Car Review: 2020 redesigned Corolla proves Toyota still believes in compact sedans

In a world of crossovers, some manufacturers have dropped the humble sedan from their lineups. But Toyota isn’t one of them, releasing the 12th generation of the venerable Corolla with BIG changes.

Hop inside and you notice right away that much of the work went into updating the interior. The look is modern with a large touchscreen sticking up out of the dash and high-quality materials. The Corolla XLE I drove came with heated, power seats covered in something called SofTex simulated leather that looks like the real deal.

Space is also a strong suit of the 2020 Corolla with ample legroom for a compact sedan. Even the trunk will make you think that this isn’t some small compact with space that rivals larger sedans.

The exterior look is also new for 2020 with the Toyota wide-mouth grill and sleek LED lighting ushering in a high-style Corolla. The Corolla XLE was bathed in an optional Blizzard Pearl paint that seemed to show off some curves and body creases.

Like in the past, the ride quality is a strong selling point. It handles daily driving tasks with ease in a comfortable fashion. It deals with most bumps without harshness.

While the XLE trim level is geared toward luxury, don’t expect a quick car. With a 1.8L four-cylinder engine, the acceleration comes at a leisurely pace. Choose SE or XSE trim for a bigger engine. This Corolla might be slow and pretty big for a compact sedan but offers very good MPG numbers, easily beating the sticker.

Part of the credit for that goes to an improved CVT transmission.

Cost: $23,950; as tested $28,084

MPG: 29mpg city and 37mpg highway; I managed 34.1 mpg in 243 miles of mixed driving.

Safety: Toyota Safety Sense 2.0; pre-collision system with pedestrian detection; full speed range dynamic radar cruise control; blind spot monitor; rear cross traffic braking; road sign assist; lane departure alert with steering assist

Options: $1,715 premium audio with dynamic NAV & JBL with Clari-Fi; $450 adaptive front lighting; $395 special color; $249 carpet mat package; $395 paint protection film

Things to know: The 2020 Corolla pushes the compact sedan to new levels of refinement and is a serious contender in the market. With a new look and improved interior, it deserves a look.

Pros:

  • Comfortable ride proves a pleasant commuter car
  • Improved interior has a modern look and plenty of space for compact sedan
  • Technology and safety features improved for 2020

Cons:

  •  Slow acceleration especially with the smaller 1.8L engine
  • Can be pricey in higher trim levels
  • New body curves means a little less rear seat headroom for 2020

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