The 2023 Toyota Corolla offers an impressive fuel efficiency and a wide range of standard safety features in a compact package that looks far more exciting than it is to drive.
A vast range of Toyota models is what sets the Corolla apart from other compacts. Offered as both a sedan or hatchback, the Corolla is also sold with an incredibly fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain with front- or all-wheel drive.
Adults can comfortably sit in the rear seats, making the Corolla an affordable new car for people who need a reliable people mover. Driving the Corolla won’t knock your socks off, but its efficiency and style are guaranteed to impress.
The Corolla uses a 169-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder that sends power to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). While all hatchbacks share that same powertrain, the sedan also offers a hybrid powertrain.
Tests of the Corolla SE hatchback and the Corolla XSE sedan proved that even the strongest engine doesn’t deliver adequate acceleration. The Toyota twins were quite prudent around town and steady on the highway, however.
Unfortunately, hard acceleration produced coarse engine sounds that diminished their refinement. The all-wheel drive hybrid model hit 60 mph in over 9.0 seconds while the last hatchback model reached the same range in just 8.3 seconds.
Both the Corolla sedan and the hatchback have a pleasant ride quality that adequately isolates all but the worst bumps. Their controlled body motions also provide better agility than previous iterations.
The Corolla SE and XSE further separate themselves with a stiffer sport-tuned suspension and the latter’s larger 18-inch wheels (everything else rides on either 15- or 16-inch rims).
Along with a fuel-efficient four-cylinder, the Corolla sedan offers an immensely thrifty hybrid model. The EPA estimates the front-drive hybrid will earn 50 mpg city and 43 highway while the all-wheel drive one is rated for 47 mpg city and 41 mpg highway. Comparatively, the government estimates the nonhybrid 169-hp 2.0-liter engine will earn up to 41 mpg highway.
The hybrid earned 40 mpg on our 75-mph fuel-economy route; the Corolla XSE sedan managed 41 mpg. The Corolla hatchback is rated up to 32 mpg city and 42 highway.
Inside, the Corolla hatchback and sedan share a streamlined dashboard and soft-touch materials. Most models have passive entry and push-button start. Others can also be upgraded with ambient interior lighting, dual-zone climate control, and heated front seats.
Those who regularly have back-seat passengers should consider the sedan over the hatchback since it has considerably more legroom behind the front seats. The Corolla hatchback has 18 cubic feet of cargo space behind its back seat, but we only fit two carry-on bags back there.
However, the new no-cost Enhanced Cargo Space option expands that area by 6 cubic feet (23 total) by replacing the spare tire with a tire-repair kit. The sedan has only 13 cubes of trunk volume.
Both body styles have inferior interior cubby storage compared to some capacious rivals. Thankfully, there’s a convenient tray at the front of their center console and a useful bin below the armrest.
The entire Corolla lineup also offers a host of standard driver-assistance technology including automatic high beams and road sign assist. Other standard safety features are; standard forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist.
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