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.
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2020 Toyota Corolla Overview
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:
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.
2020 Toyota Corolla Review
Unlike other websites and magazines, our ratings are not based solely on a singular road test, but rather a more encompassing batch of criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value. When comparing vehicles using our Rating System, it's important to note that the rating earned by each vehicle correlates only to the models within its class. For example, a compact car cannot be compared to a SUV—They are different vehicles altogether.
You can interpret our ratings in the following way:
5-Star: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.
4-Star: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.
3-Star: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.
2-Star: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.
1-Star: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.
- Sharp looks
- Up to 40 mpg highway
- Standard auto emergency braking
- Interior can be noisy
- Base engine not very efficient
- Still no Android Auto
All-new design. Following the 2019 release of the all-new Corolla Hatchback, it was only a matter of time before this look transitioned to the standard Corolla. Just one model year later, we have the all-new 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan with loads of styling cues gleaned from its hatchback sibling.
This new look comes with a new lineup of engines, an updated chassis, and a sharp cabin that’s sure to please the masses.
Sharpened styling, but not over the top. For many years, Toyota played it safe with its volume-selling Corolla, keeping things simple to avoid offending buyers. The 2020 Corolla boasts a daring new look that may be too much for some buyers, but its standard LED lights borrowed from its five-door sibling, bolder lower grille, wider wheel flares, new bumpers, and new taillights are far from offensive.
Inside, the Toyota Corolla is all-new and quite satisfying with its large touchscreen infotainment system, clutter-free look, and airy feel. This interior could, however, use a little more sound-deadening material so the noise level better matches its more stylish looks.
Satisfying optional engine. The Corolla Hatchback debuted a new, more powerful four-cylinder engine that makes its way to the redesigned Corolla. This new rev-happy 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque that helps hustle this sedan to 60 mph in under eight seconds.
This new engine is only available in the SE and XSE models. In the L, LE, and XLE trims, there's a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that delivers a wheezy 139 hp and 126 lb-ft of torque. Oddly enough, this low-power four-pot is less efficient than the 2.0-liter. The more powerful engine achieves an EPA-estimated 31 miles per gallon city, 40 mpg highway (38 on XSE models), and 34 combined versus the base engine's 30/38/33 mpg (city/highway/combined).
High-tech features galore. The Corolla doesn't skimp on the premium features. It comes fully loaded with a standard 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay (Android Auto will arrive soon) integration, LED headlights, and more. Sure, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available in some competitors, but only a few offer it standard, like the Chevrolet Cruze and Kia Forte.
While these features are fun, what really matters is safety, and the Corolla also delivers there with its standard automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights. While these aren't rare features in its class, it isn't common for them to come standard.
Final thoughts. With a starting price of $20,430 (all prices include destination charges), the 2020 Toyota Corolla is on the pricier side of its class, but there's a good reason for that. With its array of standard features, the Corolla is all about value – not just being the cheapest compact sedan on the market.
Sure, you can grab the Chevy Cruze for $18,870, but adding the safety equipment to match the Corolla requires you to opt for the $24,395 Premier trim and add the $790 Driver Confidence II Package.
Need more rear leg room for old kids? The Honda Civic may be a better choice with its 37.4 inches of rear leg room. Looking to maximize trunk space? The Kia Forte’s 15.3-cubic-foot trunk may do the trick. For raw performance, look to the 205-hp Honda Civic Si.
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