The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid isn’t exciting, but it is quite frugal

On Tuesday, I wrote about the week I spent with the current Toyota Prius Prime. Today, you get to read about another Toyota hybrid, the 2020 Corolla Hybrid, which I drove for 10 days immediately following my week with the plug-in Prius. The two cars actually have a lot in common. They use the same TNGA architecture, the same four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle internal combustion engine, the same electric motor, and the same continuously variable transmission. Like the Prius Prime, the Corolla offers a combined output of 121hp (90kW), with 71hp (53kW) of that from the electric motor. It also has the same amount of torque—105lb-ft (142Nm).

But the Corolla isn’t a plug-in, and it uses a nickel-metal hydride battery to feed the electric motor, the same as the regular Prius. That means it’s lighter on its tires, with a curb weight of 3,050lbs (1,384kg). And it’s significantly cheaper—at $23,100 it is more than $1,000 cheaper than the least expensive Prius, other than the subcompact Prius C. It also looks extremely normal compared to the current Prius. Unremarkably normal, in fact, particularly in the white paint—if you’re looking for a car to surveil or conduct a stake-out, this could well be it.

Open the door, step inside, and the unremarkable normality continues. The main instrument display is right in front of you, not offset up to the right on the dash. It’s a 7-inch digital display, flanked on either side by analogue dials, and everything is clear and understandable. There’s a conventional gearstick that pokes up from the center console. The infotainment system is Toyota’s standard Entune 3.0, with an 8-inch touchscreen that also offers Sirius XM and Apple Carplay—that comes in very handy because there is no built-in navigation or GPS here, although Android (and iOS) users can download the Scout GPS Link app and use their phones to find the way.

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