Home Reviews 2020 Corolla XSE – Bolder and quicker with more of everything

2020 Corolla XSE – Bolder and quicker with more of everything



The all-new 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan features more dynamic styling, a new platform, more robust powertrain, latest multimedia and technology plus other refinements that make it oh so much better than the last generation. 

Much of what is included in the 2020 Corolla sedan was included in the – also new – 2019 Corolla Hatchback introduced late last year. We had already spent wheel time in the new Corolla ‘Hatch’, coming away favorably impressed. 

If Toyota could do all of that and then some in the new Corolla sedan, they had a winner.

They did and, for the first time in our memory, we may consider the more affordable Toyota Corolla in lieu of the Toyota Camry as our next new vehicle.

Drive one, you might find yourself also stepping down a vehicle segment without giving up any performance, convenience, technology or features you want.   Plus, you save some money.


2020 Toyota Corolla XSE

Toyota loaned us a new 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE (top-of-the-line) for a full week road test recently.   In short order, we confirmed what we shared earlier on a Facebook post. 

Simply, the 2020 Toyota Corolla is not your local school teacher’s Corolla anymore.  At any of the trim levels – including a new hybrid – you are getting one very nice set of wheels that delivers style, room, technology and performance plus ride and handling that is quick and nimble.


As Tested

Our test Corolla came in their new Blueprint color with Black exterior accents and Black interior, powered by the 2.0L Dynamic Force 4-cylinder engine. 

The XSE runs on 18-inch machined alloy wheels with Dark Gray painted accents – mounted with 225/40R18 all-season tires – giving it a subtle urban look.

The MSRP on XSE is $25,450.  However, our Corolla came fully equipped with the only package combination available – XSE Connectivity w/Adaptive Front Lighting – bringing its delivered price to $28,794.

Hint: If you are going with the XSE, add the package – the sounds and lights (plus a couple other things) are well worth it.



The XSE features some distinctive touches including a bold new fascia with a body color chin spoiler and aero stabilizing fins. A Gray sport mesh grille is tucked neatly beneath its slightly lower hood


Forward lighting elements are placed deep into the fenders and feature J-shaped Bi-Beam LED headlamps, triple J-shaped LED clearance lamps and LED turn signals.

The rear tail and stop lights are also LED and feature smoked lenses.  A Dark Gray Rear Spoiler and single exhaust with chrome tip finish the XSE look.


Our Corolla XSE included the optional Adaptive Front-lighting system that delivers a wider field of light and directs the low beam in the direction of the vehicle’s turn. We have commented before that, on Hill Country dark farm roads above Lake Travis, adaptive front-lighting is a must have.  These on Corolla are just right.





The cabin of the 2020 Corolla is significantly improved in feature, function and comfort – particularly in the XSE. 

The XSE features front sport seating that is thinner but more supportive using solid side bolsters that provide more comfort than prior generations. Seat coverings are in a higher grade Softex with textured black/blue accents giving XSE a sporty look. Seats are heated with 8-way power adjustment for the driver.

Other interior elements include a nice mix of hard and soft touch materials. Piano Black (not normally a favorite of ours) has been used wisely. Coupled with matte elements, silver accents and contrasting stitching – a premium looking ambience has been created.

The instrument panel on XSE features an 8-inch bright center stack display screen with functional access to vehicle settings, audio controls, navigation and Entune Apps. Climate controls are located just below for quick access. Other controls are logically-placed with minimal gaps for ease of use.


There were several interior elements of note including:

  • Terraced cup holders that adapt to various-sized beverage
  • Ambient lighting illuminating the front door trim, console tray and front
  • Qi wireless charging pad tray on the soft touch console
  • Smart Key System with remote entry and Push Button Start
  • 7-inch high resolution Multi-Information Display with digital/analog display
  • Tilt/Telescopic Steering Wheel w/audio, information and driving controls
  • Power tilt/slide moonroof w/shade (shade helps in Texas)
  • Quick to cool climate control system (big deal in Texas)
  • Rear seat cupholders

I did not exactly check the trunk, but it looked probably like a ‘foursome’ of golf bags would fit side by side lengthwise in its 13.1 cubic foot space.



Our 2020 Corolla XSE was equipped with the optional JBL Premium Audio System with Clari-Fi, nine-speakers including mid-range door mounted units, 10-inch subwoofer and 800-watt amplifier.  Nicely tuned for the Corolla cabin, it delivered a seriously premium sound experience.

Features of the multi-media overall system included Entune 3.0 Connectivity, Dynamic Navigation, SiriusXM and HD radio, Siri Eyes Free, Wi-Fi Connect, Apple CarPlay compatibility and Amazon Alexa (Android Auto is not available).

Other elements were the AM/FM radio, CD player, MP3/WMA playback, Bluetooth wireless streaming connectivity, auxiliary input and USB ports and a 12V power port.



The brand new 2.0-liter four-cylinder Dynamic Force direct-injection engine powering the 2019 Corolla Hatch also powers the 2020 Corolla XSE sedan. It delivers 169 horsepower with 152 lb.-ft of torque and is fuel economy rated at 31/38 mpg city/highway and 34 mpg combined.

Note: We achieved 36.2 mpg combined fuel economy running about 300 miles in seven days.

The Dynamic Force engine is mated to a Dynamic-Shift CVT (continuously variable transmission) with a physical first gear launch feature for quicker start-off acceleration before transitioning to the CVT system.  The CVT has a simulated a 10-speed Sequential Shiftmatic with Sport Mode and Paddles Shifters that provide a near-conventional acceleration feel.



Constructed on the TNGA platform, the 2020 Corolla XSE Sedan is fitted with a revised MacPherson Strut front suspension and a fresh multi-link rear suspension with newly developed shock absorbers featuring improved damping to deliver more dynamic handling with smoother ride.  

Steering is electric power-assisted rack and pinion.  Braking is 10.8-inch power assisted ventilated disc front and 10.2-inch solid disc rear with an Electric Parking Brake.


Corolla XSE comes with the Toyota Star Safety System plus the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 advanced suite of integrated active and pre-collision features.  Some of those include Dynamic Full Speed Cruise Control w/Full Stop, Automatic Emergency Braking, Automatic High Beams, Road Sign Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Active Lane Control, Blind-spot monitors, Brake Hold, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear-View Camera w/Dynamic Guidelines.

Corolla Hybrid

The 2020 Corolla does offer a hybrid in the lineup – the LE H.  The MSRP is $22,950.  The fuel economy rating for the LE H is 53/52 mpg city/highway.  Well worth the look if a hybrid is on your list.

2020 Corolla Lineup

The Corolla lineup for 2020 has six gasoline models including one with a manual transmission option.  They are the entry level L MSRP $19,500, LE $19,950, SE $21,950, SE (6-speed manual) $22,650, XLE $23,950 and XSE $25,450. 

Read more about the 2020 Toyota Corolla – including the hybrid LE H – or build one your way by going to: https://www.toyota.com/corolla/.

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