2020 Toyota Corolla Pros and Cons: We Test Three Flavors of Toyota’s Compact Sedan
- Great value, especially hybrid
- Standard safety equipment
- Outstanding fuel economy
- Loud, underpowered base engine
- Tinny-sounding doors
- No USB outlets in rear
Last year we drove the new Corolla hatchback and experienced the improvements of Toyota moving the car to the TNGA-C platform. This year we follow up with the sedan in three flavors.
First up, an XLE with a CVT and a 139-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that could be older than the car’s buyers. The sportier SE has the 169-hp 2.0-liter I-4 and six-speed manual. For 2020 Toyota adds a hybrid with a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle engine and two electric motors for a combined 121 hp.
So, none of these will light up the test track, yet Toyota has made its econobox-for-the-masses somehow … fun?
High marks to Toyota for the exceptional value of the $24,055 hybrid and the extra power and manual in the SE. But as the XLE is the volume model, prospective customers should know the engine is loud, laborious, and slow in this entry-level car. It takes more than 10 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph with the crusty old 1.8-liter engine.
Not surprisingly, the judges preferred the 2.0-liter and appreciate that Toyota did not make the manual exclusive to the hatchback. The manual gearbox has long throws, clutch take-up is a bit vague, and rev-matching was poor—but, hey, some folks still want to do their own rowing.
The 2020 Corolla is a big improvement over the past generation, especially inside. The stitching and two-tone color schemes make the hard plastic look fresh. The cloth seats are rough but should be durable. Editor-in-chief Ed Loh liked the “modern, funky, kind-of-Ikea design.” The theme continues with a minimalist center console. The only USB outlet is in the console—rear passengers are out of luck. It has a surprisingly big trunk for a compact car.
Toyota embraces the Corolla’s place in the food chain. This is the 12th generation of its small car, and it still has manually adjustable seats, standard 15-inch wheels, a hand brake, and tinny-sounding doors. It’s front-drive only with no plans to add all-wheel drive or a turbocharger or to trade in the old-school nickel-metal hydride batteries in the hybrid for lithium-ion.
The result is a lot of value. These cars come with a lot of standard safety equipment for the money. Adaptive cruise control buttons are on the steering wheel. The Corolla also has auto-dimming high-beam headlights, a nice touch for suburbia. However, lane keep assist is essentially limited to beeped warnings as the car crosses lane lines.
For 2020 the car gains a multilink rear suspension with active cornering assist. Loh described it as having “big-car suspension in a small package and great dampening.” Technical director Frank Markus was also impressed by the ride quality on rough roads, with bumps heard more than felt. Many judges commented on the car’s agility, with sharp turn-in for a front-drive economy car. We even got some good old-fashioned sliding of the back end.
“Who would’ve thought that a Corolla with a CVT would handle better than a Mazda?” executive editor Mark Rechtin asked. “There’s huge amounts of tire howl in protest under hard cornering, but at least it’s predictable, and when you mash the gas pedal coming out of the corner, the CVT always gives you maximum torque.”
Steering is light but not terribly vague, the small wheels absorb imperfections, and the hybrid’s 53/52 mpg fuel economy is outstanding. “Even though there are a few flaws with the powertrain, this is a very compelling product for those who want to save money at the pump,” MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina said.
|2020 Toyota Corolla SE||2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE||2020 Toyota Corolla XLE|
|Base Price/As Tested||$23,705/$23,705||$24,055/$24,055||$25,005/$26,720|
|Power (SAE net)||169 hp @ 6,600 rpm||121 hp @ 5200 rpm + 71 hp (elec); 121 hp comb||139 hp @ 6,100 rpm|
|Torque (SAE net)||151 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm||105 lb-ft @ 3600 + 105 lb-ft (elec)||126 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm|
|Accel, 0-60 mph||7.8 sec||10.3 sec||10.2 sec|
|Quarter Mile||16.1 sec @ 87.5 mph||17.6 sec @ 79.0 mph||17.8 sec @ 81.0 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||126 ft||133 ft||128 ft|
|Lateral Acceleration||0.83 g (avg)||0.77 g (avg)||0.81 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||27.7 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)||29.1 sec @ 0.54 g (avg)||28.1 sec @ 0.58 g (avg)|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb||29/36/32 mpg||53/52/52 mpg||29/37/32 mpg|
Source : Alisa Priddle Link