Hav­ing built a rep­u­ta­tion for econ­omy and re­li­a­bil­ity over 45 years, the re­designed 2020 Toy­ota Corolla adds a sport­ing touch, says Larry Printz

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Prov­ing that Toy­ota ex­ec­u­tives are com­mit­ted to in­ject­ing their au­to­mo­tive ap­pli­ances with a vi­tal­ity that goes be­yond de­pend­abil­ity, Amer­ica’s favourite Ja­panese au­tomaker un­veiled the 2020 Toy­ota Corolla sedan on Thurs­day.

Like the ive-door 2019 Corolla Hatch­back that de­buted in March, the four-door is built us­ing Toy­ota’s New Global Ar­chi­tec­ture and is styled to ban­ish any mem­o­ries of its be­nignly in­of­fen­sive pre­de­ces­sors that de­liv­ered the emo­tional fulill­ment of a dish­washer.

Its stylish new look beneits from a front over­hang that has been re­duced 1.3 inches, and rear over­hang that has grown by more than half an inch, help­ing al­le­vi­ate the front-heavy look typ­i­cal of front-wheel-drive ve­hi­cles. The Corolla’s shape re­mains fa­mil­iar, but was mas­saged to ap­pear lower and leaner, with gen­tly lared fend­ers and an­chored by dy­nam­i­cally styled LED head­lamps; adap­tive front light­ing is op­tional. Its face has been up­dated to still ap­pear en­er­getic, but with a cleaner, more so­phis­ti­cated edge.

In the rear, the ap­pear­ance is more de­tailed, yet still clean and un­clut­tered.

The good looks con­tinue in­side, where de­sign­ers strived to en­dow the Corolla with what they call, “sen­su­ous min­i­mal­ism.” A high­res­o­lu­tion 8-inch in­fo­tain­ment touch­screen (7-inch on base L mod­els) an­chors the cen­tre of the in­stru­ment panel, nes­tled above a sim­ple row of cli­mate con­trol but­tons book­ended by two ro­tary knobs. The screen also has two knobs — one for power and vol­ume, the other for tun­ing and scrolling — and a num­ber of short­cut but­tons stacked art­fully on ei­ther side of the screen.

Be­neath that is some­thing rare in mod­ern car de­sign: open space in the cen­tre of the dash­board. The cen­ter con­sole and in­stru­ment panel don’t phys­i­cally con­nect. This lends a feel­ing of spa­cious­ness, and gives the dif­fer­ent el­e­ments a sculp­tural feel. The in­te­rior has an ar­tic­u­late grace that feels nei­ther cheap nor sparse. Two-ton­ing, top­stitch­ing and clever ma­te­rial choices evoke a pre­mium feel. Like its hatch­back sib­ling, the cabin is not merely cap­ti­vat­ing; it’s one of the best on the mar­ket. That’s quite a feat in this seg­ment.

As if to ac­cen­tu­ate that the Corolla is a car and not a crossover, its seat­ing po­si­tion has been low­ered, as has the rooline. As for the seats, higher trim lev­els are in­ished with two-ton­ing in what Toy­ota calls SofTex; you’ll call it vinyl or Nau­gahyde.

When it’s time to move, SE and XSE grades get Toy­ota’s 2.0-litre four-cylin­der en­gine rated at 169 horse­power and 151 pound­feet of torque. Less-ex­pen­sive L, LE, and XLE grades use the 139-horse­power 1.8-litre en­gine found in the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion Corolla. All en­gines mate to a sixspeed man­ual or a con­tin­u­ously vari­able au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. Putting that power to the pave­ment is a MacPher­son strut front sus­pen­sion and mul­ti­link rear sus­pen­sion at­tached to 16-inch wheels on LE and XLE grades, and 18-inch rub­ber on SE and XSE trims.

Aid­ing and abet­ting the driver is a long list of driver as­sis­tance fea­tures, in­clud­ing dy­namic radar cruise con­trol, pre-col­li­sion sys­tem with pedes­trian de­tec­tion, lane de­par­ture alert with steer­ing as­sist, au­to­matic high beam, lane trac­ing as­sist, blind-spot mon­i­tor, and a sys­tem that alerts the driver about var­i­ous road signs. A rear backup cam­era is stan­dard. The elec­tron­ics most driv­ers care about keep them con­nected. Here Toy­ota has you cov­ered with an avail­able 800-watt JBL au­dio sys­tem, and an in-ve­hi­cle 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Ap­ple CarPlay com­pat­i­bil­ity, Ama­zon Alexa, Scout GPS Link Com­pat­i­bil­ity, Toy­ota’s En­tune 3.0 App Suite, aux­il­iary au­dio jack and USB port, AM/FM/MP3/ WMA play­back ca­pa­bil­ity, voice recog­ni­tion and mu­sic stream­ing via Blue­tooth, cus­tom­iz­a­ble home screen and weather and traf­fic in­for­ma­tion.

Toy­ota didn’t re­lease pric­ing on the new Corolla. Ex­pect the price to be re­leased closer to the car’s on-sale date in the spring. Hav­ing built a rep­u­ta­tion for econ­omy and re­li­a­bil­ity over 45 years, the re­designed 2020 Corolla adds a new wrin­kle: sport­ing so­phis­ti­ca­tion.

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