Virtually single-handed, Toyota has made “hybrid” into a household word while piling up points helping protect the environment with vehicles such as the fuel-efficient Prius.
However, with Prius sales fading, Toyota is also protecting its hybrid franchise, which faces some serious challenges from rival automakers such as Honda and Hyundai, by deploying the hybrid powertrain in vehicles such as 2019 RAV4 and now the 2020 Toyota Corolla.
The 12th-generation Toyota Corolla Hybrid is an integral part of the distinctive family of compact cars the Japanese automaker has sold continuously since 1966, becoming the best-selling passenger vehicles of all time.
For 2020, the Corolla hybrid shares the low-slung silhouette with an identical light bar, lowered hood over the engine compartment, angled windshield and sloped roof of the 2020 Corolla equipped the 1.8- or 2.0-liter internal combustion engines. The overall objective of the design was to move away from the esoteric designs of the past to give the Corolla a more dynamic and sporty appearance than previous versions.
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On the hybrid, however, the front fascia has a sport mesh insert, badges and unique 15-inch alloy wheels are standard to give the 2020 Corolla Hybrid its own bit of identity.
Since both the gasoline and hybrid versions of the Corolla are built on Toyota’s New Global Architecture, the wheel base, track and height of the hybrid model are also identical to those of the gasoline only versions.
The interior of the hybrid lines up with the interior of same grade as the gasoline version even though the hybrid costs about $3,000 more. But it is well equipped featuring both a 7-inch information display in the instrument cluster and an 8-inch display in the center stack with two USB ports as well.
The Corolla Hybrid is one of the first Toyota’s equipped with Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa connectivity (Android Auto isn’t available just yet). It also has Bluetooth and voice recognition software to help change the radio stations as well and a back-up camera. There are also ample convenience features such as push-button windows and start as well as a six-way driver’s seat and four-way seat for front-seat passengers and a JBL sound system is available.
Despite the changes in dimensions, the Corolla still offers ample interior space for a compact car with plenty of head room and ample shoulder room and since the battery is stored under the rear seat plenty of space in the trunk and a 60-40 pass through for longer cargo.
Toyota engineers acknowledged the hybrid powertrain used in 2020 Corolla is identical to the one used in the current version of the Prius. The Prius has used a nickel-metal-hydride battery and the same nickel-metal hydride battery is also used in the Corolla.
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But there are subtle differences in the performance of Corolla thanks to changes in the electronic controls and throttle.
Overall the combination of the electric motor and 1.8-liter gasoline engine, which was designed specifically to work in a hybrid, with the continuously variable transmission or CVT combine to produce 121 horsepower and 105 foot-pounds torque and give the hybrid a decent power-to-weight ratio. The extra power from the electric motor has been calibrated to deliver its maximum punch as the Corolla moves from a standing start and also adds power at highway speeds so the performance is very consistent and responsive.
The battery location also contributes to the vehicle’s lower center of gravity, which helps the overall ride and handling of the hybrid. The car is equipped with a very an electric power steering system that gives the driver some feedback, making it feel more agile and responsive than the Prius and generally more fun to drive even on the flat roads that were part of our test route in the Low Country around Savannah, Georgia.
Moreover, the fuel-economy was most impressive. The 2020 Corolla is rated at 53 miles per gallon in the city and 52 mpg on the highway for a combined rating of 52 mpg and my driving partner and I registered a 60 mpg rating during out rest run along the coast.
Toyota, in fact, says the Corolla Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its fleet right now, which is saying something for a company that has long taken pride in building fuel-efficient vehicles.
The 2020 Corolla Hybrid costs $22,950 or about $3,000 more than new 2020 Corolla LE, which has comparable equipment such as the standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which provides drivers with a full suite of driver assistance features such as pre-collision alert with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert and dynamic cruise control.
(To see more about the new gas-powered 2020 Toyota Corolla, Click Here.)
Toyota long ago earned a reputation for building dependable automobiles of impressive quality capable of lasting a long time and over the years the Corolla has been instrumental in the development of the company’s stature. I don’t think 2020 Corolla Hybrid with its stylish exterior, array of technology and most impressive fuel economy should do it any damage.