The Toyota Corolla sedan is all-new for 2020 with updated styling, new powertrains, and solid standard safety features. It checks all the boxes for buyers of compact sedans with affordable pricing and good fuel economy that make it appeal to those first-time buyers.
There are two gas powertrains with base trims getting a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine with 139 horsepower and 126 lb-ft of torque. The SE and XSE get a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. A continuously variable automatic transmission is standard across the range with an available 6-speed manual on the SE only.
We spent our drive time with the more powerful engine paired to the manual transmission, which is an increasingly rare treat. The number of manuals on the road is quickly dwindling and they’re an option less and less often with each passing year.
While the Corolla isn’t a sports car, it is a sporty car. This seems like a fine line, but it’s the difference between loud and aggressive and just plain fun. The Corolla easily accelerates up to highway speeds and a downshift for extra power makes passing easy.
It handles well, which adds to its sporty demeanor. Bumps and uneven pavement are easily managed and in quick maneuvers the Corolla retains its composure.
Inside, the Corolla isn’t fancy, but it is comfortable. The front bucket seats are roomy and supportive, but the rear seats are less accommodating. The low roofline makes it a struggle for taller passengers along with short legroom. It can seat three adults, but it’s really only adequate for two adults in the back.
Base infotainment includes a 7-inch touchscreen with navigation, 6-speaker audio, 2 USB ports, and Apple CarPlay. One step up in the trim range and the screen grows to eight inches with top trims getting a premium audio system as part of an optional package. No Android Auto on any trim. Despite missing that, it’s a feature-filled system that’s easy to use.
Standard safety is extensive with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. This includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, auto high beams, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane tracing assist, and road sign assist. You don’t have to spend anything extra or move up to a higher trim in the interest of safety.
Fuel economy for the Corolla varies slightly between trims. The best numbers come from the SE with the continuously variable automatic transmission. It gets an EPA-estimated 31 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway, and 34 mpg combined. There’s also a hybrid Corolla to consider for those who want even better numbers. Still, any trim in the gas powertrain lineup is easy on the budget for those with long commutes.
Pricing on the Corolla is affordable across the range. The base L starts at $19,500 while the top XSE comes in at $25,450. These numbers make it easy to fit a well-equipped Corolla into any budget.
The all-new 2020 Toyota Corolla is an appealing compact sedan with good fuel economy and affordable pricing. A solid range of safety and infotainment features along with a range of five trims ensures there’s a Corolla that fits the needs of most any compact sedan shopper.