Kurt Verlin
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2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid May Be Best Economy Car Right Now

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2020 Toyota Corolla LE Hybrid Blue Crush
Photo: Toyota

If you’re looking for a new, electrified car that’s easy on your wallet, there may be no better choice than the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

To begin with, it’s helpful that it doesn’t have a lot of competition. Among sub-$25,000 hybrid cars, you’ll find the Honda Insight, the Toyota Prius, the Hyundai Ioniq and not much else. The Insight is the cheapest of the bunch but not by much, with a starting price of $22,930 that undercuts the Corolla Hybrid by $170, the Ioniq by $200, and the Prius by $1,395.

But that’s if you’re buying in the United States. If you’re buying in Canada, a simple currency conversion from the US dollar won’t do. While the Ioniq starts at $24,400 and the Corolla Hybrid at $24,790, the other two skyrocket in cost, with the Prius going up to $28,550 and the Insight passing the $30,000 mark. Suddenly, they’re not so budget-friendly.

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2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid, the best economy car
Photo: Toyota

When it comes to efficiency, however, they’re all quite similar — or so it would seem if you go only by the EPA and NRCAN tests. Incredibly, the EPA gives the Insight, Prius, and Corolla Hybrid the same combined mpg at 52, while the Ioniq supposedly gets 58 mpg combined. Highway ratings are 49, 50, 52, and 59 for the Insight, Prius, Corolla, and Ioniq, respectively.

Meanwhile, Canada’s government agency says the Insight consumes 4.9 liters of gasoline per 100 km traveled, while the Corolla Hybrid and Prius consumers 4.5 liters and the Ioniq 4.2 liters.

If true, these would make the Ioniq the standout best economy car. Unfortunately, real-world tests by independent organizations show the figures to be too good to be true. Car and Driver found it to be two mpg short of its EPA estimate, while Fuelly, a website that tracks mileage based on millions of real-world miles driven by its users, found the Ioniq only gets 51 mpg on average.

In fact, both Car and Driver and Fuelly identified the same pattern of undershooting expectations for each of these vehicles except the Corolla, which actually performed better. Put simply, in real-world driving, you can expect the Insight to get closer to 48 combined mpg, the Prius and Ioniq around 51 mpg, and the Corolla around 54 mpg.

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2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid interior
Photo: Toyota

There are other reasons to like the Corolla Hybrid over the others. All four vehicles perform very well in crash tests, enough to earn IIHS Top Safety Pick designation, but with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, the Toyota models offer the most amount of driver-assistive safety technologies. The Corolla is also the quickest and sharpest of the bunch by a fair margin, so you if you enjoy driving, you don’t have feel bad behind the wheel just because you went with an economy car.

Combine all that with Toyota’s famously reliable engineering and the main question you might have remaining is why Toyota made a car that would steal customers from its own Prius. We don’t know the answer to that, and Toyota might not know the answer either.

One thing is for sure: if you’re looking for the best economy car — the most budget-friendly, new hybrid car on the market today — the Corolla Hybrid is the one to get. That’s probably why it was called the 2020 Green Car of the Year just two months ago.