It could well be Toyota’s most important car, and so the 2020 Corolla is leaving nothing to chance. The sedan version of the 12th generation Corolla made its debut today, and it’s promising just as much driver engagement, tech, and style as the 2019 Corolla hatchback launched earlier this year.
Where the hatchback whet the appetite, the Corolla sedan is the main meal. It’s the best-selling body style of a car that, since the first Corolla launched in 1966, has sold more than 45 million units.
Like the surprisingly impressive hatchback, the all-new Corolla sedan is based on Toyota’s TNGA platform. It’s a big deal, not least because it should give the four-door a far more sporting feel from behind the wheel. From the outside, it’s lower and leaner than the old model, with bolder fender flares and a broader stance.
The wheelbase is the same as before, at 106.3-inches, but shorter front overhangs and longer rear overhangs combine with a lower height to leave the Corolla sedan looking more purposeful. The hood is a full 1.4-inches lower, meanwhile, for better forward visibility. Depending on trim, there are different front fascia finishes, while J-shaped bi-beam LED headlamps give the car a distinctive look.
Adaptive front lighting is available, steering the beams around corners as you turn the wheel and depending on vehicle speed. At the rear, LED lamps are standard, with lens design varying by trim. As for paint, a new Celestite Grey Metallic has been added to the existing options: Blizzard Pearl, Super White, Classic Silver Metallic, Black Sand Pearl, Barcelona Red, Blue Crush Metallic, and Blueprint.
16-inch steel wheels kick off the LE trim, while the XLE gets 16-inch alloys. 18-inch wheels are standard on the SE and XSE cars.
Inside, there’s a more streamlined cabin with a greater amount of tech. Silver and piano black accents can be paired with contrast stitching, and Toyota says it has tightened up the switchgear gaps and pared back the labeling to give it a cleaner overall finish. The L grade gets a 7-inch touchscreen, while all other grades step up to an 8-inch version with Entune 3.0 infotainment supporting Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa, though not Android Auto.
Ambient lighting is another option, as is a Qi wireless charger for your phone. There’s a JBL audio system with an 800W amp and subwoofers, too. For the driver, a 4.2-inch digital instrumentation display is standard; a 7-inch upgrade is optional. Assistance tech includes adaptive cruise control, and all 2020 Corolla sedan trims get Toyota Safety Sense 2.0.
That includes pre-collision brake assistance, lane departure alerts with steering assistance, and – on CVT cars – lane tracing assistance to keep the car in the center of the lane. Automatic high beam lighting is included, too, as is road sign assistance. Blind spot monitoring is optional.
As for the engine, the 2020 Corolla sedan L, LE, and XLE carry over the 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine from before, though now delivering more power and better fuel economy. The 2020 Corolla sedan XSE and SE, meanwhile, get a new 2.0-liter Dynamic-Force inline four-cylinder engine, with 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft. of torque. There’s both a CVT and a six-speed manual transmission, too, the latter having downshift rev-matching.
All in all, the 2020 Corolla sedan sets out to strike a tricky balance: the dependability that the nameplate has been known for, but with more excitement to encourage new owners into the fold. We’ll see how well that works out when it arrives on the market. Toyota hasn’t said exactly when that will happen next year, nor confirmed pricing at this stage.