2020 Toyota Corolla - This is It

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
2020 toyota corolla this is it

Toyota gathered media in California this week, myself included, to drive the new RAV4 (check back next week for my thoughts). The company also decided that, since they planned to take the wraps off the new Corolla in China at about the same time we’d be eating dinner, it made sense to show us the newest version of the best-selling nameplate of all time.

Perched on Toyota’s TNGA platform like the already-on-sale Corolla hatch, the 12th-generation sedan retains the same 106.3-inch wheelbase as before, but grows wider front and rear. The front overhang shrinks by over an inch, the rear overhang grows by over half an inch, and the hood is lowered nearly an inch and a half. Overall height decreases by a little less than an inch.

The SE and XSE trims are considered the “sport” models and get a different front fascia that includes a chin spoiler, and the SE is offered with a six-speed manual transmission for the crowd.

Eighteen-inch wheels are available for the first time on Corolla, standard on the SE and XSE. The LE and XLE make do with 16-inch rims.

Carrying over for the L, LE, and XLE trims is the 1.8-liter four-banger from the previous car, but Toyota promises more power and improved fuel economy. Promises only, as no numbers were released.

A 2.0-liter direct-injection four powers the SE and XSE, and the numbers are in on this one: 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque.

If the manual, complete with rev-matching and hill-assist control to prevent rollbacks, doesn’t work for you, it’s CVT time.

Inside, all trims but L get an eight-inch touchscreen (L gets seven inches of touch), and Toyota’s Entune app package comes as standard equipment. Apple CarPlay is now standard, and premium JBL audio is available, while a Wi-Fi hotspot appears as an available perk.

Available safety and driver-aid tech includes Toyota’s Safety Sense system. That system includes radar cruise control, lane-departure alert, pre-collision assist, and other safety-oriented driving-aid systems. Blind-spot monitoring is also available.

At first glance, the Corolla vaguely reminded me of recently-departed Scion models, at least in terms of exterior styling. Inside, the cabin looks modern and sleek but, as usual, I’m annoyed by a “tacked-on tablet” infotainment screen that mars the look. The J-shaped headlights give the car a bit of an evil grin, but the gaping maw of the lower fascia will probably turn some buyers off. The styling isn’t head-turning, but neither is it boring – the Corolla is now at least 50 percent less anonymous.

There’s a lot more I’d like to know – power numbers for the 1.8, pricing, and fuel economy, for starters – but my first take is that the Corolla may actually have a personality now.

There was one other piece of news dropped at the event: There will be a Corolla hybrid, scheduled for a debut in two weeks at the Los Angeles Auto Show. We’ll be there to see the wraps come off.

[Images: 2018 Tim Healey/TTAC, Toyota]

Join the conversation
2 of 42 comments
  • HotPotato HotPotato on Nov 19, 2018

    The Scion-turned-Corolla hatch is a decent handler...so given that the new Corolla sedan is on the same IRS-blessed platform, its two sporty trims may have promise for those who like reliability to go with their scoot. Together with the genuinely attractive new Camry---which itself has pretty athletic moves in the right trim---it seems like Toyota is rethinking boring-is-beautiful. Not to say the nose of this thing is beautiful, because good Lord, this must be what it feels like to be a rug when the Hoover approaches.

  • DougDolde DougDolde on Dec 01, 2018

    Such an ugly front end.

  • Fahrvergnugen NA Miata goes topless as long as roads are dry and heater is running, windscreen in place.
  • Fred Private equity is only concerned with making money. Not in content. The only way to deal with it, is to choose your sites wisely. Even that doesn't work out. Just look at AM/FM radio for a failing business model that is dominated by a few large corporations.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Lots of dynamics here:[list][*]people are creatures of habit, they will stick with one or two web sites, one or two magazines, etc; and will only look at something different if recommended by others[/*][*]Generation Y & Z is not "car crazy" like Baby Boomers. We saw a car as freedom and still do. Today, most youth text or face call, and are focused on their cell phone. Some don't even leave the house with virtual learning[/*][*]New car/truck introductions are passé; COVID knocked a hole in car shows; spectacular vehicle introductions are history.[/*][*]I was in the market for a replacement vehicle, but got scared off by the current used and new prices. I'll wait another 12 to 18 months. By that time, the car I was interested in will be obsolete or no longer available. Therefore, no reason to research till the market calms down. [/*][*]the number of auto related web sites has ballooned in the last 10 to 15 years. However, there are a diminishing number of taps on their servers as the Baby Boomers and Gen X fall off the radar scope. [/*][/list]Based on the above, the whole auto publishing industry (magazine, web sites, catalogs, brochures, etc) is taking a hit. The loss of editors and writers is apparent in all of publishing. This is structural, no way around it.
  • Dukeisduke I still think the name Bzzzzzzzzzzt! would have been better.
  • Dukeisduke I subscribed to both Road & Track and Car and Driver for over 25 years, but it's been close to 20 years since I dropped both. I tried their digital versions with their reader software (can't remember the name now), but it wasn't the same. I let it lapse after a year.From what I've seen of R&T's print version, it's turned into more of a lifestyle thing like The Robb Report. I haven't seen an issue of C/D in a while.I enjoyed both magazines a lot when I was subscribing. R&T for the road tests (especially the April Fools road tests), used car reviews, historical articles, and columns like Peter Egan's Side Glances and Dennis Simanitis's Technical Correspondence. And C/D for the road tests and pithy commentary, and columns like Gordon Baxter's, and Jean Shepherd's (that goes way back to the early '70s).