I recently read the excellent review by John over at DadBlogUK on the Toyota Corolla 1.8 Hybrid (WhatCar Car of the year 2020) – and thought I’d add my own thoughts, having now owned the car for 8 months. Before purchasing the car, I spent hours (probably days) watching YouTube reviews and reading similar posts to Johns, so thought I’d add my own, for anyone else considering making the purchase.
I’ve never written a car review before, so this will probably go off on a tangent about the tech features!
Firstly, let us get the specs out of the way. This review is about the 2020 Toyota Corolla 1.8 Hybrid 5 Door Design 1.8 Petrol Hybrid (122 hp). There are a few models to choose from, but this is the middle of the range, and has an excellent range of features, that I’ll talk about below. The engine (the most important bit, right?) is a Hybrid engine, which means it has a battery that allows for driving in “EV” mode (“Electric Vehicle”) – and will allow you to go short distances running purely on the battery. You can enable this yourself, and the car will auto switch to battery power as and when.
Be warned – when you’re in a car park, at low speed, in EV mode, PEOPLE WILL WALK OUT IN FRONT OF YOU. Electric vehicles are silent – so be extra aware of pedestrians who think that just because they can’t hear a car, it won’t hit them – It will.
The Toyota Corolla 1.8 Hybrid is a redesign on the two models; the previous Corolla, and the now deceased “Auris”. It’s sleek, and has quite an angry look to it. I went for white, partly cost, partly because I like white cars – and opted for the privacy glass and 10 spoke alloys. The car itself sits very low to the road – personally, I love this – it gives a much nicer appearance, and being closer to the road aids the handling. However, it might be a struggle for some people to get in and out – my dad for example, with his dicky knees, has a bit of trouble!
The car itself is littered with cameras and sensors, I lost count. There are at least 8 proximity sensors in the front and back, for lane assist, cruise control and to make sure you don’t crash (the car will auto brake if it thinks you’re going to hit something) – and then there’s at least 2 cameras (front, back, there might be more, I don’t really know!). Basically, it’s watching the bits you aren’t – but none of these are obvious or intrusive.
The 17″ wheels sit snuggly in the arches, no big gaps – the car really does look nice, and the LED headlights mean that there’s less space needed for the old style headlights, making the front look much sleeker.
This was one of the biggest things for me when considering the Toyota Corolla 1.8 Hybrid. I do a fair bit of driving (well, before we had a Pandemic keeping us all inside!) – driving up to Liverpool for work, which is about a 5 hour drive each way. So it was important that I had the tech to make my journey easy, safe, and enjoyable. The car has ample USB ports in good places (centre console, a little phone holder slot etc), but it really could do with one or two in the back for the passengers to use, take note, Toyota ;-).
Firstly, Apple Car Play. Older models of the Corolla didn’t have it – despite having the same touch screen display unit. It can now be retrofitted, but for a cost. However, the new model comes with it, and I never realised just how much I’d use it. Car Play is the same in most cars, so you can Youtube that and watch all about it, but basically, you plug your phone in, and it loads everything on the main car unit – Spotify, Whatsapp, Google Maps, Podcasts and so on – all interfaced with via the car controls, or Siri.
Next up on the tech front; the cool built in bits that make your driving experience of the Toyota Corolla 1.8 Hybrid better. There’s probably a proper name for all this stuff I’m sure, but I don’t know it.
Adaptive Cruise Control
This is basically cruise control as you’re used to, but, if you’re on a motorway with cruise control on, at 65, and the car in front is keeping you at 50, when you indicate to change lanes, the car will use its sensors (it has a LOT of sensors) to work out if it can speed up, and will automatically speed up to overtake if safe to do so. Likewise, if a car in front slows down, the car will slow down to maintain a safe distance, and speed up again when there is space to do so. It’s great for motorway driving.
No word of a lie – the car steers itself. It has built in lane assist, so when you’re in cruise control mode, the car will automatically trace the lanes for you, ensuring you can’t drift out of lane. It takes a bit of getting used to, as the wheel pulls underneath your grip – but it’s great for safety, and if you’re being just that extra bit lazy. It’ll also beep and correct you back in to lane if you swerve without indicating. It’s important to note – this isn’t a form of autopilot – whilst the car will steer for you, you must never let go of the wheel, or not be alert to your surroundings.
Intelligent Parking Assist
One button, and the car will park itself for you. No steering, all you do it line up next to a space, press the IPA button, and let the car do the rest for you. Personally, I don’t use this, because I don’t have trouble parking (that’s not me being arrogant, I’m just one of those people, if I don’t think I’ll fit easily, I’ll find another space!) – but if you’re not keen on your parallel or bay parking, this button will literally save you hours!
Road Sign Assist
The car will read road signs as you scoot past them, and display them on the dashboard in front of you. No more excuses for missing that 30mph sign 😉 You can set the speed limiter (yes, it’ll stop you going faster than the speed limit automatically), so you don’t need to worry about being a bit heavy footed and getting caught.
This really IS a life saver. The Toyota Corolla 1.8 Hybrid has a built in SOS caller – which can be triggered by pressing a button in the centre console in the roof, or, automatically should the car be involved in a “serious rear end collision”, or if the airbags have been deployed. The button will then use an inbuilt mic to connect the car to an operator, who will either talk to the driver and ensure they are OK, or if no one in the car talks, they’ll alert the emergency services for you and inform them of the cars location. Imagine, god forbid, that you crash, alone, on a country road, and up hitting a tree. This feature will call the emergency services for you and get you help. Honestly, a lifesaver. You can manually trigger it by opening the cover and pressing the button – should you need it.
There’s just too much to talk about, I’ve not even mentioned the dual climate control, heated seats and so on; so here’s the list of key features that come with the Toyota Corolla 1.8 Hybrid (Design)
- Front parking sensors
- Rear parking sensors
- Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA)
- Reversing Camera
- Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection
- Lane Departure Alert with Steering Control
- Road Sign Assist
- Automatic High Beam
- Full-range Adaptive Cruise Control
- Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control
- Adjustable Speed Limiter (ASL)
- Emergency Brake-light Signal (EBS)
- Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD)
- LED High-mounted stop light
- LED Rear combination lights
- Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)
- LED Multi-reflector headlights
- Manual headlight levelling
- LED Daytime running lights
- LED Front fog lights
- Turning signal integrated in door mirrors
- Memory on speed limiter
- Motion sensor alarm
- Anti-tamper alarm
- Glass-breaking alarm sensors
- Hill-start Assist Control (HAC)
- Driver Attention Alert
- Lane Trace Assist
- eCall emergency call system
- Tyre Pressure Warning System (TPWS)
- Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) airbags – 7 airbags
- Front passenger airbag on/off-switch
- Front seat belt reminder
- Adjustable front driver seat belt extender
- Adjustable front passenger seat belt extender
- Pre-tensioners and force limiters
- Driver & front passenger active headrests
- ISOFIX seat fixing
- Rear seat belt reminder
- 3 Adjustable rear headrests
Being a Hybrid means you get some added features in the car – the first, is the EV mode button mentioned earlier. This allows you to drive just off the battery, and is great for driving around the city. Secondly, and most importantly, you get cool information about battery status – you can easily see how much charge you have, when the car is creating energy (braking will cause the battery to charge, “regenerative braking“.
There are also 3 driving modes;
Eco – designed for Motorway use (so I’m told), which will keep the revs low when cruising and encourage the battery if available
Normal – for, well, normal driving
Sport – for that extra kick (and I was amazed at this, but if you want to pull away quickly, or overtake, I think it draws more from the battery to give you that instant energy, but it’s very noticeable.
It’s a Hybrid, so you’d expect a good MPG from the Toyota Corolla 1.8 Hybrid. It auto switches between battery and petrol, so you can be sure that you’re getting the best MPG. However, Hybrid driving does require a different driving style to get the most from it. Toyota market the MPG at 55.3 to 57.6 mpg – I think they’re under cooking it here. If you’re gentle when accelerating (thus allowing the electric motor to do the lifting), and steady with the braking (recharging the battery from kinetic energy, instead of the petrol motor), you can easily get 65mpg. I average this, but on longer drives, 70mpg is pretty standard. If you adapt your style, you can get a great range from the car.
All in all – the Toyota Corolla 1.8 Hybrid is one of the nicest cars I’ve owned. At the time of writing, this model retails at around £26,500. Whilst it’s not fully electric, the hybrid engine really does help with the economy of the car – and the tech and safety features, coupled with the low ride, make it enjoyable to drive. I really encourage you to read as many reviews as possible before purchasing any car, so I hope this one helps someone, somewhere!
This post is a review for the Toyota Corolla 1.8 Hybrid – it is not part of any paid or sponsored campaign. The opinions in this post are based on my experience of owning the car. You can read our other reviews and opinions by clicking here.