Toyota followed its November debut of the twelfth-generation Corolla with a November debut of the twelfth-generation Corolla. This time around, we’re looking at the new Hybrid sedanÂ â€” a model which seems like it probably should have gone on sale years ago, though we aren’t positive who the intended demographic would be. Prius owners?
While the Corolla Hybrid already exists in Toyota’s expanded universe, this is the first time the automaker has seen fit to bring the variant stateside.Â The hybrid system unites a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle internal combustion engine (2ZR-FXE) and two electric motors for a combined output of 121 horsepower.Â Those are rather tepid specs, but the automaker was likely much more concerned with achieving the model’s estimated 50 mpg average fuel economy than tuning the motor for the racetrack.
Consider it sort of a Diet Prius, if that helps.Â
Of course, Toyota doesn’t want you to think the Hybrid will be a snail. The company claims the electrified setup gives the powerplant some added oomph at low speeds. It also has a sport setting for when you want to wring out every last drop of performance from your economy-focused, CVT-equipped, front-wheel drive sedan.
Alternatively, there’s the default normal, Eco, and EV modes for drivers to choose from during their daily commute. While it’s easy enough to guess how they change the vehicle’s priorities, it should be said that the EV mode allows forÂ electric-only driving only when the vehicle’s nickel-metal hydride battery holds a sufficient amount of energy.
That’s the same power cell that occupies the newÂ Prius AWD-e, if you were wondering. Toyota, which has wisely placed the battery beneath the rear seat to avoid losing interior volume, equipped the model with a braking system that prioritizes regenerative braking as it works in tandem with hydraulic clamps. Intended as a way to send otherwise wasted energy back into the battery, the system also boasts a slick brake hold setting that could be useful in heavy traffic.
Beyond that, there really isn’t much to distinguish the Corolla Hybrid from the standard model. Both will haveÂ automatic braking, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep with assist, sign recognition, and automatic high beams as part of the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of safety aids. They’ll also share nearly identical exteriors, as the electrified model doesn’t really wear much telltale badging.
In fact, it might be easier to look for theÂ 15-inch alloy wheels and low rolling resistance tires if you’re out car spotting. The only other sure-fire way to tell is to actually hop into one and check to see if it recommends adjusting your driving to maximize efficiency.
Currently on display at the LA Auto Show, the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid goes on sale in the spring of 2019. Expect pricing and additional details to be announced closer to its launch.