2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Sedan Is An Undercover Prius

Toyota rolled out the all-new Corolla in hatchback form earlier this year, and followed up with the European wagon version in Paris, and the sedan version at the Guangzhou show in China just a couple of weeks ago.

Now it’s brought the new Corolla sedan to North America for its debut at the LA Auto Show, and revealed full details of its hybrid powertrain in the process.

While the Japanese automaker will continue offering its mainstay economy sedan with conventional powertrain options, it’s also rolling it out with a hybrid for the first time. Adapted from the Prius, the powertrain combines a 1.8-liter naturally aspirated inline four with a pair of electric motors and a continuously variable transmission,

The system delivers a combined output of 121 horsepower (90 kW) and fuel economy projected at upwards of 50 miles per gallon. It also employs a new Hyper-Prime Nickel battery that sits flat under the rear seats (instead of the trunk) for a lower center of gravity and better packaging in the TNGA platform.

And it incorporates a trick “preload” differential that channels torque to each of the two front wheels individually to combat the kind of “rubber-band” acceleration typical of many hybrids and provide “linear acceleration response [that] may take some by surprise.”

As you might expect, the Corolla Hybrid will feature both Normal and Eco driving modes, as well as an EV mode for pure electric motivation over short distances. But it also offers a Sport mode that increases the amount of power available for acceleration. And the regenerative braking system is designed to work with the shoes in the wheels to offer more stopping power.

The Corolla Hybrid rides on its own set of 15-inch alloys with low-rolling resistance tires, and offers all the safety and infotainment technologies you’d expect from a major automaker’s latest product.

Pricing has yet to be announced for the US market, but you can expect to pay a premium for the Corolla Hybrid over the conventional version as it joins Toyota’s growing gasoline-electric lineup alongside the Prius, Prius Prime, Prius C, the Mirai fuel-cell vehicle, and hybrid versions of the Camry, Avalon, RAV4, and Highlander.

*Live images added to the gallery

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  • MarketAndChurch

    I like the Chinese version better. But this is still good. Maybe cannabalizing on Prius sales, no?

  • danno

    Prius on the chopping block? Only so many small sedan sales to go around.

    • wait a minute

      with Prius sales plummeting, it makes sense to axe the base Prius but keep the Prius Prime Plugin, until they introduce the Corolla PHEV.

    • SpongeBob99Swell

      If the Corolla (Hatchback included) gets a Hybrid option that ends up cannibalizing sales of the Prius, they could turn the next Prius into a Plug-In Hybrid for that matter.. (my prediction)

    • brn

      I believe the Prius has always been a loss leader anyway.

  • sigma7777777

    Trunk volume?

  • Stephen G

    Can Toyota do something about it not looking like a big mouth bass?

    • TheBelltower

      I don’t think that Toyota is able to design cars without a big plastic maw.

  • PhilMcGraw

    What people should understand is that 50 mpg from a nickel battery on this type of car is pretty impressive. The Insight might still beat this when it comes to overall fuel economy numbers, but that car employs a lithium-ion battery. While lithium ion batteries overall are more fuel efficient due to holding a greater amount of charge per their size and being lighter, they haven’t proven to be better for long term reliability.

    Lithium ion batteries degrade faster overtime than nickel batteries, so while the Insight might not hold the same mpg rating 3-4 years from now the Corolla will hold it’s rating for years and years to come.

    • TheBelltower

      Aren’t most car batteries nickel? They only last about seven years. Most lithium EV/Hybrid batteries maintain 80% of their capacity over 300,000 miles because they have elaborate battery management systems.

      • PhilMcGraw

        I’ve seen Toyota Prius’ with the original battery still going for 200k and 300k miles and for 10 or more years. In fact:

        “Consumer Reports conducted owner surveys that counted all battery replacements and found that first and second year Prius models had around a 5-percent replacement rate, which dropped closer to 0.1 percent during the end of the run for the second-generation Prius.”

        And Consumer Reports also tested a 2002 Prius about 10 years later against their original findings:

        “So we hooked up a 2002 Toyota Prius with nearly 208,000 miles on the clock to our testing instruments and compared the results to the nearly identical 2001 Prius we tested 10 years ago. Conclusion: We found very little difference in performance when we tested fuel economy and acceleration.”

        And I’m going to need a source on that 80%.

  • Craig

    This is the ‘Prius’ I would buy.

  • Mr. EP9

    Toyota/Lexus are the worst offenders though.

    • no25

      Uh, no. Mitsubishi? BMW’s new hamster buck teeth grille? There are so many worse grilles. I mean I can agree with Toyota on the Avalon.

  • Perry F. Bruns

    So, wait a minute. Not only did they put the Prius powertrain in the Corolla hybrid, but they smartened up the front end and got rid of the gimmicky C-pillar/deck lid character lines?

    I mean, sure, it’s kind of back to “Honey, I shrunk the Camry,” but with the current-gen Camry, that’s hardly a bad thing. Bring a hybrid estate to the U.S. with that look and I’m in.

  • EL CHAPO

    People are just sensitive, that’s all.

  • getoffme

    The Prius is now dead.

  • Marty

    Let me explain how articles work:
    • Article about a Toyota with an ugly grille -> comments say “the grille of this Toyota is ugly”
    • Article about a BMW with an ugly grille -> comments say “the grille of this BMW is ugly”
    • Article about an Audi with an ugly grille -> comments say “the grille of this Audi is ugly”

  • PhilMcGraw

    Yes but you have to remember to that lithium loses 50% of its capacity in cold weather conditions. The same can’t be said of nickel hydride batteries. And nickel batteries are cheaper to replace when they do need replaced. A nickel hybrid battery will cost you $2000-2500 while lithium will cost you $4000 at least.

  • no25

    RIP PRIUS! See ya!

  • Liam Paul

    so the prius is for green badge people and the corolla is for car people who want good mpgs

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