1997 Toyota Tercel

  • 1997 Toyota Tercel CE Sedan

    CE Sedan

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      1.5L I4
    • MSRP
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1997 Toyota Tercel Review

Dependability incarnate.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 1997 Toyota Tercel is available as a coupe or sedan. Just redesigned several years ago, the new model has a completely redesigned exterior, a stiffer body, improved handling, and an all-new engine. It's a serious step up from the first model introduced in the 1980s, which was tinny, noisy, and widely regarded as a joke in the auto industry. While sales have been slow in recent years, Toyota opted to keep it on the market, recognizing the importance of having an entry-level car in its vehicle lineup. To keep costs down, the company has simplified things a bit by eliminating some trims that had run costs up. While lacking fancy bells and whistles, it packs a lot of quality into a very reasonably-priced automobile. It's the perfect entry-level car for younger buyers with budget restrictions or parents looking for an affordable first car for a new driver in the household. It's a good, dependable car that doesn’t cost much to maintain, operate, and insure.

The Range

Body Styles: coupe, sedan
Engines: 1.5-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: three-speed automatic, four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Toyota Tercel CE coupe, Toyota Tercel CE sedan

What's New

The1997 Toyota Tercel is only available with the CE trim since discontinuing the standard and DX trims. A new 14-inch wheel and tire combination comes standard with all models. The dashboard is revised with new rotary ventilations controls. Like all Toyota vehicles, it receives upgraded seat fabric and door panels.


Since the 1997 Toyota Tercel is often a first car for many people due to its reasonable price and reliability, the manufacturer has targeted exterior styling towards younger buyers. Its style isn’t much of a head turner, but it's also not an embarrassment to be seen in. It's available as either a two-door coupe or a four-door sedan and rides a wheelbase of 93.7 inches with roughly 162 inches in length, 65 inches wide, and 53.2 inches tall. Fourteen-inch wheels come standard, providing much better balance on turns than the old 13-inch tires. A remote trunk release is available as an option and has rack and pinion steering and independent front suspension.


The 1997 Toyota Tercel seats five people in two bucket seats up front that have standard cloth upholstery. The seats tend to be a little uncomfortable for some on long road trips. The front is roomier than it looks, but the backseat may be uncomfortable for taller passengers. Although sound insulation was recently enhanced, it's still a bit noisy due to its tight dimensions and engine, wind and tire noise, plus dashboard rattle. The center console doesn’t seem to be constructed properly as the screws tend to work themselves out. An AM/FM radio with either a cassette or CD player is available as an option as well as air-conditioning, power windows and power locks, and power steering.

Performance & Handling

The 1997 Toyota Tercel’s riding, acceleration, and handling is adequate at best, and acceleration can especially be unmotivated while driving in the city. The car tends to perform better on expressways, where it easily cruises for a smooth ride with little discomfort or feel of bumps and road imperfections. The optional power steering is effortless. Sadly engine noise and interior rattles are still a nuisance to some, despite Toyota’s efforts to resolve this issue.


The 1997 Toyota Tercel comes standard with driver and passenger front airbags. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes and an anti-theft alarm system are optional. It's incredibly safe and has ranked well in NHTSA crash test ratings, receiving four stars for driver and passenger safety in frontal impact crashes, four stars for its performance in rear side impact crashes, and three stars for its safety in frontal side impact crashes.

EPA Fuel Economy

Toyota Tercel: 32/39 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Dependable
  • Affordable
  • Inexpensive to maintain or repair
  • Inexpensive to insure
  • Easy to park

You Won't Like

  • Small backseat, very little rear legroom
  • Noisy
  • Cup holders
  • Unmotivated acceleration

Sum Up

Dependability incarnate.

If You Like This Vehicle

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