Boring no more! All-new 2020 Toyota Corolla
For decades, the Toyota Corolla has been the go-to car for those needing a simple, reliable and affordable small sedan. Nothing exciting and nothing fancy. It’s like the vanilla ice-cream of cars. Plain and simple.
Last year, we saw Toyota spice up the Corolla line by adding a sporty hatchback. For 2020 though, Toyota has redesigned the Corolla sedan – by injecting some frills and thrills to the car in an attempt to bring new buyers to the Corolla while maintaining those that continue to want a simple car.
The all-new Corolla is basically the same size as the outgoing model, but rides on an all-new platform that Toyota claims increases rigidity. The new platform also implements a more sophisticated multilink rear suspension – doing away with its old torsion-beam arrangement. To the causal observer, the new Corolla looks handsome and sharp and from some angles like a smaller version of the current Camry, which is also a good-looking car.
The Corolla is available in five different trim levels: L, LE, SE, XLE and XSE. The base L, along with the LE and XLE use a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine (139 horsepower, 126 lb-ft of torque) that is paired with a CVT automatic transmission. The sporty SE and top-of-the-line XSE get a 2.0-liter engine (169 hp, 151 lb-ft) along with the CVT automatic – but paddle shifters are placed behind the steering wheel. A six-speed manual transmission is an option on the SE. As has been the case since the 1980’s, all Corollas continue to be front-wheel drive cars. The test car that Toyota had me in recently was a dark blue (Toyota calls it BluePrint) XSE.
Inside the new Corolla, it’s easy to see the improvements. Gone is the cheap plastic interior and in its place are better materials and a fresh, straightforward design. All Corollas get a 7-inch (or 8-inch depending on trim level) touchscreen along with a USB port and Apple CarPlay (sorry no Android Auto support). The SE and XSE get front sports seats, that I must say, are impressive. The bolsters are big enough to hold you in place, but not too big where you feel confined in your seat. Along with the content inside, Toyota has gone the extra mile by paying attention to small details which can be found by the blue stitching that goes the length of the dash. A little thing, but that combined with everything else inside makes the new Corolla feel very nice inside.
The driving experience of the new Corolla is easily more enjoyable than Corollas of past with a much better steering system that actually makes driving it a pleasure, as opposed to a task that must be done. Power is still in short supply, but a Sport mode gives it a little extra kick as well as a cool change in speedometer color and design. The paddle shifters add a level of enjoyment to the driving experience. Remember, this is a CVT transmission, so there are no actual gears to change, but using the paddle shifters makes it emulate an 8-speed transmission, and the shifts “feel” instantaneous as you slap the paddle. It’s fun to do a few times, but the engine simply lacks the punch to make things exciting.
Joining the Corolla sedan in the lineup is a Corolla Hybrid as well as a sporty Corolla Hatchback, giving loyal Corolla buyers plenty to choose from.
As it is, the new Corolla doesn’t stray far from what we know a Corolla to be. It’s still a fairly inexpensive, practical, and economical car. But now Toyota has added a layer to it which happens to include some attractive styling as well as some enjoyment behind the wheel. You can still think of the Toyota Corolla as vanilla ice cream – but it now has some chocolate syrup and sprinkles added to it.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2020 Toyota Corolla XSE
Base Price: $25,450.00
Price as Tested: $26,794.00
Layout: front-engine / front-wheel drive
Engine: 2.0 liter DOHC 4-cylinder
Transmission: CVT automatic
Horsepower: 169 horsepower
Torque: 151 ft/lbs
EPA Fuel Economy: 31 city / 38 highway mpg
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