The Toyota Corona was the breakthrough car for the firm as well as the whole Japanese car industry hoping to capitalize on the huge American market. It offered a combination of features that simply weren’t available elsewhere and that made it highly compelling: a practical and roomy boxy body with an unusually large 1.9 L engine, making it eminently suitable for American driving styles and patterns. Its high quality build and pleasant interior accommodations were icing on the cake.
Styling certainly was not the Corona sedan’s outstanding feature, looking a bit dull and slightly dated already by the time it was really coming into its own in the US. Toyota decided to spiff up its image some with a coupe version, and R&T put it through its paces; a Toyoglide equipped version at that.
It offers an interesting counterpoint to the Fiat 124 that R&T tested in the same issue: whereas the Fiat’s buzzy little 1.2 four revved its heart out, the Corona’s “tractor engine” 1.9 L four was much better suited to American driving styles, allowing relaxed cruising at 65-75 mph. A shift point too high on the Toyoglide resulted in a slower 0-60 time than would be expected, which was more like 17 seconds.
The Corona coupe had a pretty strong front-weight bias, of some 59%. That did nothing to improve its inherently unambitious handling, but it was adequate. The drum brakes were also in that category.
The quality of its build, materials and fit and finish were very good, accentualting the rep Toyota was quickly building for itself. And of course reliability and durability would soon prove to also be a strong suit of the Corona.
As to the styling of its new hardtop roof, it certainly added some flair, although this generation of Corona would never be held up as a genuine looker.