The Toyota Corolla gets a well-deserved makeover for 2003. It is longer, taller, and wider than the 2002 model, and powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with variable-valve timing. The powerplant adds five more horses than its predecessor, putting out 130 hp at 6,000 rpm and 125 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm. A MacPherson-strut front suspension and torsionbeam rear suspension provide good damping over rough roads as well as a smooth ride.

But perhaps the biggest improvement is the price. The base CE model with a manual transmission is $13,370, or 12.3% less than last year. The upscale LE version with a five-speed manual transmission is $14,680, a 7.8% reduction. The sporty S model equipped with a five-speed manual is $15,315, or 6.2% less than last year. The updated Corolla will be in showrooms this month.