Only 2 Toyota Corolla Model Years Aren’t Recommended by Consumer Reports

Are you looking for a trusty compact car that will provide excellent fuel efficiency, high rates of reliability, and excellent safety features for an affordable price? If so, look no further than the Toyota Corolla, which is a highly rated car for its dependability and performance on the road year after year . . . except for the 2002 and 2019 models. One trusted car reviewing website has recommended every Toyota Corolla model for the past 20+ years, excluding the 2002 and 2019 models. 

Let’s dig more into the common features that consistently make the Toyota Corolla receive near limitless praise and glowing recommendations, and then we will discuss how the 2002 and 2019 models missed the mark. 

Consumer Reports typically recommends the Toyota Corolla

After putting various cars, trucks, SUVs, and more through rigorous testing, the staff at Consumer Reports assigns scores to various aspects of each vehicle. Each year, this site also puts a recommendation on some vehicles, and this simple label is a coveted stamp of approval for any car manufacturer. 

Consumer Reports is careful to not put the label of “recommended” on anything that does not adhere to their strict standards. According to Consumer Reports, cars that earn the recommended label, “. . . did well in our Overall Score, which factors in road test results, predicted reliability, owner satisfaction, crash tests, and safety equipment”. 

Since the Toyota Corolla won Consumer Reports’ recommendation every year except for two, one can conclude that it’s a solid car overall. But what about the two years when it didn’t get Consumer Reports’ stamp of approval?

The 2002 model’s missteps

It’s no secret that people are drawn to Toyota cars because the brand is associated with reliability, and Toyota fans trust that their vehicle was made with safety as a top priority. Unfortunately, the 2002 Toyota Corolla saw five recall alerts from 2006 to 2010 from the NHTSA. Four of the recalls were related to poorly made external lighting that can make driving at night dangerous. This definitely didn’t help the 2002 Toyota Corolla’s case in getting the Consumer Reports recommendation. 

Consumer Reports also noted that the 2002 model gave a bumpy ride and didn’t provide comfortable or controlled steering like one would expect. They also noted this vehicle didn’t perform well in their emergency handling tests, and that the interior is small and cramped. It’s not to say that the 2002 Toyota Corolla was a bad car by any means, but it just didn’t live up to what other cars offered at the time for a similar price. 

The 2019 Toyota Corolla 

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Because the Toyota Corolla enjoyed the coveted recommendation checkmark from Consumer Reports every year since its 2002 model, it came as quite a surprise when the high profile website opted not to recommend this car to prospective buyers. 

Like its sibling from 2002, the 2019 Toyota Corolla suffered from five NHTSA recalls, but they took much less time to become apparent. Unlike the 2002 model, each of the 2019 model’s recalls varied widely, ranging from fuel pump problems to airbag issues, and more. Compared to the 2018 Toyota Corolla, Consumer Reports marked the 2019 model as a slightly lower reliability verdict, much worse fuel system, and inferior paint/trim. 

The reviewers at Consumer Reports noted that the 2019 Toyota Corolla isn’t particularly fun to drive, as its steering feels stunted and lackluster. They also remarked that the interior lacks modern features, and it isn’t as comfortable as one might expect. Consumer Reports also collects survey data from actual owners, and they found that the 2019 Toyota Corolla received a two out of five for overall owner satisfaction.

The Toyota Corolla typically receives at least a three for this metric, so the two out of five was a definite disappointment.