2020 TOYOTA COROLLA

The 2020 Toyota Corolla offers more safety features, a well-designed cabin and performance upgrades.

As the best-selling nameplate in the world, the Toyota Corolla now enters its 12th generation with an all-new 2020 mid-size sedan aimed at keeping it in first place.

The gas-powered sedan joins the Corolla hatchback and hybrid models with an attractive facelift, more safety features, a well-designed cabin and performance upgrades.

It comes with the least expensive advertised base price ($19,500) versus its main competitor, Honda Civic ($19,750) and upcoming challenger Mazda3 ($21,500).

More than 46 million Corollas have been sold worldwide since 1966, based on the sedan’s reputation for reliability, resale value and safety. Ford’s F-series trucks are second with more than 42 million sold.

The sedan, along with the Corolla hatchback and hybrid, is built using Toyota’s New Global Architecture designed to improve vehicle agility, smooth the ride and imbue the interior with quality touches, like textured vent openings. Toyota’s highly praised Safety Sense is standard and includes, among other features, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, blind spot detection and lane keeping assist.

Corollas come in five trims – base L, sport models LE and LS, XLE and top trim XLS.

Our XLE test drive added five options totaling $3,204 with $1,715 for a major enhancement package that included navigation, Premium JBL audio, additional safety connect features, real-time technology interfaces and wireless cell phone charging.

Paint and protective film added $790; adaptive headlights cost $450 and carpet mats, $249.

A revamped suspension provided a quiet, comfortable ride on 16-inch wheels. Handling was precise, nimble and there was strong synchronous mating between the continuous variable transmission and the 1.8-horsepower engine.

Acceleration wasn’t peppy off the line, even in Sport drive mode, but Corolla made up for it with decent miles per gallon in Eco drive mode.

Outside, the new look in Buzzard Pearl paint resembles the look of a car a Star Wars movie storm trooper might own, with sculpted angles, monochromatic white laced with black offsets.

A sloping rear, raked windshield and trapezoidal-shaped grille give the Corolla a lean, tight Euro-sleek profile with tasteful fender flares.

Inside, the elevated high-resolution 8-inch dashboard multimedia touchscreen is easily reached, providing access to a plethora of functions.

Bolstered front seats were comfortable and the front cabin felt ample, although rear seating was slightly cramped.

AppleCarPlay is standard but there is no CD player or Android Auto.

There is a spare tire, crash scores are top tier and visors extend.

LIKES: Price, telematics, ergonomics, comfort, looks, standard safety features, mileage.

DISLIKES: Tight second row, enhancement option needed.

BOTTOM LINE: Great starter sedan for young couple.

2020 TOYOTA COROLLA XLE

Base price w/destination fees: 24,880 ($28,084 as tested)

Vehicle curb weight: 3,045 lbs.

Wheelbase: 106.3 inches

Length: 182.3 inches

Width: 70.1 inches

Engine specs: 1.8-liter, 16-valve, DOHC, 4 cylinders, direct injection

Horsepower: 139-hp at 6,600 rpm

Torque: 126 ft.-lbs. at 3,900 rpm

Transmission: Continuous Variable

EPA rating: 29 mpg city/37 mpg hwy

Range: 13.2-gallon tank, regular

Performance: 0 to 60 in just over 9 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.