The Tercel and the Corolla were very similar to one another; this is because the Tercel was designed using an almost identical frame as the Corolla. Although the body design was similar in the earlier years, this would change as production continued into the 1990s. The Tercel was always meant to be smaller than the Toyota Corolla; even though this was true during most of its production, it was nearly identical in size by the time it was discontinued.
This sub-compact car carried the reputation of Toyota for 22 years and was often referred to as one of the most reliable and durable cars on the market. From its very existence, the car was available in three styles: 2-door coupe, 3-door hatchback, and 4-door sedan. These options alone were just one reason why the Tercel was able to last so long on the market. While the 60 horsepower engine was not built for power or speed, it was a reliable family car that would last for years with proper maintenance.
The first generation Tercel was introduced from 1978 to 1982. Its body style was small and box-shaped and featured three optional engines: a 1.3-liter I4 and two 1.5-liter I4 versions. The redesign of the second generation in 1982 was minimal, but Toyota introduced a 5-door station wagon to the lineup. The third generation, which ran from 1987 to 1990, was slightly larger than previous models and featured the same body styles and engine options.
The fourth generation was given a smoother redesign and newer features such as driver's side airbag and anti-lock brakes. The fifth and final generation lasted from 1995 to 2000 and was given a more rounded front and rear end that was similar to the Toyota Corolla. For this last generation, the Tercel featured identical engine options from its first generation, but it was also given a four-wheel drive option that was only available in Japan.
Throughout its existence, the Toyota Tercel ranked highly in the Top Ten List for Vehicle Dependability" by J.D. Power and Associates. Motor Trend was often quoted as saying, "it has an overall pleasant demeanor...making it a fine daily driver". Consumer Guide called the 1998 Tercel a "well-made, thrifty subcompact with ample seat room". IntelliChoice gave the 1993 Toyota Tercel the "2Dr Sedan Best Overall Value of the Year" award. For 22 years, the Tercel competed alongside the Corolla as a dependable car, and reviewers across the country were never short of good things to say about it.
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