Toyota made a strategic decision with its gasoline-electric hybrid lineup in the 2020 model year, by eliminating the lower-volume Prius C and essentially replacing it with a hybrid Corolla as part of its next-generation update of its still-popular compact car.
The addition comes a year after Toyota added a hatchback Corolla model that caught the attention of several larger fleets looking to appeal to younger drivers.
These, along with several other upgrades, have made the twelfth-generation 2020 Corolla a "great option for fleets that are looking to utilize a compact sedan, a hybrid or need a little more cargo capacity and opt for the youthful hatchback," said Jeff Perkins, vice president of operations for Motorlease Corp.
"It would be a good fit for sales fleets with smaller territories or those that are required to carry some product but not a lot of product therefore don’t require a larger vehicle," Perkins said. "It's also a good option for level 1 on a tiered selector."
Here are five features of the 2020 Corolla and hybrid variant that would benefit fleet operations.
Excellent Hybrid Fuel Economy
Toyota is offering its 2020 Corolla in five trim grades, including L, LE, SE, XLE, and XSE. Buyers can choose from two gasoline engines or the hybrid powertrain.
XSE and SE grades are powered by a new 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder engine that makes 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The standard 1.8-liter inline-four-cylinder engine carries over from the prior model on L, LE, and XLE models. The 2.0-liter engine will deliver power via a new continuously variable transmission or six-speed manual.
The hybrid model uses a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor that puts out 121 horsepower and 105 lb.-ft. of torque. It can deliver 53 mpg in the city and 52 mpg on the highway.
"The gas version of the Corolla already produces a respectable 33 mpg for its class, but with the hybrid rating of 52 mpg combined, it provides fleets with Prius-like mileage ratings in a sportier sedan package," Perkins said.
Safety Features Galore
Toyota has significantly boosted safety content by offering its next-generation safety package, TSS 2.0, that includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, lane keeping, automatic high beams, and road sign recognition.
"It's packed with standard safety equipment even at the lower trim levels such as eight airbags, the Toyota Star Safety System, and Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 that consists of equipment including pre-collision pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, and dynamic radar cruise control to name a few," Perkins said.
On June 18, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2020 Corolla a Top Safety Pick, when it's equipped with optional curve-adaptive headlights. The vehicle scored good ratings on six IIHS crash tests. The Corolla hatchback was previously given a Top Safety Pick award.
Convenience Doesn't Take a Back Seat
The 2020 Corolla adds connectivity features with its standard Entune 3.0 audio system with Wi-Fi connect, Amazon Alexa voice recognition, Siri Eyes Free, and Apple CarPlay.
It all displays on an 8-inch touch screen.
Affordable Acquisition Cost
The Corolla Hybrid has been competitively priced. It's the most affordable hybrid in the Toyota lineup with a retail price starting under $23,000 before delivery fees.
Toyota is offering a $800 commercial fleet incentive for the sedan, hatchback, and hybrid models.
Favorable TCO at Higher Mileage
The Corolla provides good total cost of ownership with an expected strong residual value. The hybrid wouldn't likely put fleet procurement professionals in a penalty box.
"With the residual value adjustment and equipment enhancements for the LE hybrid over the LE gasoline model, fleets should begin to see the upfront cost differential for the hybrid to begin to disappear and level out around 50,000 miles," Perkins said. "Those fleets that operate at higher mileages should see a greater TCO due to the fuel savings."
Other Toyota hybrid models may deliver a quicker payoff, but the Corolla Hybrid should work well for fleets that plan to utilize it past the 50,000-mile odometer reading.
"I'd argue that TCO on the Highlander would start to payoff potentially as low as 30,000 and RAV4 almost immediately," Perkins said. "There are other factors to consider, one of the standouts from experience tends to be a longer order-to-delivery time."