The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is an all-new model
The Toyota Prius is available with all-wheel drive
These two vehicles return very similar fuel economy
When Toyota introduced the Corolla Hybrid as an all-new model for the 2020 model year, many were left wondering what this would ultimately mean for the venerable Prius, the vehicle that up until this point had clearly been Toyota’s flagship hybrid product. The new Corolla Hybrid returns equally impressive fuel economy, though, while offering an all-new design without the quirkiness of the Prius. All is not lost on the Prius, though, and the vehicle still has a few unique advantages, including the availability of all-wheel drive, introduced as part of an update for 2019. Below, we’ll compare the new Corolla Hybrid to the Prius in a number of categories to help outline the main differences between these two highly efficient compact Toyotas.
The Toyota Corolla has been fully redesigned for the 2020 model year. As has been the trend with the rest of Toyota’s sedan lineup in recent years, the new Corolla boasts more distinct styling, better driving dynamics and a better array of tech and features than the outgoing model. As part of the redesign, Toyota has taken the opportunity to introduce a Corolla Hybrid for the first time ever here in the United States. With seriously impressive fuel economy and an all-new design, the Corolla Hybrid steps all over the Prius’ turf, which has many wondering about the future of Toyota’s original mass-market hybrid. While we expect additional trims to be introduced in the coming model years, the 2020 Corolla Hybrid is only available in one basic LE trim.
The Prius went on sale in its current generation for the 2016 model year and received a facelift for 2019. As part of that update for 2019, the Prius moved from its quirky numeric trim levels to trims that align with the rest of Toyota’s lineup, with L, LE, XLE and Limited trims now offered. There’s also a special L Eco model that returns slightly better miles per gallon overall. The Prius’ biggest change for last year was the addition of available AWD, which is offered on the Prius’ middle two trims. A simple battery-driven system, the Prius’ optional AWD is effective primarily at very low speeds and should appeal to buyers living in snowy climates who can appreciate added traction in the winter. While the Prius received some styling tweaks for 2019, the 2020 model carries over mostly unchanged, save for the addition of a 7-in screen on lower trims and standard Apple CarPlay. There’s also a plug-in version known as the Prius Prime, but for the purposes of this comparison, we’ll focus on the regular Prius.
The Corolla wears an all-new design for 2020. Up front is a large trapezoidal grille opening and long, angular headlights that nearly meet at the Corolla badge at the middle. Down the side, the greenhouse, wheel arches and beltline all mesh together nicely. It’s fair to say that Toyota got the proportions right when designing the new Corolla. The same goes for the rear. A black bar joining the rear taillights is a subtle nod to a popular design element found on Japanese cars of the late ’80s and early ’90s. See the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid models for sale near you
The Prius sticks with the quirky angular look made popular on previous generations. You wouldn’t mistake it for anything but Toyota’s dedicated hybrid. Up front, the Prius wears squinty headlights. The Toyota logo in the middle is flanked by narrow grille openings to either side. Looking at it from the side, the Prius’ beltline angles upward toward the back. The wheels and wheel arches are small, leaving the vehicle with a side profile dominated by a lot of glass and door panel. Around back, the Prius has a steeply slanted hatchback design, with a glass panel residing just above the rear license plate. Suffice to say, nobody’s calling the Prius beautiful. See the 2020 Toyota Prius models for sale near you
Inside is a lot of the same. The Corolla wears a more mainstream design, while the Prius is loaded with quirks. Available only on the Corolla’s LE trim, the Hybrid isn’t available with a lot of features, meaning that the cabin is dominated by swaths of black plastic and fabric. The black plastic steering wheel is particularly unpleasant to hold over long distances. An 8.0-in infotainment screen is standard.
As it’s offered in four different trim levels, the Prius can be had with a lot more content on the inside than the Corolla. Power-operated heated leather seats are available, as is a sunroof that lets a considerable amount of light into the cabin. One of the Prius’ signature design elements is its lack of a gauge cluster. Relevant information is displayed on a unique supplementary screen in the middle of the dash above the main center stack. Speaking of the center stack, there’s an optional 11.6-in infotainment screen available on the top-spec Limited trim. All other trims get a 7.0-in screen.
The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid and Prius use the exact same powertrains. Under the hood of either one is a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder making 121 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque and paired with an electronically controlled continuously variable automatic transmission. While this isn’t a lot of power, the electric motors make up for things a bit, thanks to their instant torque. While the Prius can be had with AWD, the Corolla is front-wheel drive only.
The basic two-wheel-drive Prius earns 54 miles per gallon in the city, 50 mpg on the highway and 52 mpg in combined driving, while an available Eco model earns 58 mpg city/53 mpg hwy/56 mpg combined. With AWD, the Prius comes in at 52 city/48 mpg hwy/50 mpg combined.
The Corolla Hybrid returns seriously impressive fuel economy as well, bettering all but the Prius Eco in combined driving. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid at 53 mpg city/52 mpg highway/53 mpg combined in its lone configuration.
The Prius measures 178 inches long, 69 inches wide and 58 inches tall, while the new Corolla is 182 inches long, 70 inches wide and 56 inches tall.
Inside, the Prius has 39 inches of front seat headroom and 43 inches of legroom, while the Corolla offers 38 inches and 42 inches, respectively. In the back seat, the Prius has 37 inches of headroom and 33 inches of legroom to the Corolla’s 37 inches and 34 inches.
The Prius has the Corolla beat in terms of cargo volume thanks to its practical hatchback design. While the Corolla has 13 cu ft. of room, the Prius has a respectable 24.
Altogether, outside of the Prius’ obvious advantage with regard to cargo space, the differences in interior dimensions between these two vehicles is negligible.
The Prius and Corolla score well in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, with both vehicles earning a Top Safety Pick+ designation.
Both also come with standard active safety features, although the new Corolla offers a more advanced array. With the original version of Toyota Safety Sense, the Prius comes with full-speed adaptive cruise control, high-beam assist, forward collision warning, front automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. The Corolla adds to this road edge detection, lane tracing assist and road sign assist. The Prius can also be had with blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The Corolla Hybrid lacks this feature, as it’s only available in a basic LE trim.
Altogether, either of these vehicles offers impressive crash performance and safety tech.
The Prius can be had with three different infotainment screen sizes, the largest of which is 11 inches. The Corolla Hybrid comes with an 8-in touchscreen. Both vehicles offer Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration as standard, The Prius offers two 12-volt outlets and three USB ports, along with an available wireless charging pad. The more basic Corolla Hybrid LE comes with two USB ports and one 12-volt outlet. No wireless charging pad is offered. Altogether, as Toyota’s own infotainment system is pretty old, we’d like to see Android Auto added to the offering of either of these vehicles down the road and hope that the capability can be added retroactively via an update in the coming months.
As it’s only offered in one trim level for 2020, the Corolla Hybrid is pretty low on features. The Corolla Hybrid LE comes with 15-in alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, passive keyless entry for the front doors and trunk along with push-button start, an 8-in touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration and a 7-in color gauge cluster screen. Beyond this, the Corolla Hybrid is pretty light on content and is unavailable with things like a sunroof, heated seats, or a leather-wrapped steering wheel. As we mentioned above, we expect to see more trim levels introduced in the coming years.
As it’s offered in four different trim levels, the Prius is available with a wide array of features. LED lighting, a rear window wiper, parking assist, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a heated tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, simulated leather seating and a wireless phone charging pad are all on the table. Opt for a top-of-the-line Limited model and you get rain-sensing windshield wipers, a color heads-up display, 8-way power seats with lumbar support, a JBL-branded premium audio system, 17-in wheels and more.
Hands down, if it’s features and comfort you’re after, the Prius leaves you with more options in 2020.
Toyota trades heavily on its reputation for reliability and solid resale value. Therefore, Prius and Corolla buyers should both see above-average reliability from their vehicles. Toyota offers a 3-year/36,000-mile basic and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, on par with the rest of the industry. For 2020, Toyota has announced that the batteries in every one of its hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles now comes with a 10-year/150,000-mile warranty, while other hybrid components are warrantied at 8 years/100,000-miles.
As it’s only available in one trim level and has no available options, pricing for the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE comes in at $24,055 when factoring in Toyota’s $955 destination fee. The Prius starts at $25,120 and tops out at $33,845 for a loaded Limited model. AWD costs $1,000 extra and is available on the LE and XLE trims.
These two vehicles are remarkably similar. For all practical purposes, fuel economy comes in about the same. Both the Prius and Corolla Hybrid will return over 50 mpg on real-world driving with relative ease. The Corolla has an edge with regard to modernity. It wears fresher styling and incorporates a more refined design inside and out. Additionally, you get to fly under the radar behind the wheel of the Corolla Hybrid, given that the Corolla name doesn’t quite have the same connotation as the Prius. Advantages held by the Prius include its available AWD, its spacious and practical hatchback design and its wider array of available trim levels. For some, choosing between these two vehicles in 2020 will be easy given that the Corolla Hybrid isn’t even available with heated seats, while the Prius can be had with simulated leather seats, blind spot monitoring, a heads-up display and more. All Toyota has to do, though, is expand the hybrid powertrain to the rest of the Corolla’s trim levels and the Prius will be put on notice. Find a Toyota Corolla Hybrid for sale or Find a Toyota Prius for sale