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Toyota Corolla 2020 review: sedan

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  • Great value
  • Big boot
  • Good rear legroom


  • Not as sexy as the hatch
  • Hard cabin plastics
  • Parking sensors not standard

Do you have a sibling that seems to get all the attention? Feel like you’re playing second fiddle to a superstar? Want one chance to prove you can do everything they can do and more?

Well, in the past I reckon that’s just how the Corolla sedan felt about the way more-popular Corolla hatchback.

But now the new-gen Corolla sedan is here, and it arrives being able to do things its hatchback brother can’t. Could this be the moment for the sedan to shine? Read on to find out.

Now the new-gen Corolla sedan is here.
Now the new-gen Corolla sedan is here.

Toyota Corolla 2020: Ascent Sport

Safety Rating
Engine Type Inline 4, 2.0L
Fuel Type Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency 6.0L/100km (combined)
Seating 5
Price From $21,230 - $26,840

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
9 / 10

The new-generation Corolla sedan has arrived more than a year after its hatchback sibling. Pricing for the sedan matches the hatch grade-for-grade.

The range kicks off with the Ascent Sport which with a petrol engine and manual gearbox lists for $23,335 before on-road costs (add $1500 for the CVT auto) and above these is the a hybrid variant for the first time at $26,335.

The SX sits in the middle of the range and the petrol auto lists for $28,235 while the hybrid is $1500 more. The ZR is the range topper with its list price of $33,635 and it’s only available with a petrol engine and auto transmission.

Standard features on the Ascent Sport include: LED headlights, tail-lights and daytime running lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, an 8.0-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, fabric seats, air-conditioning, and six-speaker stereo.

Featuring an 8.0-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Featuring an 8.0-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The hybrid Ascent Sport adds climate control,  proximity unlocking and 15-inch alloys.

Stepping up to the SX adds a wireless phone charger, sat nav and digital radio. Climate control and proximity unlocking also come in on the petrol variant.

The ZR gains some luxury touches in the form of heated sport seats up front, synthetic leather upholstery, power driver’s seat, head-up display and ambient lighting.

Is there anything interesting about its design?
7 / 10

Small sedans rarely look good - that seems to be one of the rules of design only broken occasionally by the likes of cars such as the Audi A3. The Corolla sedan isn’t as stunning as the A3 but it is good looking and much more attractive that the generation before it.

The sedan wears the same angry bird face as the Corolla hatch with the super pointy nose and the sleek headlights. I’m a fan of the treatment given to the rear – a refined, grown-up design.

The sedan’s cabin is also a match for the hatch and while the clean design of the dash (now less cluttered with buttons) is pleasing, the widespread use of hard plastics isn’t.  

That said, as with all Toyotas, the Corolla feels well-built, while the fit of panels and components appears superb.

Want the dimensions? The Corolla sedan is 4630mm long, 1780mm wide, 1435mm tall with a wheelbase of 2700mm. In comparison the Corolla hatch is 4375mm long, with a wheelbase of 2640mm, 1790mm wide and the same height.

Buyers can choose from colours such as 'Glacier White', 'Crystal Pearl', 'Silver Pearl', 'Ink', 'Wildfire', 'Volcanic Red' and 'Lunar Blue.'

Telling the grades apart is tricky, so look for the wheels – the ZR has 18-inch alloys, while the Ascent Sport and SX have 16-inch alloys, and the hybrid versions have 15-inch alloys with aerodynamic covers.

Telling the grades apart is tricky, so look for the wheels.
Telling the grades apart is tricky, so look for the wheels.

How practical is the space inside?
8 / 10

One of the few criticisms of the new-gen Corolla hatch was that rear legroom and the boot’s cargo capacity had been reduced compared to the previous model.

The sedan offers more legroom than the hatch and even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with space to spare (even headroom is good). As for boot space the cargo capacity of the sedan 470 litres – much more than the 333 litres in the top-spec Corolla hatch, which doesn't have a spare wheel.

The cargo capacity of the sedan 470 litres.
The cargo capacity of the sedan 470 litres.

Cabin storage is also good with four cupholders (two in the back and two up front), decent-sized door pockets, a deep centre console bin and a large shelf in front of the shifter which doubles as a wireless charging pad in the hybrid along with the SX and ZR grades.

All grades come standard with a 12-volt outlet and a USB port.

So, for practicality the sedan outshines the hatch. There is no way I can sit in the second row of the hatch behind my driving position and the boot in that car rules it out as a family vehicle.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?
7 / 10

The Corolla sedan comes with a choice of petrol engine and, new with this update, a hybrid system.

The petrol variant has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine making 125kW/200Nm. The entry grade Ascent Sport gives buyers a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a CVT auto. Grades above the Ascent Sport only come with the auto.

The hybrid combines a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (72kW/142Nm) and an electric motor (53kW/163Nm). A CVT auto does the honours here, too.

The Corolla sedan comes with a choice of petrol engine and a hybrid system.
The Corolla sedan comes with a choice of petrol engine and a hybrid system.

How much fuel does it consume?
8 / 10

Let’s start with the petrol Corolla sedan first – Toyota says that after a combination of open and urban roads it should use 6.0L/100km with the automatic transmission and 6.5 with the manual gearbox.

The hybrid (which is front-wheel drive only) is the mileage hero with Toyota saying the combined fuel economy is 3.5L/100km.

At the Australian launch of the Corolla sedan I drove the hybrid Ascent Sport from Melbourne through peak hour traffic then 97km north along motorways and country roads.

When we arrived at our regional Victoria destination the trip computer told me the car had use at average of 3.9L/100km. The fuel economy of a petrol Ascent Sport driven by a colleague on the same route was 7.5L/100km.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty
5 years/unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?
8 / 10

The Corolla hatch scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2018. Coming standard across the range is advanced safety equipment such as AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, active cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assistance, auto high beam, lane trace assist with lane centring and speed sign recognition.

All Corolla Sedans also come with seven airbags and a reversing camera.

All Corolla Sedans also come with seven airbags and a reversing camera.
All Corolla Sedans also come with seven airbags and a reversing camera.

Stepping up to the SX adds blind spot monitoring, while the ZR brings a head up display.

For child seats there are three top tether points and two ISOFIX points across the second row. 

Both grades come with a space saver spare wheel under the boot floor.

Missing here are front and rear parking sensors – these are a dealer fitted option. I think this is outrageous. They should be standard.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?
9 / 10

The Corolla sedan is covered by Toyota’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Hybrid versions are also covered by the same warranty including the battery.

Servicing of the petrol and hybrid variants is recommended annually or every 15,000km with the first four services capped at $175.

The Corolla sedan is covered by Toyota’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
The Corolla sedan is covered by Toyota’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

What's it like to drive?
8 / 10

The Corolla sedan sits on the same new platform as the hatch and it’s the reason while both these cars ride, steer and handle better than pretty much any of their competitors.

A wonderfully comfortable and composed ride that would be the envy of the some more prestige brands is the standout feature of the Corolla sedan.

Visibility is a little bit obstructed by the long pillars either side of the windscreen, but we’re clutching at straws here. It’s difficult to fault this small sedan from behind the wheel.

The manual gearbox is offered on the Ascent sport.
The manual gearbox is offered on the Ascent sport.

Look that 2.0-litre engine is a bit ordinary in that it’s a little dull when matched to the CVT, so if you’re somebody who likes to get more involved in the driving then the manual gearbox offered on the Ascent sport could be the way to go.

Personally, my pick is the hybrid Ascent Sport. A hybrid in a Corolla makes complete sense – the fuel savings are absolutely real and it’s more fun to drive with the way the electric motor offers little nudges of torque when you dab the accelerator while cruising.


The Corolla sedan is for those who want affordable, safe, modern and easy driving with great boot space and good legroom in the rear seats. Perfect for ride share drivers, small families, new drivers and those looking to downsize. With the Corolla hatch no longer offering much practicality in a small car, it’s time for the Corolla sedan to step in and shine.

As for a sweet spot, the Ascent Sport Hybrid is the definite pick - it picks up extra features over the petrol version and comes with real-world fuel savings, too.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.

Pricing Guides

Based on 803 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months.

Range and Specs

Vehicle Specs Price*
Ascent Sport (hybrid) 1.8L, Unleaded Petrol/Electric, SPEED CONTINUOUS VARIABLE $24,530 - $30,250
Ascent Sport + Navi (hybrid) 1.8L, Unleaded Petrol/Electric, SPEED CONTINUOUS VARIABLE $25,410 - $31,350
SX (hybrid) 1.8L, Unleaded Petrol/Electric, SPEED CONTINUOUS VARIABLE $26,070 - $32,120
See all 2020 Toyota Corolla in the Range
*Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist
Richard had wanted to be an astrophysicist since he was a small child. He was so determined that he made it through two years of a physics degree, despite zero mathematical ability. Unable to build a laser in an exam and failing to solve the theoretical challenge of keeping a satellite in orbit, his professor noted the success Richard was enjoying in the drama and writing courses he had been doing on the side. Even though Richard couldn’t see how a degree in story-telling and pretending would ever get him a job, he completed one anyway. Richard has since been a best-selling author and a journalist for 20 years, writing about science, music, finance, cars, TV, art, film, cars, theatre, architecture, food, and cars. He also really likes cars, and has owned an HQ ute, Citroen 2CV, XW Falcon, CV8 Monaro and currently, a 1951 Ford Tudor. A husband and dad, Richard’s hobbies also include astronomy.
About Author
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