With more than 46 million Toyota Corollas sold globally since its introduction in 1966, it would be difficult to find a driver who did not recognize the name. Everyone, it seems, has a Corolla story. Many, though, are going to be doing double takes when they see the re-imagined and reconfigured 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan. And that’s exactly the point.
The 12th-generation Toyota Corolla made its arrival in three chapters: the all-new Corolla hatchback arrived last summer, and then came the current best-selling Corolla body style, the sedan, in two waves – a reveal of the new gas model in Carmel and then the introduction of the U.S. first Corolla Hybrid. All three are based on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), which is far more than a new body structure, bringing together new approaches to engineering, design, assembly, and materials. Now, there really is a Corolla for everyone.
The 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan’s bold new look is a perfect reflection of the bumper-to-bumper, wheels-to-roof transformation that has taken place. The TNGA platform means an available engine that produces more power than its predecessor, yet delivers better fuel efficiency. TNGA imbues the new Corolla sedan with greater agility, yet also with its smoothest, quietest ride.And, critically, TNGA delivers on Toyota’s commitment to driver and passenger safety with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of active safety systems – standard on every Corolla sedan model.
The 2020 Corolla sedan rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, like its predecessor, yet any commonality ends there. The Corolla sedan dynamic performance and stance benefit greatly from wider front (+0.47 in.) and rear (+0.87 in.) track dimensions. The front overhang was shortened by 1.3 in., and the rear overhang extended by more than half an inch. Height was reduced 0.8 in., and the hood lowered 1.4 in. for better forward visibility, made possible by mounting the engine lower. Those changes, plus many others, reduce the center of gravity by 0.39 in. That’s just one part of the transformation that has turned the Corolla sedan into a highly nimble, engaging machine to drive.
TRIM LEVELS & PRICING
The 2020 Toyota Corolla is a five-passenger compact sedan available in five trim levels: L, LE, SE, XLE and XSE. Standard equipment for the base L trim include 15-inch steel wheels, LED headlights, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, air conditioning, four-way manually adjustable front seats, 60/40-split folding rear seats, Toyota’s Safety Connect emergency communications, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspot, a 7-inch touchscreen, a USB port, a rearview camera, Apple CarPlay, and a six-speaker sound system. Safety features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist and a traffic sign reader.
The LE trim adds 16-inch wheels, heated mirrors, remote keyless entry, automatic climate control, upgraded upholstery, a rear-seat center armrest, front and rear cupholders, and an additional USB charge port.
The sporty SE come with 18-inch alloy wheels, upgraded headlights, sporty exterior treatments, sport front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. If you opt for the manual transmission, you’ll also get keyless entry and ignition, selectable drive modes, and a sunroof (optional for the CVT).
The XLE back to the 1.8-liter engine plus 16-inch alloy wheels, selectable drive modes, a virtual instrument panel, simulated-leather upholstery (SofTex), a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, an 8-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, and blind-spot monitoring. The XSE combines the SE and XLE trims with more powerful 2.0-liter engine, CVT automatic, 18-inch wheels and power-adjustable sport seats.
Some of the 2020 Toyota Corolla features on the higher trims are optional on lower trims. A nine-speaker JBL premium audio system is offered on SE trims and above (includes navigation and a wireless charging pad on the XLE and the XSE). Adaptive headlights and interior ambient lighting are available on the XSE and the XLE only.
2020 Toyota Corolla Pricing:
- L: $19,500
- LE: $19,950
- SE CVT: $21,950
- SE MT: $22,650
- XLE: $23,950
- XSE : $25,450
Simple. Warm. Inviting. Sensuous. These descriptors, seemingly from the luxury car realm, inspired designers’ efforts when visualizing Corolla sedan’s cabin. A neat instrument panel lends an open, harmonious feeling thanks to its slimmer upper surface, with character lines that interlock with the door trim to convey an airy atmosphere. At the center of the instrument panel, within easy view for the driver and front passenger, sits a high-resolution 8-inch multimedia touchscreen for the standard Entune 3.0 multimedia system on all grades except the L grade, which gets a 7-inch multimedia touchscreen.
The center stack screen provides access to vehicle settings, audio controls, navigation, and Entune 3.0 apps. Climate controls, located below the multimedia portal, are fashioned in a bright, highly visible digitized configuration. The center stack flows into a wider console, with an armrest that’s nearly 0.8-in. longer than in the previous model, for greater comfort.
High-gloss materials are paired with matte elements – silver accents with piano black and available contrasting stitching – to accentuate a premium look and feel. Minimized gaps between buttons and switches, along with the elimination of unnecessary lettering on switchgear, adds to the high-class ambience. Consistency in all materials’ and elements’ shape, color, grain, and gloss maximize continuity and aesthetic quality.
Available ambient lighting illuminates the front door trim, console tray and front cupholder. The tray can hold small items such as a smartphone or wallet, or, when so equipped, houses the optional Qi wireless device charging pad. Terraced cup holders adapt to various-sized beverage containers.
From behind the wheel, the 2020 Corolla sedan feels quite different than its predecessor. Positioning the driver’s hip point 0.98-in. lower and 1.57-in. further rearward yields an optimized driving position. The result not only improves comfort, but also helps to lower the vehicle’s center of gravity and improves front/rear weight distribution. These changes, along with the reconfigured lower beltline, slimmer instrument panel, slimmer A-pillars, and repositioned side view mirrors, result in more expansive outward visibility.
The Corolla sedan may break tradition in the styling department, but it keeps to Toyota tradition when it comes to passenger room and comfort. The rear seat area retains excellent headroom, despite the lower roofline. Legroom is also plentiful, fulfilling a basic mission of sedans.
The front seats of the XSE and SE grades debut a new design featuring a unique shape with a headrest that nestles into the shoulder area, while the XLE and LE grades offer a seatback with a new U-shaped pattern. The SE and XSE grades’ front seats offer thin, yet broad shoulder supports, evocative of a competition bucket seat, which overlap solid and thick side bolsters to achieve enhanced holding performance.
Seating materials include standard cloth or, in higher grades, SofTex. New interior color schemes include several striking two-tone accents. Choices include Blue/Black, Moonstone and new Macadamia.
The 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan comes standard with a 4.2-inch thin film transistor (TFT) Multi-Information Display (MID), with an available 7-inch MID located between the high-grade tachometer and speedometer. With the larger display, the driver can switch between analog and digital speedometer styles.
Featuring rich graphics, the easy-to-read MID can be custom configured by the driver and offers intuitive operation to access information for the audio and multimedia systems, navigation system, vehicle information including fuel efficiency and tire pressure, the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), and other important parameters and system settings.
The 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan L, LE, and XLE trim use the 1.8-liter engine (2ZR-FAE) found in the previous generation, yet with more horsepower and better fuel efficiency. The XSE and SE grades are powered by a completely-new 2.0-liter Dynamic-Force direct-injection inline four-cylinder engine (M20A-FKS). This new engine delivers more performance while using less fuel. Remarkably, the new Corolla sedan engine is physically smaller and lighter, helping to lower the car’s center of gravity and improve its overall balance.
Sedan buyer trends are shifting, and the 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan is right there with them. The new Dynamic-Shift CVT (continuously variable transmission) combines the smooth, fuel-efficient performance of a CVT with a more direct driving feel of a traditional geared automatic. The key to its distinct performance feel is a physical first gear used for start-off acceleration, before handing off to the CVT’s pulley system.
High-speed, high-response gear-shifting technology, using a multiplate wet clutch, switches power from the gearset to the CVT’s belt and pulleys. The Direct Shift CVT has simulated 10-speed Sequential Shiftmatic steps along with Sport Mode. Synchronization of the increasing engine revs and vehicle speed gives a linear acceleration feel.
For those who want to shift for themselves, the 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan offers an intriguing choice with the all-new 6-speed iMT (intelligent manual transmission). Like some premium sports cars, it features downshift rev-matching control, automatically detecting when the driver is shifting and quickly rev-matching to make any driver a stick-shift pro.
New control logic improves acceleration feel when starting off, and improved shift feel makes this a stick shift you want to use. Increased use of micro polishing on gear teeth reduces cabin noise. Standard Hill-start Assist Control (also on the CVT models), helps prevent the dreaded roll-back when starting off on an incline.
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
Zero to 60 mph: 8.0 sec
Standing 1/4-mile: 16.3 sec @ 87 mph
Top speed (governor limited) 118 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 174 ft
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/36 mpg (SE manual), 31/40 mpg (SE automatic),31/38 mpg (XSE)