The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2020 Toyota Corolla XSE Review by David Colman + VIDEO - It's E15 Approved


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2020 Toyota Corolla XSE

Fresh exterior and latest technology keeps the Corolla vital and competitive

By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2020 Toyota Corolla XSE
Automotive analysts have bemoaned the death of the sedan ever since the first SUV appeared more than 30 years ago. But somehow, Toyota still manages to sell 300,000 Corollas every year. How do they protect this valuable passenger car franchise? By reinventing the Corolla every 4 to 5 years. 2020 marks the 12 such reinvention of this corporate breadwinner. If you placed a boxy 1966 Corolla next to the sleek 2020 product you'd have a hard time believing both were built by the same company. The latest Corolla marks the company's first use of their all new TGNA platform for their smallest sedan. The TGNA upgrade (which stands for Toyota New Global Architecture) has resulted in a lower, wider Corolla that seats 5 more comfortably than ever before, while still affording 13.1 cubic feet of storage space in its sizeable trunk. The height reduction coupled to the track expansion also produces a better handling sedan, especially if you select the optimized top line XSE model we tested for a week.

Base models (L, LE, LSE) of the Corolla depend on a 1.8 liter engine which produces just 139hp and 126lb.-ft. of torque. Up-level variants like our test XSE substitute a 2.0 liter engine which adds 30hp and 25lb.-ft. of torque to the mix. Even with the upgraded engine, the Corolla still returns 34MPG in overall operation. With its 13 gallon fuel tank, it will cover an impressive 440 miles between fill ups. Be sure and order your Corolla with the upgraded engine. Our experience convinced us that even the larger motor is just barely adequate for your acceleration requirements. Equipped with a CVT transmission, the XSE weighs 3,150lbs. With a weight-to-power ratio of 18.7lbs. per horsepower, the XSE is definitely underpowered. If you want to improve your Corolla's sprightliness, order it with the available 6-speed manual gearbox. The CVT in our XSE offered 8 detents which mimic "shift" points. Even though Toyota has provided the Corolla with paddle shifts at the steering wheel, there was little else that proved sporty or engaging about CVT equipped Corolla.

The TNGA platform that underlies the new 12th generation sedan is a lot sportier than its drivetrain. Toyota has optimized suspension componentry front and rear to provide a stable, comfortable ride with excellent steering feedback and handling response. Front and rear fully independent suspension systems are augmented by anti-roll bars at both ends. The XSE package includes platinum "machined" 18 inch alloy rims shod with low profile Yokohama Avid radials (225/40R18) that reinforce Yokohama's reputation for generating high levels of grip. This suspension package artfully combines a pleasingly pliable ride with the resiliency to make sporty back road motoring pleasurable as well.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2020 Toyota Corolla XSE
Although Toyota stylists have retained the Corolla's signature grill outline from previous models, they have recast the body shell with dramatic new creases that mimic the look of the latest RAV4. Thinner headlight receptacles now house LED headlights and daytime running lights. In back, narrow slit tail lights continue the styling revitalization. But the most welcome change comes once you open the door and step in. The first thing long time Corolla owners will notice is a significant upgrade to interior materials and surface treatments. The striated SofTex seat patterning is visually arresting, but subtle enough to look good without attracting undue attention to itself. Contrasting stitching is a nice and unexpected touch in a sedan of this price class, as are the numerous new soft touch surfaces that cushion your interaction with the interior. The XSE's optional 8 inch touchscreen atop the dash is easy to operate, and replaces the Corolla's standard 7 inch screen. This upgrade is part of the $1,715 "Premium Audio with Dynamic Navigation" package that also includes an 8 speaker JBL audio unit, a USB media port, a USB charge port, and Xi charging pad. This package also adds voice recognition, Siri Eyes Free and Apple CarPlay, plus hands-free phone operation and dynamic voice recognition technology.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2020 Toyota Corolla XSE
In addition to these useful electronic aids, the latest Corolla comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. This suite of driving aids includes dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure assist with steering assist, road sign recognition, and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection (in low light). CVT equipped models like our test Corolla even provide lane tracing assist, which uses lane markers to help center the sedan in its proper spot on the road. It's not quite self-driving technology, but it's not far from it. For a sedan under $30,000, the XSE Corolla is chock full of the latest technology.


2020 TOYOTA COROLLA XSE

    ENGINE: 2.0 liter inline 4, DOHC, 16 Valves, Dual VVT-i
    HORSEPOWER: 169hp
    TORQUE: 151lb.-ft.
    FUEL CONSUMPTION: 31MPG City/38MPG Highway
    PRICE AS TESTED: $29,168

HYPES: Nicely Chiseled Exterior, Upgraded Interior

GRIPES: Not Enough Motor

STAR RATING: 8.5 Stars out of 10

The Most In-Depth Independent Toyota Vehicle Consumer Research - Anywhere!