The 2020 Toyota Corolla Delivers Safety and More for First-Time Drivers

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 Teen Drivers Benefit From Safety Advancements 

During a conversation with his seatmate on a recent plane ride, Toyota’s Ed Laukes challenged the thinking of the man he just met by asking why he was planning to give his teenage daughter his hand-me-down vehicle.

“Why wouldn’t you give your daughter the new car with the best safety features?” Ed asked him.

Sputtering, the father of the potential hand-me-down recipient didn’t have a good answer. Except that buying a teenager a brand-new car sounded… maybe… ridiculous?

Laukes is group vice president of Toyota Division Marketing at Toyota Motor North America, responsible for all Toyota division market planning, advertising, merchandising, sales promotion, incentives, NASCAR and motor sports, and all social and digital media. (Whew. Try to say that in one breath.)

The bottom line is that Laukes knows cars and safety. Perhaps it sounded to that father that Laukes was just trying to sell him a new Toyota. But by the end of the flight, the teen father was convinced. Ensuring his most precious asset had the most current safety innovations on her car was more important than his own car. He shook Laukes’ hand and thanked him for the insight.

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 When Laukes, along with the Toyota PR and product team, presented the safety features of the 2020 Corolla in Savannah last week, I was convinced, too. To be sure, this is a position that not all parents can take. Many - and probably, most - families in the US can’t afford to buy their teenager a new car. And a common sentiment is that a teen should start with a “beater” and work his or her way up to a new car, maybe one she can purchase with her own money.

The hole in that theory is that teenage drivers need all the safety help they can get. They’re distracted, inexperienced, and often oblivious. They can’t change the radio station and avoid crossing the center line at the same time. Trust me, I remember those days in my first car.  

Filling The Safety Gaps Of Inexperience

Once, I stomped on the brakes for a darting rabbit in the middle of winter on icy roads. Pumping the pedal, as I was taught before ABS, the car spun around and ended up facing the wrong way on Country Road 4. Luckily, my passengers - my sister and a friend of ours - and I were safe. (And so was the bunny.) Swerving and overcorrection are both frequent mistakes inexperienced drivers make. Too often, unfortunately, they pay the ultimate price for those mistakes. The number-one cause of death for teenagers is still motor vehicle fatalities; it has been for decades.

“We Don’t See Safety As Optional,”

- Toyota Product Manager Adam Lovelady

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Companies like Toyota are working to change that, however, and other manufacturers have zero-death goals for as early as 2020, as well. The 2020 Corolla is exceptional in regard to standard safety features, and that’s a significant value add. For less than $20,000, you can purchase a brand-new Corolla with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which includes updated versions of previous active safety systems along with two new offerings, Lane Tracing Assist and Road Sign Assist. The 2020 Corolla also includes low-light pedestrian detection and daytime cycling detection. Here in Austin, bikes are everywhere, and the cyclist detection is much needed.

“We don’t see safety as optional,” Toyota Product Manager Adam Lovelady told a group of automotive journalists last week.

It seems logical, in fact: If automakers want drivers to arrive alive, then including standard safety features across the board makes good sense. To take that a step further, requiring buyers to pay more to add safety features to their car sounds a little like an airline asking passengers to pay more for a seat with an oxygen mask.

Toyota Watches Over Your Teen Driver

If you remember your teenage driving years and they were anything like mine, you might recall moments of ill-advised excess speed. That can be curtailed with a gentle visual and audio reminder from the 2020 Corolla. Perhaps you remember driving at night, tired. TSS 2.0 offers Lane Tracing Assist and lane Departure Alert to nudge you back into place. And on longer drives, the adaptive cruise control included with TSS 2.0 keeps a safe distance between your car and the one in front of you, slowing all the way down to a complete stop.

The Toyota Corolla is the best-selling nameplate in the world, with over 46 million sold. It has come a long way since it first rolled off the line in 1966, and the brand continues to make improvements that make a difference. I tested both the XSE and hybrid version of the 2020 Corolla, and both were zippy, the controls were laid out thoughtfully, and it was fun to drive.

But most of all, it was the safety features that impressed me. Well done, Toyota - making safety features standard in your all-time best-selling vehicle means you’re taking it seriously. And that means a lot.

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Here’s The Skinny On The 2020 Toyota Corolla


  • The 2020 Toyota Corolla is available in 6 gas-powered grades: L, LE, SE CVT, SE MT, XLE, and XSE and one hybrid: LE HV.

  • The first-ever hybrid Corolla offers 121 hp and is expected to deliver 52 mpg fuel economy in combined driving.

  • Do you long for a manual transmission? The Corolla is available in a six-speed manual or Dynamic-Shift CVT.

  • 8 exterior paint color choices

  • Available new 169 Horsepower, 2.0-L Dynamic Force engine

  • Standard audio with Wi-Fi Connect, Amazon Alexa, and Apple CarPlay compatibility

  • Starting MSRP of $19,500, and on sale March 2019


  • Toyota Safety Sense™ 2.0 (TSS 2.0) – Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD) (with low light pedestrian detection and daytime cyclist detection), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA) (with road edge detection and Sway Warning System), Auto High Beams (AHB), Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Road Sign Assist (RSA), and Lane Tracing Assist (LTA)

  • Star Safety System™ - includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), and Smart Stop Technology (SST)

  • 8 airbags – including driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System; driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags; driver knee airbag; front passenger seat cushion airbag; and driver and passenger side front and rear side curtain airbags

  • Safety Connect®: In the event of an accident or other emergency, assistance can be dispatched directly to the vehicle’s GPS location. Other connected services available on the Corolla include airbag-linked Automatic Emergency Notification, Manual Emergency Notification (SOS button) and Stolen Vehicle Locator. This technology is standard on all Corolla grades.

  • Service Connect: Provides updates on fuel level and mileage to maintenance alerts and more via email or the mobile app.

  • Remote Connect: Can lock and unlock doors, start the engine, locate the vehicle in a parking lot and alert you if your guest driver goes over a set speed, leave a specified location or if they take the vehicle after curfew.


Kristin Shaw