Competes with: Honda Insight, Hyundai Ioniq, Toyota Prius; possibly the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Nissan Leaf
Looks like: The 2020 Corolla with some blue accents on its badging, because blue means “hybrid”
Drivetrain: 121 total system horsepower from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine and two electric motors; continuously variable automatic transmission
Hits dealerships: Spring 2019
Fresh off revealing the heavily redesigned 2020 Corolla sedan, Toyota is offering up a hybrid version of the compact car, the 2020 Corolla Hybrid, debuting at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. The 2020 Corolla Hybrid will be the first-ever hybrid Corolla … in the U.S.; Japan has had one available since 2013. (They also get station wagon versions of the compact.)
Related: More 2018 L.A. Auto Show Coverage
The Corolla Hybrid will be available without trim-level distinctions, unlike other hybrids from the brand. Toyota expects it to go on sale in the spring of 2019.
There’s not a whole lot different from the new non-hybrid 2020 Corolla. The hybrid will have the same front and rear look as lower trim levels of the new Corolla, going without the extra grille openings on either side of its gaping maw. Badging will get a blue accent to it, but other than that and some unique 15-inch wheels, it might take reading “Hybrid” along the rear to tell the two apart.
The inside remains much the same, as well, although Corolla Hybrid models will come standard with the 7-inch configurable gauge display that is optional in the non-hybrid. That screen will display a speedometer and battery charge status, and can be configured to also display things like a tachometer or accelerator guidance system to indicate suggested pedal operation for maximum fuel efficiency. Toyota’s Entune 3.0 multimedia system with Apple CarPlay — but not Android Auto — and Amazon Alexa compatibility is standard.
Under the Hood
The Corolla Hybrid is powered by a combination of a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine and two electric motors. Total system output is 121 horsepower. The battery pack is made out of nickel-metal hydride and uses a new, trademarked technology called Hyper-Prime Nickel to reduce battery pack size and weight, boosting performance. The reduced dimensions enabled Toyota to put the battery pack under the rear seat instead of under the trunk; this improves cargo space and utility, and also gives the Corolla Hybrid a lower center of gravity.
Toyota projects a combined fuel economy rating of at least 50 mpg, which would certainly be impressive if the EPA confirms it in testing. In attempting to reach that goal, Toyota has optimized fuel efficiency wherever possible. The gas engine uses the Atkinson cycle and takes steps to warm up the engine as quickly as possible upon startup. An efficient air-conditioning system and electric-powered cabin heater also reduce fuel usage.
Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 suite of advanced safety features will be standard on the Corolla Hybrid just as it will be on the gas-only 2020 Corolla. This includes forward collision detection with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control that works down to a full stop, lane departure warning and lane-centering steering, automatic high beams and road sign assist.
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