The 2020 Corolla Hybrid Sedan Is Slow yet Highly Efficient

The Toyota Corolla has served like a punching bag for automotive enthusiasts for a long time. Its ubiquity, its boring driving dynamics, and, recently, its oddball design, haven't managed to get a driver's darling. That message hasn't managed to get to compact car buyers, however, because they continue steadily to snap up the items undaunted. A 2020 redesign for that sedan model (a fresh Corolla hatchback debuted for 2019) left us with hope that this Corolla could continue steadily to interest its core audience while transcending its boring station. The brand new hybrid version undercuts that optimism.

This is actually the first-time Americans have already been sold a Corolla hybrid. Just like the regular Corolla, it rides around the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA platform), includes a more sophisticated multilink rear suspension instead of a torsion beam, and looks sharper both inside and out than Corollas gone by. The hybrid gives few outward clues that it's, actually, a hybrid, despite the fact that beneath its hood sits exactly the same hybrid powertrain Toyota uses within the ubiquitous Prius.

 2019 Toyota Corolla Sedan Hybrid
Michael SimariCar and Driver

The 2020 Corolla hybrid is cheaper compared to the Prius, starting at $23,880-a base 2019 Prius runs $24,700-but can be obtainable in lowly LE trim. That corresponds to the mid-level trim within the non-hybrid sedan’s lineup. It shares the majority of its engineering using the non-hybrid Corolla, but it’s powered by exactly the same 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-four and couple of electric motors that motivates the Toyota Prius. There’s also a 1.3-kWh battery stored under the rear seats. The machine all together produces 121 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque. Also it isn’t as if the Corolla hybrid LE is sparingly equipped. It comes standard with automatic climate control, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and LED headlights and taillights. Our test car tacked on optional body side molding, floor mats, and mud guards, bringing the full total to $24,467, still significantly less than the least-expensive Prius.

By enough time we got our practical a hybrid test car, we’d already spent time with other Corolla variants. The hybrid’s general driving demeanor matches that of its siblings: acceptable, with improved ride and handling in comparison to previous models, but still nothing you’d consider taking right out for any pleasure cruise. We noted some reduced sharpness in accordance with the non-hybrid Corolla, because of the LE trim’s narrow, tall-sidewall tires, too. (Also, Toyota hopes you’re cool with steel wheels with plastic hubcaps, because that’s the only real option for the Corolla hybrid.) The inside feels much bigger than you’d expect in an automobile this small, even though the 11-cubic-foot trunk isn't the largest with this class, it’s plenty spacious for day-to-day tasks, having a decently shaped opening.

 2019 Toyota Corolla Sedan Hybrid
Michael SimariCar and Driver

Performance Where It Counts
Toyota has already established the required time to work through the kinks of its hybrid powertrain, therefore the switch between battery and gas propulsion is smooth, as well as the Corolla can simply pull away from the stoplight under energy alone. The powertrain occasionally makes grumbling and whirring noises at stop lights once the driver information display claims that neither the motor nor the engine is running, but otherwise the Corolla hides its electrification well.

It really is, however, painfully slow. A 2.0-liter, 169-hp gas-only Corolla will get from zero to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds and with the quarter-mile in 16.3 seconds. The Corolla hybrid requires a glacial 10.7 and 18.0 seconds to attain exactly the same marks. Our test car's 195-foot stopping distance from 70 mph is pretty poor, and we noticed moderate fade after repeated hard stops. The Corolla is indeed reluctant to accelerate that after driving it for a couple days you’ll forget that quick starts or left-lane passes were ever a viable option. Those buying smidge more driving satisfaction may choose to think about the Corolla hybrid's main rival, the Honda Insight, which we recently evaluated inside a head-to-head comparison test using the Toyota.

The Corolla may indeed have its shortcomings, however the hybrid accomplishes arguably the only real task it requires to: delivering exceptional fuel efficiency. Our example returned 46 mpg during the period of two weeks around in mixed city and highway use. While that’s significantly below its EPA’s estimates-52 mpg combined, 53 city, and 52 highway-it's still quite good given our staff’s aggressive driving styles. A lot more impressive may be the 56 mpg the Corolla returned on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, which computes to some highway range more than 700 miles. Consider that this Corolla hybrid costs only $3450 a lot more than the comparable gas-only model but is estimated at nearly 20 mpg higher around the combined fuel-economy scale (and beat that car’s efficiency by 16 mpg on our highway test), which car makes a solid case like a fuel-sipping appliance for any penny-pinching commuter. Contemplate it, then, the best Corolla, or even the very best showcase for the most recent Corolla’s aspirations beyond bland reliability.

 2019 Toyota Corolla Sedan Hybrid
Michael SimariCar and Driver

Specifications
Specifications

2020 Toyota Corolla LE hybrid

VEHICLE TYPE
front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

PRICE AS TESTED
$24,467 (base price: $23,880)

POWERTRAIN
DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 1.8-liter inline-4, 121 hp, 105 lb-ft; 2 permanent-magnet synchronous AC motors, 7 and 71 hp; combined output, 121 hp, 105 lb-ft; 1.3-kWh nickel-metal-hydride battery power

TRANSMISSION
continuously variable automatic with manual shifting mode

CHASSIS
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 10.8-in vented disc/10.2-in disc
Tires: Yokohama Avid GT, 195/65R-15 91S M+S

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 106.3 in
Length: 182.5 in
Width: 70.1 in
Height: 56.5 in
Passenger volume: 87 cu ft
Cargo volume: 11 cu ft
Curb weight: 3052 lb

C/D
TEST RESULTS
Zero to 60 mph: 10.7 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 34.3 sec
Rolling start, 5-60 mph: 10.8 sec
Top gear, 30-50 mph: 4.4 sec
Top gear, 50-70 mph: 7.0 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 18.0 sec @ 78 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 110 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 195 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.83 g

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