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The redesigned Corolla Hatchback brought back something that was missing in the Corolla for a number of years; being somewhat interesting. With more expressive styling and a new platform that improves driving dynamics, the model has started to shed its image of being bland. But would this continue with the redesigned Corolla sedan? To find out, I spent a week in the top-line Corolla XSE.

  • The basic profile is unchanged from the previous Corolla sedan, but Toyota has done their best to make look a bit more exciting. On the XSE, this means a different front clip from other Corollas with the emblem moved to towards the cutline of the hood, a larger lower grille, and deep cuts for the bumper. The distinctive fang headlights are carried over from other Corollas. Around back, not much has changed aside from a new rear diffuser. The updated look does make the Corolla sedan have presence, but I prefer the hatchback in terms of overall looks.
  • One item that is shared between the sedan and hatchback is the dashboard. As I noted in my Corolla Hatchback review, the dash features a layered design, faux stitching, and infotainment screen mounted on top - measuring either seven or eight inches depending on the trim. I like that Toyota is taking chances with the design, but also retaining the excellent ergonomics it’s  known for.
  • My particular tester came with the larger eight-inch featuring the newest version of Entune. While I wish Toyota had done more to make the interface look more modern and feature colors that weren’t various shades of grey. But I cannot deny Toyota builds a system that anyone can quickly grasp thanks to the simple interface design, physical shortcut buttons to various features, and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Those with Android smartphones are left out in the cold.
  • Those sitting up front will have no complaints about space, seat adjustment, or comfort. In the back, legroom is about average for the class. But headroom for taller passengers comes up a bit short, especially when you have the optional moonroof.
  • Three powertrains are available in the Corolla; a 1.8L four in the L, LE, and XLE; 2.0L four for the SE and XSE; and a hybrid for the LE Hybrid.
  •  The 2.0L produces 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet. The XSE only gets a CVT transmission, while the SE has the choice between the CVT and a six-speed manual.
  • Performance is the same as with the Corolla SE I drove last year; decent around town and leaving stoplights, but really struggles when trying to get to higher speeds. A fair amount of engine noise does make it way inside when driving on the highway.
  • EPA fuel economy figures for the Corolla XSE are 31 City/38 City/34 Highway - lower than the Corolla SE hatchback (32/41/35). My average for the week landed around 33.4 mpg on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving.
  • Handling is an improvement over the old Corolla as it feels slightly more lively with better control of body motions. But it cannot match the nimbleness of the hatchback. This likely comes down to the Corolla Hatchback being sold in the European market where a sportier ride is desired. The sedan sold in the U.S. is more attuned to providing a smooth ride.
  • The Corolla XSE for the most part is able to smooth over most bumps and imperfections, but the 18-inch wheels does mean some bumps do make their way inside. Road and wind noise is kept to acceptable levels.
  • There is one area that the Corolla XSE falters, value for money. With an as-tested price of $28,794, that puts you in the range of a well-equipped Mazda3 that not only offers more power, but has an interior that the Corolla cannot match. For only a couple grand less, a Kia Forte EX offers more equipment and a slightly larger back seat.
  • Toyota has improved the Corolla sedan to a point where most of the blandness doesn’t exist. I would have liked to seen Toyota take some of the handling magic used on the hatchback and place it into the sedan. But Toyota knows most buyers don’t really care about this. By taking the strengths and wrapping it up in a package that stands out, it will mean more people may check out the Corolla. But I would recommend sticking with one of the lower trims as they offer a slightly better bang your for your buck.

Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Corolla, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2020
Make: Toyota
Model: Corolla
Trim: XSE
Engine: 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve, Dual VVT-i
Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT
Horsepower @ RPM: 169 @ 6,600
Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,400
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 31/38/34
Curb Weight: 3,150 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Toyota, Aichi, Japan
Base Price: $25,450
As Tested Price: $28,794 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)

Options:
Premium Audio with Dynamic Navigation and JBL w/Clari-Fi - $1,715.00
Adaptive Front Lighting System - $450.00
Cargo Mat Package - $249.00


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Yup, this is a shady "bait & switch" done by a lot of carmakers.  I highly doubt you will ever see a Trailblazer L ($19,990) on a dealer lot... that is available only in FWD, and only in white, like a deliberate fleet vehicle that is lumped in with the private owner versions.  What a sham.

You can get the base Corolla in 4 bland colors, three more than the base Trailblazer.

Chevy has done away with the Cruze, their former Corolla competitor, so the comparison is valid.

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That like a top of the line Corolla?  Seems into Camry territory.   I just can't imagine almost 30k for a generic compact FWD 4cyl sedan... 

Edited by Robert Hall
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42 minutes ago, Robert Hall said:

That like a top of the line Corolla?  Seems into Camry territory.   I just can't imagine almost 30k for a generic compact FWD 4cyl sedan... 

In a 25 mile radius from my zip code there are 370 brand new Corollas with only about twenty priced above $25k with maximum around $28k.  The majority of Corollas are sold closer to $20k.

BTW within same range there are Traxes sold at over $30k.  There are 301 brand new Traxes and I see almost 90 of them priced over $25k.  That's IMO is ridiculous,

Edited by ykX
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6 minutes ago, ykX said:

In a 25 mile radius from my zip code there are 370 brand new Corollas with only about twenty priced above $25k with maximum around $28k.  The majority of Corollas are sold closer to $20k.

BTW within same range there are Traxes sold at over $30k.  There are 301 brand new Traxes and I see almost 90 of them priced over $25k.  That's IMO is ridiculous,

When I went to the auto show a month ago or so the Trax was $31k, the Equinox $41k, the Blazer $51k....madness...

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I actually like the profile of the new Corolla, but it starts to be much less of a value when it is optioned to the moon, Alice.

3 hours ago, Robert Hall said:

Trax was $31k,

Well they've done away with the Premier model for the '21 model year, it is just LS and LT, and the high end options are gone (no sunroof or Bose radio).  Trying to keep the average MSRP lower than the Trailblazer I guess, even though Trax starts at $21k + (base LS has alloys now, Trailblazer L has wheel covers) and Trailblazer starts at $19,900, the average MSRP will be much higher in a TB than a '21 Trax.  The low starting price for the Trailblazer is an advertising gimmick... a unicorn it will be.

 

 

Edited by ocnblu
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2 hours ago, daves87rs said:

30k for a compact car...ow.

The sad part is is that the CUV equivalent of a Corolla (better known as a RAV-4)  would sell for five grand MORE if similarly equipped.  Corolla should be max out at $25k, not $30K MSRP.

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24 minutes ago, riviera74 said:

The sad part is is that the CUV equivalent of a Corolla (better known as a RAV-4)  would sell for five grand MORE if similarly equipped.  Corolla should be max out at $25k, not $30K MSRP.

The highest priced RAV4 trims are stickered now in the low $40k range, for a Limited Highbird or TRD Off-Road.

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2 minutes ago, riviera74 said:

Whoa.  I am shocked, but not surprised these days.

Yeah it's been promoted.  They need another AWD CUV below it now, size of the original RAV.

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All new cars are really expensive.  You could pick up a 3 year old Lexus for the price of the Corolla.  But people don't always shop price, they shop monthly payment, so that is where the finance people get creative.

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23 hours ago, ocnblu said:

Yeah it's been promoted.  They need another AWD CUV below it now, size of the original RAV.

They have the C-HR, but it doesn’t look very practical as a CUV. 

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8 hours ago, Robert Hall said:

They have the C-HR, but it doesn’t look very practical as a CUV. 

Nope, that's why I put "AWD" in my comment.  C-HR is FWD only and it's like riding in an iron lung, no visibility, no power.

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On 3/20/2020 at 2:43 PM, Robert Hall said:

When I went to the auto show a month ago or so the Trax was $31k, the Equinox $41k, the Blazer $51k....madness...

at the auto show was a new Encore GX, almost 38 grand.  Loaded sure. But wow, about 10 grand too high IMO.

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14 hours ago, regfootball said:

at the auto show was a new Encore GX, almost 38 grand.  Loaded sure. But wow, about 10 grand too high IMO.

38k for  a 3cyl econobox.  Insane times.

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  • 1 month later...
On 3/20/2020 at 8:14 PM, ocnblu said:

The highest priced RAV4 trims are stickered now in the low $40k range, for a Limited Highbird or TRD Off-Road.

Or a 4 runner. 

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      Crisp Handling
      Premium Interior
      Jeers:
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      Cramped Rear Seats
      Fuel Economy Trailing the Pack
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      Horsepower @ RPM: 365 @ 6,000
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      Curb Weight: 3,774 lbs
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    • By William Maley
      Considering the number of Lexus RC coupes I have driven over the years, there has been a significant hole - the V8 RC F. Whenever I have asked for one, the vehicle either wasn't in the press fleet or someone else was driving it during the dates I had available. But I was able to finally get my hands on one for a week in early fall. It was good timing as I was feeling the effects of being home for the past six months due to COVID-19. Maybe this coupe could give me a bit of joy.
      The RC F is not a shrinking violet. From its bright yellow paint, blacked-out 20-inch wheels, and optional carbon fiber package that includes a retractable rear spoiler, this coupe is very brash and proud of it. I'll admit that I was worried about scraping or cracking the carbon fiber front splitter if I took a steep entrance ramp or bump a bit too aggressively. It looks cool on the car, but the existential dread of an expensive repair bill does sour the appeal.  Not much changes on the inside for the RC F except for carbon fiber trim and a set of racing-style seats. Usually, I have a lot of trepidation on this type of seat because I don't fully fit in due to my slightly wide shoulders. But the seats conformed to my body within a day or so and I found them to offer the balance of support during hard-driving, and comfort for day-to-day - something I find to be hit and miss on seats from other automakers. Lexus Enform is still a frustrating infotainment system to use on daily basis. With a touchy control pad, it is easy to find yourself changing the song or end up in a different section of the system. This means you need to pay close attention to any change being made, which becomes a distraction hazard. Apple CarPlay is standard and does make using the system a bit more bearable. But I do wish Lexus would roll out their touchscreen system which makes it much more intuitive. Though, that likely will not come until a redesign, possibly in the next year or two. The main event for the RC F is under the hood. A 5.0L V8 engine with 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque - figures that slightly pale when compared to the BMW M4 or Mercedes-AMG C63. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic which routes the power to the rear wheels. The initial acceleration is a slight disappointment as the throttle response feels a bit sleepy. I'm not sure if this was due to improve fuel economy or throttle feel higher in the rev band. Thankfully, this sleepiness goes away as the car climbs up in speed and the V8 reveals its party trick. The noise that comes out of this engine sounds like a muscle car and you find yourself stepping the accelerator to enjoy it. Not much to say about the eight-speed automatic. It goes about its business smoothly and quickly. Fuel economy was surprising in the least, as I got an average of 18 mpg in mostly city and suburb driving. A set of adaptive dampers comes standard for the RC-F and gives it a split personality. Turn the drive mode knob to Sport+ and the dampers tighten up to make the coupe feel more agile than its weight of 4,017 pounds would suggest. Also helping in the handling are a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires, providing tenacious grip. But switch the drive mode into normal and RC F becomes a very comfortable and refined grand tourer. Ride quality is very good with only a few bumps making their way inside. A minimal amount of road and wind noise is present. One area where the RC F holds a distinct advantage over the completion is the base price of $65,925 - undercutting most by a few grand. The danger is going through the option list and deciding to go crazy, which explains the as-tested price of $89,654. You can chop off over $11,000 by skipping the Performance package which brings all of the carbon fiber bits. The RC F lacks the outright performance as those from Germany. But I'm willing to overlook it because sometimes you want a car that just shouts to the world and the RC F does that very well. During my week, I found myself reveling in the engine and the grand touring characteristics of the suspension. It brought me the joy which sometimes is all you need a car to do. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RC F, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: RC F
      Trim: -
      Engine: 5.0L DOHC 32-Valve V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 467 @ 7,100
      Torque @ RPM: 389 @ 4,800 - 5,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19
      Curb Weight: 3,958 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $64,900
      As Tested Price: $89,654 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Performance Package - $11,400.00
      Premium Package - $5,350.00
      Navigation System w/Mark Levinson Audio - $2,725.00
      Torque Vectoring Differential - $1,250.00
      Premium Triple Beam LED Headlamps - $1,160.00
      Flare Yellow Premium Paint - $595.00
      Intuitive Parking Assist - $500.00
      Illuminated Door Sills - $449.00
      Orange Metallic Brembo Brake Calipers - $300.00

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