2020 Toyota Corolla XSE

Since its introduction in 1966, 46 million Toyota Corollas have been sold around the world. The Corolla is now in its 12th generation. Toyota added a hatchback to the Corolla line-up for 2019, and for 2020 the Corolla sedan gets a makeover including the introduction of a new hybrid model.


While the Corolla and Toyotas in general have many loyal fans, there are so many great compact cars available today including the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, and Mazda3 that offer livelier performance and/or more upscale cabins. It’s definitely worth shopping around before making your final choice.


The five-passenger 2020 Corolla comes in five trims: L, LE, SE, XLE and XSE with starting prices ranging from $19,600 to $25,550. It comes with front-wheel-drive.


Two engines are available. The base is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 139 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission. My tester has the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 169 horses and 151 pound-feet, paired with either the CVT or a manual transmission. This engine is standard on the Hatchback.


The Corolla is easy to drive, albeit not exciting. Even the larger engine isn’t exactly sporty, but it does provide better acceleration, and there’s decent power for merging and passing at freeway speeds. There’s a fair amount of road and engine noise. The ride is pretty smooth most of the time. If you want more engaging handling, check out the Honda Civic and Mazda3.


The Corolla gets great fuel economy. EPA ratings for my tester are 31 mpg city and 38 mpg highway for a combined rating of 34. I got 33 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.


The interior gets upgraded for 2020, although it’s still not as upscale as what you’ll find in some rivals. The dashboard has a clean design, many materials are soft-touch, and hard plastics are kept to a minimum. My XSE tester has eye-catching black faux leather upholstery with snazzy blue trim.


The Corolla has less passenger space than some competitors and taller adults may wish for more leg- and headroom.


Standard features include a rearview camera, cloth upholstery, manually adjustable front seats, seven-inch touch screen, six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, one USB port, voice recognition, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa compatibility, and a Wi-Fi hot spot.


Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard. This includes driver assistance technologies such as include lane departure warning, lane keep assist, lane tracing assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, traffic sign recognition. pedestrian detection, and automatic high beams.


Available features include remote keyless entry, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, automatic climate control, premium cloth seats, synthetic leather upholstery, front sport seats, heated front seats, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. leather-wrapped steering wheel, eight-inch touch screen, navigation, nine-speaker JBL premium audio system, an additional USB port, HD Radio, satellite radio, moonroof, a seven-inch digital driver information display, wireless device charging, ambient interior lighting, adaptive headlights and blind spot monitoring.


The Entune infotainment system is easy to reach and use. Graphics look a little old school but at least the system responds quickly to touch and voice commands. Physical controls let you quickly and easily do routine tasks like changing the radio station or adjusting the volume. Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility are now standard, but no Android Auto.


The Corolla sedan has a little less cargo space than average with 13 cubic feet of trunk space. At least the trunk opening is wide. The rear seats fold but they don’t get completely flat.


The 2020 Corolla gets top reliability ratings from J.D. Power and Associates.


The good:

Top predictability rating

Excellent fuel efficiency

User-friendly infotainment system

Many standard driver assistance technologies

Apple CarPlay is now standard

Limited passenger space especially for taller adults

Below average cargo space


The not-so-good:

Some competitors are more fun to drive

Interior not as nice as some rivals

Less passenger and cargo space than some competitors

No Android Auto


Pricing info:

My tester starts at $25,450. Premium audio with dynamic navigation is $1,715 and includes a nine-speaker JBL audio system with subwoofer and amplifier, eight-inch touchscreen, HD Radio, USB media port, one USB charge port, Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging, Bluetooth, Sire Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, and Wi-Fi hotspot. Adaptive front lighting system ambient lighting is $450. Door sill protector is $179. Protection Package is $377 and includes carpet trunk mat, carpet floor mats, rear bumper protector, and envelope cargo net. Alloy wheel locks are $67. Delivery fee is $930 bringing the grand total to $29,168.


Bottom line:

Shoppers wanting a compact car have been flocking to the Corolla for more than 50 years. The redesigned 2020 Corolla still gives buyers what they want: a dependable ride that gets excellent fuel efficiency and has lots of standard driver assistance and safety features. But the Corolla lags behind the competition when it comes to zippy handling, an upscale interior and space for passengers and cargo. So be sure to check out some rivals before making your choice.

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