2020 Toyota Corolla Preview

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Nov 15, 2018
  • Redesigned compact sedan
  • L, LE, XLE, SE, and XSE trim levels
  • Standard 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine in L, LE and XLE
  • Standard 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine in SE and XSE
  • Dynamic Shift continuously variable transmission (CVT), with available 6-speed manual gearbox
  • Standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 and Safety Connect services
  • Three different next-generation Entune 3.0 infotainment systems, all with Apple CarPlay
  • On sale in early 2019


While car sales have declined, the compact segment remains popular with people on a budget. Also, because so many models in this vehicle class are the same size as family sedans of a decade ago, they better serve a wider variety of car buyers.

The redesigned 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan will no doubt prove popular when it arrives early in calendar year 2019. Sold for more than 45 years, the name Corolla is synonymous with lots of things people value in an affordable automobile. Now, Toyota is focused on improving the car’s styling, comfort, refinement, and driving dynamics.

Joining the already available Corolla Hatchback at Toyota dealerships, the new 2020 Corolla is offered in L, LE, XLE, SE, and XSE trim.

Exterior Features

Sitting on the same wheelbase length as the previous Corolla sedan, the new car is lower, featuring wider front and rear tracks, with shorter front and longer rear overhangs.

Toyota distinguishes the different trim levels through various visual cues. The L and LE have 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, the XLE is equipped with 16-inch aluminum wheels, and the SE and XSE get 18-inch aluminum wheels.

2020 Toyota Corolla
2020 Toyota Corolla

All Corollas have LED taillights, and they take on a different appearance depending on the trim level, with SE and XSE versions receiving smoked outer lenses. Up front, the SE and XSE have unique J-shaped LED front lighting.

Paint colors include both a standard and a pearl white, silver, black, red, and a couple of blue hues called Blue Crush and Blueprint. Celestite Gray is a new iridescent metallic choice.

Interior Features

“Sensuous minimalism” is what guides the Corolla’s interior design, and Toyota says the new sedan’s cabin offers improved quality through greater consistency of shape, color, grain, and gloss.

The result, according to Toyota, is a sporty, elegant, comfortable, and durable interior. The dashboard is essentially identical to what debuted in the 2019 Corolla Hatchback, and the new Corolla sedan supplies a more open feeling and improved visibility, thanks in part to slimmer windshield pillars.

Corolla LE and XLE trims have new front seatbacks for improved comfort, while the SE and XSE trims get redesigned seats with a sportier look and improved bolstering. Previously one of the roomiest cars in its class, the Corolla will still provide “plentiful” legroom, according to Toyota.

Because of the Corolla’s new platform, the seating hip point is nearly an inch lower than the previous car, and the front seats are located more than 1.5 inches further back than before. While this is claimed to improve the driving position, it could also create greater difficulty with entry and exit.

Cloth upholstery is standard, with XLE and XSE featuring SofTex leatherette with contrast stitching. Color combinations include Blue/Black, Moonstone/Black, and Macadamia/Black interior color schemes, each designed to provide 2-tone contrast for a richer look. Ambient interior lighting is also available.

Toyota also promises a quieter Corolla due to improved sound insulation and a quieter drivetrain. The car’s redesigned climate system works more effectively in cold climates, too, helping to prevent window fogging while simultaneously delivering warmth to occupants.

Under the Hood

By moving the Corolla sedan to its Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), the company says the new car will offer the smoothest, quietest ride of any Corolla in history. Torsional rigidity is improved by 60%, the center of gravity is nearly half an inch lower, and the front-to-rear weight distribution is improved.

Corolla L, LE, and XLE trims employ the same 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine from the previous version of the car, but with an undisclosed power bump and improved fuel economy. The Corolla SE and XSE get a new direct-injected 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 169 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque.

Most Corollas will have a Dynamic Shift CVT that is unique in that it uses a physical gear to launch the car, thus improving response. After that, 10 simulated gear ratios are claimed to ‘shift’ faster than before. A Sport driving mode is included for a greater sense of urgency. A 6-speed manual gearbox with downshift rev matching and hill-start assist is available.

Additional improvements include a MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension, tuned for a more refined blend of ride and handling and boasting a 40% reduction in suspension friction. An electronic brake-hold feature is also new for 2020.


Toyota says the new Corolla sedan’s vehicle architecture is specifically engineered to better absorb and disperse crash energy. Eight air bags are standard, along with a reversing camera and a trial subscription to Safety Connect services including automatic collision notification.

Also included for every new 2020 Corolla sedan, Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 installs adaptive cruise control (with low-speed follow and full stop with the CVT transmission), forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, Lane Tracing Assist (with CVT) lane-centering technology, automatic high-beam headlights, and a road sign recognition system.

Available safety options include adaptive headlights that shine around corners and curves, and a blind spot monitoring system.


The base Corolla L gets a multi-media system with a 7-inch screen. All other versions of the car feature next-generation Entune 3.0 infotainment systems with an 8-inch high-resolution display.

In standard specification, Entune 3.0 equips the Corolla with Apple CarPlay, Safety Connect services, Wi-Fi Connect services, App Suite Connect services, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. It also has a Scout GPS navigation app, Siri Eyes Free, voice recognition, and weather and traffic information. Dual USB ports ensure charging access.

Upgrade to the Corolla XLE and XSE, and an Entune 3.0 Audio Plus features HD Radio, HD weather and traffic, SiriusXM with Cache Radio, and Entune 3.0 Connected Services, Service Connect, and Remote Connect. This system is optional for the Corolla SE with a CVT, along with a JBL premium sound system.

Optional for Corolla XLE and XSE trims, an Entune 3.0 Audio Premium adds a 9-speaker, 800-watt JBL sound system with Clari-Fi music restoration technology. Additionally, it has Dynamic Navigation, Dynamic Voice Recognition, Destination Assist Connect, and more.

Wireless device charging is also available for the new 2020 Corolla.


The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2021 J.D. Power

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