This is the first time US buyers have the option to purchase a Corolla hybrid. Built on a reputation for reliability and value, the Toyota Corolla is the best-selling vehicle of all time. The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid takes the sharp, new redesign of the Corolla and adds the incredibly efficient powertrain from the Prius. The result is an attractive compact sedan with excellent mileage.
The 2020 Corolla hybrid also is cheaper than the Prius, starting at $23,880—a base 2019 Prius starts at $24,700—but is also available in lowly LE trim. That corresponds to the mid-level trim in the non-hybrid sedan’s lineup. It shares most of its engineering with the non-hybrid Corolla, but it’s powered by the same 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-four and pair of electric motors that drives the Toyota Prius. There’s also a 1.3-kWh battery stored beneath the rear seats. The system as a whole produces 121 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque. The Corolla Hybrid is EPA-rated 53/52/52 mpg city/highway/combined, a little lower than the base Prius’ rating of 58/53/56 mpg.
The Corolla Hybrid LE comes standard with automatic climate control, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and LED headlights and taillights. Our test car came with the Frameless Homelink Mirror, wheel locks, floor mats, paint protection and the Body Protection package, bringing the total to $25,233.
The hybrid drives as you would expect like its siblings in the lineup, acceptable, with improved ride and handling compared to previous models, we did notice some reduced sharpness relative to the non-hybrid Corolla, however the switch between battery and gas propulsion is exceptionally smooth. In the end however it is not a spritely vehicle, the Corolla hybrid needs makes its way to 60mph in 10.7 and 18.0 seconds for a 1/4 mile. The Hybrid may indeed have its shortcomings when it comes to speed, but the hybrid accomplishes arguably the only task it needs to do very well: delivering exceptional fuel efficiency.
Like the regular Corolla, it rides on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA platform) and has a more sophisticated multilink rear suspension, replacing the torsion beam. The ride is smooth and quiet thanks to the Yokohama Avid GT tires (195/65R15) absorbing the bumps and providing little road noise. The redesign means the body’s shape keeps wind noise low too, which is handy when the engine falls silent.
In regards to safety it was no surprise to see the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 driver-aid suite standard. It’s surprisingly stout at this price point, offering full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams and road-sign recognition.
The interior feels much larger than you’d expect in a car this small, with well placed spots to hold both items as well as enough cup holders to keep you hydrated. The Corolla Hybrid only comes in a single trim, LE, and it offers no options, so what you see is what you get. The infotainment system is an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay is included, but Android Auto is not, despite other 2020-model-year Toyotas picking it up. However, in order to use CarPlay, I have to plug my phone into the USB port mounted under the dashboard. There is a second USB port under the center armrest, but it doesn’t work with CarPlay.
One thing we felt was a miss was the omission of heated seats, considering Corollas are bought everywhere, including cold climates. The Corolla’s second row is plenty spacious, with ample headroom and legroom for tall passengers sitting behind equally tall drivers. Even though the car lacks a sunroof, the whole cabin stays nice and bright by virtue of its plentiful glass, which confers good visibility on all sides of the car.
The hybrid battery doesn’t eat into trunk space, which is good, because at 13.1 cubic feet, and while it is not the largest in this class, it’s more than adequate for day-to-day tasks. This battery placement also allows the backseat to fold in a 60/40 split, something some other hybrids are unable to do.
Shoppers looking for an affordable, fuel-efficient compact sedan will want to add it to their list. Priced at only $3,000 more than the Corolla sedan and $1,200 less than a similarly equipped Honda Insight (EX trim), the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is the perfectly practical, around-town car. In the end the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is a huge step in the right direction, adding even more justification for its best-seller status.