2020 Toyota Corolla LE Hybrid new car reviews

Completely redesigned for 2020, the Toyota Corolla now offers a Hybrid version alongside the 139 horsepower L, LE and XLE and the 169 horsepower SE and XSE. The Corolla Hybrid comes in one trim, the LE.

Power for the LE Hybrid comes from a 1.8-liter inline four that produces 121 horsepower and 105 lb.-ft. of torque. Supplementing this powerplant is an electric motor that produces 53 kilowatts and 142 newton metres of torque. According to Toyota, that comes close to additional 71 horsepower and 105 lb.-ft. of torque.

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J.G. Pasterjak JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

Here at GRM, we always go gaga when a manufacturer drops some sort of factory hotrod ringer, purposely designed for competition. Whenever we see a Type R or a 1LE or an ACR on an N, we know we’re in for some excitement on track.

Well, the Corolla Hybrid LE is what would happen if factories suddenly became as interested in hypermiling as they are track days. Simply put, the economy of this thing is staggering. On a recent highway road trip, we averaged—AVERAGED—almost 56mpg in mostly highway cruising. That’s exceptional for a hybrid, which usually sees its strength in the stop-and-go world of city driving, where there’s lots of battery regen and low terminal speeds. Still, somehow Toyota managed to turn the Corolla in to something that goes more than 500 miles on a tank of gas, and the tank ain’t that big to begin with.

And lest you think the Corolla Hybrid is some sort of stripped out, single purpose husk, think again. It’s a real car. With a simple but pleasingly utilitarian interior with plenty of cubbies and convenience (something the recent Corolla refresh lacked in its earliest versions), and enough technology to make it functional and fun, without so much that it becomes an overwhelming button and menu fest. Basically it’s simple without being spartan, or making you feel like you bought a bargain basement, decontented model.

It’s also got a few high-end features like radar-aided cruise control, which makes those efficient highway miles even more satisfying.

Sure, there are a few drawbacks. First off, this is not a performance car in any stretch of the imagination. The low-rolling resistance tires make for a bit of a wandery highway ride—to the point where the lane departure intervention sometime steps in and gives the steering a gentle nudge when you’re just cruising down the highway and the mileage-master rubber floats you a little too close to the lane marker. And the engine, while efficient, can leave you feeling a bit vulnerable when you try and shoot for a gap in traffic and not much really happens.

But ultimately these are fairly minor quibbles when juxtaposed with the sheer, weapons grade efficiency of the thing. Even heavy drivers could spend less on gas for this thing than their Netflix subscription. And the other punchline is the price. The Corolla Hybrid LE comes in only one spec and one trim level. Yeah there’s a few accessories like rubber floor mats and cargo nets you can add at a dealer level, but from the factory the car only comes one way, and that one way will set you back under $24,000.

No, it’s not a sports car, but it’s one of the cheapest ways to drive in something that’s better than it has any right to be that we’ve seen lately.

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