The world’s most popular car just got a makeover. Toyota unveiled the new 2020 Corolla sedan, which promises to be more efficient and more enjoyable to drive than the current model. A hatchback version of the car was unveiled last April at the New York Auto Show and is on sale now, but the sedan is the car most people recognize as “the Corolla.”
The generally unexciting, unassuming Corolla long ago passed such cultural icons as Ford’s Model T and Volkswagen’s Beetle on its way to becoming the best-selling car model ever. More than 45 million have been sold globally since the Corolla was introduced in 1966, helping to usher in a period of rapid growth for the Japanese auto industry.
Its popularity helped make Toyota the global force it is today. So, while the unveiling of a new multimillion dollar supercar may seem more exciting, the introduction of a new Corolla is unquestionably more important for both the auto industry and for far more people who actually buy cars.
From a business standpoint, the most important thing about this new car is that, once it goes on sale around the globe, the Corolla will be essentially the same car everywhere. In recent years, cars called the Corolla that were sold in different parts of the world have not always been closely related. In the United States alone, Toyota dealers sold the Corolla and the Corolla iM, two completely different small cars with the same name.
Now all Corollas, including the hatchback and the sedan, will be based on the same engineering “architecture,” that is also shared with the Prius and the C-HR small crossover. It’s called the TNGA-C, for Toyota New Global Architecture, Compact. It’s part of a bid by Toyota to save costs by radically simplifying its product lineup around the world.
Compared to today’s Corolla, the design is just a little more crisp and modern. Toyota is promising better performance, driving feel and fuel economy in this new model. Toyota is also promising lots of standard and optional safety technologies in the new car.
Car buyers, particularly in the US, have been shifting more toward crossover SUVs of all sizes. That’s prompted some car brands, like Ford, to drop sedans from their lineups — especially the smaller cars with tiny profit margins. But small cars aren’t going away altogether, said Michelle Krebs, an industry analyst with Autotrader.com, and the exit of other automakers from the field just leaves more room for cars like the Corolla and its longtime competitor, the Honda Civic.
“There are becoming fewer and fewer new vehicles in that $20,000 or under category,” she said.
Pricing for the new Corolla sedan hasn’t been announced yet, but the current version starts at under $19,000. The 2020 Toyota Corolla will go on sale next Spring.