Toyota Corolla: Which Should You Buy, 2020 or 2021?

2021 Toyota Corolla SE Apex Edition

Most significant changes: Sedan adds a sport-oriented Apex model to the lineup; wider availability of safety features on the 2021 Corolla

Price change: Up marginally on hybrid sedan, gas-only sedan and hatchback

On sale: Now

Which should you buy, 2020 or 2021? Opt for model-year 2021; prices increase only slightly, and the new year brings more airbags and a wider availability of safety features across the lineup. 

Toyota’s compact car is available in a few different flavors: There’s the Corolla sedan, Corolla hatchback and Corolla Hybrid (also a sedan). For 2021, all three versions get a little something new, but the biggest news is with the non-hybrid sedan: Toyota adds a little more flair to the lineup with a sport-inspired Apex Edition trim, which adds an updated suspension, sporty exterior styling add-ons and specific 18-inch wheels. 

Related: What’s the Best Compact Sedan?

Other updates to the non-hybrid Corolla sedan for 2021 are minor. They include standard Android Auto across the lineup, two additional airbags and wider availability of blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. (Cross-traffic alert is entirely new on the Corolla for 2021.)

The 2021 Toyota Corolla sedan in base L trim starts at $20,920, an increase of $325 for the new model year. The Apex edition starts at $26,065; all prices include destination. 

Corolla Hatchback

The Corolla Hatchback gets a Special Edition trim limited to 1,500 units. It wears new Supersonic Red exterior paint and features a body kit with a new front splitter, side skirts and rear roof spoiler. It also gets a specific rear bumper, badging and black 18-inch wheels.

The Corolla Hatchback also gets some additional safety features. A blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert is now standard on XSE trims and available on SE models as part of the SE Preferred Package. Toyota also added two rear-seat side airbags to the Corolla Hatchback, giving it 10 airbags in total. 

The 2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback starts at $21,560 in SE trim, $275 more than the 2020. Toyota has not yet released pricing for the new Special Edition model. 

Corolla Hybrid

The Corolla Hybrid sedan joined the lineup for 2020 and carries over with few changes. It, too, gets the additional rear airbags for 2021 and wider availability of blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The system is now optional on the LE Hybrid trim, which is the Hybrid model’s sole trim. The 2021 Corolla Hybrid starts at $24,495, or $400 more than last year. 

The 2020 Corolla sedan placed last out of three places in Cars.com’s 2020 Compact Sedan Challenge. Judges said it improved markedly over the previous generation and will satisfy the Toyota faithful, but the features and quality of our test vehicle didn’t justify its as-tested price. The hybrid model impresses, however, for its fuel economy and value; for 2020, Cars.com named it our Eco-Friendly Car of the Year.

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