Bold, new styling. Competitive price. Value consistent. And a bullishness on sedans and small cars. Those were the claims from Toyota representatives during the launch of the 2020 Corolla in Savannah, GA, recently. Most important in our eyes is the hybrid version of the Corolla, a first for the United States. Watch out, sibling Prius!
The fully redesigned and 12th-gen compact sedan is available in at least six trims and three power trains. There’s the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine developing 139 horsepower @ 6100 rpm and the all-new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine putting out 169 hp @ 6600 rpm and 151 pounds-feet of torque @ 4800 rpm. The hybrid is equipped with a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to two motors/generators for a total 121 hp. Depending on the model, you can get the continuous variable transmission or a 6-speed manual gearbox. Though wheelbase stays the same, length and height are down by 0.8 inches and the hood reduced by 1.4 inches from its predecessor.
The retuned MacPherson strut front and all-new multilink rear suspension (replaces previous torsion beam) soak up obstacles with ease and maintain stability in all types of tricky situations. As always, the electric power steering is precise and crisp.
Up front, the new design is sleek, sharp and eye-catching. Flanking the slim, J-shaped bi-beam LED headlights and fog lamps is a rounded nose with a three-dimensional trapezoidal grille, sculpted bulging wheel arches and sharp body lines. The practical cabin is simply laid out with piano-black gloss and metallic accents on the dashboard. Basic amenities include a/c, cloth seats, seven-inch touch screen for audio, phone and nav controls, 4.2-inch TFT multimedia screen, six-way driver adjustable and four-way front-passenger seats, USB port, digital clock, two front and rear cup holders, 60/40 rear fold seat and a manual tilt/telescopic steering column.
Dual front and side airbags, driver knee airbag, side curtain airbag, vehicle stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, three-point seatbelts for all, keyless entry, blind spot monitor, front/rear crumple zones, rearview camera, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard. The no-cost Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 translates into a pre-collision system that detects pedestrians, lane departure assist and dynamic cruise control.
Folks, this one’s a no-brainer as gas continues to inch toward the $3/gallon range. Base-priced at $19,500 and peaking at $25,450, the overhauled Corolla can get from 29 mpg up to 40 mpg while the hybrid ekes out 53 mpg. The compact sedan market is a crowded field, mainly with Honda Civic, Chevy Cruze, VW Golf, Mazda3 and more. But this revamped offer from Toyota, with its agility, good looks, fun-to-drive character and roominess, should march ahead of the competition.