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Willis Kuelthau
Automotive Editor - April 8, 2019

2020 Toyota Corolla OVERVIEW

While other carmakers (like Ford) begin phasing out sedans in favor of more lucrative crossovers or trucks, Toyota continues to invest in their small cars. One result is the 2020 Toyota Corolla. Back with a complete update, the Corolla is on a mission to erase its vanilla reputation of the past.

What's New for 2020

For 2020, the Corolla received a ground-up redesign. It rides on a new platform, uses a new suspension, and routes power through a new transmission. The base engine is close to the old one, but it’s been tuned for more horsepower and efficiency.

Choosing Your Toyota Corolla

Choosing a Corolla begins with the engine. Although it’s also available as a hybrid and hatchback (both covered separately), the standard Corolla sedan comes with two motors.

The first is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that powered the previous generation’s L Eco trim. It produces 139 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque. Despite being the less powerful of the two, it gets the worse fuel economy: an EPA-estimated 30 miles per gallon city, 38 mpg highway, and 33 combined with the continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The other engine is another four-cylinder, this one displacing 2.0 liters and sending 169 hp and 159 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. Fuel economy comes in at 31/40/34 mpg (city/highway/combined).

The base engine is only available with a CVT, but the upgraded motor can be had with a six-speed manual as well. For the larger engine, the CVT gets a conventional take-off gear that makes shifting feel more natural.

For 2020, the sedan gets a shorter front overhang but a longer one at the back. The track widens in both the front and the rear, but the wheelbase remains the same. The rear seat retains its 41.4 inches of leg room, which is excellent for the class, and cargo capacity stays at 13 cubic feet.

Every Corolla also gets Toyota’s considerable suite of active safety tech. This includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, automatic high beams, and traffic sign detection.

The remaining features are divided across five trims:


Starting at $20,430 (all prices include the $930 destination charge), the Corolla L is the cheapest of the litter but more luxurious than last year’s equivalent. Powered by the base 1.8-liter engine, the L gets standard LED lights, a Wi-Fi hotspot, Alexa connectivity, Apple CarPlay integration, a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, and a rearview camera. And that’s it. Other than the usual floor mats and accessories, no options or packages are available on this trim. Black, white, silver, and gray are the only available colors.


At $20,880, the Corolla LE starts just $450 more than the L. For the price, Toyota adds 16-inch wheels, an 8-inch touchscreen, and nicer cloth upholstery. The LE still gets the smaller engine. The LE also opens up a Premium Package ($2,000), which adds keyless entry, push-button start, alloy rims, blind-spot monitoring, heated side mirrors, and a power moonroof.


The Corolla SE, the first trim to use the more powerful engine, starts at $22,880. That’s for the CVT; for an extra $700, Toyota will equip the six-speed manual gearbox. The SE jumps up to 18-inch wheels and gets sportier exterior accents along with a tighter suspension tune and a sport driving mode. The manual-equipped car also gets the moonroof and keyless entry system tossed in.

The CVT-equipped model has three package options. The first is the Premium Package, which is down to $1,500 thanks to the standard wheels. Next up is a Connectivity Package ($2,315), which includes all of the features in the Premium Package plus an upgraded infotainment system with USB charging, voice commands, and satellite radio. For $2,915, Toyota puts all of the above together with a premium JBL audio system. The manual-equipped SE doesn’t allow any of these packages.


Starting at $24,880, the Corolla XLE trades sportiness for more luxury features. It moves back to the base engine and 16-inch wheels, but adds upgraded LED headlights, synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and the moonroof. On the tech side, the XLE gets blind-spot monitoring, a 7-inch driver information display, the upgraded infotainment system, and trial memberships to Toyota’s safety and assistance systems.

A Connectivity Package with navigation, wireless charging, and premium sound is available for $1,715. For $2,165, Toyota adds adaptive headlights and ambient interior lighting to the bundle.


Finally, the range-topping Corolla XSE starts at $26,380. It adds the more powerful engine (this time available with the CVT only), but is otherwise similar to the XSE in equipment. The only exceptions are the XSE’s sport seats and sporty exterior bits. The XSE shares its package options and prices with the XLE.

CarsDirect Tip

Although the engine upgrade offers more power and efficiency, the 2020 Toyota Corolla is a better value with the base motor. It’s not sporty either way, and the efficiency gains aren’t huge. For the best value, stick to the base engine and choose the trim with the feature set that fits best.

Get your price on a Toyota Corolla »

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