New 2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan
Toyota Corolla Sedan
The all-new 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan blends affordability, contemporary style and safety features with its newfound fun-to-drive nature.
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The Toyota Corolla has been the Japanese automaker’s mainstay small-car offering for decades, and is one of the best-selling nameplates worldwide. The Corolla has long been known for its practicality, durability and fuel economy. But as the market for small cars shrinks in the United States, Toyota wanted to make the Corolla more enticing by imbuing the model with additional virtues.
First, it launched an all-new 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback last fall, and now Toyota has migrated the Corolla sedan to a slightly longer version of the hatch’s platform, which is known as the Toyota New Generation Architecture. That means the 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan is all-new from the ground up. Although it again uses the 106.3-inch wheelbase of its predecessor, the new model has a lower ride height, shorter front and longer rear overhangs, a wider track and a lower cowl.
There is an updated version of the standard 1.8-liter engine, and the Corolla also boasts a new engine offering: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine on SE and XSE trims. In addition to a larger engine, those sporty trims also (in the SE) offer the availability of a manual transmission, get a firmer chassis setup, and more expressive styling to appeal to the enthusiast set.
Additionally, for the first time there is a Corolla Hybrid model that mates the smaller engine to an electric motor and a battery pack. The hybrid version has fuel economy that approaches that of the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight.
A major effort with this latest redesign has been to infuse some driving excitement into the 2020 Toyota Corolla, thanks to a more sophisticated independent rear suspension that supplants the previous torsion-beam setup and greatly improves the Corolla’s handling. But more important, the new Corolla also seeks to offer class-above comfort in ride and cabin quietness as well as a long list of standard features that enable it to better compete against rivals such as the Honda Civic, as well as entries from Hyundai, Kia and Mazda.
Here’s a more detailed look at how the 2020 Corolla stacks up against some of its key competitors:
2020 Toyota Corolla vs. Honda Civic
The new Corolla and the Honda Civic are near mirror-images of each other when it comes to exterior dimensions. The two rivals both ride on a wheelbase of exactly 106.3 inches, and less than a half-inch separates them in overall length. Honda manages to squeeze a bit more interior space out of its similar-sized package, however, with just over two inches more rear-seat legroom and a few inches more shoulder room (headroom and front-seat legroom are similar). The Civic also has a larger trunk at 15.1 cubic feet to the Corolla’s 13.1.
The Civic’s base engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, and its 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque eclipse the output of the 1.8-liter base engine in the Corolla. At Honda, the step-up engine is a smaller 1.5-liter four bolstered by a turbocharger, while Toyota’s optional powerplant is a 2.0-liter four. Here again, the Civic’s output noses ahead of the Corolla’s, with the 1.5-liter turbo making 174 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque.
Both sedans employ a continuously variable automatic (CVT) as their main transmission offering but maintain limited availability of a 6-speed manual. Honda relegates its stick shift to the base engine but offers it in two trim levels, LX and Sport. Toyota pairs its manual transmission with its larger engine in the sport-themed Corolla SE. Unlike the Corolla, the 2020 Civic does not offer a hybrid engine option — instead, the Honda Insight is the brand’s gas-electric small car entry.
In the fuel-economy derby, the Civic and the Corolla are effectively tied when looking at estimates for their standard engines. With its base 2.0-liter, the Civic’s best numbers are 30/38-mpg city/highway, with the CVT. That exactly matches the estimates for the Corolla’s 1.8-liter base engine. The Civic Sport trim level loses one mpg in both measures, as does the Corolla XLE. Civic models with the manual transmission drop further, with estimates of 25/36-mpg city/highway.
Looking at the optional engines, the Civic has an advantage. Its 1.5-liter turbo has EPA estimates of 32-mpg city and 42-mpg highway, although the top-spec Touring model drops down to 30/38 mpg. That beats the Corolla with its 2.0-liter, which maxes out at 31/40-mpg city/highway, with the XSE dropping to 38-mpg highway and the SE manual at 29/36 mpg.
Both the Civic and the Corolla also offer a 4-door hatchback body style in addition to the sedan. Honda goes further by also making available a 2-door coupe, and the Civic’s sporty offerings go further than those of the Corolla, as the high-performance Civic Si and racy Civic Type R have no equivalent counterparts in the Corolla lineup.
Like the Corolla, all models in the Honda Civic family include forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic high-beam headlights. The Civic’s infotainment screen in smaller than the Corolla’s, with a 7-inch unit on all but the base car, while the base Toyota gets a 7-inch screen and all other models are upgraded to an 8-inch unit. Honda’s system also is not as easy to use as Toyota’s, although it supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while Toyota’s works with CarPlay only. The two fanciest Civic trim levels, the EX-L and Touring, come with leather seats, while you can’t get leather on the Corolla, only SofTex synthetic leather.
Prices for the 2020 Honda Civic start at $20,680 for the LX, which is within $100 of the base Corolla L, but if you want an automatic in your Civic LX, that will be $21,480, making the Honda $800 more. The Civic Sport with a stick shift is $22,380, which is better than $1,000 less than the Corolla SE manual. But while the Sport price climbs to $23,180 with a CVT, the SE’s price drops with a CVT, making the Corolla just slightly cheaper.
Looking at the upper end of the range, the Civic EX nets you the more-powerful engine for $24,630, while the Corolla XLE at $25,045 still uses the base engine. The top-spec Corolla XSE gets the better engine for $26,545, and squares off against the Civic EX-L at $25,830. The Civic range tops out with the Touring for $28,530, which is about $2K more than you can spend on a Corolla.
2020 Toyota Corolla vs. Hyundai Elantra
The Hyundai Elantra has been revised for 2020, adding more standard safety equipment to bring it up to par with the Corolla and the Honda Civic. Forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and lane-keep assist are now standard on all models including the base version. Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert are included on all but the base model. (Adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, and safe-exit assist are optional on the Limited only.)
The Elantra’s standard engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque, figures that just beat the output of the Corolla’s standard 1.8-liter. Both cars use a CVT as their standard transmission. The Elantra’s more-powerful engine option is a 1.6-liter turbo in the Sport trim level. It makes 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, surpassing the 169 horses and 151 lb-ft put out by the Corolla sport model’s 2.0-liter.
The Elantra Sport’s 1.6 turbo is paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Elantra also has a third engine offering, a smaller 1.4-liter turbo again paired with the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic in the Elantra Eco. Unlike the Corolla, the Elantra sedan has dropped the manual transmission. The Elantra, like the Corolla, also offers a hatchback body style, which is where enthusiast buyers can find a stick shift as well as other sporty equipment.
The Elantra does not offer a hybrid model. Instead, its most economical variant is the Eco, with a 1.4-liter that gets an estimated 33/41-mpg city/highway, beating the non-hybrid Corolla’s EPA numbers but still far off the Corolla Hybrid’s 53/52 mpg. The 2.0-liter engine that powers most Elantras is rated at 30/40-mpg city/highway (the base SE trim adds one mpg to both estimates), which is better than the Corolla’s base 1.8-liter and similar to the Toyota’s optional 2.0-liter with its CVT. The Elantra Sport returns 26-mpg city and 33-mpg highway, which is below any of the Corolla’s figures, but the Elantra Sport’s 1.6-liter turbo also is more powerful.
The Hyundai Elantra rides on the same 106.3-inch wheelbase as the Corolla, and its overall length is within a half-inch of the Toyota’s. Within that same-size envelope, the Elantra squeezes out a bit more interior space, as most of its interior dimensions are fractionally larger. At 14.4 cubic feet, the Elantra’s trunk is also slightly larger.
Pricing for the Hyundai Elantra starts at $19,880, which undercuts the least expensive Corolla by around $700. The next-step-up Elantra SEL, at $20,630, maintains a roughly similar advantage over the Corolla LE. The Elantra Value Edition adds heated seats, a sunroof and passive keyless entry for $21,530. Next up is the Elantra Eco at $22,180, which is nearly $2K less than the Corolla Hybrid, although the Eco’s fuel economy is substantially lower than the Hybrid’s.
The two models at the top of the Elantra lineup are the $23,730 Limited, which is about $1,300 less than the Corolla XLE, and the $24,730 Elantra Sport, which is about $1,800 less than the Corolla XSE — although the Toyotas come with more standard equipment.
2020 Toyota Corolla vs. Kia Forte
Another small sedan whose 106.3-inch wheelbase matches that of the Corolla is the Kia Forte, and its overall length is also within a half-inch of the Toyota’s. The Forte’s interior dimensions are close to or slightly exceed those of the Corolla. At 15.3 cubic feet, the Kia Forte’s trunk is more than two cubic feet larger than the Corolla’s.
Standard safety features on the Forte include forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are included on the GT-Line and above (they’re optional on the GT CVT). Adaptive cruise control is available only on the GT automatic. Even the base Forte comes with an 8-inch touch screen, and Android Auto is included as well as Apple CarPlay.
The Kia Forte has two available engines: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and a more powerful 1.6-liter turbo-4. The 2.0-liter is good for 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque, figures that just exceed those of the Corolla’s standard 1.8-liter. A CVT is standard on all but the base Forte FE, which still comes with a 6-speed manual (the CVT is optional on the FE).
A more powerful 1.6-liter turbo is exclusive to the new-for-2020 Forte GT. This engine (which also powers the Hyundai Elantra Sport) is paired with either a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic or a 6-speed manual. The GT’s 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque out-muscle the max horsepower and torque of the Corolla’s top engine offering, a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter.
With its base engine and the CVT, the Forte’s fuel economy ranges from 29 to 31 mpg in the city, and from 40 to 41 mpg on the highway. (The base engine with the 6-speed stick fares less well, at 27/37-mpg city/highway.) Those city estimates are similar to the base Corolla engine’s, while the highway numbers are slightly better. The Corolla only reaches 40-mpg highway with its optional engine. The Forte GT’s 1.6-liter turbo gets 27/35-mpg city/highway with its CVT and 25/32 mpg with its 6-speed stick, which is not quite as good as the sport-themed Corollas with their less-powerful 2.0-liter.
The Kia Forte starts at $18,715 for the base FE with a 6-speed manual. Add an automatic, and the FE is $19,615, still about $800 less than the base Corolla L. The Forte’s two intermediate trim levels bracket the Corolla LE in price. The Forte LXS is $20,115, while the GT-Line is $21,315. (Note that the GT-Line does not have the upgraded powertrain and other mechanical features of the GT; it’s denoted mostly by sporty trim.)
The most expensive of the standard-engine Forte models is the EX for $22,915, which is roughly $2K less than the Corolla XLE. The Forte’s GT models are the most expensive variants at $23,215 with the CVT and $23,815 with the 6-speed manual. Both are less than the Corolla’s top-spec sporty offering, the $26,545 XSE.
2020 Toyota Corolla vs. Mazda3
The Mazda3 was redesigned for the 2019 model year, and like the Corolla is offered in sedan and hatchback body styles. Mazda has taken the 3 upmarket in features and finish, to an even greater degree than Toyota has done with the Corolla. Standard on all models is forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. The Mazda’s central infotainment display screen is larger than the Toyota’s at 8.8 inches, and it’s controlled via a rotary knob. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all but the base trim level.
The Mazda3 sits astride a 107.3-inch wheelbase, which is one inch longer than the Corolla’s, and the Mazda is roughly an inch longer overall. The Mazda3 offers similar headroom and front legroom, fractionally more rear-seat legroom, and a bit more shoulder room front and rear. Trunk space is effectively equal between the two.
The Mazda3 has a single engine offering, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that’s larger and more powerful than either of the Corolla engines, with 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is available only on the hatchback; the sedan comes with a 6-speed automatic. Unusual among compact sedans, the Mazda3 also can be had with all-wheel drive.
Given that its engine is larger and more powerful than the Corolla’s, it’s not too surprising that the Mazda3’s fuel economy is not as good. The front-wheel-drive Mazda3 sedan’s EPA estimates are 26-mpg city and 35-mpg highway; the top-spec Premium version does one mpg better in both the city and highway, at 27/36 mpg. The all-wheel-drive Mazda3 is rated at 25/32-mpg city/highway.
Mazda3 pricing starts at $22,420, considerably more expensive than the base Corolla L or the Corolla LE. The Mazda3 Select is $23,620, roughly equal to the Corolla SE. Next up is the Mazda3 Preferred at $25,120, putting it within $100 of the Corolla XLE. At the top of the range sits the Mazda3 Premium for $27,420, with is about $900 more than the most expensive Corolla. All-wheel drive can be had on the Mazda3 Select, Preferred and Premium trims, and adds $1,400.
You'll Like This Car If...
- Choice of three powerplants, including a 53-mpg hybrid
- Robust suite of standard safety features
- Apple CarPlay & Amazon Alexa standard
- Enjoyable & comfortable driving manners
- Stylish design inside & out
You May Not Like This Car If...
- No Android Auto connectivity
- Not as athletic & fun to drive as some rivals
- Less rear-seat room than others in this class
- Leisurely acceleration from 1.8-liter base engine
What's New for 2020
- All-new design for 2020
- Corolla Hybrid is first such gas-electric Corolla for U.S. market
- New rear-suspension configuration for improved handling
- More upscale interior than before
The competence of the new platform shines in the 2020 Toyota Corolla driving experience. The car is solid, quiet and offers a comfortable ride without backing down when pushed. The steering is crisp, yet tends a touch toward the light side, which makes it easy to wheel about. Toyota has refined its continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), giving it a fixed-ratio first gear to take some of the elasticity out of its response when pulling away from a stop. Most drivers won’t be aware of its presence, and those who do notice probably would be better suited to the manual version to more effectively exploit the Corolla’s independent suspension.
The Corolla Hybrid does feel down on power compared to its conventional counterparts, but the instantaneous torque from the electric motor gives it acceptable off-the-line acceleration around town. Its handling is closer to the standard L and LE models than the slightly sportier SE and XSE, and its fuel economy is outstanding.
The 2.0-liter engine in the SE and XSE is preferable to the tepid 1.8-liter in the other models, as it offers both better fuel economy and more power — although even with the larger engine, the Corolla is far from heart-poundingly quick. Nor do the Corolla’s sporty trims rise to the level of the lively handling of the Honda Civic. Instead, the 2020 Toyota Corolla delivers what we would characterize as a mainstream small-car driving experience, but does so with greater polish and refinement than before.
No one will confuse a Corolla for a Subaru WRX; however, if you like to shift for yourself and experience the nimbleness of the independent rear suspension, the SE trim level with the 6-speed manual transplants the fun factor from the Corolla Hatchback into the sedan. The fancier XSE comes only with the CVT but retains the more-powerful engine and retuned chassis.
Smooth, quiet and comfortable, the Corolla Hybrid is a great choice for those who want near-Prius-level fuel economy (53-mpg city, 52-mpg highway) in an affordable, conventional-looking sedan body. The operation of the hybrid powertrain is seamless, including the stop/start function. The Hybrid’s pricing starts in the middle of the Corolla range.
The 6-speed manual transmission, which is exclusive to the Corolla SE, includes a nifty bit of tech more commonly found in sports cars: rev matching. When downshifting, the system automatically blips the throttle, raising engine revs to smooth the transition to the newly selected lower gear. The feature can make even neophyte stick-shift drivers look like accomplished pros.
Toyota describes the Corolla’s interior design philosophy as “sensuous minimalism.” The layout is clean and horizontal with few lines, and the dash is dominated by an infotainment touch screen (7-inch diagonal on the base Corolla L, eight inches on all other models). Apple CarPlay is supported as is Amazon Alexa, but Android Auto is not. The system is easy to use and, helpfully, is flanked by conventional buttons. There are also volume and tuner knobs, and the climate-control system resides below. The instrument cluster houses a digital display.
The standard version is 4.2 inches, while a 7-inch configurable screen comes on upper-trim levels. Soft-touch materials can be found on all the upper surfaces, and on the SE and XSE, the front bucket seats are more contoured to provide additional support. Cloth upholstery is standard on the L and LE. The XLE uses SofTex Leatherette, while the SE and XSE combine SofTex with striped Sport fabric inserts.
A leather-wrapped steering wheel is included on SE, XSE and XLE trims. The cabin has a light, airy feel to it, although rear-seat accommodations are not as generous as before and trail most rivals. The new Corolla’s materials and level of fit and finish have improved to the point where they’re now akin to what you’d expect in a more premium vehicle.
Like the cabin, the 2020 Toyota Corolla has a contemporary look with a front end dominated by a large trapezoidal mesh grille. The headlight units feature LED daytime running lights with two or three elements per side depending on trim level. The Corolla’s profile is clean, with a soft character line rising from the front wheel arch through the rear deck. From the back, the taillights are connected by a single strip running across the decklid.
While the front end shares a family resemblance to the latest Camry and Avalon, the overall shape and look of the Corolla are more on the understated 4-door side of the ledger than a flashy, Euro-inspired sports sedan. The sporty-themed SE and XSE feature larger, 18-inch wheels with gray accents, their own specific grille texture in gray metallic rather than black, a rear spoiler and restyled rocker-panel trim (the latter two items are color-matched in the SE and gray in the XSE). A special Nightshade Edition is based on the SE trim level and includes black wheels and additional black exterior elements.
Notable Standard Equipment
All Toyota Corolla models come with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of driver assists. This includes forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure alert and lane-keep assist, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control (with a stop-and-go feature on CVT models), road-sign assist and lane-tracing assist that helps to keep the vehicle centered in its lane.
XLE and XSE models also come with blind-spot monitoring. Sport models (SE and XSE) feature larger 18-inch wheels, contoured sport seats and a rear decklid spoiler. All trim levels come with power windows and door locks, standard 6-speaker audio with Apple CarPlay compatibility, and one or two USB ports. Automatic climate control is included on all models except the base Corolla L trim.
Notable Optional Equipment
Among the upgrades available on the new Corolla are a Premium JBL sound system with nine speakers, connected navigation with over-the-air updates, a wireless cellphone charging pad, ambient interior lighting, passive keyless entry with push-button start, a premium 7-inch TFT (thin-film transistor) configurable instrument cluster display, SofTex Leatherette upholstery, 16-inch alloy wheels, a power moonroof, adaptive front lighting, color-keyed outside mirrors with turn signals and blind-spot monitor, Wi-Fi hotspot and satellite radio.
Under the Hood
The 2020 Toyota Corolla comes with a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder in L, LE and XLE trims. This updated engine has a 7-horsepower gain in output and is mated to a CVT. The new 2.0-liter engine offered in the sport versions (SE and XSE), makes 169 horsepower, and offers a choice of a 6-speed manual transmission (in the SE only) or the CVT. The Corolla Hybrid incorporates a 53-kW electric motor with the 1.8-liter engine and a CVT for combined output of 121 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque.
139 horsepower @ 6,100 rpm
126 lb-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/38 mpg, 29/37 mpg (XLE trim)
169 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm
151 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/36 mpg (SE manual), 31/40 mpg (SE automatic), 31/38 mpg (XSE)
1.8-liter inline-4 + 53-kW electric motor
121 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm (combined output)
105 lb-ft of torque @ 3,600 rpm (combined output)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 53/52 mpg
The 2020 Toyota Corolla has a base Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $20,430 for the L model (including a $930 destination charge). Comparably equipped, price increases on the new Corolla range from $815 to $1,300. The LE is priced from $20,880, only $450 higher, making it an obvious choice over the base car.
The top model with the base 1.8 engine, the XLE, starts at $24,880, a significant $4,000 jump over the LE. Sport models equipped with the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder start at $22,880 for the SE CVT, which represents a $2K premium over the equivalent 1.8-liter Corolla LE. The 6-speed-manual SE is $23,580 and the additional $700 also includes a few extras such as passive keyless entry and a power sunroof. The XSE is $26,380 and features content similar to the XLE.
The Corolla Hybrid is sold in a single trim level, LE, and is priced in the middle of the range with a sticker starting at $23,880. That represents a $3,000 premium over the roughly comparable non-hybrid LE.
Be sure to check KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price to find out what others in your area are paying for the new Corolla, and rest assured that when the time comes to sell your used Corolla, it will command a high resale value.
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How does it compare?
|#1||2020 Honda Civic||158|
|#2||2020 Subaru Impreza||152|
|#3||2020 Nissan Sentra||149|
|#4||2020 Hyundai Elantra||147|
|#7||2020 Toyota Corolla||139|
|#1||2020 Hyundai Accent||36|
|#2||2020 Hyundai Elantra||35|
|#3||2020 Kia Forte||33|
|#4||2020 Toyota Corolla||33|
|#5||2020 Honda Civic||32|
|#1||2020 Hyundai Accent||5 / 5|
|#2||2020 Kia Forte||4.6 / 5|
|#3||2020 Hyundai Elantra||4.4 / 5|
|#4||2020 Volkswagen Jetta||4.4 / 5|
|#6||2020 Toyota Corolla||4.2 / 5|
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