Ace of Base: 2020 Toyota Corolla L
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.
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.
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