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Toyota Corolla Hybrid 2023 First Drive: Small Updates Can Make It Even Better

Image Source: Miro Vrlik Photography / Shutterstock

Although buyers want a crossover over a sedan or hatchback, the Toyota Corolla is still a big deal for the automaker. Over 12 generations the Corolla has been at the top of the list for buyers that want a practical compact sedan or hatchback. For the 2023 model year, Toyota has given the Corolla a host of small upgrades to make it more appealing than ever.

Overall the 2023 Corolla lineup gets small styling tweaks, improved tech features and improved safety features. The Corolla Hybrid is the best version to get, if you ignore the excellent GR Corolla. The hybrid now comes in more trim levels and is available with all-wheel drive.

Inside the big upgrade is the new infotainment system that runs Toyota’s latest system via an 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The new system is easier to use, with better graphics and faster performance. Our only gripe is that the screen has a huge amount of shiny, black plastic surrounding it that makes the system look a bit dated, even with the updates.

On the safety front, the Corolla gets the better Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 suite, which now includes cyclist and motorcycle detection and a new Proactive Driving Assistant that can make small adjustments to the braking and steering.

The Corolla Hybrid is powered by a 1.8-liter gas engine and two motor generators that generate a combined 134 horsepower and 158 pound-feet of torque, which is an improvement over the last model’s 121 hp and 146 lb-ft. The old nickel-metal hydride battery pack has been swapped out with a new lithium-ion battery.The hybrid is also available with an additional electric motor that powers the rear wheels, giving it all-wheel drive capability. Even with the improved power ratings, the Corolla Hybrid is not very lively and when you want to pick up speed fast, the powertrain isn’t really up for the task.

The good news is that the Corolla Hybrid is rated at 50 mpg city, 43 mpg highway and 47 mpg combined, which is below the outgoing model’s 53/52/52 mpg combined ratings. The all-wheel drive version is rated at 47 mpg city, 41 mpg highway and 44 mpg combined.

The 2023 Corolla Hybrid is now available in three trim levels: LE, SE and XLE. Which is big news, since when it launched a few years ago, it was only available in the LE trim level. Now buyers can choose the sportier SE or the more luxurious XLE trim levels. There’s also a new Infrared Edition for the SE, which adds a sportier suspension and red exterior and interior accents. All-wheel drive is only available on the LE and SE trim levels.

The pricing for the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid starts at $23,895 with front-wheel drive and $25,295 with all-wheel drive.

Overall the updates for the 2023 Corolla are minimal and don’t make a huge impact, but instead they just improve an already great hybrid sedan. The Corolla Hybrid is hard to beat if you’re in the market for a practical compact hybrid sedan.

Image Source: Miro Vrlik Photography / Shutterstock

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