Toyota’s Corolla compact sedan has always been a top seller for the carmaker because of its affordable price, and miserly fuel economy. Well the Corolla just got better with the introduction of the AWD Corolla Hybrid that attains impressive fuel economy thanks to Toyota’s hybrid technology. And who knows hybrid better than Toyota?
For 2023, Corolla received a slight makeover that now sports an aggressive, sleek look, and its back end is exceptionally sporty with a trunk lid spoiler and dual exhaust outlets in single unit.
Corolla is offered in FWD and AWD and in base LE, SE and top-line XLE trim models plus a hatchback and hot GR. We were privileged to test the AWD SE Hybrid that was a real looker and nicely equipped. There aren’t many compact sedans that are offered with AWD, and this is one feature that makes Corolla a top selling point, especially here in the Snowbelt.
Aside from its good looks, Corolla’s interior is stylish with comfy sport fabric-trimmed front seats that are nicely but not overly supportive. An 8-inch touchscreen serves a host of features, functions and apps including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto connectivity. Navigation is through subscription, or merely use the MapQuest app on your cell phone. It does allow voice recognition by saying “Hey Toyota” to make audio changes plus climate controls and more.
The console houses a burly gear selector for the ECVT auto transmission and a phone charging pad along with receptacles for wired charging. There’s also a drive mode selector switch for Sport, Normal and Eco modes.
Over on the analog gauge cluster, a driver information display snuggles between the tach and speedometer for features, functions, alerts and a host of operating information.
The back seats are especially soft and comfy for two adults or three youngsters as the transaxle hump is low enough for a short-legged rider to sit in the middle part of the seat. The only quirk with the seats is that the rear seatback release is located on the inner top part of the folding seats while it would be easier to reach if it were on the outer (closer to the door) top of the seat back.
The trunk is relatively spacious (13.1 cubic feet) because the lithium-ion battery is located under the rear seat not under the trunk. As such there’s 40.5 inches of cargo loading depth or 72 when flipping the rear seatbacks. Beneath the trunk floor is void of a spare tire merely a tire inflator kit and wheel changing tools.
Corolla Hybrid comes with Toyota’s Safety Sense 3.0 w/pre-collision, emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control and several more safety items.
Driving wise, Corolla is nimble and easy to park with a tight 35.6 foot turning radius. It rides smoothly and quietly on 18-inch Yokohama tires, and has decent power for a hybrid. It gets its grunt from a 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder coupled to dual permanent magnet synchronous electric motors for a net 138-hp and 105-lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 47 city, 41-highway mpg with a CVT transmission. The front motor puts forth 93-hp and the rear, 40.2-hp. There is an EV mode for short trips to the neighborhood grocery store. Sport mode adds a little more spunk.
This is impressive especially since a smaller Toyota Prius Prime with a larger 2.0-liter 4-cylinder is rated at 53 city, 51-highway mpg.
Corolla carried a base price of $27,140 handsomely equipped to which was added the SE Premium Package ($1,295) that includes rear cross traffic alert, heated outside mirrors, moonroof w/sliding sunshade, wireless charger and more. Along with delivery, Corolla SE had a bottom line of $29,530. In today’s high cost of cars and trucks, Corolla is still one of the most affordable AWD hybrids on the market.
And here are two more compelling traits of the Corolla AWD hybrid. It was awarded the government’s top 5-star safety ratings of a full five overall safety stars, five for driver/passenger frontal crash, five for front/rear seat side crash and four for rollover.
Aside from Corolla’s general warranty, the hybrid offers a 10-year/150,000-mile warranty on the hybrid battery alone.
If you’re not crazy about a fully electric sedan, especially their price, Corolla Hybrid is a great choice.