The Toyota Corolla is one of the workhorses of the automotive world. Workhorses generally are taken for granted and their looks get dated. As of 2020 the Toyota Corolla is not that plain Jane family sedan anymore. With new looks inside and out, the new Corolla is sharper looking and filled with an updated interior, giving it a new lease on life.
The new Corolla even has a sportier engine variant which is paired with a six-speed manual transmission adding a bit more fun to your daily commute. This is available on the SE and XLE trims.
Available in L, LE, SE, XLE, and XSE trims, this review will focus on the sportier SE trim.
The SE spices things up with 18-inch alloy wheels, upgraded headlights, sporty exterior treatments, sport front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. If you opt for the manual transmission, you’ll also get keyless entry and ignition, changeable drive modes, and a sunroof. I test-drove the six speed manual transmission.
The bigger 2.0-liter engine produced 169 horses with 151 lb-ft of torque and was paired with the aforementioned six-speed manual transmission. I liked this manual, it was sporty enough to give me a thrill but easy enough to shift to not blow out my knee. Expect to get 29/city, 36/highway, and 32/combined mpg.
On the inside the Corolla benefits from the use of some nice materials. There is still the odd, brittle plastic but that is the exception rather than the norm. An 8-inch touchscreen is a dominate feature of the dash and controls many of the car’s functions.
Both the driver’s and front passenger’s seat adjust which is nice, and back seat passengers have less space than the old model but still enough for a comfortable ride. Cargo space is plentiful with 13.1 cubic feet, but the interior did lack for small storage space. When is a car maker going to create a decent place to put a cell phone? Still not happening.
On the road, the Corolla is competent if not exciting. The manual transmission gives the driving thrill level a notch up except when you are in LA’s bumper to bumper grind, then it’s a drag. There’s a good feel between the steering wheel and the road and bumps are generally muted.
If you eschew a crossover just on principal and enjoy the old-school ride of a family sedan, the 2020 Toyota Corolla SE just might be your golden ticket.