Toyota’s Corolla sedan has long been one of the most popular cars in Nigeria, competing with other Japanese Vehicles. The all-new 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is not an enthusiast’s driving machine and it doesn’t pretend to be, but it delivers good road manners and a quiet comfortable ride together with a different kind of driving excitement.
The Corolla Hybrid uses a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine that pairs with two electric motors, and they’re all integrated in a smooth and natural way. That’s no surprise given it’s borrowed from the granddaddy of hybrids, the Toyota Prius.
Power comes on quickly from a stop and builds smoothly for sufficient midrange response. I’m not enthusiastic about continuously variable automatic transmissions, but the Corolla Hybrid’s doesn’t offend as much as others. (Technically, the Corolla’s hybrid drivetrain doesn’t use a belt and pulleys, which is usually what’s at play with a CVT; Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive has continuously variable gear ratios and lacks the familiar shifting feel many CVTs now incorporate.) In the Corolla Hybrid, much of the usual CVT drone and numb responsiveness are inoffensive, making the car pretty quiet — much quieter than the Insight.
Shared with the Prius, the powertrain consists of a 1.8-liter four-cylinder and a 53-kW electric motor that together produce 121 horsepower. That’s a far cry from the regular Corolla 2.0-liter’s 169 horsepower and every other compact sedan. Off the line, you might not notice it given the extra jolt provided by electricity, but charging onto the highway requires patience and acceptance of a loud, droning engine. That said, the exact same thing could be said of the old, non-hybrid Corolla, and it didn’t have that extra jolt.
It also didn’t get the same fuel economy – few vehicles on the road do. The EPA rates the 2020 Corolla Hybrid at 53 mpg city, 52 mpg highway and 52 mpg combined. That’s basically the same as most Prius trim levels. According to the in-car fuel economy meter, which makes this admittedly less-than-scientific, I achieved 51.4 mpg over the course of 121 miles. The EPA ratings therefore seem accurate enough, and the typical Corolla Hybrid buyer could certainly do better as they’re unlikely to venture into the mountains as part of their typical driving week.
The Corolla Hybrid is only available in one trim level, the LE, which starts at $23,880 with dealer-installed accessories (like those door guards) the only options. The LE is only one rung up the ladder from the Corolla’s basement, and equivalent to the most basic Prius, the L Eco. Feature content is therefore modest, but you still get Toyota’s Safety Sense accident avoidance and driver assistance tech, alloy wheels, LED headlights, automatic climate control, proximity entry and push-button start, an 8-inch touchscreen, one USB port, Apple CarPlay and a six-speaker sound system. So it’s far from a stripper, but if you want more equipment, you’ll have to get a gas-only Corolla or cover your eyes and get a Prius.
The Corolla Hybrid also has lower-quality interior materials than upper Corolla trim levels, including every Hatchback. The padded and stitched vinyl that wraps their dash and front doors isn’t present in the Hybrid. Instead, there’s perfectly fine padded rubbery plastic on the dash and regrettably.
The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid ranges from $21,575 as Deal Price to $25,233 as Best Deal Price.