2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE AWD

The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid has good fuel economy, a long list of standard and available features and tech, is available with all-wheel drive, and won’t break the bank. It’s not the peppiest or roomiest small hybrid but is great for commuting or as a car for your teen driver.

Base Price: $26,600
As Tested: $30,388
Horsepower: 138
Mileage: 47 mpg city/41 mpg highway/44 mpg combined

The Corolla has been a popular subcompact for decades and is now in its 12th generation. The hybrid was added to the lineup for the 2020 model year.

For 2023, the Corolla Hybrid gets a number of upgrades including a more powerful hybrid system, updated exterior styling, new safety and multimedia systems, and available all-wheel drive. In fact, the Corolla is the only compact hybrid available with AWD.

The five-passenger 2023 Corolla Hybrid is offered in three trims: LE, SE, and XLE. Starting prices range from $23,050 to $26,850. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available on the LE and SE trims. The SE models have an Infrared Edition package which adds red interior and exterior trim accents. The Corolla Hybrid had previously been available in only the LE trim.

The 2023 Corolla Hybrid is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. Total output is 138 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. This is a little more power than in previous models. The transmission is a continuously variable automatic.

The Corolla Hybrid is all about a smooth ride and less about zippy performance. Acceleration from a stop is decent but there’s less pep at higher speeds. You’ll want to plan those moves when merging and passing at freeway speeds. The gas engine can get loud and the CVT can drone when you hit the accelerator, but the CVT does shift smoothly. The suspension soaks up bumps and rough roads. Steering feels rather numb but my tester with AWD feels planted when cornering. The brakes have a squishy feel due to the regenerative braking system. Visibility is good all the way around.

Driving in the city suits the Corolla Hybrid best and its relatively small size makes it easy to squeeze into tight parking spaces. If energetic handling is important to you, you’ll want to look elsewhere. But the Corolla Hybrid is a good option as a daily driver to get to work and run errands.

Fuel economy isn’t quite as robust as older Corolla Hybrids because of the slight increase in power but it’s still very good. EPA ratings for my AWD tester are 47 mpg city and 41 mpg highway with a combined rating of 44. I got 42 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.

The cabin is decent, especially at this price point, with a modern look. But it’s not as upscale as what you’ll find in some rivals. Materials look nice but there’s a lot of hard plastics. The updated infotainment system with its eight-inch touchscreen dominates the dash. Front seats are spacious and comfortable but could use a touch more padding for long drives. The second row has acceptable legroom for adults, but taller folks may wish for more headroom.

Standard features include remote keyless entry, push button start, rearview camera, automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, four-way manually adjustable front passenger seat, front sport seats, 4.2-inch driver information display, infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio system, satellite radio, Bluetooth, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, two front USB-C ports, two rear USB-C ports, Wi-Fi hot spot, voice command and automatic high-beam headlights.

Available features include a Smart Key system, heated front seats, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, seven-inch digital gauge cluster, nine-speaker JBL premium audio system, wireless device charging and a power tilt/slide moonroof with sliding sunshade.

Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane keep assist, pedestrian and cyclist detection, and traffic-sign recognition.

Available driver assistance technologies include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The infotainment system is improved for 2023. The eight-inch touchscreen has a vertical orientation, like a tablet, with crisper graphics and faster response times. Menus are logically arranged and the system is intuitive to use.

Cargo space is a little below average for the class. The trunk has 13.1 cubic feet with a fairly narrow opening. The rear seats split/fold 60/40 but don’t get totally flat. I was able to accommodate items purchased on a Costco run.

The good:

Relatively low price

Good fuel economy

Smooth ride

Available all-wheel drive

Many standard and available features and tech

User-friendly infotainment system

Standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

The not-so-good:

Meh handling

Engine and CVT can get loud

Less roomy than other small hybrids

Small trunk

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $26,600. The nine-speaker JBL Premium Audio system including subwoofer and amplifier is $600. The SE Premium Package is $1,220 and includes a blind spot monitor on color-keyed heated power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, rear cross-traffic alert, and power tilt/slide moonroof with sliding sunshade. The Preferred Accessory Package with all-weather floor liners is $631. Alloy wheel locks are $67. Frameless HomeLink mirror is $175. Delivery fee is $1,095 bringing the grand total to $30,388.

Bottom line:

The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is one of the least expensive hybrids. Its low price, good fuel economy, standard and available features and tech, and the option of all-wheel drive are the positives, and make the Corolla Hybrid a good choice as a daily driver for you or your teen. But lackluster handling and less passenger and cargo space than some rivals will turn off some would-be buyers.

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