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Real-World Fuel Economy: 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Is an MPG Overachiever

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

When it comes to hybrids, it’s all about the numbers — the fuel-economy numbers. The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 53/52/52 mpg city/highway/combined, but how does it perform in the real world?

Related: 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Review: All the Economy, Few of the Frills

I recently put it through its paces on a trip from Chicago to the suburbs of St. Louis and back. I had my 12-year-old son as my backseat co-pilot, a trunk that was one-third full of luggage … and an embarrassing amount of road snacks. To Chicago from Ballwin, Mo., I averaged 55.29 mpg on our 341-mile return trip. I had the Corolla Hybrid in its Normal drive mode (it also has Eco and Power modes).

The Corolla Hybrid has adaptive cruise control, which I used on both legs of my trip, and lane keep assist, which I turned off as soon as possible because it felt like the car was bouncing between the lane markers. The real payoff was at the end of the trip when I pulled into the gas station and filled up with 6.167 gallons of gas.

Like its hybrid sibling, the Toyota Prius, the Corolla Hybrid has a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine paired with two electric motors and a continuously variable automatic transmission.

I didn’t do nearly as well on the first leg of my trip. I put the Corolla Hybrid in Eco mode for my drive to the St. Louis burbs. On the 323-mile trip, I averaged 51.18 mpg and used 6.31 gallons of gas.

The start of this trip had me sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic from downtown Chicago to Joliet, Ill., roughly 45 miles of hellacious car congestion. Of course, the hybrid exceled in this traffic, and the trip computer said I was averaging anywhere from the mid-60s to low-70s in mpg, but that number kept dropping as I got closer to St. Louis. The rolling hills of the Mississippi River Valley seemed to tax the Corolla Hybrid when in Eco mode, and my initial thrill at seeing such high mpg on the trip computer was deflated by the time I pulled into Ballwin.

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When it comes to fuel-sipping cars, you won’t experience any thrills from the Corolla Hybrid’s driving performance — but you should get excited about the mpg it returns. And with 55 mpg logged, I couldn’t help but geek out.

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