First Drive: An EPA rating of 53 MPG, well-designed cockpit, and fun to drive.
What else do you want to know about the 2020 Toyota Corolla hybrid?
Oh, yeah – starting price is under $24,000, making this one of the most affordable hybrids on the road.
MSRP is around $1,000 less than the Toyota Prius, the best-selling hybrid on the planet.
And the Corolla has more legroom, more cargo space and better driving dynamics than its legendary hybrid sibling, with which it shares a powertrain.
Maybe that’s why Toyota is discontinuing the larger Prius C sedan, making the Corolla Hybrid its replacement.
Let’s all be happy that the replacement is less expensive than what it’s replacing.
First hybrid in 53 year history of the Corolla
It’s the first hybrid in 53-year history of the Corolla, already one of the most fuel-effiicient models in the entire Toyota line. Its closest competitor in size and price is the Honda Insight .
For price and performance, it’s an ideal choice for singles, young couples starting families, as a second car for commuters, and for those of us who don’t love the quirky looks of the Prius.
With a top safety rating, this sedan also is an ideal choice for new drivers heading for college this fall, since it comes loaded with a full suite of Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 safety features as standard.
2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is packed with safety features
Those include pre-collision warning and braking, daytime bicycle detection, nighttime pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, steering assist, lane centering assist, automatic high beam and adaptive cruise control.
There’s also something brilliant called RSA, or Road Sign Assist, which recognizes speed limit signs, plus Stop, Yield and Do Not Enter signs and displays them on the console to be sure you weren’t distracted and missed one.
And, of course, there’s all kinds of connectivity, including the ability to hook up with Apple Siri and CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and all the music and contacts on your mobile phone.
I was suitably impressed by my test drive along mountainous country roads and hilly interstates in Upstate New York.
I also loved the large navigation screen that sits high in the middle of the dashboard, at the same eye level as the road, minimizing driver distraction.
The large, easy-to-read icons are another great feature to minimize driver distraction.
Test drive: performance, power, comfort
The 2020 Corolla Hybrid holds on turns and curves like a sports car.
There’s plenty of acceleration power for highway merges or uphill slogs, whether you are in the basic model with its 1.8-liter four cylinder engine and 121 horsepower, or upgrade to higher trims and the 2.0-liter with 169 horsepower.
All-new nickel-metal hydride batteries use a new technology to boost performance while also being smaller and lighter than the generation of batteries they replace.
They are stacked under the rear seat, rather than taking up trunk space, which also contributes to the vehicle’s lower center of gravity, and therefore it’s agility.
Steering is a bit soft for my taste in Eco and Normal modes, but tightens noticeably and instantly in the “B” gear, so that’s how I spent most of my drive time.
The other drive modes are EV, which allows it to operate for short distances – around 25 miles – as a pure electric, and regenerate battery power in another mode, and a Sport mode, for top power and acceleration.
Braking was equally responsive in all the drive modes except Sport, when it was tighter and faster, just like steering.
The switch between EV and hybrid modes is seamless, and I did not notice any of the “whine” often associated with either one. So add quiet to Corolla Hybrid’s features.
The cloth seats and headrests have a more expensive leather-like feel, and I loved the huge cockpit displays that are lighted even in daylight for easy reading, even when there is sun glare.
I also loved and the large navigation screen that sits high in the middle of the dashboard, at the same eye level as the road, minimizing driver distraction.
Bottom line: ecoXplorer gives the 2020 Corolla Hybrid a thumbs up.
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