The Toyota Corona has been around for what seems like generations. The first Corona to be seen here was actually the first Toyota produced outside of Japan, in our very own Port Melbourne in 1963. It was what most would consider austere, although advertising would try to convince buyers otherwise. What the Corona did do, though, was introduce an inexpensive and fuel-efficient mid-size sedan to drivers who were used to the clunky standard cars of the era. The Corona may not have started out grandly, and being the new kid on the block, it probably didn't start out with too many admirers. Once people started to drive the Corona though, they realised that they liked it, well, better than the other clunkers of the day anyway.
In the 40-odd years since, the Corona developed a dedicated following, not for its stunning good looks or blazing performance, but for the simple pleasure it offered by not sucking your wallet dry every time you went to the pump. To that end, the Toyota Corona has always been a beacon of fuel economy and reliability. This hasn't been true in all cases, especially since the vehicle itself is rather light – less than a tonne for most models. Some imported sport models with turbocharged engines are particularly popular with the speed and tuner crowd.
For the most part, the Toyota Corona was powered by reliable and fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engines. They weren't particularly powerful, but then the Corona was never destined to be a sport car. The Toyota Corona was sold here until the late 1980s when it was dropped in favour of the Camry, but Coronas could still be imported. Imported Coronas after this had a fine run, until they were replaced by the Toyota Premio in 2002. The Premio was really a Corona sub-model, and it was built on the same frame since 1996. Toyota kept the Premio upscale sedan from 2002 onward and ended the Corona line.
Toyota Corona has always been powered by a smattering of petrol 4-cylinder engines, typically 1.6L to 2.4L depending on the year. As should be expected of such a small engine, it isn’'t particularly powerful, giving from 62kW and 130Nm to 94kW and 179Nm. In combination with the Corona's lightweight design though, between 900kg and 1100kg, this amount of power put through a 4- or 5-speed gearbox was all that was needed.
Predictably fuel-efficient, the Corona consumed between 6L/100km and 9L/100km combined, or as little as 5L/100km on the highway. A 3-speed automatic transmission was offered in the early years and was popular enough, but it didn't offer much in the way of performance. The standard 4-speed and optional 5-speed manual transmission offers the best mix of fuel economy and performance that can be squeezed out of this little vehicle.
Simplicity is the name of the game with the Toyota Corona, and it ought not be confused with the high-level models of today. What you get is an engine and transmission – enough to get you from Point A to Point B. The suspension isn't particularly responsive, but it does deliver a fairly smooth ride. Tires, wheels, and brakes are all standard.
Honda Accord models of the same vintage typically were more fun to drive and easier to handle than the Toyota Corona. Japanese vehicles are pretty much guaranteed to be more reliable, which makes them keepers for the conservatives, but make them fun and drivers tend to beat on them a little. Used Coronas can often be found in much better condition than their age or mileage let on.
The Nissan or Datsun Bluebird ran for just about the same time period as the Toyota Corona. The Corona, in fact, was designed to compete with exactly this model, and it did fairly well in matching for size and fuel economy – the main concerns of the fuel-conscious. The Bluebird and Corona are hard to differentiate in terms of economy, reliability, and style, so it's up to you to decide which brand you like.