Oops! It appears that you have disabled your Javascript. In order for you to see this page as it is meant to appear, we ask that you please re-enable your Javascript!

The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid isn’t exciting, but it is quite frugal

On Tuesday, I wrote about the week I spent with the current Toyota Prius Prime. Today, you get to read about another Toyota hybrid, the 2020 Corolla Hybrid, which I drove for 10 days immediately following my week with the plug-in Prius. The two cars actually have a lot in common. They use the same TNGA architecture, the same four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle internal combustion engine, the same electric motor, and the same continuously variable transmission. Like the Prius Prime, the Corolla offers a combined output of 121hp (90kW), with 71hp (53kW) of that from the electric motor. It also has the same amount of torque—105lb-ft (142Nm).

But the Corolla isn’t a plug-in, and it uses a nickel-metal hydride battery to feed the electric motor, the same as the regular Prius. That means it’s lighter on its tires, with a curb weight of 3,050lbs (1,384kg). And it’s significantly cheaper—at $23,100 it is more than $1,000 cheaper than the least expensive Prius, other than the subcompact Prius C. It also looks extremely normal compared to the current Prius. Unremarkably normal, in fact, particularly in the white paint—if you’re looking for a car to surveil or conduct a stake-out, this could well be it.

Open the door, step inside, and the unremarkable normality continues. The main instrument display is right in front of you, not offset up to the right on the dash. It’s a 7-inch digital display, flanked on either side by analogue dials, and everything is clear and understandable. There’s a conventional gearstick that pokes up from the center console. The infotainment system is Toyota’s standard Entune 3.0, with an 8-inch touchscreen that also offers Sirius XM and Apple Carplay—that comes in very handy because there is no built-in navigation or GPS here, although Android (and iOS) users can download the Scout GPS Link app and use their phones to find the way.

In this regard, it’s much like the Corolla Hatchback we reviewed last year, although here the steering wheel and dash are made from firm plastic, not wrapped in leather. Toyota has been less stingy with the safety tech. Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, the OEM’s suite of advanced driver assists, is standard and includes forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, along with lane departure warnings and steering assist, adaptive cruise control, and road sign recognition.

On the move, things are similarly unremarkable. As with the Prius Prime, you want to drive everywhere under electric power if possible–this is a hybrid, after all. But it has no EV mode—the battery is too small. In town, you quickly work out just how slowly you need to accelerate up to 25mph to prevent the gasoline engine from firing up, which gives you plenty of time to contemplate how much more responsible you’re being than all those giant SUVs driving around you at 10mph over the speed limit.

And yet, even driven like that, over 10 days I only averaged 38mpg. Which is not great, considering the car is rated by the EPA at a combined 52mpg (53mpg city, 52mpg highway). That may be a consequence of the season—we know that cold weather has an impact on efficiency, even though late December in Washington, DC, wasn’t particularly cold.

I caught a little flak a while back when I wrote that the Toyota Camry’s sales success was proof that most people just don’t care about the car they drive as long as it works. It’s not even that Toyota can’t build exciting cars—the Lexus LFA, Toyota 86, and the new Supra are all testament to that (although two of those were developed together with other OEMs).  But I think the same is true of the Corolla—if you just want an affordable car to take you from A to B, one that (mostly) sips rather than gulps gas, the Corolla Hybrid is fine. Boring, but fine.

Listing image by Toyota

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top