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Toyota's entry-level Tercel was introduced in 1980 and ran for four generations. Earlier models of the Tercel earned a reputation for overall economy of ownership (not just gas mileage) and general toughness. Compared with Honda and Nissan, Toyota overbuilt their cars, which were, model for model, generally heavier. Although gas mileage suffered a little, overall durability and operating cost never did.


Year-to-year changes

1995

Toyota's entry-level Tercel is essentially an all-new car for 1995. It continues with 2- and 4-door bodies in base and DX trim. The front-drive subcompact drops last year's 12-valve engine for a new 16-valve Four with substantial increases in horsepower, torque and fuel economy. The new engine has a stainless-steel exhaust manifold to speed catalyst warmup and lower exhaust emissions. It also uses a new, no-maintenance ignition system that fires two plugs at once although only one is on the power stroke.

The new Tercel competes with the Geo Metro, Suzuki Swift, Ford Aspire, Mitsubishi Mirage (and identical versions marketed by Chrysler), Kia Sephia and equally new Nissan Sentra/200SX and Hyundai Accent, among others, although the Tercel may cost more.

The front and rear suspensions are carryovers from 1994, but with ABS an option. All Tercels have dual airbags. Compared with the old car, aerodynamics are improved, noise and vibration are reduced. The vinyl-upholstered Base 2-door has a 4-speed manual gearbox or an optional 3-speed automatic, a first-time offering for Tercel. Air conditioning is also available. The DX level has an optional 4-speed automatic (5-speed manual standard), and a cloth interior, as well as different exterior trim.

The Tercel was also covered in completely new sheetmetal and fitted with a revised, lower-maintenance 1.5-liter engine. The new metal cleaned up the car's shape aerodynamically and new materials reduced weight.

1996

The model lineup—2-door Standard and 2- and 4-door DX—remains the same for 1996. This year, there are only minor content changes. They include cloth seating surfaces, two new colors, and the availability of power steering on the base car and the optional Power Package (power windows and door locks) on the 2-door DX. There's a new Value Package for the DX models and a Sports Package for both 2-doors. Also new are a pop-up sunroof option and various radio choices.

All Tercels are equipped with dual airbags and side-impact protection. Antilock brakes are optional across the board. The base 2-door is not a stripper model, even though it offers only a standard 4-speed manual transmission and an optional 3-speed automatic. It comes with armrests, a heel pad, a cup holder, center-console storage, full carpeting, high-back front seats and multispeed windshield wipers. DX models add blackout exterior molding, tinted glass, more interior stuff and, on the 4-door, child-proof door locks. A 5-speed manual transmission comes as standard equipment on the two DX models, but a 4-speed automatic is optional.

The base model is the fuel-economy leader, with impressive figures of 34 city/40 highway mpg.

1998

This was the last model year for the Tercel. The title for "entry-level" was then transferred to the Toyota Corolla for one year (1999).

Retail prices

Model year(s) Trim level Body style List price Destination charge Effective date
1992.5 Base 2DR Coupe $7,198 $295 February 14, 1992
1992.5 DX 2DR Coupe $8,798 $295 February 14, 1992
1992.5 DX 4DR Sedan $8,898 $295 February 14, 1992
1992.5 LE 4DR Sedan $10,338 $295 February 14, 1992
1993.5 Base 2DR Coupe $7,998 $325 February 5, 1993
1993.5 DX 2DR Coupe $9,888 $325 February 5, 1993
1993.5 DX 4DR Sedan $9,988 $325 February 5, 1993
1993.5 LE 4DR Sedan $11,538 $325 February 5, 1993
1994 Base 2DR Coupe $8,698 $385 September 2, 1993
1994 DX 2DR Coupe $10,148 $385 September 2, 1993
1994 DX 4DR Sedan $10,248 $385 September 2, 1993
1994.5 Base 2DR Coupe $8,958 $385 January 3, 1994
1994.5 DX 2DR Coupe $10,458 $385 January 3, 1994
1994.5 DX 4DR Sedan $10,558 $385 January 3, 1994
1995 Base 2DR Coupe $9,998 $397 October 5, 1994
1995 DX 2DR Coupe $11,028 $397 October 5, 1994
1995 DX 4DR Sedan $11,328 $397 October 5, 1994
1995.5 Base 2DR Coupe $10,348 $397 April 7, 1995
1995.5 DX 2DR Coupe $11,418 $397 April 7, 1995
1995.5 DX 4DR Sedan $11,728 $397 April 7, 1995
1996 Base 2DR Coupe $10,348 $420 October 1, 1995
1996 DX 2DR Coupe $11,598 $420 October 1, 1995
1996 DX 4DR Sedan $11,908 $420 October 1, 1995
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