Earlier this month, Toyota’s top U.S. executive confirmed that the automaker is considering ways to pare back its passenger car line-up as the market continues shifting to SUVs – but you won’t see the long-popular Corolla going away any time soon, as this new teaser image suggests.
Toyota isn’t saying much beyond promising that, “The world’s most popular car is about to get greater than ever,” with the Japanese automaker set to reveal the 12th-generation sedan version of the Corolla during a livestream webcast on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. Pacific time.
Toyota clearly needs to rebuild the buzz for the compact Corolla which has been around in sedan form since 2014. Sales fell 11.6% during the calendar-year-to-date, and 14.2% in October alone – and that’s despite supplementing the familiar sedan version with a hatchback model this past year.
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While there’s not much we’ve so far been told about the 2020 Toyota Corolla, the teaser image – which we’ve enhanced ever so slightly with Photoshop – hints at a few key changes, starting with the broader, honeycomb grille. Surprisingly, the sedan grille has a more trapezoid shape than the recently added hatchback, more in line with what we’ve already seen with the recent makeovers of the Camry and Avalon sedans.
The headlights and LED running lamps, however, are almost direct lifts from the 2019 Corolla five-door. We’re expecting that the rear lighting will go all LED and pick up on 5-door cues, as well.
The overall shape of the 2020 Corolla sedan should also get a more angular look, again building on the direction Toyota has been taking with the rest of its recent model updates.
The exterior changes will be wrapped around an all-new platform. With the Gen-12 Corolla, the model migrates to the Toyota New Global Architecture, or TNGA, platform shared with a variety of other models, including the latest Camry, as well as the Prius.
As for powertrain, expect to see the sedan adopt the hatchback’s 2.0-liter inline-four gas engine, bumping it up to 168 horsepower, rather than the somewhat anemic 132 to 140 hp of the current sedan. If so, torque would likely come in around 151 pound-feet, like the 5-door. The current, 1.8-liter I-4 makes just 128 lb-ft.
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The success of the 12th-generation Corolla is clearly critical for Toyota. It has traditionally been the second best-selling sedan in the automaker’s U.S. line-up, but is number one worldwide. But momentum has been shifting to the company’s SUV line-up globally, forcing Toyota to rethink its strategy.
“We are taking a hard look at all the segments we compete in, to make sure we are competing in profitable segments and that products that we sell have strategic value to the brand,” Jim Lentz told the Wall Street Journal last week.
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Don’t expect Toyota to follow the lead of Ford, which is abandoning its entire U.S. passenger car line-up, save for the Mustang. Lentz said such a move for Toyota would be a “mistake,” but it’s pretty clear that it will trim its line-up, most likely starting with the compact Yaris that suffered a 38.2% decline in the U.S. for the first 10 months of this year, and stumbled an even more troubling 51.4% in October.
Another possible target could be one of the members of the Prius “family.” Not that many years ago, Prius was the top-selling nameplate in California. But while it remains number one nationally among hybrid-electric vehicles, it has been losing momentum rapidly, despite having four models now badged Prius, including the compact C, the original hatch, a bigger V and the Prius Prime plug-in version. Sales for the hybrid family fell 17.7% for the first 10 months and 21.4%. And we could see Toyota drop at least one of those four versions going forward.
Following the webcast review Thursday night, the Corolla will make its first U.S. appearance in the sheet metal at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this month.