2020 Toyota Corolla Debuts With New Styling, More Power

Evan Williams
by Evan Williams

Toyota has been moving through updating its lineup at an impressive pace, releasing new versions of the Camry, Avalon, RAV4, and Corolla Hatch in the past year or so. Now the new Toyota Corolla sedan is ready for the spotlight. More power, a new platform, and for the first time in a while, some interesting styling.

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The 12th-generation Corolla has the same 106.3-inch wheelbase as the previous car, but that doesn’t mean that the new model is just a revision. The 2020 Toyota Corolla is now based on a completely different platform. It’s the same TNGA structure that underpins all of the company’s latest models, starting with the new-for-2017 Camry. While the distance between the wheels isn’t changed, the front overhang is 1.3 inches shorter and the rear is half an inch longer. The automaker says that the car “retains excellent headroom” and “legroom is also plentiful” though the previous car was tight for the class in headroom. And the new Corolla Hatchback loses significant legroom compared with the iM it replaces, so we’ll have to wait and sit.

The new styling is, well, let’s call it busy. Especially in the nose and tail. The basic profile keeps a strong resemblance to its predecessor, though with the addition of some more dynamic character lines. At the front, things are very different. The nose keeps the pinched headlights and wide lower grille, but this time the squared corner of the bottom of the light gives the housing the appearance of some sort of hand axe, rather than the more insect-like units of the old car. The main grille has been narrowed, with two smaller square shapes flanking it and making the nose less gaping maw and more angry robot. At least on the XSE-trim shown.

SEE ALSO: 9 Things to Know About the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

At the rear, the taillights are now LED lit on all trims, though like the nose, the taillights themselves will change depending on the trim level. The celestite grey paint is also a new color for 2020, one that Toyota says helps show off the new sheet metal. 18-inch wheels are also available for the first time.

The interior is all-new, though at first glance you’ll be forgiven for thinking that the steering wheel is carried over. The dash looks to be the same as the Corolla Hatchback and offers a much-improved look over the old car. Warmer, with two-tone available and more premium-look materials. Toyota says it has also minimized the gap between buttons and removed unneeded lettering on them to make it look more premium. Available two-tone choices will include blue/black, light grey, and the macadamia color shown.

Toyota says that more sound-absorbing materials, along with quieting measures implemented on the drivetrain, and more panel-gap seals make the car quieter inside.

A 4.2-inch color info display in the dash is standard on all cars, with a larger 7.0-inch screen available. The larger display lets the driver pick between a digital or analog speedometer.

A new 8.0-inch screen running Toyota’s new Entune 3.0 system is standard on all but the L trim. That one gets a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. The big screen comes with Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and Toyota’s app suite including Scout GPS Link. XSE and XLE add HD radio, SiriusXM, and Entune connected services. Or optionally a JBL audio system adds navigation and an 800-watt amplifier. The climate control is operated by good old buttons and switches mounted high up, under the screens.

The Corolla will get a pair of engines, as well as a pair of transmissions. The L grades, that is L, LE, and XLE, all use a version of last year’s 1.8L four. Toyota says it’ll make more power than last year’s 132 hp and 128 lb-ft, with improved fuel economy, but didn’t give any new numbers.

SE and XSE will get the all-new 2.0L Dynamic-Force four shared with the hatchback. It’s smaller and lighter than the 1.8, with an impressive 13:1 compression ratio. It makes 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque.

The CVT offers a real physical first gear that improves take-off compared with the more traditional CVT and allows for a unit that changes ratios more quickly than before. It has 10 simulated shift steps and a sport mode. The Corolla will also offer a new six-speed manual transmission that offers automatic downshift rev-matching. It has hill-start control and Toyota says that it offers improved shift feel.

On the road, the 2020 Toyota Corolla has a multi-link independent rear suspension that should improve cornering performance and ride compared with last year’s torsion beam.

Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 is standard on all Corollas. It offers pre-collision system that can detect vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. Radar cruise control comes on both CVT and three-pedal cars, but since there isn’t a robot clutch pedal just yet it can handle stop and go and low-speed traffic only on the CVT. The system includes lane tracing (on CVT only), lane departure alerts with steering assist, automatic high beams, and road sign assist. Blind spot monitoring is optional on some trims, standard on others, though Toyota didn’t specify the availability.

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Evan Williams
Evan Williams

Evan moved from engineering to automotive journalism 10 years ago (it turns out cars are more interesting than fibreglass pipes), but has been following the auto industry for his entire life. Evan is an award-winning automotive writer and photographer and is the current President of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. You'll find him behind his keyboard, behind the wheel, or complaining that tiny sports cars are too small for his XXXL frame.

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