Toyota continues best-selling nameplate with redesigned Corolla

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. Now in its 12th generation, the 2020 Corolla comes in two body styles and three iterations: the all-new hatchback and the sedan, both gas and hybrid. Toyota photo

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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. Now in its 12th generation, the 2020 Corolla comes in two body styles and three iterations: the all-new hatchback and the sedan, both gas and hybrid. Toyota photo

Winning recipe

I like to think I know a decent amount about cars and automotive history. In doing some research on my tester, I learned a thing or two.

This week, I’m behind the wheel of the completely redesigned 2020 Toyota Corolla. I found some interesting facts about it. The Corolla has been around since 1966. And it has outsold the Volkswagen Beetle to become the best-selling nameplate in the world.

Toyota has sold more than 44 million Corollas since its inception. Who knew? Honestly, I wouldn’t have guessed that. Toyota risks a lot by updating this car and messing with their recipe for success.

For 2020, this stalwart nameplate gets a makeover and enters its 12th generation of production. The new-look Corolla is actually exciting. It features a new front-end fascia and grille. There’s a grin-like style that connects to the LED headlights. The grille is big with an aggressive nature to it. Indents on the hood help accentuate the attractive front-end styling.

On profile it’s business as usual with the Corolla, with safe, conservative, universally appealing styling. The back has a lower fascia that matches the front end, giving this a proper flow and finished look. LED taillights finalize the modern appeal.

There are two four-cylinder engine options for the ’20 Corolla. A 1.8-liter produces a paltry 139 horsepower and is more representative of what I’m used to experiencing with a Corolla. My tester had the optional 2.0-liter with a slightly better 169 horses.

I was impressed with the power “for a Corolla.” That caveat is needed as it’s still not a blazer and still can be somewhat pokey at times. The continuously variable transmission does not help the cause either. The optional six-speed manual might make it more tolerable and enjoyable.

Where this Corolla makes the biggest leap forward is in the interior. The touchpoints are much improved; there’s even a leather steering wheel and shift knob. The high-end fabric used on the seats was comfortable and attractive. There were still some harder plastic materials used on the door and dash, but all in all, the Corolla felt more high-end than previous generations. The five-passenger Corolla has adequate legroom, but I’d keep the rear passengers to two adults only for maximum comfort.

There are 13 cubic feet of space in the Corolla’s trunk. The rear seats also don’t fold flat, so cargo room is minimized in the Corolla. There are other small cars with better cargo room, like the Honda Fit. The Corolla hatchback might be a better option, too.

Toyota’s infotainment system is simple and basic. Some critics say it’s too simple. I think it does a good job. The seven-inch touchscreen is responsive with a nice combination of knobs and touch commands. Plus there’s Apple CarPlay which is really all you need. There are plenty of standard safety features like blind-spot monitors, a rearview camera, front collision warning, emergency braking and lane-keep assist.

There are five trims offered for the 2020 Corolla: L, LE, SE, XLE and XSE. My tester was the top-of-the-line XSE trim. With the XSE you get some nice features like contrast stitching on the seats, accent lighting and heated front seats. Corollas start under $20,000; my tester had an MSRP of $26,629.

The Corolla with the CVT has an EPA rating of 31 mpg/city and 38 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of residential and suburban driving I averaged nearly 37 mpg. Fuel economy is one of the main reasons the Corolla has been so popular.

Toyota seems to have the recipe for success with their entry-level car. It’s been around for more than five decades so they must be doing something right. With this redesigned Corolla, Toyota adds some new ingredients to this winning recipe. The end result is a delectable winner that won’t disappoint.


2020 TOYOTA COROLLA XSE

  • Price/As-tested price………………………………………… $26,629/$26,629
  • Mileage…………………………………… 31 mpg/city; 38 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower…………………………… 169 hp/151 lbs.-ft.
  • Transmission…………………………… CVT
  • Drive wheels……………. Front-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………. Aichi, Japan

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