The Toyota Corolla has been an affordable and very fuel efficient compact hybrid car. For the 2023 model year, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid receives some upgrades which include more power, a new infotainment, new looks, and an AWD system. So with these new changes, does the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid remain an affordable and fuel efficient compact car?
Engine – The 2023 Corolla Hybrid is still powered by the same 1.8L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine of last year’s model. But power has been bumped up to 138 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque (100 kW & 212 Nm). In all honesty, it’s hard to notice the extra 13 hp and 10 lb-ft. It still takes a while for this little car to build up speed when you’re hoofing it. The engine rpms, and engine noise, shoot way up when you need to overtake another vehicle or climb up a steep hill. On city streets, the electric motors will provide a burst of power to get the car rolling before the engine takes over to provide the bulk of the acceleration. Then, the engine will shut off and the Corolla will drive on electricity for brief periods while maintaining the speed. The engine’s power is sent to the front wheels only while an electric motor powers the back wheels.
There is an EV Mode however it will automatically get disengaged if the speed climbs beyond 40 km/h (25 mph) or if you push too hard on the throttle pedal. But if you leave the car in its normal hybrid mode, you can actually accelerate from a stop to 60 or 70 km/h (35 / 40 mph) on electricity alone. Of course it’ll have to be a slow and gradual acceleration with a nearly fully charged battery but it can be done. You can also drive the car on highways at around 90 to 100 km/h (55 / 62 mph) on electricity alone for brief periods.
Fuel Economy – With the extra power and the addition of the rear electric motor, which has increased the overall weight to 1,495 kg (3,296 lbs) for this XSE trim, the fuel economy is a bit worse compared to last year’s model. This 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid AWD-e is rated for 5.0 L/100km (47 MPG) in a city and 5.7 L/100km (41.3 MPG) on a highway. Compared to the FWD model that I drove last year, I averaged a bit worse fuel economy but not by much at 5.1 L/100km (46.1 MPG) vs 4.8 L/100km (49 MPG) for the FWD.
Transmission – The 1.8L engine is still paired with a CVT automatic that doesn’t try to fool you into thinking it’s some other type of transmission. The revs are held at a certain point depending on the engine load. There is a “B” mode on the gear selector that provides a stronger regenerative braking mode, however, it will also keep the engine running even when you slow down. Otherwise in “D”, the transmission does it’s job as it should.
Braking – Some of the recharging of the battery is done by the engine while the other is done through braking. As mentioned earlier, “B” on the transmission allows for more regen braking. However, using the brake pedal will also provide a lot of regen braking with firmer brake pedal applications seamlessly transitioning to the physical brakes.
Handling – With the addition of the electric motor powering the back wheels, the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid AWD-e doesn’t struggle to get off the line when you find yourself on loose soil or snow. But don’t mistake this for some sort of TRD rally car. Once the car gets moving off the line, power is sent primarily to the front wheels. Sometimes power is sent to the rear motor around corners but this Corolla still feels and drives like a FWD compact economy car. Steering is light and numb feeling, the suspension is composed around corners and over bumps but it’s no Mazda 3. Push the Corolla Hybrid too hard into a corner and it will understeer in agony. But that’s totally fine because this car’s natural habitat is a bustling city.
Ride Comfort – The softness of the suspension gives the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid AWD-e a comfortable ride on city streets. It doesn’t feel overly bouncy and the seats also aid in the comfort by being soft yet supportive.
Interior Space – On paper, the 2023 Toyota Corolla is one of the smaller compact cars on the market right now. It is shorter and narrower than all of its closest competitors. However, even with the smaller dimensions, I can comfortably sit in the front seats without issue at 6’4”.
The back seats, again, offer less space than the competitors. On paper, the Corolla has similar rear seat dimensions as the Mazda 3 sedan with the Mazda being slightly bigger by a few millimeters both in terms of headroom and legroom. However in reality, I don’t feel as squished behind my driving position in the Corolla as I do in the Mazda 3.
In the trunk, the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid AWD-e has 371 L (13.1 cu-ft) of space which is similar to the Mazda 3 sedan but quite a bit less than the Hyundai Elantra & Honda Civic sedans. Also the back seats can be folded for more space but there is a step between them and the floor of the trunk.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – In a city environment, the 2023 Corolla Hybrid AWD-e is generally quiet. It’s on highways that you notice more road noise from the tires. You’ll also be noticing the engine quite often when accelerating either from a stop or when overtaking another vehicle. One annoying sound that you’ll hear often is the fake electric car noise that is mandated by law. This is played through a speaker at speeds below 30 km/h but it’s almost as though the speaker is placed inside the cabin rather than outside the car. It is annoyingly loud. The transition from electric to the gasoline engine is seamless when the car is on the move. If the engine turns on while the car is stationary, at a stop light for example, the jolt of the engine starting is more noticeable. As well, there are no squeaks or rattles from the trim pieces. The car feels solid and well put together.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – As is to be expected, this new AWD Toyota Corolla is more expensive than the front wheel drive version. Although, the 2023 FWD version of the Corolla Hybrid is more expensive than the previous model year by $740 CAD at $25,990 CAD ($22,800 USD). This 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid AWD-e XSE trim will cost you $34,290 CAD ($27,175 USD, SE AWD Infrared). The AWD-e system is available on the LE trim with a starting price of $27,490 CAD ($24,200 USD).
Gadgets – This top trim of the Corolla Hybrid has every feature that is available on the Corolla. These include heated seats in all four corners, leatherette upholstery, a heated steering wheel, a power sunroof, automatic climate control, wireless phone charging pad, push button start & keyless entry, power driver’s seat, and LED headlights.
Another change to the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is the updated infotainment system. This system may seem a bit daunting at first but after a few minutes of playing around with all of the functions, it becomes pretty easy to navigate around. Speaking of which, the built-in navigation system is subscription based. Thankfully, this new infotainment allows for wireless Apple CarPlay & wireless Android Auto. Unfortunately I have had some connectivity issues between my Android phone and this new infotainment. Android Auto would work perfectly fine when initially connecting the phone to the system but after shutting off the car and coming back to it some time later, the system would display an error message and it would not connect to Android Auto. My only way around it was to disconnect my phone and re-pair it with the infotainment. I have noticed this issue before in the Toyota Tundra TRD but I have not had issues in some other Toyota or Lexus models such as the NX350h. This connectivity issue could just be with this demo vehicle and thankfully this new Toyota infotainment system allows for over the air updates so it could be an easy fix.
Interior Design – not much has changed for the interior look of the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid AWD-e from the previous year apart from the new infotainment screen. Everything is simple and straightforward to use. All of the controls are well laid out and easy to understand. As well, they are all physical buttons. There is a little bit of gloss black plastic around the shifter which will get scratched up as time goes on but at least it’s not on the buttons or in more places.
Exterior Design – The 2023 Corolla Hybrid has received a new front fascia but only for some trim levels. The SE and XSE trims have the new look while lower trim levels still look more similar to last year’s model. The updates to this year’s model give the car a more sporty design with slimmer headlights, sharp bumper lines and a large grille. The rear keeps the same taillights as before but the SE and XSE trims add a faux diffuser and twin exhaust pipes.
Safety – The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid AWD-e is equipped with standard Toyota Safety Sense 3.0. This adds automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane keep, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. In Canada, we also get blind spot sensors with rear cross traffic alert as standard while in the United States, it is optional.
The IIHS awarded the 2023 Toyota Corolla a Top Safety Pick with Superior ratings for the advanced driver and safety aids and Good scores for most crash tests. The only blemish is an Acceptable score for an updated side impact test.
Warranty – The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid AWD-e is covered by a 3 year / 60,000 km basic and 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. The hybrid components are covered by an 8 year / 160,000 km warranty with the battery being covered for 10 years / 240,000 km.. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For information on USA warranty, click here. (Scroll to bottom of page)
Conclusion – Although the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is more expensive than last year’s model, it still is an affordable and fuel efficient compact hybrid car. The addition of the AWD-e system makes the car a bit more versatile if you live in a climate that actually has 4 seasons. Additionally, if you don’t need the AWD system, the FWD variant is still available. Although, I would not recommend this particular XSE demo trim as it is a bit too expensive. I’d recommend one trim below, the SE, if you want a well equipped Corolla Hybrid with AWD.
Thank you to Toyota Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Toyota.ca