The decision: The redesigned 2020 Corolla rises above the sedan’s “equipment” fame: It’s better-looking, nicer inside, affords extra luxuries, has excellent security tech and is extra participating to drive.
Versus the competitors: The Corolla continues to be a conservative alternative amongst compact sedans, however the 2020 is a extra attention-grabbing competitor – one you may select since you really need it.
The much-improved 2020 Toyota Corolla compact sedan has moved to a brand new international platform and has many of the underpinnings, amped-up tech and nicer trim that was previewed on the 2019 Corolla Hatchback – but it surely provides a authentic again seat and trunk. A few sedan variations even get the hatchback’s added zip underneath the hood. The Corolla additionally is available in a high-mileage hybrid mannequin that makes use of the Prius powertrain; that version just isn’t lined on this assessment.
The Corolla has lengthy been the protected alternative for sedan customers, with each a well-earned fame for dependability and the emotional enchantment of an equipment; my fridge sparks extra pleasure. It hasn’t wished for consumers, although, splitting a 3rd of annual compact sedan gross sales within the U.S. with the opposite massive canine, Honda’s Civic. The brand new Corolla gained’t upset its legions of loyalists, neither is it in peril of turning into a cult favourite, such because the Volkswagen Golf GTI or Honda Civic Si. However improved driving manners, higher tech and extra refinement make it – like its hatchback sibling – a Corolla you may want, not simply want.
The 2020 sedan affords 5 trim ranges: L, LE, SE, XLE and XSE. I drove a number of variations for this assessment. The brand new hybrid is sadly provided solely as an LE, changing the previous LE Eco.
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A dose of the hatchback’s model
The Corolla’s new styling isn’t as horny because the 2019 Mazda3 or as flamboyant because the Civic, however the previously dowdy sedan now has a lot crisper styling, with stronger wheel openings and an upswept character line. The revised trapezoidal grille and new entrance bumper corners range by trim degree, however the usual skinny LED headlight assemblies stretching across the corners got here instantly from the hatchback, as did the “triple J” LED accent lights on greater trim ranges. It retains its tidy dimensions, various lower than an inch in any route from the 2019.
The rear look is tamer (to wrap its arms round a trunk), with slimmer LED taillights, an upturned higher lip on the trunk lid and extra decrease bumper cladding. Sportier fashions add a darkish grey rear spoiler and twin exhaust suggestions. Alloy wheels are normal on greater trim ranges (with handsome 18-inchers on the sportier SE and XSE) and elective on the LE.
A classier cabin
The brand new inside replaces the earlier mishmash of rental-car supplies with the hatchback’s cleaner design and higher trimmings, together with a soft-touch dashboard with piano-black accents even on decrease trim ranges. The dashboard’s form enhances a roomy really feel within the entrance. The usual upholstery is fabric, whereas the XLE will get SofTex vinyl and the sportier SE and XSE trim ranges get probably the most undiluted model of the hatchback inside, together with comfortable, supportive sport seats with vinyl trim and color-accented fabric inserts that match the distinction stitching. As earlier than, the one animal leather-based you’ll discover in any Corolla is on the steering wheel and shift lever in greater trims.
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The backseat is roomy, not like the hatch’s cozy rear quarters. There’s sufficient leg and head area for me, at 6-foot-2, to sit down “behind myself” within the backseat. In most trim ranges, high quality doesn’t drop markedly within the again. The tops of the door panels had been more durable within the rear of the LE, for instance, however the armrests entrance and rear had been wrapped and padded. The cabin continues to be somewhat noisy, however there’s much less wind, street and engine noise than within the 2019 – much more so in greater trim ranges with added insulation.
Visibility is nice throughout and considerably improved on the entrance corners, due to thinner entrance pillars and the relocation of the aspect mirrors to the doorways.
Cabin storage is somewhat stingy, even for a small automotive, falling wanting the Civic’s area. There’s a big however arduous system bin on the entrance of the middle console and a small lined bin on the rear. The entrance door bins not less than embrace a useful divider that stored my water bottle safe. There’s additionally a fold-down rear armrest with cupholders (besides on the bottom L trim degree). Trunk area is 13.1 cubic toes – aggressive for a compact sedan, however lower than the Civic or Volkswagen Jetta – and all trim ranges have 60/40-split, folding rear backrests to increase the area.
Multimedia and tech amped up
Sitting atop the brand new dashboard is a touchscreen with welcome quantity and tuning knobs and mechanical shortcut buttons somewhat than touch-sensitive panels just like the Civic makes use of. Base L fashions get a 7-inch display screen; all others get an 8-inch display screen. Apple CarPlay integration is normal, as is Amazon Alexa, however for those who’re an Android Auto person you’re nonetheless out of luck. A 4.2-inch driver info show alongside the analog gauges is normal on decrease trim ranges, whereas a fancier 7-inch configurable instrument show that sits prominently within the middle is normal on the XLE, XSE and hybrid.
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Two USB ports are included on all however the L, with the second within the middle console bin meant to serve the rear seat. Wi-Fi functionality (with subscription) is normal; wi-fi charging is newly elective. Six-speaker audio is normal, whereas a nine-speaker JBL system with a rear subwoofer is elective, bundled in a bundle with in-dash navigation for the XSE and XLE.
You need the engine improve
The extra enjoyable engine for the Corolla – which you’ll have solely within the sportier SE and XSE trims – is a 169-horsepower, 2.0-liter direct-injection four-cylinder that made its debut within the hatchback. It places out 151 pounds-feet of torque, and its acceleration in all fairness robust and easy – significantly better than the bottom engine.
As within the hatchback, this engine is mated to a “sensible” six-speed handbook (however solely on the SE) or a new-design repeatedly variable automated transmission. The CVT does job of reducing CVT drone, and it additionally has a bodily 1st gear so as to add pep and a extra standard really feel off the road. Paddle shifters allow you to click on via synthetic gear steps as soon as the CVT’s metal belt takes over. The stick has an Clever Handbook Transmission mode that provides sports-car-like rev-matching on downshifts, uncommon for a compact sedan. It additionally helps match engine and transmission speeds for smoother upshifts and mitigates stalling at launch. My predominant criticism is the engine’s restricted availability; the rival Civic sedan places its 174-hp, turbocharged 1.5-liter in all however the two lowest trim ranges.
I used to be not in a position to drive the SE sedan with the six-speed handbook, however I discovered that transmission made the hatchback much more enjoyable. Automobiles.com’s L.A. Bureau Chief Brian Wong stories related magic for the sedan, not like the earlier mannequin’s sloppy and imprecise handbook. He discovered that the downshift rev-matching doesn’t have “Porsche or Chevrolet Corvette ranges of responsiveness, but it surely does a high quality job of blipping the throttle barely so that you ease into downshifts. One other profit is that it helps out on launches, particularly for inexperienced persons, by including a bit extra throttle for those who come up on the clutch with out giving it sufficient gasoline” to avert a stall. “There’s a contact of vagueness within the gates between the gears, and the throws are a tad lengthy for actually vigorous driving. However predictable clutch really feel, a shifter in the proper spot – so that you’re not stretching for any gears – and simple use go a good distance towards an pleasurable stick expertise.”
Sadly, most non-hybrid Corolla consumers will make do, even within the loaded XLE, with the ho-hum carryover 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that places out 139 hp (up 7 hp for 2020) and 126 pounds-feet of torque, which is mated to a traditional CVT (with out the 1st-gear innovation). It would get you there, which can be sufficient for Corolla loyalists, however acceleration is sluggish, and the old-school engine is noisier and coarser than the two.0-liter.
For those who want another excuse to need the two.0-liter, how about higher gasoline mileage? The 1.8-liter’s mileage improved barely over the 2019, however the 2.0-liter with the CVT nonetheless beats it by 1 to 2 mpg in every class. You can compare them here. Toyota officers say it’s because the new-generation 2.0-liter has improved gasoline administration and the next compression ratio; the brand new CVT additionally spreads gearing greater. All variations and trim ranges ship very aggressive 32-34 mpg EPA mixed rankings, shamed solely by the hybrid Corolla’s 52 mpg mixed. In testing, I discovered I exceeded the rankings by an mpg or two.
Extra participating dynamics
No matter engine, all Corolla consumers get a better-handling automotive than in earlier years. It feels extra planted and composed, with a smoother journey that handles bumps effectively on all however the roughest pavement. Toyota says its new platform is 60 p.c stiffer, and it reveals. The 2020 Corolla additionally has a multilink unbiased rear suspension – an uncommon improve amongst mainstream compact sedans, which generally use cheaper torsion beam rear suspensions. It helps create a extra agile really feel – with or with out the sportier suspension tuning, 18-inch wheels and lower-profile tires of the SE and XSE trim ranges.
The usual Lively Nook Help system makes use of selective braking to assist maintain the road in cornering. The steering additionally has higher weighting, although it felt much less so within the LE than in greater trim ranges, which Toyota officers mentioned was because of the decrease weight and totally different tires of the LE, not totally different tuning. Total, the Corolla isn’t on the high of the compact automotive class relating to dealing with – attempt a Mazda3 or Volkswagen Golf, simply to call two – but it surely’s lots much less bland to drive than it was.
Spectacular security and driver tech normal
All trim ranges of the Corolla and Corolla Hybrid include the full-featured Toyota Security Sense 2.Zero bundle of security and driver help know-how. The bundle features a full-speed entrance collision warning system with automated braking and pedestrian detection. It additionally consists of lane departure alert with steering help, street edge detection, automated excessive beams and full-speed adaptive cruise management with cease and go (in CVT-equipped fashions). Additionally included is a brand new lane-centering system that proved excellent at holding the automotive in a marked lane, although it often paused at exit lane splits. Blind spot warning is normal on greater trim ranges and out there within the LE and up. Adaptive headlights are elective in an Superior Lighting Bundle on XLE and XSE trim ranges. The Corolla’s normal security and driver help bundle is akin to (however extra sturdy general than) the Civic sedan’s normal bundle, together with extra options at extra trim ranges than most rivals.
Solely higher-trim 2020 Corollas outfitted with elective adaptive LED headlights earned an appropriate score in headlight checks. The usual LED headlights had been rated marginal for “insufficient visibility in a number of IIHS check situations.”
We now have not but achieved a Automobiles.com Automotive Seat Test on the 2020 Corolla, however the Latch anchors and tethers for child-safety seats look like simply accessible within the rear seat (although I’m wondering how lengthy it might take me to lose a number of of the removable Latch covers).
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You pay extra for improved worth
Costs are up for each trim degree, although Toyota is fast to level to extra worth, akin to all the usual security tech. As this was written, the bottom L begins $925 greater at $20,555 (all costs embrace a $955 vacation spot cost, up $25 for 2020) and consists of the CVT automated. That undercuts an automated base 2019 Civic LX at $21,280. Compare Corolla and Civic trim levels and features here.
The high-volume LE’s $21,005 beginning value is $940 greater than the 2019, although if the LE appeals to you it’s price trying out the high-mileage, LE-only hybrid that begins at $24,055 – about $3,000 extra, however nonetheless lower than the most affordable Toyota Prius. If you need the brand new gasoline engine, the sportier SE begins at $23,005 with the CVT and $23,705 with the six-speed handbook (although this model provides different options, as effectively). The XLE is up $1,940 at $25,005 to begin; the XSE with the brand new engine goes up $2,695 to begin at $26,380. That pushes the XSE into new territory; add the $1,715 premium audio and connectivity bundle and the entire hits $28,220. Examine that to $28,330 for the top-trim 2019 Civic Touring.
The Corolla has a typical guarantee of three years/36,000 miles, 5 years/60,000 miles for the powertrain. But it surely additionally offers consumers two years or 25,000 miles of free scheduled upkeep and roadside help.
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