2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan Driven! Model Line-up Overview
Corolla sedan now rolls on new TNGA architecture, and adds 53 MPG LE Hybrid model to the line-up.
Toyota has released the new 2020 Corolla sedan, and it’s a big deal. Toyota has sold over 46 million of these things. Additionally, Corolla has the highest percentage of young buyers (aged 18-35), and highest percentage of first-time buyers, compared to any other automotive nameplate.
The sedan model trails the debut of the 2019 Corolla hatchback, a vehicle I very much like. It gains the same aggressive exterior styling as the hatchback, as well as a bevy of new options, tech and features. The 2020 Corolla sedan also features the first-ever Hybrid model to grace North American shores. Capable of up to 53 MPG, Toyota hopes Corolla Hybrid will bring younger, budget-conscious and environmentally-friendly buyers to the brand.
For 2020, the Corolla sedan now rolls on the new TNGA platform. That stands for “Toyota New Global Architecture,” and it underpins many new Toyota and Lexus models, including Corolla hatchback and the C-HR compact SUV, among others. This new architecture is not only incredibly safe, boasting a more rigid chassis and next-generation Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 technology, but it also makes these new models better to drive, by reducing weight, and lowering the vehicle’s center of gravity. This new model is 0.8-inches lower in height, 0.8-inches shorter in length, and 0.2-inches wider, than the outgoing Corolla sedan.
Switching to TNGA platform means that this new Corolla gets a big upgrade in the dynamics department, switching from a simple Torsion Bar rear suspension to a fully-independent multilink setup. It also means this new model has more powertrain options to sample from. There are three engine options, a 1.8-liter four-cylinder in the L, LE and XLE models, a more powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the SE, and XSE models, and then the aforementioned 1.8-liter hybrid-electric four-cylinder engine, found in the new Corolla LE Hybrid. That hybrid powertrain is cribbed from the Toyota Prius, which now shares the same TNGA platform, though, the Corolla undercuts the Prius in price, by $900.
How Does the New Corolla Drive?
Fortunately, Toyota invited yours truly to a small event where they had different Corolla sedan variants available to play with. I was able to hop into three of them, including the Corolla SE, one with the CVT automatic, one with the optional 6-speed manual transmission, as well as the new LE Hybrid model.
Due to time constraints, I opted to skip the standard LE models with the 1.8-liter engine. It’s largely a carryover powertrain from the older model, with a mild seven horsepower bump (up to 139 HP). Instead, focusing on the two blue SE models, with the new 2.0-liter Dynamic Force engine. With 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, the larger engine feels sufficiently punchy, regardless of transmission choice. Toyota claims it will do 0-60 in about 8 seconds. MPG figures are commednable, with 31 MPG city and 40 MPG highway.
Of course, the real star of the show here is the new hybrid powertrain. While down on power compared to the larger 2.0-liter engine (121 HP to 169), the instantaneous response of the hybrid battery system means that it feels almost as agile in the real world. The hybrid setup also means that it’s possible to drive around town at low speed without using the gasoline engine, at all. This means less noise in the cabin, which is a welcome trade compared to the 2.0-liter engine, which can occasionally sound gruff or grating to the ear. As you would expect, this frugal four-cylinder also delivers in the MPG department, with 53 MPG city and 52 MPG highway.
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