of Corolla is available on Trade Me priced from $5,500 to $17,000. Price is mostly dictated by mileage - cars under $7,000 are likely to have travelled more than 200,000km and cars over $15,000 will have travelled under 50,000km. When buying you should also consider the used import version of the car, the Auris.


  • GX - Available with four-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Features steel wheels, manual air-conditioning, electric windows, CD-player stereo, anti-lock brakes, and front, side and driver’s knee airbags. Electronic stability control and side airbags standard from 2010.
  • GLX - Available with four-speed automatic only. Adds alloy wheels, fog lights, steering wheel controls for audio, cruise control, climate control air-conditioning, leather steering wheel and curtain airbags. Electronic stability control from 2010.

Two diesel models were also sold in 1.4-litre and 2-litre versions. The former is similar in specification to the GX and the latter to the GLX. Manual transmissions were the only option, and both models received electronic stability control and front, side and curtain airbags.


  • 2006 Launched in New Zealand
  • 2008 Diesel models added
  • 2010 Receives a minor facelift and additional safety equipment
  • 2012 Replaced by new model


Review vehicle

2010 Toyota Corolla GX


$8,000 to $15,000 for models which have travelled 70,000 to 120,000km


1.8-litre four-cylinder, 100kW and 175NM


Four-speed automatic, front-wheel drive

Safety rating

Five-star ANCAP rating


15,000km or twelve months

Spare wheel

Spare wheel

Fuel economy

7.4-litres per 100km (claimed)

Fuel type








Turning circle


Towing capacity

450kg (unbraked), 1300kg (braked)

This review covers the Toyota Corolla Hatchback for model years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Review vehicle supplied by Turners Cars.

*Our insurance estimates are based on a 35-year-old male with no accidents in the last two years, garaging the car in Mission Bay, Auckland. The car is not used for business and will cover 10,000km to 20,000km a year. We estimate with no option add-ons and $500 excess. Customise your estimate at Trade Me Insurance.

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