2020 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport auto sedan Review

2020 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport auto sedan Road Test Review

Love the new Corolla hatch… a deserving recipient of international accolades.

On the other hand I have been a Corolla sedan sceptic for a long time especially as our version came out of Thailand… probably an unfounded prejudice.

It just seems a sedan this size isn’t as practical, as good as a hatch.

That was until I drove the new Japan-built Corolla Ascent sedan, the base model priced from $24,835 for the CVT auto driven. Manual is $1500 less.

In passing, new Corolla sedan looks like a Camry because it’s physically quite a large vehicle. It has similar styling front and back to Camry and if you trawl back decades to the first and second generation Camry, bet you’ll find it’s the same size. Even the engine capacity is the same.

Corolla is a new generation this time around scoring a raft of safety technology along with a new 2.0-litre petrol four cylinder engine with plenty of power and torque capable of returning impressive fuel economy.

The model line-up is small meaning Ascent gets plenty of kit you might not expect from a “base” model. Stuff like auto LED headlights, LED tail lights and DRLs, alloy wheels, SUNA satnav and a proper double wishbone front/multi- link rear suspension.

The CVT is pretty good with 10 steps mirroring gears.

Safety features are generous including some advanced driver assist technology even in the Ascent.

And the best thing is you can but Corolla sedan or hatch for the same money. Makes it an easy/difficult decision.

Toyota Corolla Ascent Sedan


I rate Corolla sedan a good looker, something at odds with others who don’t like it.

It’s obviously cut from the same cloth as the hatch sharing similar aggressive frontal styling and other details. The side panels are clean and smooth culminating in a nicely notched and raised boot lid with attractive tail lights and bumper treatment.

The arcing roofline extends almost to the rear of the car creating a coupe-like silhouette on Corolla sedan.

The front side quarter panel glass is an interesting touch.

Toyota Corolla Ascent Sedan

Ascent has smaller 16-inch alloys which don’t look as good as the higher spec models but, hey, they’re at least alloys and not steelies with plastic covers.

Because of Corolla sedan’s generous dimensions access through all four doors is easy and the boot features a decent size opening cut right down to the bumper.

Again the smaller wheels on Ascent detract a touch from Corolla sedan’s stance but you have to draw the line somewhere and really, who cares, it’s a Corolla not a Lamborghini.

Toyota Corolla Ascent Sedan interior


Standard Toyota here and that means functional, simple and relatively attractive.

The dash is dominated by a large touchscreen in the middle with associated switches and other controls underneath.

It’s a chunky wheel with multiple switches and is adjustable for rake and reach.

The front inside door grabs are too far forward for easy operation but everything else is OK. It’s a light grey tone inside and Ascent has serviceable cloth upholstery that’s comfortable and easy on the eye.

I like the large boot that expands with 60/40 folding rear seats. There’s room inside for four, five at a pinch and in the critical measurements such as rear seat legroom, Corolla sedan does reasonably well.

Soft feel pads feature throughout even on the top edge of the double decker dash.

No complaints at all inside Corolla Ascent given its price point.

Toyota Corolla Ascent Sedan


The standard equipment in Ascent is generous even if the price is edging up compared to other brands. You get;

  • Multi Information Display
  • Heated exterior mirrors
  • 8-inch info screen
  • 16-inch alloys
  • Price parity with Corolla hatch
  • Auto head lights
  • SUNA satnav

Drive and Engine

This is a new 2.0-litre, four cylinder, petrol engine featuring efficiency boosting direct and port fuel injection. Toyota hasn’t been tempted to go down the smaller capacity turbo path with Corolla because they didn’t need to. This 2.0-litre has plenty of punch rated at 125kW with 200Nm of torque. It gives 1365kg Corolla sedan a sporty feel even with CVT auto transmission.

The engine happily runs on regular 91fuel for considerable running cost savings. It returns a claimed 6.0-litres/100km which is about on par, perhaps a little better than the competition.

With 10 steps, the CVT auto has all driving contingencies covered with minimal slurring. A sports mode is available to keep engine revs up for more get-go.

You can sometimes catch out the CVT creating slow kick down when you plant the right foot.

I had a good look under the Corolla sedan and was surprised at the suspension that is strut front and multi-link rear. That’s a better system than some of the competition who use cheaper, less effective torsion beam rear suspension.

It has decent brakes and the ride is a good compromise between comfort and sporty dynamics.

There is a limit however as this is a mainstream family sedan and not a sports sedan.

Minimal noise intrudes and riding in Corolla sedan is smooth and composed even on rough roads. That’s the Aussie engineering input right there.

Toyota Corolla Ascent Sedan


Five stars but Corolla Ascent sedan is more than that as Toyota has flicked the advanced driver assist technology switch piling in plenty of life saving technology like road sign assist, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist recognition, active cruise control, lane keeping assist and plenty more.

It has a million airbags and the new platform is way stronger than the previous model.

Good Bits

  • Excellent performance from new 2.0-litre
  • Impressive advanced driver assist features
  • Sensible ride/handling calibration

Not So Good Bits

  • Front interior door handles a stretch
  • Very Camry-esque
  • Price edges up


Personally, I wouldn’t buy the sedan because I like the hatch more but if you must have a small sedan you’d go a long way to find a better one than this for the money.  It has serious competition in Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic and others but you’d need to drive them to decide….Then there’s resale to consider, a no brainer really.

Toyota Corolla Ascent Sedan

Facts and Figures: 2020 Toyota Corolla Ascent auto sedan

  • Engine: 2.0L four-cylinder petrol producing 125kW/200Nm
  • Transmission: Ten-speed CVT
  • Warranty: 5 years/ unlimited km
  • Safety: Five stars
  • Origin: Japan
  • Price: from $24,835 MLP*

*MLP Includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of options. Some features mentioned in the article are options

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Toyota Corolla Ascent Sedan


Personally, I wouldn’t buy the sedan because I like the hatch more but if you must have a small sedan you’d go a long way to find a better one than this for the money.  It has serious competition in Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic and others but you’d need to drive them to decide….Then there’s resale to consider, a no brainer really.

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