5 June 2020

Toyota Corolla GX Wagon 2020 Car Review

Toyota introduced its 12th-generation Corolla hatchback back in 2018, but didn’t complete the range until late December last year.

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Toyota Corolla GX Wagon 2020
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Toyota Corolla GX Wagon 2020
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Toyota Corolla GX Wagon 2020
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Toyota Corolla GX Wagon 2020
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Toyota Corolla GX Wagon 2020

That was when the new sedan arrived, powered by a 2.0-litre engine or a hybrid unit, plus a hybrid SX addition to the hatch line-up and this GX wagon, with a 1.8-litre powerplant replacing the previous 1.5.

The previous wagon sold in New Zealand was a Japanese domestic market car based on a Yaris platform, and sold here as a Corolla wagon, as the Corolla-based wagon built in Europe was deemed too pricey for our market.

For 2020 the hatch, sedan and wagon are all clearly variants of the same model, though the sedan – available at SX specification only – is a lower, more stylish edition. It comes complete with an eight-inch touch screen and with satellite navigation and a five-star crash test rating, selling at $32,990 on price lists issued a month before New Zealand shut down for COVID 19 – we don’t yet know whether a new post-shutdown environment will see prices change.

It’s the wagon we’re trying out here. Like the hatch and sedan it’s had a redesign with sharper, longer lines: it’s grown 95mm overall to 4495mm long, with a wheelbase up 40mm, and it’s 50mm wider, at 1745mm.

The bigger engine brings with it more power and torque – which certainly doesn’t take it into high performance territory, but is perfectly able to handle the car’s increased size. That said, this isn’t a new powerplant, and it’s down on power and torque when compared to the hatch’s 2.0. Given the wagon is also 100kg heavier, and rides on smaller, 15-inch wheels, you’ll make some performance compromises for the extra luggage practicality.

The wagon also drops some kit compared to the same-spec hatch, notably it lacks Satnav, though it is the first NZ-market Toyota to get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The cabin also had a redesign, with new seat fabrics, though its aura remains practical, and above all grey. After all, this car is designed to suit busy families on a budget, or those seeking a practical work runabout with a larger capacity than a hatch.

Practical and affordable it may be, but it’s not short of modern specification where safety is considered, with a Pre-Collision system, lane departure alert with steering assist, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, auto high beam and road sign assist all part of its armoury plus active corner assist, and a reversing camera with dynamic guidelines.

There’s auto high beam too, a six-way manual adjust front seat and four-way manual adjust passenger seat up front, single zone climate control air con, variable intermittent wipers, and two USB sockets plus a 12V power socket up front.

This Corolla’s practical nature carries right through to the driver’s interface with the useful bits. The array of steering wheel–mounted controls are large, clear, and easy to use as are the temperature controls and the buttons to access the screen menus – though as always with Toyota, some require you to stop and get out of gear to access them, a pain if you have a passenger poised to do the needful.

Rear passengers get a flattish rear seat with little side support, which at least should ease the fitment of child and booster seats.

The boot is usefully roomy, with a supplied tonneau to keep your luggage out of sight, and deep side cubby and slots to keep small items in place. Naturally there are also four luggage hooks, plus a lever to fold the rear seats almost flat without having to move round to the back doors to do so.

So it’s useful – and yet it’s also a decent drive on real-world Kiwi roads, if a whisker less perky than the hatch. The wagon’s CVT auto mean it’s a touch less brisk off the line than the hatch, which accesses ‘Direct Shift’ when pulling away, but you can hit the Sport button to hold gear ‘steps’ when accelerating briskly.

The wagon tends to understeer a touch more than the hatch, and its body to roll a little more, but it still feels confident, no doubt thanks to more rigid underpinning from this new-gen platform.

Our tester’s stint with the car involved a high proportion of hilly running and very little open highway, with our average fuel use for the duration at 7.5l/100km. The claim is 6.8, which we were interested to see from the trip history was the figure returned by the previous tester.

SUVs are still very much in fashion, but however ‘road-focused’ the SUV, its greater centre of gravity and overall height will make for some on-road handling compromises.

This wagon may only get a basic spec – albeit generous for the price – but its lower centre of gravity brings handling confidence along with usability. The wagon’s boot is over double the capacity of the hatch’s, even without the seats folded. And yet the wagon looks just as good – arguably even better than the hatch, given its more elongated lines.

This Corolla wagon delivers everything a family will need to blitz the school run, commute or weekend holiday break, bar the all-wheel-drive which few people really need.

At a glance


Toyota Corolla GX Wagon


1.8-litre four-cylinder



ANCAP safety rating

Not yet tested


104kW at 6,100rpm, 171Nm at 3,900rpm


CVT auto with seven-speed sequential shift and sport mode

Fuel economy


Towing capacity

Not rated


2WD front wheels

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

392 litres to ceiling, 800 litres with row two seats folded

Safety systems

  • Lane departure alert with steering assist
  • Dynamic radar cruise control
  • Road sign assist
  • Auto high beam
  • Active cornering assist
  • Reversing camera with dynamic guidelines
  • Bluetooth hands-free phone with voice control
  • Pre-collision system with AEB
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