The 2004 Toyota Corolla lives up to its reputation as one of the most popular and reliable compact sedans, distinguishing itself among its competitors. While car enthusiasts would likely find the Corolla to be lacking, it remains a solid option as a commuter vehicle. A 2003 redesign led the car to the forefront of its class, and the 2004 Corolla continues to stand out.
Thanks to the redesign, the 2004 Corolla is longer and taller than its predecessors. It offers a tall roof and wide doors for easy entry. According to Kelley Blue Book, fuel economy is a commendable 25/34 mpg city/highway. The 130-horsepower four-cylinder engine results in rather lackluster acceleration, but both acceleration and handling are decent for the class. Moreover, for most drivers, the excellent fuel economy likely makes up for its somewhat dull performance. The Corolla is by no means fun to drive, overall, but it nevertheless offers a reliable driving experience. Mostly unchanged for 2004, the 2003 redesign remains an important step forward.
The 2004 Corolla offers three trims: the CE, the S, and the LE. The S attempts to give the vehicle a sportier feel as well as some practical upgrades, such as a power door lock and power mirror. The sportier aspects are mostly superficial. The rear spoiler, for instance, seems out of place on the Corolla’s understated exterior. The LE offers some more luxurious additions; a leather package is also available. Although the higher trims do include attractive upgrades, the base CE remains a sound choice.
Inside the cabin, the Corolla boasts refined materials. This gives the car a higher-quality feel than many of its competitors and makes it reminiscent of a “baby Lexus”, according to one reviewer. The cabin itself is mostly quiet, although the engine can be heard at times. Decent headroom and a roomy backseat ensure a comfortable ride for taller passengers and allows the Corolla to seat four adults comfortably. If a cramped back seat is not an issue, the vehicle can seat five. The dashboard switches and knobs are easy to use, and the gauges are backlit to ensure good visibility at night. At 13.6 cu. ft., the trunk is larger than what is available in most compact cars, and the back seat splits 60/40 to increase storage space. In many ways, the Corolla defies the expectations of its class.
As with any vehicle, the Corolla does have its issues. The steering wheel is awkwardly placed and lacks telescopic adjustment, which may result in an uncomfortable driving experience. The front seats themselves are comfortable, although they lack sufficient support for extended drives. Additionally, folding the back seat requires the front seats to be moved forward, reducing leg room. Side and curtain airbags are not standard in the 2004 Corolla, raising safety concerns. These air bags, as well anti-lock brakes, are available for an additional cost. Cruise control is also offered separately, regardless of trim. Car buyers who find these problems unacceptable might want to consider other options.
Taking all of this into account, the 2004 Corolla is a notable vehicle and worthy of consideration. It boasts impressive fuel economy, quality materials, and good storage space. Some may find the driving position to be awkward, but the Corolla balances this out with a roomier interior than most compact vehicles offer. The uninspiring acceleration and handling may disappoint those interested in a sportier vehicle but are not otherwise an issue. Overall, the 2004 Toyota Corolla is a good choice for those seeking a reliable and quality compact sedan.