Whether anyone would like to admit it or not, the Toyota Corolla has always been known to be about as fun as a cardboard box. It has always served its purpose as a reliable, fuel-efficient, and economical means of transportation, however, it was more of just an appliance to get from point A to B in. But for the 2020 model year, the Toyota Corolla was fully redesigned with a new look and new sporting character, but is it still as boring as everyone thinks?
The Toyota Corolla has some engaging engine options
One of the biggest pain points for Toyota Corollas was what was nestled under the hood. The 2017 Corolla was powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produced a paltry 132 hp and was mated to a CVT transmission. As you can imagine, that combination led to dismal acceleration times and lackluster performance as Car and Driver clocked its 0 to 60 times in a 10.5-second range.
But for 2020, Toyota decided to breathe a much-needed breath of more power into the Corolla as it included a new 2.0-liter engine that produces 169 horsepower and although it’s tied to a CVT as well, the new “launch gear” helps with an initial acceleration of the line and actually makes it feel responsive. We had the chance to drive the 2020 Corolla XSE with the new engine setup and we can say that while its acceleration doesn’t exactly push you back in the driver’s seat, it’s more than adequate the daily drive and for merging into traffic. Consumer Reports even published a 0 to 60 time of a much more respectable 8.7 seconds with the larger engine.
The Corolla is more agile now
In addition to the added bump in horsepower, the Toyota Corolla is more agile now. Its independent rear suspension soaks up bumps and road imperfections very well, but it also provides some predictable and well-sorted handling characteristics. The Corolla’s steering has also been much improved as it feels comfortable at a lower speed when tight cornering is needed and it’s very responsive at higher speeds without making the car feel to “darty.” Instead, the car changes direction smoothly and there is enough dead on-center feel that it’s not too twitchy, but it responds well to all of your steering commands.
There’s even a manual transmission option
If the term “sporty” means that you can shift a car to your heart’s desire, then you’ll be happy to know that you can still opt for the Corolla SE trim level that is available with a six-speed manual transmission. That trim also comes with the larger 2.0-liter engine, so if you want a corolla that can really get your gears going, then that could be the option to get.
But if you still want something more sedate, there’s the Corolla hybrid
However, if you really don’t care about driving performance and still want to bask in the sensible and fuel-efficiency glory that the Corolla has always been known for, then we suggest opting for the Corolla Hybrid. It’s 1.8-liter hybrid powertrain setup only produces 121 hp, but it’s able to achieve an EPA-estimated 53 mpg in the city and 52 mpg on the highway. While it doesn’t have the same zippy character as its SE and XSE trim stablemates, it still has the agility and steering responsiveness that we mentioned before. And if that’s good enough for you, then that means the Corolla is not as boring as it once was.