2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Review – Sensible Shoes

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
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Fast Facts

2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XLE Fast Facts

1.8-liter four-cylinder with hybrid electric motor (134 horsepower @ 5,200 RPM, 156 lb-ft @ 3,600 RPM)
Transmission/Drive-Wheel Layout
Continuously variable automatic, front-wheel drive
Fuel Economy, MPG
46 city / 53 highway / 50 combined (EPA Rating)
Fuel Economy, L/100km
4.4 city / 5.1 highway / 4.7 combined. (NRCan Rating)
Base Price
$26,600 (U.S.) / N/A (Canada)
$29,231 (U.S) / N/A (Canada)
Prices include $1,095 destination charge in the United States. The XLE trim is not available in Canada.
2023 toyota corolla hybrid review sensible shoes

I’ve had, for whatever reason, a consistently unfavorable view of Toyota’s Corolla for quite some time.

Not an anti-Corolla bias, mind you. I kept an open mind every time I drove one. And every time I did, I felt let down. And that was before I compared the car to its rivals, such as the usually solid Honda Civic or the ever-improving Hyundai Elantra.

Some of this may have been that the car tended to have an awkward seating position. Or perhaps it was just that the Corolla never seemed as fully baked as other cars wearing the Toyota badge. Its big brother, the Camry, may have been boring at times but it was always well suited to its mission as a mid-size sedan. You could ding the Camry for not being fun to drive or for divisive styling, but you couldn’t deny that its all-around package was well done. It’s never been hard to understand why so many find homes in driveways across the country.

The Corolla, though – I often wonder if it sold on some combination of price and Toyota’s reputation for reliability.

Imagine my pleasant surprise, then, when I found myself vibing with the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

It could just be as simple as the seating position being more, well, normal, but this Corolla felt better suited to day-to-day driving than any I’ve driven in recent years. It’s not perfect, and personal preference would still steer me to sportier competition – such as the aforementioned Civic – but for the shopper in need of an unpretentious daily driver that can sip fuel and accommodate the occasional freeway jaunt, this Corolla is a much better choice than its predecessors.

We often judge cars on how well they perform their mission, and the Corolla Hybrid’s mission is clear – offer easy commuting without sucking down gas.

It does want for power, a bit – there’s just 134 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque to work with here. Passing punch is merely adequate, at best, and you won’t win the stoplight drags.

Nor is there much to write home about when it comes to handling, but that’s OK – it’s competent enough for daily driving. Similarly, the ride is acceptable. The only real beef I had involved too much overall road noise at freeway speeds.

Even the continuously variable automatic transmission doesn’t offend – CVTs in general aren’t good, but this one at least mostly fades into the background.

Toyota has given this car a clean dash, though the tacked-on infotainment screen trend continues, much to this author’s chagrin. Generally speaking, the controls are simple and easy to use, with function leading over form. The cabin is a bit boring, but that’s OK – you’ll be happy to trade style for usability in this case. The only letdown is that some materials feel downmarket.

My test unit was an XLE sedan*. There were several additions for 2023, and the XLE trim is one. Another big piece of news is the availability of all-wheel drive and re-worked front and rear styling. The XLE comes standard with features like Toyota’s SafetySense 3.0 suite of advanced driver-aid systems, 16-inch wheels, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, power moonroof, LED headlights, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite radio, and heated front seats. Options included JBL audio, wireless device charging, and some cosmetic adds like mudguards. That took the $26,600 price tag and, along with destination fees, bumped it to $29,231.

*The pics aren’t of an XLE. Toyota has no press shots of that trim available and I didn’t shoot this particular car for reasons I don’t recall.

This version of the Corolla isn’t a head-turner or rubber-burner. It’s a fuel-sipping commuter. And it does that job well, with EPA numbers of 46/53/50.

The enthusiast in me always fights with my practical side when testing cars like this. Most vehicles on the market aren’t sold because they’re fun – they’re sold based on the use case. Here, the mission is clear: Sip fuel, be easy to live with, and be cost-effective.

That mission is mostly accomplished. If you need basic transportation that won’t kill your fuel budget, you could do a lot worse.

Sure, you could do better, but in most cases, it will cost more.

Sensible shoes aren’t often fun, but they do serve a purpose. Sometimes practicality is what’s needed – and if that’s the case for you, the Corolla Hybrid is a stronger entrant in this class than it once was.

[Images: Toyota]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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Join the conversation
5 of 55 comments
  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Oct 07, 2023

    This is the value buy in the commuter/daily category.

    • Spookiness Spookiness on Oct 08, 2023

      Agree, if you can by it at/near MSRP. The LE trim is probably a better deal even. For a normie car this is great.

  • Bill Bill on Oct 07, 2023

    I've put 30,000 miles on my Corolla hybrid since January -- several road trips plus many miles on Phoenx's fast main streets and freeways. My mileage is a steady average of 60 mpg, which ain't nothing to sniff at with Phoenix gas always above $4.50.

    You make an errror when you siply look at engine stats for horsepower and torque. Those numbers are augmeted by the companion electric motor's power and torque, and with Toyota's system of seamlessly mixing gas and electric as needed, you have an amazing car.

    • See 1 previous
    • Dave M. Dave M. on Oct 12, 2023

      This might be considered a basic level of transport, but when you mix good build quality, seamless systems, and durability....well, some of us jam to low cost competence.

  • Analoggrotto While ATPs and Telluride sales continue to rise to defeat our unsophisticated competition and unsophisticated customers.
  • Tassos Usually all the 'news' at TTAC are reported two days old, but this one I swear it is more than a FULL WEEK from when I saw the first article on it.
  • Art_Vandelay I wish. Love the 70 series
  • Pco65752756 Why is this not on the High Mile Cars List?
  • SCE to AUX "But we can all go pound sand in North America, unfortunately"In reality, that would be about 1000 people who can go pound sand, which is why this isn't coming to North America.