Toyota Tercel is a subcompact car from Toyota that had been produced for five generations between 1978 and 2000. It was offered in five body styles and stood between the Corolla and the Starlet. The Tercel was manufactured at the Takaoka Plant in the Toyota City, Japan. The Tercel shared its platform with the Starlet and the Cynos (also known as Paseo). Toyota Tercel was also sold as Corolla II before Toyota Echo took its place in 2000. In Japanese market, Toyota Tercel often referred to as Toyota Corsa.
It was considered as the first front-wheel drive car from Toyota that led the basis for the upcoming Toyota models (in terms of layout and frame). For instance, Toyota Corolla E80’s frame is nearly same as of AL20Tercel’s frame. A new engine is designed to for Tercel so as to get better fuel economy, performance and low emissions. Company added a 4-door sedan in the lineup as well with variety of body styles.
The term Tercel is taken from a Latin word for ‘one third’, perhaps because of the size of the Tercel which was a hint smaller than the usual Corolla.
First Generation (1978–1982)
In August 1978, the first generation Tercel was launched in Japan followed by its introduction in Europe in January 1979, while it was launched in United States in 1980. The Tercel was offered as 2- or 4-door coupe and a 3-door hatchback. In the Japanese market, it was sold as Toyota Corsa, while in US market it was badged as the Corolla Tercel. The US version received a 1,452 cc SOHC 4-cylinder engine, generating 60hp (45 kW) mated to 4- or 5-speed manual transmission followed by a 3-speed automatic along with 1.5 engine in August 1979.
The Japanese version received the 1,500 engine, generating 80 PS (59 kW) at 5,600 rpm. The 1.3-L engine was introduced in Europe.
Second Generation (1982–1986)
As the first generation Tercel failed to make any impression, Toyota completely redesigned the Tercel in May 1982. The company used the name Tercel for all markets and dropped the Corolla part of it. The second generation Tercel was offered as 3- or 5-door hatchback, a 4-door station wagon and also as a 4-door sedan in the Japanese market. In 1982, the 4-wheel drive, 4-door station wagon was launched as the Sprinter Carib in Japan where front-wheel drive was also offered in selected markets. All these vehicles either equipped with 3-spped automatic or 4- or 5-speed manual transmission, while 4-speed manual was offered in North American models.
Third Generation (1987–1990)
The third generation Tercel was introduced in 1987 as a somewhat larger unit powered by 12 valve 78 hp (58 kW) I4 engine equipped with a defective variable venturi carburetor which was replaced and the models later than 1988 received improved carburetors and EFI. The vehicle also featured a revised rack-and-pinion steering as well as independent suspension. Toyota launched Tercel EZ in late 1987 that featured a less standard equipment including vinyl upholstery, a four-speed manual transmission, rubber mats instead of carpeting, and a deleted passenger’s side sun visor.
The 1990 model received a three or five-door hatchback and a two-door sedan. Also, the four-wheel drive system was dropped and the vehicle came only with a front-wheel drive system.
Fourth Generation (1991–1994)
In 1991, the fourth generation Tercel was launched. It was offered as 2- or 4-door sedan equipped with types of engine variants including a1.5 L 3E-E engine generating 82 hp (61 kW) at 5200 rpm and 89 lb-ft (121 Nm) of torque at 4400 rpm or 1.5 L 5E-FE 16v DOHC generating 110 hp (82 kW).
VC, Joinus and Avenue were the three hatchback models offered in Japanese market along with other 4WD versions. VE, VX and VZ were the three different trim levels offered.
Base Coupe, DX Coupe, DX Sedan and LE Sedan were the different models offered in North American market.
Fifth Generation (1995–2000)
The 1995 model year was introduced in September 1994 as a fifth generation Tercel. It was a completely redesigned version. By 1997, all the Tercel models were offered only in CE trim level along with several standard and optional features taken from its predecessors. The facelift model appeared in December 1997. The production of Tercel discontinued in North America in 1998 followed by its discontinuation in Japan in 2000.