Tuesday, April 16, 2024

First Drive: Newly-Redesigned 2020 Toyota Corolla is the perfect Karma Chameleon

Yes indeed, the Toyota Corolla for 2020 is the perfect Karma Chameleon you can play with all your heirs, depending on if they have been naughty or nice or if you just feeling like messing with them when it comes to buying them a car.

First off, this year’s Corolla is, for all intents and purposes, all-new.  Yes, it has been redesigned for the umpteenth time and is still the quality masterpiece it has always been.  It’s a reliable car through and through, even though it looks nothing like it did in its infancy back when Queen Elizabeth was less a Whiter Shade of Pale than she is now.

If you want to make the 2020 Corolla a luxury car, you can, plain and simple. The top-tier trim is the XSE and it starts at just $25,450, but your spoiled brats don’t need to see the Monroney sticker (slap them if they ask). This top trim comes with, among other items, selectable drive modes for rain, sleet or the dark of night; power seats, blind-spot monitoring, satellite radio and simulated-leather upholstery.  No need to get them real leather until they can produce a real college diploma, but they do get a leather-wrapped steering wheel and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The engine on the XSE is also more powerful than on the base trims. It’s 2.0-liter inline-4 with paddle shifters, so your heirs can race their Corolla through the streets of wherever they are not supposed to be racing. You can also add items like JBL audio (always a gem for listening to Helen Reddy, one of my all-time faves) and a moonroof, because, well, you may not want them to suffer too much.

But let’s say you do want them to suffer – or you really can’t afford much more than a good reliable new car with a long history of service and performance.  The base trim L starts at $19,500, which is a good starting price these days for a solidly performing car. It will be a basic car, to be sure, but it will come with adaptive cruise control, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay.

Some of the most advanced safety features available can be found at no extra charge on all Toyotas. On the base L trim and on up, those include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist and a great new tool that actual reads traffic signs for you.  (But please, still keep your eyes on the road and pay attention.)

For 2020, the Corolla is also available as a hybrid, thus expanding your choices even further. Yes, it is still a basic small sedan, but it is practical.  It can be a small simple functional utilitarian car with, actually, a lot of basic luxury IMHO.  Or it can be quite luxurious and easy on your budget, especially if you are the one paying the loan and the insurance.  It really is the perfect Karma Chameleon, which means you get to control the karma.

Hey, I get it, having heirs is tough.  No need to make it tougher by trying to give them all that life has to offer long before they are mature enough to handle it properly. That’s why starting them with a Toyota Corolla and then graduating them to a Lexus later in life makes sense.

Full disclosure, I am still waiting for my graduation…..

The 2020 Toyota Corolla is available in showrooms now.

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