With its bumper-to-bumper, wheels-to-roof transformation, the 2020 Toyota Corolla was already big news in sedans for 2019. And now comes the ultimate “But wait, there’s more!” bonus: a new hybrid model that achieves at least 50 mpg combined fuel economy. That makes the 2020 Corolla Hybrid the most fuel-efficient model to ever wear the model name that debuted more than a half-century ago.
The design isn’t the only thing electrifying about the Corolla Hybrid. This high-efficiency model adapts the latest Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive from the new-generation Prius, already proven as an MPG winner. Only Toyota offers such a distinct choice of hybrids in this vehicle segment, thus catering to customers who have different tastes in design but the same desire for maximum fuel efficiency.
The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid, like its gas-powered siblings, delivers a highly-satisfying driving experience, along with the brand’s latest advances in comfort and multimedia technology. As on the 2020 Corolla gas models, the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of active safety systems comes standard.
The 2020 Corolla Hybrid is yet more evidence of Toyota’s indisputable global hybrid leadership, which began more than 20 years ago.
TRIM LEVELS & PRICING
The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is offered only in LE trim. Power comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine and two electric motor-generators producing 121 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque. It paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission that drives the front wheels.
Standard equipment for the Corolla Hybrid include 15-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, automatic high beams, heated mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, selectable drive modes, adaptive cruise control, a virtual instrument panel, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, four-way manually adjustable front seats, and 60/40 split-folding rear seats. You also get Toyota’s Safety Connect emergency communications, a Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth, an 8-inch touchscreen, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, and a six-speaker stereo.
Aso standard is the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of advanced safety features, which include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist and a traffic sign reader. There are no optional add-ons available.
Inside, the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid puts the LE down compared to the interiors of the SE and XSE trim levels. These pricier versions add a leather-trimmed steering wheel, moonroof, heated and multiway adjustable front seats, contrast dash stitching, and 18-inch wheels. Alas, the hybrid is only available in the midlevel LE trim and only with 15-inch wheels, which look noticeably small in the expanded fenders.
Even in the LE trim, there are still more soft materials and interesting textures than you’d expect in a car starting at $23,880. The front seats are well spaced, with plenty of leg- and headroom. The rear seats are soft and comfortable, even in the middle seat, with plenty of legroom. Rear headroom is a little compromised by the sloping roofline, but it still counts as a proper and usable five-person sedan.
For the driver, visibility is improved thanks to a lower dash and hood, as well as the positioning of the side mirrors on top of the door — a move that frees up a triangle of glass just behind the now-thinner windshield pillar. Interior storage is minimal, with one cellphone cubby, two cupholders in the center console (plus two in the doors), and a small storage space under the armrest. It’s big enough for a mini-bottle or a wallet, but not a full-size container or a purse. If you’re planning to run a bodega out of your car, size up. If you just plan to drive to work, Corolla will do for you.
The 2020 Toyota Corolla new hybrid system combines a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with two motor/generators through an electronically controlled planetary-type continuously variable transmission (CVT) transaxle. Combined system output of 121 horsepower yields decidedly responsive performance.
The nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack employs a newly developed technology called Hyper-Prime Nickel to boost battery performance in a smaller and lighter package. The battery’s smaller size and flatter shape allow it to be packaged under the rear seat, rather than taking up trunk space, and also allowing a 60/40 split folding rear seatback to expand cargo capacity. The battery location also contributes to the vehicle’s lower center of gravity, a boon to agility.
The engine, working in concert with the electric motor (MG2), assures responsive performance, while exemplary energy efficiency is achieved by using both electric motors (MG1 and MG2) for hybrid battery charging.
The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid has EV mode, which allows the vehicle to be operated as a pure electric vehicle for short distances, depending upon certain conditions, such as battery charge level. This mode is useful for operating the vehicle in parking lots or indoor parking garages, for example. The Vehicle Proximity Notification feature alerts pedestrians of the vehicle’s presence when running in battery mode.
Along with the expected NORMAL and ECO drive modes, a SPORT drive mode setting allows for an increase in power for stronger acceleration response when desired.
- NORMAL mode: Allows the hybrid system to achieve an ideal combination of fuel economy and vehicle acceleration. The accelerator opening amount changes linearly in response to accelerator pedal operation.
- ECO mode: Improves hybrid system efficiency by limiting power in response to light to moderate accelerator pedal input.
- SPORT mode: Available power is increased, allowing for improved acceleration response.
Another boost to efficiency comes from the Electronically Controlled Brake (ECB) system, which coordinates operation between the regenerative braking force of the electric motors and the hydraulic braking system force to provide optimal stopping power. By proactively using the electric motors to recover as much electrical energy as possible from the regenerative braking system, this extremely efficient cooperative control helps to maximize fuel economy.
HYBRID POWER SYSTEM
Hybrid System Net Horsepower
DOHC 16-valve with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i)
Bore x Stroke
80.5 x 88.3 mm
Horsepower (SAE Net)
121 hp @ 5,200 rpm
105 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm
87-octane or higher - unleaded
California LEV 3
EPA Fuel Economy (MPG)
53 city /52 highway / 52 combined
Continuously Variable Transmission with intelligence (CVTi)
Permanent Synchronous Magnet Motor
Electric Motor Power Output
53 kW (71 hp)
142 Nm (105 lb.-ft.)
HYBRID BATTERY PACK
Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH)
600 volts maximum
Zero to 60 mph
Zero to 100 mph
Rolling start, 5–60 mph
Top gear, 30–50 mph
Top gear, 50–70 mph
18.0 sec @ 78 mph
Top speed (governor limited)
Tread Width (Front/Rear)
Shoulder Room (Front/Rear)
Hip Room (Front/Rear)
EPA Passenger Volume
88.6 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume
13.1 cu. ft.