2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan
Can Toyota’s econobox shed its dowdy image?
Toyota’s freshly minted Corolla hatchback, based on the hot new TNGA architecture, has been winning friends and influencing editors ever since we first clapped our eyes on it in March. We’ve since buckled in a few times and lauded the little hatch for its quantum leapfrogging of its dreary Corolla im predecessor.
Sprightly dynamics and an upscale cockpit have drawn praise, though sparse rear-seat and cargo space drew raspberries. Those problems would seem to be easily solved by stretching the wheelbase (and rear leg environment) by 2.4 inches and grafting on a trunk. Our patience is rewarded, as Toyota is now revealing the redesign of its platformsharing Corolla sedan.
The 12th-generation Corolla sedan gets a broader stance, with its front and rear track widened by 0.5 and 0.9 inch, respectively, relative to the outgoing model. Following a trend that started with the Camry, the whole car stands a bit lower—the height comes down 0.8 inch, the hood sits 1.4 inches lower, and with it the cowl, beltline, and instrument panel each come down. The driver even sits an inch lower and 1.6 inches further rearward. Thinner A-pillars improve outward visibility.
A huge new one-piece floor silencer pad hushes road and tire noise, and a stratified climate control system can feed fresh, dehumidified air to the greenhouse to prevent fogging while recirculating warm air lower in the cabin.
The top powertrain offering in the SE and XSE models matches that of the sportierlooking hatch—toyota’s new 2.0-liter port- and directinjected engine featuring a lofty 13:1 compression ratio, electric cam phasing, and variable cooling and lubrication circuits. Here it produces 169 hp (1 more than in the hatch) and 151 lb-ft of torque and comes teamed with a six-speed manual or a CVT that uses a torque converter and a conventional first gear, which then hands off to the belt-and-pulleys system. Base L, LE, and XLE grades get an updated version of the last model’s 1.8-liter engine, retuned for a bit more power and better fuel efficiency.
Inside, the Avalonesque dash carries over, complete with its 8.0-inch touchscreen featuring the Entune 3.0 infotainment system with Apple Carplay compatibility. Base L models must make do with a 7.0-inch screen and fewer features. Top models get a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, and lesser grades get a 4.2-inch multi-information display flanked by analog speedo and tach dials. A full suite of connectivity features is available, including accident reporting, remote vehicle status reporting via phone app, onboard Wi-fi, and concierge services.
Standard safety equipment includes a radar- and camera-based pre-collision system that warns and brakes, adaptive cruise control (on CVT models it even handles stop-and-go traffic), and lane departure alert, which will steer to prevent lane departure (or with the CVT, Toyota’s Lane Trace Assist, which keeps the car centered in its lane). There’s even auto highbeam assist and a system that interprets and displays speed limits and other signs.
The outgoing Corolla placed sixth out of seven compacts in a 2016 comparison. When the new sedan arrives, we look forward to seeing whether its performance improves without overshadowing the practical strengths that have made the car a sales success for so many years.
This spring, Toyota will also add the first-ever hybrid to the Corolla sedan lineup. The hybrid’s battery fits under the rear seats, leaving the gas model’s trunk volume intact.