Mike's Car Review: The 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE

2020 Toyota Corolla XSE

For 54 years, the Toyota Corolla has been the car that was everywhere and went unnoticed.

Oh, they sold plenty of them---in fact, the Toyota Corolla is, adding up all the examples moved since 1966, the best-selling car in the world.

But it has always looked---kinda anonymous. Like the response the stylists were trying to elicit was "small four-door economy sedan".

2020 Toyota Corolla XSE

2020 brings an all-new, twelfth generation Corolla. And this time, the stylists decided to make you notice.

No, it's not as far-out as the current Honda Civic. And it's not as sleek as the new Mazda 3. But it is fresh, contemporary and, especially done up in XSE trim, like our tester, rather aggressive and sporty-looking.

2020 Toyota Corolla XSE engine

Toyota even makes a move to back up those looks with some extra power. The XSE replaces the standard Corolla's 1.8-liter, 139 horsepower engine with a 2.0-liter four cylinder that makes 169. And those extra 30 horses do make a difference. The XSE also adds a sport suspension, sport drive mode, 18-inch wheels and paddle shifters with which to control the Continuously Variable TransmissionT. And it feels a lot more connected and engaging than Corollas have in the past.

Plus, the performance doesn't hurt you at the gas pump. The 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE's EPA fuel economy estimate is 31 miles per gallon city, 38 hiighway...and what I saw in a couple hundred miles of city street and urban freeway driving over a week makes those numbers believable.

2020 Toyota Corolla XSE interior

Base price for the 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE is $25,450, and it comes with the following standard equipment:

  • Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane tracing assist, automatic high beams, road sign assist).
  • Blind spot monitor.
  • Rear seatbelt warning.
  • Smart key with pushbutton start.
  • Integrated backup camera with projected path.
  • Sport mesh gray metallic front grille.
  • LED headlights with accent and daytime running lights.
  • LED taillights and stop lights with smoked lenses.
  • Color-keyed heated power outside mirrors with integrated turn indicators.
  • Dark gray rear spoiler.
  • Single exhaust with dual chrome tips.
  • Power tilt and slide moonroof.
  • Premium fabric with SofTex seats.
  • Eight-way power driver's seat with power lumbar adjustment.
  • Four-way adjustable front passenger seat.
  • Heated front seats.
  • Six-speaker audio system with eight-inch touchscreen.
  • Bluetooth.
  • Siri EyesFree.
  • Apple CarPlay.
  • Two USB ports (one audio, one charging).
  • Leather steering wheel and shift knob.

2020 Toyota Corolla XSE

And the 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE I drove for a week also had some extra-cost options:

  • Premium audio with navigation, nine JBL speakers with subwoofer and amplifiers, Clari-Fi, Qi-compatible wireless charging, Wi-Fi hotspot ($1,715).
  • Adaptive front lighting system and ambient lighting ($450).
  • Door sill protector ($179).
  • Protection package---carpeted trunk mat, floor mats, rear bumper protector and cargo net ($377).
  • Alloy wheel locks ($67).

2020 Toyota Corolla XSE
2020 Toyota Corolla XSE

With $930 delivery processing and handling fee, the bottom line on the window sticker read $29,168.

The 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE provides a lot of value and a decent amount of fun for less than $30,000---and good looks don't hurt, either.

Mike Hagerty

Mike Hagerty

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