With the 2020 Corolla Toyota unveiled Thursday at simultaneous events in China and the U.S., the automaker makes its most dramatic effort yet to shed the small car's stodgy image.
When the 2020 Toyota Corolla goes on sale next spring, it'll have a split personality. Most Corollas will likely be built with a fuel efficiency-oriented 1.8-liter inline-4 plucked from last year's Eco trim level. That engine is rated at 139 horsepower in the 2020 model and will be paired exclusively to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that sends power to the front wheels. The 1.8-liter engine is standard on L, LE, and XLE trims.
Toyota said that a Corolla hybrid is also on the way, but it didn't provide any powertrain details or an on-sale date.
For buyers who step up to Corolla SE and XSE trims, Toyota promises a more engaging driving experience thanks to a 2.0-liter inline-4 rated at a heftier 169 hp and 151 pound-feet of torque. The larger engine is shared with the 2019 Corolla hatchback, a redesigned model that went on sale earlier this year. A 6-speed manual transmission comes standard on SE and XSE trims, but more sedans will likely leave the automaker's Mississippi assembly plant with a different version of the base engine's CVT. In SE and XSE trims, the CVT features a fixed first gear for smoother acceleration away from a stop.
The tale of two Corolla sedans extends to their styling. Underneath, both share the automaker's new modular architecture also used in its Camry sedan and RAV4 crossover SUV. The new platform dictates a multi-link independent rear suspension rather than the simpler twist-beam axle in the outgoing model, which should provide a better ride and more balanced handling. Corolla SE and XSE trims have a lowered suspension and firmer shocks and springs, plus their own steering tuning.
2020 Toyota Corolla
Although its wheelbase is unchanged compared to the outgoing Corolla, the new model has a slightly wider track, a shorter height, and tighter overhangs that contribute to its more buttoned-down look.
The two Corollas look different outside thanks to unique front and rear bumper designs. L, LE, and XLE trims have a simpler look, while SE and XSEs have exposed tailpipes, contrasting rocker panel trim, and a small rear spoiler. All Corollas come with standard LED head- and taillights. Base Corolla L sedans ride on hubcaps, but most trims have alloy wheels.
Inside, the outgoing model's busy dashboard design was shelved in favor of a simpler look with a tablet-like touchscreen for infotainment appearing to float above the climate control vents. Higher-trim versions have stitched vinyl trim on the dashboard and doors. The redesigned instrument cluster features a 4.2-inch TFT screen in most Corollas, although higher grades will offer a 7.0-inch screen next to the analog tachometer.
Cloth upholstery is standard and synthetic leather upholstery with heated front seats is optional. Most Corolla trim levels will come standard with a power moonroof, Toyota said.
The base Corolla L features a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and a built-in wi-fi hotspot, while other trims have an upsized 8.0-inch version of the touchscreen with Amazon Alexa compatibility. No Android Auto compatibility is available. Navigation and an 800-watt JBL-branded audio system are on the Corolla's options list.
Like the outgoing model, the 2020 Corolla comes with a suite of active safety tech such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. Blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts come on XLE and XSE trims and will be optional for LE and SE trims.