Car Reviews

2020 Toyota Corolla sedan review

IN A NUTSHELL: Much better than the out-going sedan, the new model also improves on any misgivings over the hatch’s practicalities.

What is the Toyota Corolla sedan?

A little late to the party behind its hatchback sibling, which has been on sale here for over 12 months already, the Corolla sedan is quite simply just that: a Corolla with boot. But this is the first Corolla sedan to come with the option of a hybrid drivetrain and, unlike before, it mimics all of the sharp stylings of the five-door model. And that’s good because it’s a good-looking thing that’s frugal at the bowser.

2020 Toyota Corolla sedan range

It also has greater practicality over the hatch from its longer 2700mm wheelbase (+60mm) and 4630mm length. So, if you need more room, particularly for rear-seat passengers, and want to lug around some bags and cargo, this is the more suitable car.

What does the Toyota Corolla sedan cost and what do you get?

The range kicks off with the Ascent Sport at $23,335 plus on-road costs. For that, you get a 2.0L petrol engine with a six-speed manual transmission while the CVT automatic adds $1500. Standard inclusions are 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and DRLs, fabric trim seats and an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2020 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport Hybrid sedan interior fabric

The Ascent Sport is available as a hybrid (CVT only) for $26,335 plus ORCs. It also swaps the 16-inch alloys for more aerodynamic 15-inch items and adds keyless entry with climate control.

Toyota Corolla sedan side

The middle-grade SX costs $28,235 (2.0L CVT) and the hybrid option adds $1500, which is quite palatable. However, the SX is the highest grade hybrid available as the top-spec ZR is petrol only. Standard gear on the SX includes sat nav on the infotainment system with DAB radio, keyless entry, 7.0-inch display in the instrument cluster and wireless phone charging.

Toyota Corolla sedan lights

At the top of the tree is the ZR, priced at $33,635. It gains synthetic leather trim, heated front seats with electric adjustment, head up display and ambient cabin lighting.

What’s the Toyota Corolla interior like?

Toyota’s interior design isn’t groundbreaking with liberal use of hard plastics dulling any design flair, but functionality and ergonomics are strong points – storage options are plentiful and seat design delivers good comfort for long-distance drivers. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels quite nice too.

Toyota Corolla sedan interior front

How much space is there in the Toyota Corolla sedan?

So while the hatchback and sedan share obvious design similarities inside, the booted model runs away when it comes to space. There’s much better legroom, with rear-seat passengers enjoying that longer wheelbase that adds space to the footwell behind the front seats. And the boot is a major improvement, the sedan recording 470-litres capacity over the hatchback’s 333L maximum. If you prioritise practicality, the sedan is a much better choice over the hatchback.

Toyota Corolla sedan boot

There’s also plenty of storage in the car, the door pockets nice and big, and some trays and a console bin in the centre for storing mobile phones and sundry items.

What’s the Toyota Corolla infotainment like?

The 8.0-inch infotainment system is a vast improvement on what Toyota has used in the past – usually units that looked aftermarket. Instead, the central display integrates nicely with the dashboard and is easy to function with the physical buttons down the sides. But it’s also a touch screen.

Toyota Corolla sedan interior front

It’s a touch fussy in appearance over the slick displays in some competitors, but Toyota has now, finally, introduced Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard which bolsters the useability and connectivity a great deal. The only minor gripe is that there’s just one USB port, though there is also a 12v port for connecting a charging dongle.

What’s the Toyota Corolla engine like?

There are two engine options here, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol producing 125kW and 200Nm, or a 1.8-litre four-pot electric-hybrid developing 90kW and 142Nm.

The 2.0L gets the job done but feels a little lethargic with the CVT auto whining away next to it. The manual transmission brings a more engaged drive and feels like it gets more out of it.

Toyota Corolla sedan hybrid engine

However, it is the hybrid drivetrain that’s the highlight and a unique offering in the small sedan segment. Produced from Toyota’s years of hybrid knowledge it’s a polished unit and at just a $1500 premium, well worth the future fuel savings and effortless driveability.

A testament to how effective it can be, we managed to drive almost 15km on the highway using battery-power nearly the entire distance.

Toyota Corolla sedan fuel economy

The 2.0-litre engine claims 6.0L/100km with a CVT and 6.5L/100km with the six-speed manual.

The 1.8-litre hybrid drivetrain claims a better fuel efficiency than even the hatch at 3.5L/100km.

What’s the Toyota Corolla sedan like to drive?

Sitting in the driver’s seat you have a nice position with tilt and reach adjustable steering, though vision is a touch obscured due to thick A-pillars. But the competition to create slick-looking small cars seems to plague most with this trait.

However, things really shine on the road, the sedan’s Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform underneath (which it shares with the new hatch) once again proving that this Japanese maker’s next-gen cars are all going to be at or near the top of class for a while.

Toyota Corolla sedan hybrid driving

There’s great compliance from the passively sprung suspension, the rear supported by a sophisticated multilink setup. You can throw it around corners quickly and the front-end points in with composure and it isn’t unsettled on mid-corner bump. In fact, understeer is hard to find, except for in the hybrid which rolls on eco-focused rubber. But really, around the city and country cruising is how this car will be used most, and it excels at capturing the comfy, lopping ride that the bigger Camry sedan is well known for. This should prove popular with the pragmatic audience it’s pitched to.

How safe is the Toyota Corolla?

The Toyota Corolla sedan has scored a full five-star ANCAP rating.

Standard active safety systems include autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, lane tracing, automatic highbeams and a reversing camera.

Toyota Corolla sedan  rear

What are the Toyota Corolla sedan alternatives?

Mazda’s new Mazda3 is worth a look, the Honda Civic is another worthy contender and South Korea has the Kia Cerato and Hyundai Elantra. But none offer a hybrid, which is a significant advantage to Toyota’s pitch.

2020 Toyota Corolla sedan Pricing And Specifications

Price From $23,335 plus ORCs Warranty 5 years/unlimited km Engine 2.0L petrol, 1.8L petrol electric hybrid Power 125kW, 90kW Torque 200Nm, 142Nm Transmission six-speed manual (2.0L only), CVT Drive front-wheel-drive Body 4630mm (l); 1886mm (w); 1458mm (h) Kerb weight 1360kg Seats 5 Thirst 3.5-6.5L/100km Fuel tank 50-litres Spare Space saver

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Editor's Rating

How do we rate the interior and practicality?
How do we rate the value?
How do we rate the controls and infotainment?
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How do we rate the ride and handling?
How do we rate the safety?
Much better than the out-going sedan, the new model also improves on any misgivings over the hatch’s practicalities. The hybrid drivetrain is clearly the winner for the model and should be considered by newcomers.

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Alex Rae

Alex Rae