You're probably familiar with the Corolla; Toyota claims to have sold more than 44 million of them worldwide since 1966, so chances are you've owned one, rented one or at least bummed a ride in your friend's Corolla at some point. The current version of the Corolla was launched for 2014 and received a face lift for the 2017 model year, plus a handful of minor equipment tweaks in 2018. There are no changes for 2019. It may be dull, but the Corolla is affordable, dependable and fuel efficient -- ideal for someone who just needs a car to get from A to B.
Most versions of the Toyota Corolla use a 1.8-liter inline-four engine rated for 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque, which is below average compared to the newest entrants in the class. That engine is usually mated to a continuously variable transmission, though a six-speed manual is offered exclusively on the SE trim level.
Fuel economy figures vary depending on which wheels you select. With the CVT, the Corolla returns 28 miles per gallon city and 36 mpg highway with 16-inch wheels or 28/35 mpg with 17-inch wheels, while the manual model is rated 27/35 mpg. Those are good figures but not the best in the class, especially considering the new Volkswagen Jetta returns 30/40 mpg and the Honda Civic sedan can manage up to 32/42 mpg.
The Corolla LE Eco comes with a slightly different 1.8-liter engine that's rated for 140 horsepower and 126 pound-feet. Available only with the CVT, and thanks to various other tweaks to the sedan, this trim level scores 30/40 mpg in EPA testing when it wears 15-inch wheels and 29/38 mpg with 16-inch wheels.
The Toyota Corolla's interior is roomy enough, but cargo space isn't as generous as some competing sedans. The trunk holds 13.0 cubic feet of luggage, which is behind competition like the Honda Civic sedan (15.1 cubic feet), Chevrolet Cruze sedan (13.9 or 14.8, depending on trim), 2019 Volkswagen Jetta (14.1) and Nissan Sentra (15.1). Folding the 60/40-split rear seats does allow for carrying bulkier cargo.
The Corolla's infotainment options are a little dated compared to the best rivals. Standard on the L, LE, LE Eco and SE trim levels is a 6.1-inch touchscreen with a CD player, AM/FM radio, USB and auxiliary inputs and Bluetooth. The other option, standard on the XLE and XSE trims, is a 7-inch touchscreen that adds satellite radio and support for the Scout GPS connected phone navigation app, as well as HD Radio traffic and weather information. No version of the Corolla sedan supports Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Safety equipment is a different story, as every single version of the Corolla features Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) as standard. That includes pre-collision warning and braking, lane-keep assist, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control. Many rival compact sedans only have those features as part of options packages or only on higher trim levels, so it's a boon for consumers that Toyota includes them as standard.
Pricing for the 2019 Toyota Corolla runs from $19,620 to $23,800, with destination, which is on the affordable side for compact sedans. The entry $19,620 Corolla L is fairly sparsely equipped, with highlights including LED headlights, 15-inch steel wheels, TSS-P, the 6.1-inch infotainment system and power locks and windows.
Moving up to the Corolla LE costs $20,055 and adds equipment like automatic climate control, a 3.5-inch multifunction trip computer, keyless entry, 16-inch wheels and heated mirrors. The $20,455 Corolla LE Eco is similar, but uses the aforementioned 140-horsepower 1.8-liter engine to deliver stronger fuel-economy ratings. Other tweaks include a rear spoiler and 15-inch wheels with unique wheel covers, which lower the car's drag coefficient. Option packs allow for adding a moonroof, 16-inch alloy wheels and the 7-inch infotainment system.
The next step upmarket is the $23,055 XLE trim level, which builds on the LE with heated seats, a power driver's seat, a 4.2-inch color trip computer, push-button start, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 16-inch alloy wheels and LED running lights. The 7-inch infotainment system is optional.The Corolla's SE trim level is $21,565 when equipped with the CVT and $22,785 with the six-speed manual. It builds on the LE, adding a 4.2-inch color trip computer, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels, a sportier front fascia, a rear spoiler and chrome exhaust tip. On the CVT model, push-button start and the 7-inch infotainment system are optional.
Finally, the Corolla XSE costs $23,800. Compared to the SE, it adds heated seats, push-button start and a moonroof. It can optionally be upgraded with the 7-inch infotainment system.
The 2019 Toyota Corolla is available nationwide now.
Considering the Prius' success, I can't really blame Toyota for not stepping on its own toes and bringing the Corolla Hybrid to the US sooner. But since the Prius has become more polarizing (read: uglier) than ever, the Corolla Hybrid is a compelling alternative to Toyota's bread-and-butter fuel-sipper.
With its excellent economy and bargain pricing, the 2020 Corolla Hybrid has proven to be well worth the wait.
The standard Corolla can pass 40 miles per gallon on the highway without too much effort, but the Corolla Hybrid looks at that figure and says, "Hold my gasoline." Over my week with the hybrid variant, I saw a combined fuel economy of 53 mpg. While I don't think I'd be able to top the EPA-estimated 56 mpg combined from the Toyota Prius Eco, I feel confident that those considering a Corolla Hybrid over the homely hatchback won't feel like they're missing out on too much thrift.
The Good The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is thrifty as heck and an absolute bargain.
The Bad Heated seats aren't an option whatsoever, and Android Auto remains MIA.
The Bottom Line If you car shop with spreadsheets, the Corolla Hybrid is a hard act to top.
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