Toyota has just given shoppers many more reasons to consider the Corolla Hybrid sedan over the Prius hatchback—although the greater value and performance comes at the expense of some miles per gallon.
Fuel economy for the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid drops to 47 mpg combined. The current version stands at 52 mpg combined (53 mpg city, 52 highway).
It’s because of some serious powertrain changes under the hood. The Corolla Hybrid for 2023 gets a more powerful version of the familiar two-motor, planetary-gear-based hybrid system, with a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine and a new drive-motor design helping boost power to 134 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque—a gain of 13 hp and 9 lb-ft versus 2022. Toyota says that the engine offers efficiency gains throughout, and it heats up quicker with an exhaust heat recirculation system.
Toyota hasn’t yet released figures for the 2023 Prius, but the Prius Eco achieves 56 mpg combined and the rest of the front-wheel-drive Prius lineup gets 52 mpg combined. In AWD guise, the Prius gets 49 mpg combined.
The Prius AWD-e was added for 2019, and a very small-and-light approach in adding a rear motor for the rear wheels helped preserve most of its efficiency. The same strategy applies to AWD versions of the Corolla. Toyota says the rear motor provides additional drive force for the system—revised spec not yet released—plus valuable additional traction. Toyota says that the addition also aids handling.
Toyota has given the base 2023 Corolla Hybrid LE grade a $1,250 price reduction—to $23,895—while the rest of the lineup gets significant price increases of, in some cases, more than $2,000.
The Hybrid is also now offered in more versions: LE, LE AWD, SE, SE AWD, and “premium focused” XLE. SE versions get sportier drive tuning, red accents instead of blue, and a Smart Key system. Alloy wheel designs are new this year, the palette of colors has been revamped, and all Corolla Hybrids get a new LED headlight design.
The refresh includes an active-safety upgrade, too, with Toyota’s latest Safety Sense 3.0 suite of features and available dynamic radar cruise control. There’s also updated 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment with standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility plus two new rear-seat USB-C ports, for a total of four. XLE models add wireless device charging and JBL audio.
Toyota says that the lithium-ion battery in Corolla Hybrids is placed under the rear seat, lowering the center of mass and leaving room for the 60/40-split seatbacks to fold forward. The hybrid battery is covered by warranty for 10 years or 150,000 miles and is transferrable.
Later in the year a new Hybrid SE Infrared Edition will also join the broadened 2023 Corolla Hybrid family, adding the non-hybrid SE model’s sport suspension, firmer steering feel, red accents, and Graphite-color alloy wheels.
Toyota has also introduced a Corolla Cross Hybrid, although the Corolla Cross is a significantly taller, heavier vehicle that achieves 37 mpg.
At 2,850 lb, the Hybrid weighs far less than typical EVs, as well as most other compact sedans—and, now, less than the Prius. With all these changes, it’s likely that the Corolla Hybrid has become the more efficient and better-driving car. Now, what kind of tech will that leave the Prius?
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