Car Reviews

Toyota adds a new wrinkle to the 2020 Corolla: Stylish sophistication

This Corolla is styled to banish any memories of its benignly inoffensive predecessors that delivered the emotional fulfillment of a dishwasher.

2020 Toyota Corolla. Toyota

Proving that Toyota executives are committed to injecting their automotive appliances with a vitality that goes beyond dependability, America’s favorite Japanese automaker unveiled the 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan Thursday. Like the five-door 2019 Corolla Hatchback that debuted in March, the four-door is built using Toyota’s New Global Architecture and is styled to banish any memories of its benignly inoffensive predecessors that delivered the emotional fulfillment of a dishwasher.

Its stylish new look benefits from a front overhang that has been reduced 1.3 inches, and rear overhang that has grown by more than half an inch, helping alleviate the front-heavy look typical of front-wheel-drive vehicles. The Corolla’s shape remains familiar, but was massaged to appear lower and leaner, with gently flared fenders and anchored by dynamically styled LED headlamps; adaptive front lighting is optional. Its face has been updated to still appear energetic, but with a cleaner, more sophisticated edge. In the rear, the appearance is more detailed, yet still clean and uncluttered.

2020 Toyota Corolla.

Advertisement:

The good looks continue inside, where designers strived to endow the Corolla with what they call, “sensuous minimalism.” A high-resolution eight-inch infotainment touchscreen (seven-inch on base L models) anchors the center of the instrument panel, nestled above a simple row of climate control buttons bookended by two rotary knobs. The screen also has two knobs –– one for power and volume, the other for tuning and scrolling – and a number of shortcut buttons stacked artfully on either side of the screen.

Beneath that is something rare in modern car design: open space in the center of the dashboard. The center console and instrument panel don’t physically connect. This lends a feeling of spaciousness, and gives the different elements a sculptural feel. The interior has an articulate grace that feels neither cheap nor sparse. Two-toning, topstitching and clever material choices evoke a premium feel. Like its hatchback sibling, the cabin is not merely captivating; it’s one of the best on the market. That’s quite a feat in this segment.

Advertisement:

As if to accentuate that the Corolla is a car and not a crossover, its seating position has been lowered, as has the roofline. As for the seats, higher trim levels are finished with two-toning in what Toyota calls SofTex; you’ll call it vinyl or Naugahyde.

When it’s time to move, SE and XSE grades get Toyota’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. Less-expensive L, LE, and XLE grades use the 139-horsepower 1.8-liter engine found in the previous generation Corolla. All engines mate to a six-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission. Putting that power to the pavement is a MacPherson strut front suspension and multilink rear suspension attached to 16-inch wheels on LE and XLE grades, and 18-inch rubber on SE and XSE trims.

Advertisement:

2020 Toyota Corolla.

Aiding and abetting the driver is a long list of driver assistance features, including dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beam, lane tracing assist, blind-spot monitor, and a system that alerts the driver about various road signs. A rear backup camera is standard.

The electronics most drivers care about keep them connected. Here Toyota has you covered with an available 800-watt JBL audio system, and an in-vehicle 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay compatibility, Amazon Alexa, Scout GPS Link Compatibility, Toyota’s Entune 3.0 App Suite, auxiliary audio jack and USB port, AM/FM/MP3/WMA playback capability, voice recognition and music streaming via Bluetooth, customizable home screen and weather and traffic information.

Advertisement:

Toyota didn’t released pricing on the new Corolla. Expect the price to be released closer to the car’s on-sale date in the spring.

Having built a reputation for economy and reliability over 45 years, the redesigned 2020 Corolla adds a new wrinkle: sporting sophistication.