2020 Corolla SE vs LE opinions
I am currently stuck between buying a 2020 Corolla SE or Corolla LE. The difference being the SE has a 2.0L with a special CVT and the LE has the 1.8L with the old CVT. I want the one with the best gas milage while I live in San Louis Obispo, CA. There can be many inclines here and I don’t know how much stress this puts on the motor(s). Should I get the SE or do you believe it won’t effect the gas milage and stress on the motor(s)?
LE has the 1.8L with the old CVT.
Well this powertrain has been out for a while, and it combines a great engine with a mediocre transmission.
It does not like traffic jams/ city/ fast driving - those things will cause it to wear out pretty fast.
2.0L with a special CVT
This is a completely new powertrain and so far what we know is that the engine isn't particularly great (bad fuel can cause the EGR system to fail, and they're not great with short drives), and we do not know how good the transmission is.
There can be many inclines here and I don’t know how much stress this puts on the motor(s)
I really would not worry about the engines, all recent Toyota engines are decent - I'd worry only about transmissions.
Starting uphill does cause a lot of wear and tear to a conventional CVT- but on a launch gear CVT it shouldn't.
Check how many local Toyota Corolla 1.8L (made after 2014, powertrain wise they're all the same), have gotten to high milages - if plenty have, then it doesn't affect the transmission and I'd get the proven one.
In theory, the 2.0L+K120 should be better than the 1.8L+K313, but no one yet knows how they compare in practice.
I'd also consider getting a 3rd generation Mazda3 (made until 2018) as those had the best of both worlds, a reliable 2.0L engine and a conventional automatic - they may perform MUCH better in hilly environments. Not as reliable as most Toyotas overall, but very decent. and I don't advise getting any of these with high milages as transmission fluid replacements are a must (20k-30k on Toyota CVTs, 30k-37.5k on Mazda ATs)
I just did a quick search and the used 2020 either SE or LE is being sold at places like Carvana, Carmax, etc. for higher than what they cost for a new 2022 of the same model. So you might want to consider buying new regardless of which trim you decide on. Also, if gas mileage is a concern for you and you're driving is mostly city driving then you might want to consider a Prius instead if you drive enough to justify the about $3k difference between the cost of base Prius and Corolla SE.