Car review – Toyota Corolla Altis 2002

Posted: 14th March 2008 by Jacky Yong in Cars
Tags: , , , , ,

The Altis was launched in Malaysia in 2001 as a new rebranding of the ever famous Corolla model. It brings over the proven record of comfort and reliability that has associated itself with the name Toyota. This is a 1.8G spec, ZZE122, meaning the full spec, with all the bells and whistles. Compared to the E spec, this particular spec has got gated automatic shift stick, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), optitron meter among others.

The particular model that I have driven is the 2002 model, 1.8G spec. Brilliant car it is! Let’s go over the details one by one. We’ll start from the outside.

The owner has fitted wing mirrors with signal indicators, something that is not found in other Altises for this particular year:

Despite aging at 6 years, this car is still quite modern in its design. A view from the rear still has the menacing stance associated with newer cars.

In its flesh, the car is solid and well-built. A well-known criteria for measuring well-built-ness is the sound of the door when it is closed. An assuring thud instead of the Milo-tin-can sound of the Proton is heard.

Let’s go to the highlight of the car, the interior.

This is the sight that greets you as you open the door to the cabin.

The plush interior contains things that are designed with all the critter comfort in mind. Seats with lumbar support, soft cushions, inviting controls, user-friendly dials, one-touch door lock, power wing mirrors. Best of all, the power window works! (Sorry, I got carried away after driving the Iswara for so long!) The driver sits very high up, I can swear I can almost look inside other vehicle’s occupant and see what colour of their pants is! Perhaps too, this contributes a lot to the superiority complex when I drive this car. When I drive the Proton, I always feel inferior compared to a Beemer or a Merc! πŸ™ No such thing with this baby!

Gated gear stick! In operation, the gear is smooth and very intuitive. You will not accidentally shift into R or other lower gears while driving. It requires a conscious effort to do that. However, this being such a quiet car, there is virtually no difference between N and D in terms or NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness). I find myself having to look at the meter to know which gear I am now, something that does not happen in the old Wira Automatic. It’s a good thing, trust me. πŸ™‚

How is the engine like? With 132 horses inside this baby, there is plenty of pented-up power waiting to be unleashed. In operation, the car response immediately at the lightest touch to the throttle. Needs some getting used to! The sound of the engine can get very loud at high rev due to the inherent use of steel chain instead of the traditional rubber timing belt in most other cars. However the noise is seldom felt as I rarely have the need to go over 4000 rpm.

The tyre is a 195 / 60 / 15 inch measurement, and it is a very rare combination. Not good, very limited tyre choice.

One thing that has been discussed over and over again with this car is its cornering ability, or the lack of it. The car handles very poorly when pushed hard. I took this car for a spin along the Cyberjaya routes. Though the power is there, the car hesitates a little when rounding a corner. I artificial induced kick-down by shifting to 3rd gear, and the car jerked as if the power to the wheels were cut off. The VSC in action perhaps? To be honest, the Wira handles brilliantly round corners, and in this aspect, the Wira 1.5 automatic wins hands down! However there is one rare occasion when I just threw caution to the wind and pushed this baby to the limit. At the big round SKVE interchange towards my home, I entered the corner at 90km/h, grabbed the steering tightly, and tapped slightly on the throttle. I managed to screech the tyre slightly, but nothing more than that. No doubt the body roll is felt, but the car went into a controllable understeer. The tyres did not lose that much of grip, probably the works of the VSC or the TRC. I dare not try with either of them turned off. Let’s just leave the experiment to the professional shall we?

Fuel consumption is great too. For a 1.8 litre engine, it clocks 500 km for a RM73 worth of petrol. (assuming petrol price is still RM1.92 per litre) Not bad, when the Wira 1.5 A only gets 350 km for a similar tankful value! Highway trips are great, since the NVH is way better than the Wira, minimizing fatigue to the driver and passengers. Going at 150 km/h and above is easily achievable. (Whoops, don’t report me to the police okay?) The car handles with full confidence at high speed.

All in all, the Altis is a great car. For such an old car, it still commands a very high price in the 2nd hand car market, when other cars of other marques (Nissan, Ford, Honda) depreciated much more. Being a Toyota, reliability is never a question. This car will always deserve a special place in my heart.

More pictures here.

  1. Jacky Yong says:

    Hi Alex,

    Whoa, has it been two years already? Mileage of 140K for a 9 year car is about there. I will be kidding you if I tell you that the car has NO problem whatsoever. For one, the engine top gasket is leaking oil. That needs to be replaced, probably RM150 for labours and parts. The biggest one would be the slight wobble at the wheel bearing. That would be much more expensive, about RM500 to RM800. These are all wear and tear parts, so I do expect them to be replaced one day.

    But if you were still using your Iswara, you will probably need to replace these parts as well right? The price might be a bit cheaper though. But genuine Toyota parts really last a very very long time.

  2. Alex says:

    Hi Jacky thanks for your reply.

    Indeed, I just paid my deposit this morning and sent for mechanic for rechecking whole thing (gearbox sensor + engine oil + gear oil) close up to RM900..

    so total pay …46k for 1.8G. Worth? The condition of the car is maintained very well.
    I check the prices range above 50k in general. Not sure I am getting a right offer. Cos I got it through private instead of car dealer.

    I am having my iswara which gearbox seems not engadged well recently, which I sense it is going to cost me lot in coming 2-3 years and no point paying 1k for a car worth 4k anymore.

    Sadly, I am having tight budget (40-50k) but I am not going for new proton/perodua for quality doubt. So treat this car temporary for moving 2-3 years more and resell if I am not satisfied, I guess wont depreciate as much as local car.

    Well just pray….nothing wrong….:D

    Btw, can I have your email in case I need more technical info or where to get cheaper accessories πŸ˜€


  3. Nando says:

    I am live in Batam. I want to ask about my car, Toyota Corolla Altis 1.8 2002 production. The speedometer’s broken, not functioning at all. Where can I order spare parts of it and at what price? thank you

  4. jeff lim says:

    hi alex,

    Kindly advised is altis 1.8v 2007 for 79800, it is worth buying.


  5. jeff lim says:

    hi jacky,

    Sorry for the wrongly name mentioned

  6. Jacky Yong says:

    Hi Jeff, not sure if you’ve got your facts wrong. As far as I know, the 2007 Altis model does not have the “V” spec, the “V” spec is only for the current Altis model, and only for 2.0 model. Anyway assuming you are talking about the older 2007 model, the current price is at RM75K to RM80K, depending on condition. I would say your mentioned price of the Altis is about there. But to be sure have a check at the overall condition. Ask a mechanic friend or at least someone who is very familiar with cars to inspect the car with you. It’s worth the price of a meal to belanja him! πŸ˜‰

  7. liew says:

    hi jacky, i have 1.6 manual altis and do you know malaysia have 1.8 manual or not? and i have 1.6 manual and do you think my car is good or not?

  8. BUDI HAZLEN says:

    hi jacky, your earlier post for altis or persona,made it clear that altis will be my 1st car..thank you for that…

    whats your opinion for 2nd hand(2001)altis 1.6G/1.8G, its almost 10 years now….how do i know that the car still in good condition while test drive?? just found altis with mileage around 130k and 150k comes with same price…what should i do?
    please help for my first car…


  9. Jacky Yong says:

    Hi Budi,

    You made the right choice by not buying a Persona, trust me! πŸ˜‰

    For an Altis of that high mileage, things to consider are the engine and the gear, the major wear-and-tear component. Put the gear in D and fully step on the brake. Do you feel any strong vibration? Slowly release the brake but do not step on the gas yet. Is the car moving smoothly? Any noticeable jerk? If you feel any of the above, change the engine oil and gear oil. Does it solve the problem? If the problem still persist, the engine mounting might need changing. It cost quite a lot to change it (around RM 500), so you might want to consider that.

    Look under the engine, is it wet with oil? If there are a lot of oil, it’s a sure sign of leaking engine gasket, again cost a lot to change it.

    Check the wheel mounting too by driving over a bump. Any strong vibration or weird sound? Honda are famous for that problem, but the Toyota is not. But just to be sure, check it out too.

    Those are the major things that you should look out for. Other things (interior, paint, tinting) might also be of importance to you. Good luck bro!

  10. BUDI HAZLEN says:

    thanks alot bro!

    confident mode…

  11. azman says:

    hi jacky,
    im azman from penang, i plan to buy toyota altis 1.8g 2002 or 2003,
    please advise me,how to select the good 2nd car,

  12. alvin says:

    hi jacky,

    where can i find or get free download owners manual of toyota altis 2001 automatic.


  13. Jacky Yong says:

    Hi there Alvin, refer to this site:

    It’s for the 2004 Altis, but I’m sure they are the same

  14. AL says:

    Hi Jacky, I’m in the process of purchasing an 2007 Altis, the valuator says the car model is 2007 but the year of production is 2004…and the chassis number is 2004…am I really getting an 2007 vechile or a 2004?

  15. Song says:

    Hi Jacky,
    I am currently driving Vios 2005 E Spec, looking to change Altis 1.6 yr 2004, I am wondering on the following:-
    1) Fuel comsumption,
    2) Power performance,
    3) Maintenance.
    My vios now can go up to 5++KM per full tank +-RM76.. How about Altis? 1.6 or 1.8?
    Budget was around 50K.
    Please Advise

  16. Jacky Yong says:

    Hi Song,

    To be honest, if you are looking for fuel consumption, the Vios will definitely be much thriftier. It’s smaller, lighter and has smaller engine capacity. The Altis is a heavier car than the Vios, although not by much. Therefore the Altis 1.6’s performance should be very similar to the Vios 1.5. In terms of maintenance, the parts for Altis 1.6 is the same with Altis 1.8. I personally find it affordable. But it’s relative, a rich man also says that his maintenance on his Mercedez Benz is very affordable as well! My Altis 1.8 currently can go up to 500 km on a tankful of +-RM75, mix urban and highway drive. So I expect the Altis 1.6 to perform slightly better. For RM50K I’m sure that you can get a very good quality Altis. Happy hunting!

  17. Song says:

    Hi Jacky,
    Thanks you for your comment..I will try hunter for the best..

  18. khaw says:

    What are the market prices for 2nd hand 2005 Altis 1.6/1.8 (manual) currently?

  19. SY says:

    Hi Jacky, Do you have Altis 2002 model brochure?
    I saw some 1.6L Altis using 185/70 R14 tyre, just wondering whether this size of tyre came as standard package? Do you think we can use this tyre for 1.8 model? Same size of car only slightly heavier in weight. 195 is difficult to get and it is enpensive. Thought of changing the RIM to suit 185/70 R14.

  20. Jeffry says:

    Dear Jacky,
    I have Corolla Altis 1.8G M/T year 2001 but the owner’s manual book already lost.
    Do you have idea, where can I get/download the owner’s manual ?
    Or if you have the owner’s manual, would you help me please? You may send it to my email

    Many Thanks & Regards,

  21. nizam says:

    can any one help?i’m driving altis 2002 model, 1800cc. During waiting for traffic light, in the 1st gear,press the break, the engine rev is below than 500 rpm n cause the body shaking. I’ve send it to toyota service centre in kajang for checking. What they did was, they just clean up the throtle body. I’s was okay in the beginning, then it happened again in the next day. plz help me out. tq

  22. Sean says:

    Hi Jacky, may I know how much you spend for installed the wing mirrors with signal indicators? So far any problems for that?

  23. Jacky Yong says:

    So far there is the problem if the casing breaking, but that was because I hit it on a pillar, not because of the signal indicator. I didn’t buy it, it came from the previous owner of this car. Sorry, not able to tell you more about it. I’d try those accessories shops if I were you. The Brothers in Kelana Jaya has a lot of choices, if you know where that is.

  24. zali says:

    sy ingin mencari altis 1.8g.adakah ia bagus untuk saya gunakan,adakag ia akan bawa masalah pada saya,,,tolong bantu saya…..

  25. Belle says:

    Hi Jacky,
    My hubby found a 2nd Altis 2005 1.8E/G, mileage abt 40k, owner is a lady.. selling price is RM60k.
    He suggested to sell off his 11 yrs old Waja, which is seldom drive and i sell off my 3 yrs old MyVi.
    You think it is worth to trade for Altis with the local made cars?
    Your opinion is appreciated.

  26. Belle says:

    Hi Jacky,
    My hubby found a 2nd Altis 2005 1.8E/G, mileage abt 40k, owner is a lady.. selling price is RM60k.
    He suggested to sell off his 11 yrs old Waja, which is seldom drive and i sell off my 3 yrs old MyVi.
    You think it is worth to trade for Altis with the 2 local made cars?
    Your opinion is appreciated.

  27. Jacky Yong says:

    Whooa whooa …. hold ur horse there Belle. The Altis look like it’s a good deal. And i think it is. But trading in two cars for one big car might not be a good idea. Even now we are keeping our Wira, coz trust me, there will be emergency situations where you will appreciate having another car. If i were u i’d sell off the Waja, the 3-yr-old Myvi seem to be in a better condition

  28. Kumar says:

    I have Altis 1.8 2002 model with full spec,leather and body kits and very well maintain with tyt service centre. What will be the market price.

  29. Mason says:

    Hi Jacky, I encountered some issues recently. My Altis jerks when the gear down shift from 2nd gear to 1st gear… I am not sure whats the reason..Just want to check if you experience such thing?

    Belle, have you bought the car? Are you buying from car dealer? hold your horse tight…

  30. Leong says:

    i have a problem with my Altis 1.8 year 2002,the meter inside no funtion all not working except gear position.i go to toyota terengganu branch they tell me is alam problem,then i go to toyota kuantan they tell me diffenrent problem ,they say meter damage,it need abt RM3K++.So can anyone tell me where can i fine the repair shop? plaese mail me at tq.

  31. Mason says:

    Hi Leong,

    You try to find the 2nd hand speedometer from Kedai Potong, then replace it in accessories shop. If you go back to Toyota, for sure the cost is higher..

  32. Kumar says:


    Last time I have same problem and Pls dont change because its just a contact problem issue. Just take out and fix back. Its should work

  33. je'a says:

    Loan in progress, waiting 4 my 2nd hand 2002 altis 1.8G.. fingers crossed..

  34. Des says:

    What’s the speed of the 2002 Altis 1.8 Automatic Transmission? 5speed Automatic or 4speed Automatic?

  35. Jacky Yong says:

    It’s only 4 speed πŸ™‚

  36. cwthow says:

    dear sir,
    for your information, i bought toyota altis year 2003 last 2 year
    i having a problem on my car
    1 the RPM will drop until engine off but this happen 1 to 2 months once, why it happen??
    i service the throttle better but problem come back
    2 sometime i cant start the car but all the alarm was already off, try with immobilize also cannot, why ?
    please update me if you can help

    thank you

  37. Steven Ling says:

    Hi Jacky and specifically the Yong!

    Why I highlight the Yong? The reason is I have quite a few good men and good friends with surname Yong! haha…

    Thanks for such a good write up for Toyota Altis 2002 1.8(G). Your writing is my final convince. I am going for it! Hope to feel what you hv felt with Altis!!

    mGBU n FMLY…

  38. Jacky Yong says:

    Thanks a lot Mr Ling! I hope you enjoy driving the Altis as well! I have a few good friends with the surname Ling as well! Thanks for dropping by!

  39. Steven Ling says:

    Hi Jacky, I have driven my Toyota Altis 2002 1.8G for two weeks. Great car! Got it for rm39k. Look new from inside to outside. I hv added d cool signal led light like yours too. Superb driving performance although its cornering control lose a bit to my Persona Elegance 1.6M with Macpherson suspension type. I wud say Persona is still a worth to buy car among the local choices. Anyway I do believe that Toyota’s suspensions system is more lasting than Proton. See if we hv chance to stumble and meet somewhere then we would sure hv lots of things to share, in photograhy as well. Let God arranges. I praise God for a person like u, Jacky!

    Steven Ling

  40. Abdul Hakim says:

    I was used toyota altis 1.8g 3 year. So far I don’t have problem. So it a great car. Remember change your magenet cluck and service your acond before your main db eletrical lacking and main db burning.

  41. Vincent says:

    Indeed my Altis is already 10 years, and i bought it last year. So far so good, but until recently I realize there is some noise “klak klak klak” from the engine side when i press the accelerator to 30%. I am a bit worry about this problem. Not sure is it coupling or knocking sound? Anyone encounter such issues?

  42. Lim says:

    Mr. Jacky:
    May I know does your Altis entitled in the Toyota front passenger airbag replacement campaign too? has it causing any problem or effect(s) after replace it? hope to any Altis zze122 owners can share your experience here..

    best regards,

  43. sunny says:

    Hi Jacky, would like to have ur opinion of getting a used toyota altis 1.6 (2004) model. @ 36k.

    btw, i’m a heavy usage for my works. do this made sense to get a used altis.

  44. Jacky Yong says:

    I still think that the Altis is a great car. Having used it for more than 5 years now, I would buy this same model even I were to be given a choice again. I don’t know about the 1.6 model, but I feel that it will be underpowered for such a hefty car. Besides, Toyota is the foreign brand car that retains the most value in Malaysia ( so that tells a lot about its perceived value among us Malaysians. Test drive it, you won’t regret it!

  45. Kevin Teh says:

    Hi Jacky,
    i am Kevin from Petaling Jaya. Nice to know you can solve my question.
    I getting a 2nd hand 2005 Altis 1.8G. Mileage – 150,000km. 1lady owner. I had test drive the car this morning,. everthing feel good interm of exterior, interior, engine perfomance, suspension….it cost me RM42k OTR. Is this car worth to buy? If yes, any other thing i need to be aware of?

    Best Regards,
    Kevin Teh

  46. Jam, says:

    Halo jack, apa khabar saya ingin bantuan saudara mengenai altis 1.6E 2007, timing chain bunyi bising, terutama bila mula suis on penghawa dingin dan bila kereta berjalan perlahan boleh beri saya nasihat, apa perlu saya buat, saya telah pergi ke SCentre,tapi keadaan masih saya, Terima kasih.

  47. Mason says:

    Hi Kevin Teh,

    Its worth to buy.. just go ahead.

    This model is very durable in terms of spare parts and comfortable. I am driving a 11 years Altis, 2003 which give me a pleasure like Lexus after I change the suspension and improve the insulation seal. Low maintenance and not high petrol consumption. Don’t wait.. go and get it now or you will regret!

  48. Seehow Lim says:

    Hello Guys, I’m planning to get a toyota altis 1.8, year 2006 with RM36k to RM38k (already 11 years til 23-Dec-15). Do you think this is a good deal or stupid thought?
    I’m currently driving Myvi, year 2007. 2 options for me:
    1) buy a brand new local car, perhaps, perodua will be more reliable than proton.
    2) proceed with 2006 altis 1.8.

  49. Jacky Yong says:

    Hi Seehow, I would say this is a good buy. RM38K is cheap! Trust me, the spare part is cheap. I just changed the bushing and some major realignment of the front wheels, altogether less than RM500! This car still serves me well and after all these years, I still think that I made the right choice buying this car!