• Handling - fun to drive
  • Versatility
  • Upgradability
  • No safety features (2 airbags only)
  • Standard brakes (no colours)
  • Stone magnet

About the Toyota Celica

C P purchased this Toyota Celica used for $10,000 (including all on-road costs) in 2013. C P would buy this car again because: “Buying a second hand Toyota is always a relatively low-risk purchase. At the time I thought it was an expensive purchase, however, the joy and versatility of the Toyota Celica made the purchase well worth it.

If I were to be back in 2013 when I first purchased the Celica, knowing what I know now, I would buy the Celica again. If Toyota brought out an electrified (PHEV or EV) I would be down at the dealership in no time. “

How reliable has your car been? Tell us about any issues.

Like with most Toyota cars, reliability has been outstanding. And when I say outstanding, I mean there has only been one occasion where the car did not start, which was due to a flat (old) battery.

Getting the Celica going was not an uphill battle, being a manual car, a little push down the hill, let go of the clutch and it started up again with me on time for my appointment.

Non-car stopping issues are:

  • The cruise control on sporadic occasions, will brake softly on a flat surface (however on Tesla’s vehicles this is a feature – just a friendly ribbing).
  • The Celica’s door lock actuators (central locking) sometimes fail to lock or unlock the car when pressed on the key fob, however locking/unlocking manually works, but is inconvenient. I have replaced them once using a Toyota Echo (Yaris) actuator – thank you ‘parts bin’! – this seems to be common on all Toyota Celica models. However, I have been able to get my hands on a few brand new parts online.
  • There is one thing to note for lift backs: the gas struts tend to need replacing every few years. However, as I mention below, parts are easily available. Gas struts are the priciest of replacement parts.

All routine maintenance is straightforward; brakes, filters (oil, cabin, intake), spark plugs, oil are easy enough for anybody to do. Prices for consumables are reasonable and easily available.

Even being a 22 year (as of writing this) old vehicle, there is some wear and tear on the driver’s seat from the seatbelt rubbing, however that is a slight cosmetic issue.

The gear shifter also needed replacing as the numbers on the knob were no longer visible. But again, parts for Toyota’s cars are abundant and a nice MR2, TRD inspired weighted gear knob is a great replacement.

What do you think of the ownership experience with your car?

I have had the car for nearly 10 years now. It is my first car to own. As people with more wealth like to put it my ‘daily driver’ – I only own one car so by default it is my daily car, like I have my daily front door.

This car has taken me everywhere from high school to university, work, camping, holidays – everywhere. I have not once thought I need another car for my lifestyle, we – the Celica and I – always seem to just work.

The Celica will no doubt be considered against the Toyota 86. However, the Celica is a slightly larger vehicle, giving more space for the rear passengers and loads of boot room (338L), even with the seats up. With the seats down (700L), I have gone away for the weekend with a medium size dog on her bed and luggage (two humans in the car).

Golf bags require one seat folded. Seat split is 50/50, thanks Eddie.

To get an understanding for my love of Toyota’s Celica 2000 model I should explain that I like cars. By that I mean I am the sort of person who appreciates the design of cars and engineering, including the practicality and quality. I am not one to tell another person their car is bad, ugly, slow or whatever negative term car ‘enthusiasts’ like to employ when somebody owns a car that they would not buy.

In saying that, the sixth-generation Celica is not a car that is generally described as an enthusiast’s car. Originally, it was known as the ‘hairdresser’s car’.

The enthusiast’s Celica is the All-4 Celica or the Supra. Ceilca will not pin you to the back of the seats, they will not do burn outs or drifts or any of those ‘cool car’ things. What it will do is be a timeless design that is a great car for everyday city or country driving, with a sport like feel.

Let me expand on some of the points above. The Celica has VVT-L, which is nice marketing term of saying variable valve timing lift. At just over 6000rpm, the intake of air increase (lifts the valve, hence the name), allowing for an increase in torque. However, redline is at 8000rpm so there are limited times on public roads you will be allowing for VVT-L to be used. When VVT-L is used, the shift in gear brings the rpm below 6000.

In second gear, VVT-L will not be utilised as you would be going over 100km/h. Although, in my opinion, trying to reach close to redline frequently, should be left to private roads.

The everyday use comes down to the ‘fastback’ aka hatch design. The boot space is upwards of 300L giving room for at least two medium suitcases. With the back seats down, golf clubs, and a road bike can also fit.

Storage inside is also not too bad. There is storage above the centre infotainment, for glasses cases or it can even fit a phone. There is a glove box with a mechanical latch, no need to dig around the screen. There are four cup (can-sized) holders (two for the front, two for the back) with no teeth, however they are tight so drinks do not sway around. The side pockets are reserved for letters or postcards as they are so slim that only a phone or keys may fit.

However, the door pockets are long so can fit multiple slim items, such as an Eminem album or two. There is also a central storage area that is a bit smaller than a tissue box.

As with most car reviews, I should mention there is a lot of hard plastic everywhere. The only non-plastic surfaces are the door rest, door and grab handle, steering wheel (leather) and gear shifter (leather). However, I do not think the plastic gives the Celica a cheaper feel, rather it gives it a feeling of lightness, ready to go!

Are you happy with the price and features of your car?

I originally bought the Celica for around $10,000. Given the car is 22 years old with 10 of those years under my ownership, that’s $1000 per year for just the car.

I would say a it was a great price. With older cars, upgrades are a lot easier. The original CD (double din) stack has been switched out to a GPS touch screen unit (Pioneer AVIC F50BT), allowing for the installation of a reversing camera and bringing it up-to date while still retaining all the analogue gauges and mechanical driving feel.

What do you think of the performance and economy of your car?

The fuel economy (claimed 8.1L/100km) has been very good. The claimed range is about 450km on a tank (55L). However, my driving style and Yokohama Advan tyres has been getting me well under 8.0L/100km.

I have been able to achieve 6.1L/100km with mainly highway driving. This gives the tank a range of over 600km.

As mentioned above, the car can get to 100km/h in a claimed ~8 second. I have test driven other cars (EVs) and they have fantastic acceleration, however, coming back to drive the Celica, I do not feel it is slow.

It picks up quickly off the line in first gear. First gear is ready and willing to be in the higher engine revs. Second and third gear drop the torque. Making it all the way to sixth gear, the car sits just under 3000RPM at 100km/hour.

Dropping from 6th gear to fourth is quite useful when overtaking from 80km/h. The other thing about not having a relatively powerful vehicle is that I always remain in control, even on the odd occasion when it gets pushed.

What do you think of the technology in your car?

Technology is an interesting topic in the car world. There is a move to more electronics, smoothness of transmission, entertainment and ease of use. The 2000 Celica is the standard 2000s car;

  • CD player
  • A/C
  • Analogue instrument cluster with digital fuel tank and temperature
  • Cruise Control

A big surprise for me was the inclusion of cruise control. I thought being a manual it may have been omitted but the Toyota Celica has cruise control, and I love it. There are also projector headlights!

The 2000s era of cars is synonymous with the word ‘DIN’. The DIN and double DIN head units are one of the best standards on any car. For those who have not heard, DIN is the standard size for head units. On modern cars, DIN head units are no longer a thing, more of a screen stuck onto the dashboard.

Head units are either DIN or double DIN and are easily interchangeable for different headunits of the same DIN size. This Celica has gone from a CD player only car to a GPS, CD player, HDMI input, Bluetooth and reverse camera featured car.

Reminds me of one of those make over shows. In the future if I desire, I can purchase a new head unit and get wireless CarPlay/Android auto or whatever new feature they bring out. The car can always stay modern while still staying integrated into the cars style and not stuck on top.

What do you think of the ride comfort and handling of your car?

Macpherson struts are up front do a good job of soaping bumps up, however the rear suspension feels stiffer. Speed bumps can feel a bit of a jolt in the front seat…

While driving, I am not in a position to make judgements about how the back seats feel. I am told the back seats can be a little bit uncomfortable on the longer (2h+ drives) but it can get the job done.

Handling is good, with hydraulic power steering that raw feeling of being connected to the road that modern every day cars do not seem to be able to match. It could however be just how sitting in the Celica is more like sitting on the floor. The tyres take root in corners and remain planted to the road even on the tighter corners. The the seats are bucket inspired but do a decent job of holding the body in place.

Toyota’s Celica is a front heavy and this can be noticed on sharper corners, however with sensible driving the weight of the car is never noticeable.

Do you have any additional comments about your car?

In saying everything above I am on the lookout for a new car, powered by electricity, however, when I see the current offerings of electric cars, nothing speaks to me like the Celica does.

Anything would be a step down in both style and feeling – unless I want to become bankrupt to buy something like a Porshe Taycan, however that is a larger vehicle. If Toyota offered even a plugin hybrid version of the Celica, the dealer would be wiping my drool of the windscreen for the styling of the Celica and day to day usability of this two-door actual coupe, is something that is not present in cars these days.

It is either a large hatchback SUV ‘coupe’- a Frankenstein appendage of a name, or four door sedans which are larger than a Celica and out of my budget.

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Overall Rating

Ride & Handling7.8
Price & Features6.7
Performance & Economy7
Ownership Experience10