By on February 28, 2019

Yes, yes. It’s a Corolla. I’ve cursed them in traffic, you’ve done the same, and more than a few of them are purchased by a segment of the driving public who view the car as an appliance.

The little sedan from Toyota didn’t become a success for no reason; they’re scattered around this country like litter after a ticker-tape parade, after all. Can the new-for-2020 base model pull the pursestrings of this flinty-eyed author? Or is the frugal shopper better off spending $450 and upgrading to the LE trim?

Starting at 19,500 of the finest American dollars, the base L model is priced more than a few shekels north of the outgoing entry-level Corolla. For that sum, buyers will find themselves in possession of air conditioning, color-keyed power side mirrors, and a steering wheel that adjusts for reach and rake. LED headlights are standard thanks to economies of scale, while a lane departure warning system and radar cruise control are standard, as well.

Not bad, particularly given that – considering exchange rates – Toyota customers were paying similar sums for cars that were relative penalty boxes. Dig a bit deeper, however, and you’ll find that opening your wallet to the tune of $450 for the LE trim is a decision that should be seriously considered.

In addition to the addition of automatic climate control, the LE trim re-installs an armrest for rear seat passengers, bestows heat upon the sideview mirrors, and tosses in a remote keyless entry system. Trust me, digging for your keys after years of just walking up to a car and having the proximity system unlock the doors for you quickly becomes a tiresome (first-world) problem. You’ll still end up with steel wheels, though. And maybe your current car requires you to shove a key in the door.

Selecting the more expensive model doesn’t net buyers any extra power, either. A 1.8-liter four-banger is mated to a CVT, the only transmission available. If you want a stickshift Corolla, going forward you’ll have to spend a bundle to get it in the form of a $22,650 SE 6MT model powered by a different engine.

It is annoying to your humble author that the base Corolla is not available slathered in any exciting colors, nor is it offered with a black interior. Blame cost cutting and corporate desire to make more money by upselling customers to the LE. This blueish-grey is the best of the base lot.

Still, the base Corolla is hardly a traditional miserable econobox. It’s fresh new set of duds are bound to make friends, too. Is the extra $450 for the LE worth it? That depends on if you mind rooting out your keys every time you go for a drive.

[Images: Toyota]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

86 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2020 Toyota Corolla L...”


  • avatar
    jatz

    It’s the New Balance walking shoe of cars and being incrementally cheapened just the same.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    I am not saying people pay sticker for a Corolla but that starting MSRP has gotten quite high. The value proposition for this thing just isn’t that strong if you ask me.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      A previous article here noted that as take rate on new sedans drops their prices are counterintuitively rising.

      Could this be a strategy to mildly soak those who resolutely prefer sedans while the soakin’s good?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    If you want a stickshift Corolla, going forward you’ll have to spend a bundle to get it in the form of a $22,650 SE 6MT model powered by a different engine.

    If for some reason you HAVE TO HAVE a Corolla that would be the one to get. Let’s not forget that the “different engine” is a 200 hp 2.0 ltr naturally aspirated 4.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Corolla hatch is the better value. That one starts at $19.9 and has everything the base sedan does. But it also gives you alloys, leather wheel, and the bigger engine standard.

    • 0 avatar
      Cestode

      Is this “different engine” a US-only option?
      On the Canadian website there is no optional engine, just the 1.8 across all models.

      A 200hp NA 4 would be awesome if true.

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        This engine option in the SE must be something new. Previous years, the S added a tighter suspension, bigger alloy wheels and some other optional items ( Navi, sunroof, etc) but all had the same 1.8 liter engine.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      Correct Principal Dan. The 6 speed isn’t going to win any races but infinitely better than the CVT. The problem is, they are impossible to find. I looked to get a new one in a 100 mile radius from where I live and couldn’t find any. Special order only but dealers were not interested to order. Six months later I found a slightly used one (9,000 miles and 1 year old) but it wasn’t easy and I had to drive 90 miles to find it. Used, the manuals have no value which was great for me. I got a lot of Corolla for $14,000.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        FYI Albuquerque, NM has one of the nation’s highest take rates for manual transmissions (it’s still under 10%) but that does mean that Albuquerque dealers tend to have a manual version in stock if it exists.

        The gentleman who does the SavageGeese YouTube channel (living in Illinois) purchased his Mazda 3 manual trans from an Albuquerque dealer because that was the only place he could find the car he wanted with manual trans.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      It’s 170hp, 203hp is the Camry 2.5 DI motor, which would infact be neat in the Corolla, a return to the 2009 XRS with the 2.4L that gave it much needed grunt.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Missed it by that much…

        But I would agree with those who say the hatch is pretty useless due to its smaller backseat.

        Maybe the TRD catalog will even include some pieces to make the Corolla’s suspension a canyon carver.

        But ultimately I would agree with ajla that the biggest reason to get a Corolla is if you’re keeping it until the sun goes supernova.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Why would anyone buy this when they could have a same-size Jeep for the same money?

    My 4×4 Compass was the same price as the manual Corolla.

    I want this car’s interior to appear more minimalist and less cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      Good example but who cross-shops little J-cars and Jeep CUVs?

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        Everyone. Everyone cross-shops a small sedan when they buy a small CUV lol

        This Corolla is the Kleenex of compact sedans.

        Compact Jeep is the Kleenex of compact CUVs– what everyone ends up buying.

        It isn’t outlandish. They cost the same.

        • 0 avatar
          jatz

          The Compass is no runty POS like the HR-V or C-HR (did I get the hyphens right?).

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I think there’s less overlap in Corolla shoppers and FCA products than you think. Having said that, I’m a previously-stalwart Toyota guy that just bought a Chrysler van so there’s that!

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            The world, she’s a-changin’.

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            It isn’t a direct comparison or 100% wholesale cross-shop I’m speaking-to, just using my car as an example and making a point :)

            Corolla, or 4×4 Jeep?

            I know the Corolla’s theoretically supposed to last forever. The Jeep example, however– is more car. People have been trading 200k miles of Corolla-like reliability for the increased cost and maintenance of 4x4s for years.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “the increased cost and maintenance of 4x4s for years.”

            You’re missing a crucial element here: one’s a Toyota, one’s a Jeep based on a Fiat platform.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Toyota Corolla vs Fiat Panda… I know where I would put my money.

          • 0 avatar
            jh26036

            Savage

            One also gets 50mpg and the other 30mpg on a good day.

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            “Toyota Corolla vs Fiat Panda… I know where I would put my money”

            Are we allowed to use current (and future) vehicle sales on each respective platform in this argument?

            I feel like the newish modular platform this car is riding-on may be found underneath any number of vehicles that are losing sales? The Camry and Avalons and stuff?

            The Compass’ Italian bones don’t matter much in that context, they’ve been massaged-so. This car is as much a Fiat Panda– as a Mercedes-Benz S600 is a Dodge Charger LX.

            Test me.

            The engine technology used in the Compass won many accolades in Europe– the boat anchor world engine block is the weak link– and it’s still sturdy, just not as new as the top-end/ electronic controls. All three of the companies that use this engine block are still using them– at least Chrysler never had Hyundai’s engine block problems with these engines.

            Poor Chrysler quality vs. the market?

            Stop it y’all lol

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            Ya know, the Merchandise Marks Act of 1887 forced German manufacturers to stamp “Made in Germany” on their products to protect Brits from falsely labeled and inferior goods.

            Germany sort of turned that around from red flag to a guarantee of quality still mesmerizing people today.

            Could the same thing be happening with FCA products?

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            ’28,

            I did my bet and now I have it sitting in the garage with oil consumption and main AT seal leaking. No. This is not Toyota of 20years back

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        I agree with iNeon. I cross-shopped everything that had MT. Civic, Accord, Mazda6, Elantra Sport, Jeep Renegade and more.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      Most people buy a Corolla to go to work and back and put 250,000 miles on them with minimum headaches. The 1.8l engine in the Corolla will probably end up as a a back-up generator in a Costarican coffee farm long after the body of the car is rusted and become dust. Not sure the multi air engine in the Compass will do that.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        Tough crowd.

        It was a value assessment and I stand by it. A 4×4 Compass is more car than this Corolla– at the same pricing schedule.

        Enjoy your Corollas, y’all.

        • 0 avatar
          jatz

          Well, *I’m” certainly not dissing your choice of a tall, roomy 4×4 over a little crampy bug riding on its laurels from a couple decades ago.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Generally speaking you bring up a good point, the main advantage I see for Compass over Corolla is 4wd/AWD offering. However Compass in Sport Automatic 4WD SUV starts at $23,345 which is a bit over 3K more than FWD Corolla L or LE. Toe to Toe as FWD only, Sport Manual SUV starts at $21,845 per Google which is still more than the L/LE Corolla but offers what discernible advantage?

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            “offers what discernible advantage?”

            The brighter they are the more astonishing their willful blindness:

            The Compass is over 64″ high and has around 8″ of ground clearance depending on version.

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            Going whole-hog with you, 28–

            Manual Compass(This argument is totally dependent-upon stickshift availability because I’m carboy enough to still need one) is offered at a lower price than manual Corolla and includes 4X4 along with more room and power.

            It can also be an argument about Toyota’s stupid packaging or the modern practice of allowing manuals only on full-tilt, or basic cars.

            But then I’d always counter with: “Jeep offers a 4×4 stickshift wagon in this price-class, and they’ll sell it to you in green, orange, blue- red or yellow!”

            Because they do. And they’re cute and colorful and willful and spunky and ultimately more lovable than this Corolla :)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I would not argue this as an advantage of one over the other. Perhaps a feature of one, not necessarily an advantage (I personally see it as a disadvantage but that’s me).

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        My neighbor across the street is the other kind of Corolla buyer: single retired lady, she does 3 year leases. I guess the high residual value makes it a fairly reasonable proposition in terms of payment. Black Corolla LE, her sister drives up from Cincinatti in… an identical black Corolla LE. Purely a matter of the lowest risk ownership scenario imaginable with as few surprises as possible.

        • 0 avatar
          jatz

          “the lowest risk ownership scenario imaginable with as few surprises as possible”

          Precisely: intelligent nuisance-avoidance.

          Then again, those ladies and I were similarly conditioned during our youths by Toyota’s then unquestionable supremacy to all other brands for reliability. I’m just more interested in how things have changed since then.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            As far as I can tell Toyota still gets the fundamentals sound: look at how they approached DI. One of the last manufacturers to adopt it, and they insisted on a dual-injector setup when they did. I’d still put them at the top for things like suspension durability, electrical systems, body hardware. But their paint quality and quality of various interior bits and pieces (glovebox handle that broke on my in-law’s 2013 Rav4 Limited by 60k miles for example). Their slip up with the oil burning on the ’08-’09ish 2.4s when they switched to low tension rings was notable as well.

            My wife’s 2012 Camry SE is definitely a far cry from the “golden age” cars in terms of interior and paint quality, but it’s been a tank for 85k miles, considering the abuse it gets over our horrible downtown roads. It had a battery die prematurely at 4 years, and I had to clean up the rear caliper pad seats to keep the pads from binding up from a bit of rust that had formed. We did get a note about the transmission getting an extended warranty out to 150k, Toyota got really aggressive with torque converter lockup on these and it was not without consequence it seems. Consumed about a quart of oil over 7k miles last summer too which I was less than pleased with, but that’s no worse than average in these days of loose rings and 0w-20 it seems.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            Wow… I’m just at the reads-CR-and-gathers-anecdotes level but even your encyclopedic knowledge makes it seem that more than Toyota egregiously slipping it’s a case of their forcing everyone else to catch up to them.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @gtem, if you got 4 years out of an OE Toyota battery you did better than average. 2 years is not that uncommon and 3 is about average.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            @Scoutdude must be an American supplier issue, my friend had the original Panasonic battery in his 200k mile 2008 FJ Cruiser until about a year ago. That’s kind of Toyota in a nutshell these days: they’re cutting costs on various bits and pieces where they think it won’t be noticed, but it’s been catching up with them more and more.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          gtem,

          you only talking about Camry. But how about all other Toyotas affects by oil/transmission issues? – Venza, Highlander, Sienna, tC, xB, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Yeah most of those are all the same years of the 2AZ-FE, haven’t heard of the others, is it the rare 2.7L in the Venza and Highlander?

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          gtem,

          2.7L is

          Sienna – very rare
          Highlander – pretty rare
          Venza – popular choice

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            So is it the 2.7 with oil burning issues or the 3.5L I’m not seeing much of a pattern of reports or complaints about either when I google them like I do the 2.4L 2AZ.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        If you’re keeping a car until the Sun goes supernova then the Toyota works best. But for people planning on a 5-8 year ownership period I don’t think a new Jeep will lead to personal ruin.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Carrera, people take Corolla for that but they don’t know about this (and this is just one part) https://www.youcanic.com/guide/toyota-excessive-engine-oil-consumption-burns-oil

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      Why would anyone pick a Corolla over a Jeep Compass?

      …I guess some people want their cars to last beyond 100k without being a total mess?

      Not to mention the Corolla will almost certainly have significantly lower total ownership cost over 5-10 years.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        I have never wanted my last meal to be a salad with the low-fat dressing on the side. I, within limits, allow myself pleasure.

        Corolla people are just the opposite.

        Corolla people eat generic granola today, to theoretically have the ability to eat generic granola much longer than me.

        We are all eating.

        For me to discuss my delicious hamburger does not diminish your choice of vegetarianism.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          As a reminder, your initial post was:
          “Why would anyone buy this when they could have a same-size Jeep for the same money?”

          And then you wanted a head-pat for your Compass.

          People predictably responded with exactly WHY someone might want a Corolla.

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            Of course. Its civil discourse.

            In argument it is best to persist, and to do it mindfully. I’m differently-minded (learning disabled, maybe on the spectrum) and, in the course of the conversation, chose to remind myself and others of this, because of all the negative experiences with internet arguing.

            No head-pats necessary. I do love validation as much as the next guy– but can find it in myself and my own choices.

            Discussing merits after positing an alternative viewpoint is standard conversation, right? I mean, did I do something wrong, or just talk cars?

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Nothing wrong at all with that, and I certainly took no offense. You kicked off a discussion by positing a question that got some strong opinions in the contrary as responses. I personally think the Compass is neat and it’s commendable that Jeep still offers multiple options for getting an AWD crossover with a manual transmission. In our car guy circles that geek about that kind of stuff, sure the Compass has a lot of appeal, especially within a shorter ownership window. But for a lot of Americans (and perhaps even more so various immigrant groups), that “Corolla” nameplate carries A LOT of weight, and I don’t blame them.

            I’ll also point to the analogy of a Corolla driver eating granola and the Compass being equivalent to a juicy burger. I don’t see how a Compass, unless it is equipped with a stick shift perhaps, is notably more engaging to drive in the 99% scenario of commuting than aforementioned Corolla. A Wrangler is a burger then, Corolla is granola, Compass is Fruit Loops.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I like the analogy but assuming equal base trims neither is anything to get too excited about, in my view.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          iNeon – exactly

          “I have never wanted my last meal to be a salad with the low-fat dressing on the side. I, within limits, allow myself pleasure. ”

          right now i have a tough choice. 2 front runners are 2018 RDX and 2019 JGC Upland/Altitude. As much as I know that RDX is a good salad, I want that meat of JGC. I know, meat costs more… but I want it.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I’d go Grand Cherokee as well slavuta, using the same exact logic.

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            Get the beef.

            There’s no shortage of chicken.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            I can support what GTem has asserted. Since the turn of this century I have consulted for a medium sized manufacturing organization. The majority of its production workforce is comprised of immigrants. The employee parking lot has traditionally been a sea of Corollas, Civics and the odd Elantra, Accent or Matrix/Vibe.

            These are people who work long hours, performing physical labour. Wages are not ‘great’. They cannot afford to miss or be late for work. Most live in apartments/townhouses where they don’t have a driveway or the time to perform their own repairs/maintenance.

            Therefore they are dependent on having a reliable, inexpensive to run vehicle.

            Over the past 16 months, I have however notice an increase in the number of CRVs and RAV4’s now in the lot. Must be a reflection of how these are now much more available on the used car market.

            One other thing that I have notice is how many 1st generation CRVs are around.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      I drove a rental TrailRated Compass last summer. I wrote a full review here:

      http://www.curbsideclassic.com/uncategorized/cc-rental-review-2018-jeep-compass-trail-hawk-did-sergio-save-chrysler/

      In a nutshell, the 9-speed auto is a disaster!

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    $19,500 is a hell of a lot of money for a car you’re going to want to dump as quickly as posible.
    Stick to the used car lots. Find something thats worth putting gas into.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      “Stick to the used car lots. Find something thats worth putting gas into.”

      I just seen a ’03 Monte Carlo for under 4K!!

      Oh, wait… does the gas have to *stay* inside the car?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Reminds me of the Ray Steven’s song “Used Cars”

        I said to the man, “What’s she worth?”

        He said: “Depends”

        I said: Depends on what?

        “How much gas she got in the tank?”

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I’ll take Kia Forte with a manual trans for $17,900 Alex!

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Call me old, cheap and stubborn, they generally fit. However I do not want alloy wheels or an automatic climate control system. I can change the dial/slide on the AC/Heater just fine thank you. Alloys cost more to replace than steelies are generally more ‘durable’, and I swap my tires twice per year (fall and spring). I do want an actual keyhole on both the driver’s side door and the trunk, as I have had remote fobs malfunction. I do want the armrest for rear seat passengers, and heated sideview mirrors. I do want any and all ‘nanny’ safety packages. And why not add in some proper ‘Weathertech’ style floor mats in colder climates as part of a winter package, with a block heater?

    So the LE may not be the ‘value’ proposition for what I am looking for.

    However also due to my age, I am no longer interested in a sedan. I want something much easier to get into and out of and with more greenhouse and a higher roofline.

    So hello Kia Soul?

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Or a Jeep Compass :)

  • avatar
    iNeon

    That Corolla e’er been muddin’?!?!

    TRUCKBOATCOMPASS

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      “AND I just poured another coffee!”

      Espresso?

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I look forward to yanking a Compass out of the sand with my 4Runner next time I’m down in the OBX :P Stuck Subarus are getting to be old-hat!

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        The. Suckiest. Off-roader. Ever.

        But: AWD wagon > FWD sedan

        Keep this on-topic, son! :P

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I’ve actually noodled on going the offroad-ish crossover route a bit, for the vast majority of my “offroad” driving to trailheads and such, it’s just gravel roads with occasional wash-outs, and it’s an hour or more of highway driving. Something like a stick shift Compass or Patriot or stick shift Forester/Crosstrek actually sound pretty appealing, not to mention the jump in MPG from the 18 my old 4Runner pulls down on beefy all terrain tires. With something less capable, even the gravel roads and minor washouts feel a lot more fun since you’re using more of the vehicle’s capability envelope. Getting anywhere close to approaching the limits of my 4Runner’s capabilities requires burying it up to the axles in mud or risking vehicle damage. The most fun I’ve had offroad in recent memory was a little stick shift 4×4 Diahatsu Terios in Costa Rica bombing around dusty rutted two-track in the jungle hillside. Smaller size makes it more fun too it seems.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Trail Rated Baby Jeeps could be fun.

            The guys who bought Trail Rated Patriots seem to be having fun CVT and all (if the forums are to be believed the CVT was more reliable than the manual.)

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            I feel like my trips out to rural Alabama could be no harder on a car than India– as I understand, the newer Compass I keep talking about was designed mostly for the Indian market.

            The old Belvedere Compass/Patriot are tanklike and ok, but have weakness in the lower front suspensions– aftermarket parts fix and keep them quiet.

            Find an early-run Surf Blue Patriot! Anti-freeze green is a second choice :D

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Stick would be key for me to have fun on light offroad in a smaller rig like this, even if actual performance (gearing) might be sacrificed. In Costa Rica 1st gear on that Terios was just on the edge of being enough on a few hills, had to rev it up and really work the clutch, had a blast.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’m toying with the idea of picking up mountaing biking again ,with some soft roading with my Disco Sport . Im sure limiting it has is touring Continental tires it came with, but at least they’re 60 series 18s vs something with no sidewall.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • redapple: Hatch struts still work? W T Fudge? My sawed off broomstick handle was always in the back.
  • kosmo: “How’s that Ranger Raptor coming, Ford? Oh, it isn’t? I see. Thanks for the mobility scooter,...
  • dividebytube: When I’m down south I’m taken aback by the number of decent looking old trucks and even G...
  • redapple: RED…. Great catch. Love it.
  • teddyc73: What an ugly rear end.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States