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Toyota Corolla 2020 review: Ascent Sport sedan

The Corolla Ascent Sport sedan gets the job done without any fuss or complaint

The Toyota Corolla sedan has had a revamp. A small facelift and some deeper work done below the surface, it’s now a valid contender for a family car.

Don’t think of sedans as family cars? Some have bigger boot space, which is surprising, and they also work well as second cars so you’re not driving around a big lug SUV all the time. 

This particular Corolla is the Ascent Sport which is the bottom of the range and I had it in the petrol engine, which costs $24,385, before on-road costs.

There is also the new addition of a hybrid engine in the range for an extra $2000, so that’s a great option, too. The Corolla is in competition with cars like the Mazda3 and Hyundai Elantra.

Here’s how it did over seven days of driving for this week’s family review. 

This particular Corolla is the Ascent Sport which is the bottom of the range. This particular Corolla is the Ascent Sport which is the bottom of the range.

How does it look?

There is a sleek nose and a modern back end. It’s not going to win any design awards but it’s still a decent looking vehicle with enough going for it that it feels fine to drive. But there are no fancy additions, it’s all very standard. 

Inside is also basic with a fair amount of man made materials on the dash and the doors, so things do look plastic-y but at least they’ll be easy to wipe clean.

There are plain fabric seats but they are smooth, not scratchy. You won’t get any bells and whistles on the interiors but you do get a clean layout with some high gloss panels around the gear shifter to lift things. 

There are plain fabric seats but they are smooth, not scratchy. There are plain fabric seats but they are smooth, not scratchy.

How spacious is it?

The front seats have a good amount of leg and head room and even the taller members of my family were comfortable this week. It’s also wide enough that you’re not rubbing shoulders in the front. 

My kids aged six and eight were happy in the back, with enough space between them not to cause arguments or unnecessary bickering.

I couldn’t get a third child seat across here and I wouldn’t expect to be able to do that in this size car. You could do it if you were desperate but for every day it would get very annoying trying to do up seat belts. 

"I couldn’t get a third child seat across here." "I couldn’t get a third child seat across here."

I can easily fit in the back at 161cm, and the rear in the sedan has more room than the rear of the Corolla hatchback, so it will fit taller teenagers and adults and makes it a bonafide family car option

The boot, too, is larger than the Corolla hatch. Compare 333L in the hatch to 470 litres in the sedan. Big difference. And it was instantly noticeable.

I was able to fit the CarsGuide pram and two booster seats in this boot, which I can’t do in some (or most) small SUVs. So what it’s lacking in height it makes up for in depth. Top marks for boot space. 

It was possible to fit the CarsGuide pram and two booster seats in this boot. It was possible to fit the CarsGuide pram and two booster seats in this boot.

How does it drive?

There is not a lot to think about in the Corolla Ascent Sport sedan, it just gets the job done without any fuss or complaint. There are no weird sounds or jerkiness, no strange way it takes off and no quirks at all.

It simply takes you from point A to point B like a perfectly agreeable car. Of course, that means it’s not super fun to drive either, but you get the point. 

The Corolla Ascent Sport has a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine. The Corolla Ascent Sport has a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine.

It has a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine so it gets up hills quickly and coasts along highways nicely. There’s no heaviness to it and the engine seems exactly right for this sized car. 

Steering is even and there’s a small turning circle so the car is easy to park and also to do U-turns which makes a nice change from larger SUVs. It also has a decent reverse parking camera to help you out while parking.

 

How easy is it to use everyday?

My children loved being able to climb in easily and get themselves settled in the back seat, so it’s a good height off the ground for kids.

Yes, if you are doing younger children’s seat belts up, bending down so much every day can get annoying, which is why SUVs are more comfortable for this daily job.  

The car is a good height off the ground for kids. The car is a good height off the ground for kids.

There are two cupholders in the front, a small spot for keys and a phone and a good centre storage bin plus bottle holders in each door. 

Rear passengers also get two cupholders in the centre armrest but there are no dedicated rear air vents. Still, the air con system works really well and we weren’t hot even in a very hot week of testing. 

How safe is it?

The Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport sedan comes with airbags for driver and front passenger and side curtain airbags that extend to the back row. 

For advanced safety, it has auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure assist and active cruise control. You will have to go up in the range for blind spot monitoring

There are two ISOFIX points and three top tether points to fix kids car seats in and the Corolla sedan scored a full five stars when it was ANCAP tested in 2018. 

The Corolla sedan scored a full five stars when it was ANCAP tested in 2018. The Corolla sedan scored a full five stars when it was ANCAP tested in 2018.

What’s the tech like?

How much does it cost to own?

The Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport sedan costs $24,385 for the petrol version.

Fuel consumption is a claimed 6.0L/100km and when my CarsGuide colleague tested it with real life driving, he got a figure of 7.5L/100km. Still not bad. 

It’s covered by Toyota’s five year/unlimited km warranty and services are recommended every 12 months/ 15,000km. 

The Corolla is covered by Toyota’s five year/unlimited km warranty. The Corolla is covered by Toyota’s five year/unlimited km warranty.


The Wrap

The Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport is a perfectly agreeable car that now has enough interior space for a family to fit comfortably and also a large enough boot to haul around family necessities (read: useless My Little Pony backpacks your kids insist on bringing with them everywhere). 

It drives well enough with good safety and technology included, and is on the affordable end of a new family car scale. I gave it a family rating of 7.5 out of 10. My kids gave it the same, they liked being able to climb in easily. 

Likes

Large boot
Interior space
Solid drive

Dislikes

Plain interior
Awkward doing up kids seat belts

Scores

Nedahl:

3.8

The Kids:

3.8

$24,835

Based on new car retail price

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