Prius who? With the 2020 Corolla Hybrid, Toyota has made a case to shoppers for ignoring its hallmark gas-electric hatchback and opting instead for its newest compact economy sedan.
The latest Toyota Corolla shows just how serious the company is about dominating economy cars through excellent fuel economy and safety, not to mention practicality.
The Corolla Hybrid lifts the Prius' drivetrain nearly intact, which ports over all the efficiency while ditching the cultural baggage. A 1.8-liter inline-4 pairs up with an electronic CVT, electric motors, and a nickel-metal-hydride battery that tucks under the back seat for a net 121 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration is decidedly in the Corolla ballpark, with sub-10-second runs to 60 mph being the last thing most Corolla drivers fret about. They won't worry too much about the Corolla Hybrid's smallish 15-inch wheels or its light steering or attentive handling—but they may notice how a new body and a light weight of just about 3,000 pounds makes this the most memorable Corolla sedan to drive in a generation.
Like the Prius, the 2020 Corolla can carry up to four adults in comfort, with grippy bucket seats in front and a back seat that's ample for medium-size passengers. But the Corolla wears a more conventional, more crisp body, one that's still benign but handsome, just as it's styled inside.
The Corolla's earned the NHTSA's five-star nod and a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS. It also wins in features: Every Corolla gets touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay compatibility, LED headlights, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, power features, and a fold-down rear seat.
No, there's no plug-in version and almost no electric-only driving range, but the 2020 Corolla Hybrid posts EPA ratings of 53 mpg city, 52 highway, 52 combined. A Prius LE costs about $26,000 and has a smaller touchscreen. The new RAV4 Hybrid pushes $30,000 already—and will be better in Prime plug-in form, anyway.
We've rated the 2020 Corolla at 6.7 out of 10, but that rating applies to the most commonly purchased models, with the base engine. It would merit a much higher rating for just the Corolla Hybrid LE's fuel economy.
The $24,055 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid carries an old nameplate in a new direction. It's practical without being too basic, efficient without much of a penalty, and costs less than the average new car by a wide margin. For new economy cars, the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid formula is easy to solve for why.