The terminator — the line that separates night from day on Earth — has been creeping over Toyota's lineup in the form of Nightshade editions. The 4Runner, Camry, Highlander and Sienna already have their darker alter egos, and now the Corolla sedan and hatchback enter the darkness for the 2020 model year. Both Corolla Nightshade versions are based on the SE grade with the CVT and get black-out badging, grilles, mirror caps, window trim, rocker panels, door handles, spoilers, shark-fin antennas, diffuser inserts, and 18-inch wheels. The hatchback adds a black inner headlight frame in front and a black lower spoiler in back. Buyers are able to option the package on the sedan in Super White, Classic Silver Metallic, and Black Sand Pearl. On the hatchback, instead of Black Sand Pearl, the third color is Midnight Black Metallic. The Nightshade sedan lists for $22,750 before a $945 destination charge, for a total of $23,705 after destination, $700 more than the standard SE trim. The Nightshade hatch runs $23,245 after destination, which is $900 more than the hatchback SE. The five-door Corolla tweaks its equipment mix for next year, too. If the Nightshade doesn't do enough to get a buyer's Batman on, Toyota has put a black roof on the options menu. It can be ordered with four body colors, one of which overlaps with the black-out package: Blizzard Pearl, Blue Flame, Classic Silver Metallic, Oxide Bronze and Smoked Paprika. A new feature only for the SE hatchback expands cargo space by omitting the spare tire. A lower load floor frees up six more cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, taking cargo volume to just about 24 cubic feet. Compatible with the SE in either CVT or six-speed manual guise, a tire repair kit replaces the extra rubber. On the SE and XSE grades, the Sirius XM All Access trial goes from being a cost option to a standard feature, and the entire hatch lineup adds Android Auto compatibility as standard, joining the already available CarPlay.
The IIHS has finally crash tested the 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan, and it has earned the organization's second highest commendation of Top Safety Pick. It matches the hatchback that was tested earlier, meaning all versions of the Corolla have this high safety rating.
Getting the car to the Top Safety Pick rating are excellent crash test results. The car earned the top "Good" ratings for all crashes including the difficult passenger-side small overlap crash. Its standard forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems also earned the top "Superior" rating and was able to prevent a collision even at 25 mph.
The 2019 Lexus UX is the smallest and cheapest Lexus you can buy, and the UX 250h hybrid model just barely misses out being the most fuel efficient. As an entry into the Lexus brand, this subcompact crossover is generally an impressive effort, embodying the design, quality, features and driving experience we've come to expect – albeit with understandable cutbacks made to achieve its lower price.
However, the UX faces stiff competition. It has one of the smallest cabins in a segment not known for its spaciousness, and its Remote Touch tech interface constantly frustrates. And while fuel economy is exceptional for the segment, its acceleration is underwhelming regardless of whether you get the UX 250h or gas-only UX 200. Worse still, you can only get the latter with front-wheel drive. In other words, this is a car with distinct highs and lows.
I’m in a quandary. Like lots of other petrolheads, I love cars from my childhood – in particular, those from the 1990s and early 2000s. These were perhaps the twilight years of cars with manual transmissions with somewhat iffy safety ratings, rattly rides, and plasticky interiors. Many from the 1990s made do with one or two airbags at best, A- and B-pillars were often thin, visibility was excellent, and things were just much simpler.
The 2020 Toyota Corolla was introduced in 1966, and more Corollas have been sold than any other nameplate in the world. It's Toyota's budget sedan, although now it's offered in a hatchback format as well. It has been completely revised for the 2020 model year (well, the 2019 model year for the Corolla Hatchback), and given another engine choice as well as a hybrid option. Toyota does a good job of putting a lot of safety technology into its cars as standard, and the Corolla is no different. For many drivers, the Corolla will be their first car, and many owners will hold onto it for years. As automakers move away from sedans, Toyota is committed to the body style, and provides the many shoppers still interested with an affordable, easy-driving commuter.
Many of my Junkyard Gems come from wrecking yards in the San Francisco Bay Area, which offers the wrecking-yard aficionado plenty of well-stocked yards with rapid turnover of inventory (as much scrap metal must be shipped out of the Port of Oakland every day). Because that region is such a hotbed of creative types, including most Burning Man participants, I see plenty of retired art cars in Bay Area wrecking yards. Here's an elaborately painted 1991 Toyota Corolla DX wagon, spotted in a Silicon Valley car graveyard.
Granted, the Flying Colors Corolla doesn't show the level of commitment to art-car madness that we've seen in some other junked mobile sculptures over the years; the owner probably wanted to keep one foot somewhat planted in, or at least touching, the square world.
The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback plays somewhat against type by being interesting to look at and not a complete snore to drive (characterizations that now also can be applied to the new Corolla sedan). After all, the latest Corolla hatch and upper trim versions of the sedan use a larger, 2.0-liter engine, boast an available six-speed stick with rev-matching, add a fixed first gear to their CVT, and swap the previous torsion beam rear suspension for a multilink setup. But one still gets the sense that there's unrealized potential here. Now Toyota is exploring that potential with the just-announced GR Sport version.
This sportified Corolla Hatchback wears GR Sport-specific lower body styling, a black mesh grille, and a rear diffuser. Additionally, there are special 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, fog lights, and rear privacy glass. The exclusive Dynamic Grey paint is two-toned with a black upper body. Inside, there are more aggressively bolstered bucket seats in cloth and leather or full leather, with contrast stitching. It's too bad the sporty upgrades don't extend to the mechanicals, but we will say the car looks pretty good.