Forget the commuter penalty box - this sedan is packed with goodies

First rolling off the production line in 1966, the Toyota Corolla has been around for over five decades. In 2013, Toyota celebrated an astonishing 40 million units sold for the nameplate, which makes it the most popular car in history. Now there’s a new twelfth generation for the 2020 model year, and it offers refreshed styling, a new interior stuffed with a wide variety of technology and features, a new architecture, and a new Hybrid trim level, all at a reasonable price point. However, with SUVs and crossovers dominating the sales charts, does the 2020 Toyota Corolla have what it takes to carry the torch for the sedan segment? To find out, I flew out to Savannah, Georgia, to experience it first hand, all courtesy of Toyota.

2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan Exterior Styling

  • Simpler, cleaner style
  • 15-, 16-, and 18-inch wheel options
  • Standard LED lighting across the range
  • Sport models get smoked taillights, subtle rear spoiler, new front end
  • 0.8 inches shorter, 0.8 inches lower, 0.2 inches wider
  • Two new paint options
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The 2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan arrives with a fresh look for the latest twelfth generation, drawing cues from the twelfth-generation Corolla hatchback we drove last year. Overall, the look is simpler and cleaner than that of the eleventh-generation model, but it still offers a unique aesthetic in a segment traditionally mired by boring, fade-into-the-background design.

Up front, the Corolla sedan’s fascia is punctuated by a larger trapezoidal intake grille, which comes complete with a black honeycomb-style insert.

The headlights are mounted inside sharp, blade-like housings, which are pulled back towards the rear from a thin, interconnected upper styling line. The front bumper’s side intake elements are smaller and simpler as well.

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Moving around to the sides, the 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan gets a more rounded roofline and thinner pillars, while the restyled window line gets a more rounded shape. The fenders look more aggressive than before, and the overhangs are tighter against the body, further enhancing the sporty look.

Finally, the rear end looks more square than it did before thanks to a high-rising trunkline, plus reshaped taillight housings that are connected by a single black strip similar to the headlight housings.

Extra details include small aero optimization bits with stabilizing fins and complete underbody covers.

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Standard features include 15-inch steel wheels on the L trim level and 16-inch steel wheels on the LE. You can also get 16-inch alloy wheels as an option on the LE and as standard equipment on the XLE. Up front, you’ll find standard LED headlights, while up top is an optional moonroof.

Go for either of the sporty models, which includes both the SE and the XSE, and you’ll get a revised exterior with dark grey accents and reshaped bumpers.

High-grade LED headlights with LED accent lighting are also added as standard, as are 18-inch alloy wheels, a subtle rear spoiler, smoked taillights, and chromed-out dual exhaust tips.

Meanwhile, the Hybrid model gets unique 15-inch alloy wheels, triple-J LED headlights, and a number of Hybrid emblems around the body.

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There’s also an Adaptive Front Lighting feature offered on the XLE and XSE grades, which adjusts the headlight beams left to right with the steering wheel angle. The feature also offers automatic self-leveling and wider illumination than the standard headlights.

In terms of exterior dimensions, the Corolla sedan offers the same 106.3-inch wheelbase as the previous generation.

However, the overall length is 182.3 inches, which is a decrease of 0.8 inches over the outgoing model.

The new model is also 0.8 inches shorter and 0.2 inches wider, while the front track was made wider by 0.47 inches and the rear track was made wider by 0.87 inches.

The front overhang is also 1.3 inches shorter, while the rear overhang is about half an inch longer. The overall height was also reduced by 0.8 inches. The hood is also 1.4 inches lower, which helps to lower the car’s center of gravity and enhance forward visibility.

It’s also worth noting that the 2019 Corolla hatchback is a little shorter in terms of wheelbase and overall length compared to the sedan.

In terms of paint options, customers get a selection of eight different exterior colors to choose from, including two new shades of blue - Blue Print and Celestite. The rest of the palette includes Blizzard Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Super White, Black Sand Pearl, Barcelona Red Metallic, and Blue Crush Metallic.

TopSpeed’s Take

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Generally speaking, we’re digging the 2020 Toyota Corolla’s styling. While we still think that the monstrous central intake in the nose can be a bit garish from certain angles, it’s starting to grow on us a bit, and to be honest, we want to encourage Toyota to continue to take risks with its design cues. We’d much rather have something that’s unique and polarizing over something bland and boring.

To our eyes, the sport model is the best-looking model in the Corolla sedan lineup.

The extra styling bits and reshaped front end conjure images of the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, and to us, that’s definitely a very good thing.

What’s more, we’re liking the new blue paint options as well, especially the purple-tinted Blue Print. Interesting colors like this are definitely welcome in a segment often lambasted for being a bit dull.

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The same goes for exterior features. Adding LED headlights across the range is a surefire way to make an entry-level model feel more premium. And definitely go for the upgraded wheel option - it’s amazing how much of a difference 18-inch alloys can make.

As for criticisms, there are plenty of folks out there that will have an issue with the front end. That gaping maw isn’t for everyone, even though we kind of like it in the right configuration. We’d also like it if Toyota ditched the steelies and added 16-inch alloy wheels as standard on the L and LE (although the 15-inchers make sense on the efficiency-oriented Hybrid model).

Beyond that, we think the 2020 Toyota Corolla brings a solid offering for the exterior styling.

Toyota Corolla Sedan exterior dimensions

2020 model year measurement 2019 model year Sedan measurement (difference) 2019 Corolla Hatchback measurement (difference)
Wheelbase 106.3 inches 106.3 inches (identical) 103.9 inches (+ 2.4 inches)
Overall Length 182.3 inches 183.1 inches (- 0.8 inches) 169.9 inches (+ 12.4 inches)
Overall Width 70.1 inches 69.9 inches (+ 0.2 inches ) 69.9 inches (+ 0.2 inches)
Overall Height 56.5 inches 57.3 inches (- 0.8 inches) 57.1 inches (- 0.6 inches)
Track Width (front) 60.3 inches 59.8 inches (+ 0.5 inches) 60.3 inches (identical)
Track Width (rear) 60.4 inches 59.5 inches (+0.9) 60.8 inches (- .4 inches)
Ground Clearance 5.1 inches 6.7 inches (- 1.6 inches ) 5.1 inches (identical)

2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan Interior Design

  • Updated layout looks cleaner and more stylish
  • Stand-up touchscreen on the dash (7.0-inches standard, 8.0-inches optional)
  • Improved forward visibility
  • Available leatherette upholstery
  • Available heated seats
  • 13.1 cubic feet of cargo room
  • Optional 7.0-inch MID
  • Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 as standard
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Inside the 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan, you’ll find an updated cabin layout to match the fresh styling outside. The look is much cleaner and stylish than that of the outgoing model, and it adds to the sense of spaciousness.

To accomplish this, Toyota added a thinner instrument panel, while also updating the dash with a more horizontally oriented layout.

The center console is much more streamlined this time, and it comes punctuated with a stand-up touchscreen at the same height as the steering wheel.

There’s also optional ambient lighting that adds even more upscale feel to the package.

The new layout also helps to improve forward visibility, a facet complemented by a driver position that’s now lower and further back than before. The slimmer A-pillars and repositioned sideview mirrors help substantially with forward visibility.

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To give the 2020 Corolla more premium feel, Toyota added a good number of soft-touch materials in the cabin. All told, there are lots of premium materials and features on offer, and if desired, you can spec yours up to a near-premium luxury level.

Silver accents, piano black surrounds, and contrast stitching are all part of the package. The new Corolla also offers a new seat design, plus a standard heating function on select trim levels (XLE and XSE).

A leather-clad shift knob and steering wheel add more sumptuousness as standard higher in the range.

The standard entry-level L grade gets fabric upholstery and a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, plus four-way adjustable front passenger seat. Higher up, the LE and LE hybrid upgrades to a “premium fabric” material. The SE grade replaces the standard sitters with sport seating offering additional lateral support, plus embossed fabric inserts.

The XLE grade offers SofTex heated front seats with an eight-way power adjusting driver’s seat and power lumbar support. At the top of the range, the XSE also comes with SofTex upholstery and sporty seating, plus eight-way power adjustability and power lumbar support.

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Moving towards the rear bench seat, you’ll find a generous amount of space for a sedan in the compact segment, plus a little over 13 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk. Making the most of it is a 60/40 split for the rear bench.

For the sake of comparison, competitors like the Honda Civic and Mazda 3 offer 15.1 cubic feet and 12.4 cubic feet, respectively.

All four windows get an automatic up/down power feature, while automatic climate control comes as standard on every model above the LE grade. Easy-access controls can be found at thumb’s length on the steering wheel.

Just behind the steering wheel is a digital Multi-Information Display, or MID, which is situated between the tachometer and speedometer in the gauge cluster.

Standard equipment includes a 4.2-inch digital screen, but you can upgrade to a larger 7.0-inch MID if desired.

Providing the tunes is a standard six-speaker audio system, but there’s also an optional nine-speaker JBL audio system on offer with a 10.4-inch subwoofer and 800 watts of power.

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This time around, the 2020 Toyota Corolla offers more multimedia features to keep it on par with the competition. These include Wi-Fi Connect, a voice recognition feature, and Siri Eyes Free, all as standard. You also get tech systems like Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa, plus a single USB port as standard. A pair of USB ports are optional, as is Qi-Wireless phone charging.

To run it all, Toyota equipped the 2020 Corolla with a 7.0-inch touchscreen as standard. A larger 8.0-inch touchscreen is offered as optional.

Further details include a guest driver feature, which is useful for when you valet your car (or as a means of monitoring your teenage driver) thanks to a geofenced area limiter and a speed limiter. There’s also a SmartKey feature for the driver-side door, passenger-side door, and the trunk.

Per tradition for a modern Toyota, the 2020 Corolla is absolutely stuffed with safety features, with the latest Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 tech suite added as standard across the board. This collection of autonomous and semi-autonomous drive features includes Pre-Collision braking with Pedestrian Detection, Day-Time Cyclist Detection, Road Sign Assist, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Automatic High Beams. There’s also an optional Blind Spot Monitor.

Finally, there’s also a standard integrated backup camera and Hill Start assist features, the latter of which is particularly useful when paired with the manual transmission.

TopSpeed’s Take

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From the off, we found the 2020 Toyota Corolla’s interior to be rather attractive. Overall, we consider it to be a huge improvement over the outgoing model, with a cleaner look and stylish ambiance that does well to boost the sedan’s claims to premium appointment. The same goes for all the soft touch materials in the cabin when upgrading to a higher trim level, although there’s still plenty of cheaper plastics to be found if you stick with the lower trims. Still, for not much extra outlay, you can definitely spec the Corolla to a relatively luxurious level.

The changes to the hood height, sideview mirrors, and pillar thickness also do well to increase forward visibility, and we could easily place the front end wherever it was needed in close-quarters parking maneuvers.

Rear visibility is a bit limited, but the rearview camera takes up the slack in that regard.

We would have liked it if the backup camera came with dynamic guidelines, but the static lines are fine as is.

We spent a good amount of time driving the Corolla around Savannah, and at no point did we feel overly restless. Chalk it up to the new seat design, which we found to be quite comfortable from each of the five seats. That said, we feel like there’s still some improvements to be made in terms of quieting general road noise and wind noise - not much, but wind and road noise were definitely noticeable, and we hoped the refreshed TNGA platform would help to smooth some of that out.

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Sitting in the hot seat, the MID in the gauge cluster is sharp and pleasant to look at. We also liked the 2020 Corolla’s selection of features and technology, and consider it to be one of the sedan’s strong points compared to the outgoing model (although the lack of Android Auto can be an issue for Android users).

What’s more, the 2020 Toyota Corolla truly excels in terms of safety tech. Although Tesla might be pushing the boundaries in terms of what’s possible in a commuter car, Toyota has taken the lead when it comes to offering proven technologies at a very competitive price, beating the likes of Honda and others with an effective range of features and functionality.

With TSS 2.0 as standard across the range, the Corolla is definitely the way to go if cutting-edge safety is at the top of your priority list.

Toyota Corolla Interior Dimensions

2020 model year measurement 2019 model year measurement (difference)
Seating Capacity 5 5 (identical)
EPA Cargo Volume 13.1 cubic feet 13 cubic feet (+ 0.1 cubic feet)
EPA Interior Volume 88.6 cubic feet N/A
Headroom (w/o moonroof) 38.3 inches 38.3 inches (identical)
Headroom (w/ moonroof) 37.1 inches N/A
Shoulder room 54.8 inches 54.8 inches (identical)
Hip Room (front) 53 inches 53 inches (identical)
Hip Room (rear) 43.9 inches 43.9 inches (identical)

2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan Drivetrain And Performance

  • Front-engine, front-wheel drive
  • 1.8-liter four-cylinder, 139 horsepower, 126 pound-feet
  • 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 169 horsepower, 151 pound-feet
  • 1.8-liter four-cylinder hybrid, 121 horsepower, 105 pound-feet
  • Two CVTs, or manual transmission
  • MacPherson strut front suspension
  • Multi-link or double wishbone rear suspension
  • TNGA platform underneath
  • Sport models get unique suspension tune
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Note: 1.8-liter four-cylinder non-hybrid pictured here.

The entirety of the 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan lineup comes with a front-engine, front-wheel drive configuration.

There are now three powertrains on offer, with average fuel returns rated at 33 mpg, 40 mpg, and 52 mpg.

Kicking it off is the 2ZR-FAE, a naturally aspirated 1.8-liter four-cylinder producing 139 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 126 pound-feet of torque at 3,900 rpm. The 2ZR-FAE mates to a standard CVTi-S transmission, and is equipped on the L, LE, and XLE trim levels.

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Note: 2.0-liter four-cylinder pictured here.

Up next is the M20A-FKS, a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s all-new for the Corolla Sedan, but carried over from the Hatchback model we drove last year. This is the range-topper in terms of output in the Corolla Sedan lineup, matching the Hatchback with 169 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 151 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm.

The M20A-FKS connects to a new Dynamic-Shift CVT transmission, which comes with a physical first gear for sharper off-the-line performance, as well as paddle shifters for more hands-on control. Alternatively, you can get the 2.0-liter with a six-speed manual equipped with a rev-match feature, shifting assist, and stall mitigation - just like the Corolla Hatchback.

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Note: 1.8-liter four-cylinder hybrid pictured here.

Finally, there’s the new Corolla Hybrid, marking the first time the Corolla nameplate has been offered with a hybrid powertrain to U.S. audiences.

Unsurprisingly, Toyota delved into its parts bin on this one, equipping the sedan with the same 2ZR-FXE powertrain as the modern Prius. That means it comes complete with a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, a permanent synchronous magnet motor, and a naturally aspirated 1.8-liter four-cylinder internal combustion engine.

Output is rated at a combined 121 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 105 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm, with an impressive 52 mpg combined.

For those of you keeping score, that makes the 2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan Hybrid the most fuel-efficient sedan in Toyota’s lineup.

Routing the power to the front wheels on the Corolla Hybrid is a CVTi transmission. It’s also worth nothing that the Corolla Hybrid comes with multiple drive models for either more efficiency or improved performance. What’s more, the Hybrid’s battery doesn’t compromise on interior space, with cargo room and passenger room unchanged between the electrified and ICE-only models.

That said, there are a few small differences in the CVT tuning between the sport and non-sport Corolla models, but they aren’t really big enough to change the overall driving experience beyond a sharper off-the-line shove.

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Delving deeper into the 2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan’s chassis, we find the four-door is built on the latest version of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform. Standout improvements include a lower center of gravity and a 60-percent increase in unibody torsional rigidity.

Up front is a MacPherson strut suspension setup, while the rear was upgraded with a new multi-link setup, the latter of which is a huge improvement over the outgoing model’s rather unsophisticated torsion beam.

Sport models (SE and XSE) get a unique suspension tune for improved agility in the corners.

Toyota also points out that the Corolla sedan’s tune differs from that of the Corolla hatchback, which makes sense given the different exterior dimensions outlined in the first section above.

Further handling prowess is added with the Active Cornering Assist (ACA) feature, which comes as standard across the range. ACA utilizes the brakes to slow the inside wheel, which helps to keep the front end in line when driving aggressively.

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To slow it down, the 2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan comes with 10.8-inch ventilated disc brakes in front, and 10.2-inch solid disc brakes for the rear.

Tire sizing is measured at 195/65R15 on the LE Hybrid, 195/65R15 on the L, 205/55R16 on the LE, 205/55R16 on the XLE (and optional on the LE), and 225/40R18 on the SE and XSE.

TopSpeed’s Take

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No doubt about it - Toyota did a good job injecting more excitement into the Corolla nameplate with the latest generational changeover. The outgoing model was more or less a snooze fest behind the wheel, but in the right spec, the latest 2020 model year is much more interesting.

For starters, the new 2.0-liter engine option is a particularly welcome addition.

Compared to the standard model’s 139-horsepower 1.8-liter, the 2.0-liter’s 169 horsepower finally makes the car accelerate as you’d expect from a modern compact.

Granted, it’s not gonna snap any necks - we think the 2.0-liter Corolla will post a 0-to-60 mph time of roughly 7.5 seconds, which more or less places it at the same level as the hatchback model. However, compared to the 1.8-liter’s time of 9.5 seconds in the benchmark, the 2.0-liter definitely shines a whole lot brighter.

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What’s more, we think the available six-speed manual is a great transmission, especially for drivers new to the third pedal. We outlined just how solid this transmission felt when we drove the 2019 Corolla Hatchback last year, and all that goodness can now be had with the Sedan as well.

Meanwhile, the CVTs are, well, bearable. Granted, a CVT isn’t exactly our first choice when it comes to putting the power down, but the Toyota units are definitely more engaging than some of the competition out there, especially the Dynamic Shift CVT in the XSE and SE trims that use a physical first gear to get off the line.

Each model also offered up some very nice steering feel as well. We found the XSE and SE models to be decently engaging in the corners, and definitely noticed a marked improvement over the outgoing model. However, if it’s excitement and fun you’re prioritizing, there are better choices recommended for enthusiasts.

So then - the 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan is faster and it handles better than the outgoing model. We should be ecstatic then, right?

Not so fast.

We find these latest changes really place the Corolla sedan at the benchmark set by competitors, rather than above it.

After all, this is the 2020 model year - standards are high.

As such, we give the Corolla sedan a passing grade in terms of fun, as opposed to top marks.

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In fact, when it comes to the Sedan model, we would have preferred a shift in focus from engaging dynamics to comfort. That might come as a surprise, but hear us out - we think the Hatchback makes the most sense when it comes to making a sporty Corolla, whereas we see the sedan as the more mature commuter.

Here’s how we’d do it - keep the bigger, more powerful engine option (170 horsepower should be standard anyway), but tune the suspension towards backside coddling, rather than corner carving. We’re imagining something like a small Avalon, rather than a three-box Corolla hatchback.

Indeed, we found the ride to be a little rougher than we would have liked.

Granted, Toyota definitely made the Corolla sedan more dynamic and less boring with the latest update, especially with the sport-tuned models’ unique suspension tuning, but if sportiness is what you want out of your Corolla, the Hatchback still seems like the obvious choice.

2020 Toyota Corolla Drivetrain Specs

Engine (SE, XSE) naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Engine (L, LE, XLE) naturally aspirated 1.8-liter four-cylinder
Engine (Hybrid) hybrid 1.8-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower (SE, XSE) 169 hp @ 6,600 rpm
Horsepower (L, LE, XLE) 139 hp @ 6,100 rpm
Horsepower (Hybrid) 121 net np @ 5,200 rpm
Torque (SE, XSE) 151 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Torque (L, LE, XLE) 126 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm
Torque (Hybrid) 105 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm
Drive Type (all models) front-wheel drive
Transmission (SE, XSE) Dynamic Shift CVT w/ physical first gear, manual six-speed
Transmission (L, LE, XLE) CVT
Transmission (Hybrid) CVT
Suspension (all models except Hybrid) MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
Suspension (Hybrid) MacPherson strut front, double wishbone rear
Brakes (all models) 10.8-inch ventilated discs front, 10.2-inch solid discs rear
Curb Weight (L) 2,910 pounds
Curb Weight (LE) 2,955 pounds
Curb Weight (XLE) 3,045 pounds
Curb Weight (SE w/ manual) 3,055 pounds
Curb Weight (SE w/ CVT) 3,110 pounds
Curb Weight (XSE) 3,150 pounds
Curb Weight (Hybrid) 3,050 pounds
MPG (L, LE) 30 city, 38 highway, 33 combined
MPG (XLE) 29 city, 37 highway, 32 combined
MPG (LE Hybrid) 53 city, 52 highway, 52 combined
MPG (SE CVT) 31 city, 40 highway, 34 combined
MPG (SE Manual Transmission) 29 city, 36 highway, 32 combined
MPG (XSE) 31 city, 38 highway, 34 combined

2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan Prices

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The 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan arrives in dealers this March.

Pricing starts at $19,500 with the L trim level.

Next is the LE, which starts at $19,950, a modest $815 increase over the outgoing model. Meanwhile, the sportier Corolla SE is $21,950, which is $1,300 more than the outgoing model.

The new Corolla Hybrid starts at $23,000.

Hybrid models will only be built in Japan, while non-hybrid Corolla Sedans will be built in both Toyota’s U.S. plants and its plants in Japan.

Below you’ll find a table listing trim level pricing, followed by a table listing options pricing and availability.

2020 Toyota Corolla Pricing Information Standard Features Price
L LED headlights, LED DRLs, LED taillights, 15-inch wheels, integrated backup camera, fabric upholstery, 4.2-inch MID, Bluetooth, voice control, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert w/ Steering Assist $19,500
LE LED headlights, LED DRLs, LED taillights, heated sideview mirrors, 16-inch wheels, integrated backup camera, premium fabric upholstery, 4.2-inch MID, Bluetooth, voice control, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert w/ Steering Assist, metallic interior trim, front and center console USB 2.0 $19,950
XLE high-grade LED headlights, LED DRL’s, LED taillights, heated side-view mirrors, moonroof,16-inch wheels, integrated backup camera, SofTex upholstery, eight-way power adjusting seat, driver and passenger heated seats, leather-trimmed steering wheel, 7.0-inch MID, Bluetooth, voice command, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert w/ Steering Assist, chrome and metallic, front and center console USB 2.0 port interior trim $23,950
LE Hybrid high-grade LED headlights, LED DRLs, LED taillights, heated sideview mirrors, integrated backup camera, premium fabric upholstery, 7.0-inch MID, Bluetooth, voice command, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert w/ Steering Assist, metallic interior trim, two USB 2.0 ports $22,950
SE manual high-grade LED headlights, LED DRLs, LED smoked taillights, heated sideview mirrors, moonroof, 18-inch wheels, dual chrome exhaust, integrated backup camera, sport seats with premium fabric, leather-trimmed steering wheel, 4.2-inch MID, Bluetooth, voice control, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert w/ Steering Assist, metallic interior trim, front and console USB 2.0 port $22,650
SE CVT high-grade LED headlights, LED DRLs, LED smoked taillights, heated sideview mirrors,18-inch wheels, double chrome exhaust, integrated backup camera, sport seats with premium fabric, leather-trimmed steering wheel, 4.2-inch MID, Bluetooth, voice control, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert w/ Steering Assist, metallic interior trim, front and center console USB 2.0 port $21,950
XSE high-grade LED headlights, LED DRLs, LED smoked taillights, heated sideview mirrors, moonroof, 18-inch wheels, dual chrome exhaust, integrated backup camera, SofText upholstery, eight-way power adjusting driver’s seat, driver and front passenger heated seats, leather-trimmed steering wheel, 7.0-inch MID, Bluetooth, voice command, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert w/ Steering Assist, metallic interior trim, front and center console USB 2.0 port $25,450
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2020 Toyota Corolla Options And Pricing Information Trim Level Availability Price
Audio Plus SE CVT $815
Audio Plus w/ JBL SE CVT $1,415
Premium Audio w/ JBL and Wireless Charger XLE, XSE $1,715
Adaptive Headlights XLE, XSE $450
LE Package LE $2,000
Special Color LE, LE Hybrid, SE CVT, SE manual, XLE, XSE $395
SE Package SE CVT $1,500

Competition

Honda Civic Sedan

2016 Honda Civic High Resolution Exterior
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While the Toyota Corolla might hold the honor of most popular nameplate ever, the Honda Civic is no less of an icon in the world of compact four-doors. The latest tenth-generation Civic was introduced in 2016, and recently received a refresh with tweaked exterior styling, more standard safety gear, and a streamlined UI in the interior. Engine options include either a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 158 horsepower, or a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder making 174 horsepower. Fuel returns look like 33 mpg combined with the 2.0-liter and 37 mpg combined with the 1.5-liter. Either a CVT or a manual six-speed sends it to the front axle. Standard safety tech includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assist. If you’re looking for something sensible, this one is definitely worth a test drive.

Read our full review on the Honda Civic Sedan.

Mazda 3 Sedan

The 2019 Mazda 3 Finally Hits the Mark with Spark Controlled Compression Ignition Exterior
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The 2020 Toyota Corolla might have more pep in its step with this latest update, but the Mazda 3 still looks to have it beat on the performance front. The latest fourth-generation 3 dropped in 2019, and it arrives with some very tasty exterior styling and a slick interior layout to boot. Under the hood, you’ll find either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 155 horsepower, or a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 189 horsepower. Automatic emergency braking is standard, while lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams are extra. Managing the cog swaps is either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Fuel returns is a bit over 30 mpg for both powerplants. However, one of the 3’s biggest draws is its engaging, fun-to-drive personality, with the tradeoff being a harsher ride. If you’re looking for something engaging and dynamic, this one is definitely worth a test drive.

Read our full review on the 2019 Mazda 3 Sedan.

Final Thoughts

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Despite an industry-wide exodus from the sedan segment, Toyota remains confident there are still plenty of sales to be scooped up. In fact, Toyota offers up this interesting little factoid - if you lump the Corolla and Camry nameplates into a single automaker, it would make for the ninth largest automaker in the U.S. As such, Toyota is aiming the 2020 Corolla Sedan at a younger audience and more non-white buyers, hoping to capitalize on its impressive 65 percent return rate.

Indeed, the 2020 Toyota Corolla offers everything you’d expect - it’s roomy, it’s aggressively priced, it’s got more modern technology (particularly in the realm of safety), and it offers solid fuel mileage. Go for the hybrid option, and it offers phenomenal fuel mileage. What’s more, given Toyota’s record, we’d expect it to be bulletproof reliable as well.

The 2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan also comes with several things you wouldn’t expect, like a manual transmission option, and a more engaging drive experience, not to mention snappy good looks with the SE and XSE trim levels.

2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan - Driven
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In terms of criticisms, the Corolla doesn’t really stand out in terms of infotainment offerings, general ride quality, or the fun factor. The 1.8-liter base engine in particular is boringly underpowered. There are better options out there if these are the things you value most.

However, Toyota likes to frame the Corolla as a good choice for first-time drivers, and we have to agree. Not only is it safe and packed with value, but it’s also quite easy to drive, even with a manual transmission.

We see the sedan as a nice middle-of-the-road option, as it strikes a balance that fits nicely with the segment. Surprisingly, we found the Hybrid to be the most compelling trim in the lineup. As an A-to-B means of conveyance, more than 50 mpg in a non-Prius looks to be quite tempting. What’s more, the Corolla Hybrid is the least expensive hybrid in Toyota’s lineup, starting at just $23,000.

2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan - Driven
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But this is TopSpeed - how could we possibly recommend the Hybrid? Well, to us, if you’re looking for a sportier Corolla, the best option would be the hatchback with a manual transmission. It’s more interesting to drive than the sportier Corolla Sedan models, and it’s got all the same good stuff inside. We think it even looks better.

All told, the Corolla Sedan isn’t perfect, but it’s undoubtedly one of the strongest offerings in the compact four-door segment.

  • Leave it
    • More exciting competitors out there
    • Not as comfortable as we wanted
    • The Hatchback is the way to go for enthusiasts

Further Reading

Toyota Brightens Its 2020 Lineup with a Redesigned Corolla That's More Powerful and Safer Than Ever Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2020 Toyota Corolla.

The Toyota Corolla Hybrid Looks Sporty and Delivers 50 MPG Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

Watch Out Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf Fans - Toyota has a New Corolla Hatchback Heading to the New York Auto Show Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback.

The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Actually Looks Great With A Huge Grille Exterior
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Read our full driven review on the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback.

2014 Toyota Corolla High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the previous generation Toyota Corolla.