A 2023 “Gray/Black” Corolla Hybrid is the test car this week. I’ve driven Corollas for many years and this one is the most advanced with hybrid technology. The Corolla SE has hybrid along with a 1.8L gasoline engine. The combination delivers an astounding 44 overall fuel economy.
The Corolla is assembled in Aichi, Japan and is loaded with the latest auto technology… lacking a few items, but the manufacturer’s suggested retail price is very competitive at $30,518 for the all-wheel drive four-door sedan.
Entering the sleek designed Corolla, the first item is a handle to crank up or lower the seat. I thought this technology had vanished. Adding to the seating challenge there was a crossbar under the seat to move the seat forward, or backward. Almost every car has power seats, but once the driver’s seat was adjusted with height, and length, I never had to change the setting during the weekly drive. I also missed heated seats and steering wheel on the recent cold mornings.
Where this Corolla really excels is in the drive. Toyota added sports suspension to this vehicle and three drive modes: eco, normal and sport. The transmission did not have steering wheel shifters, nor the normal Toyota transmission choice of locking gears. This proved to be inadequate in some mountain hill climbing waiting for the engine to wrap up to higher speeds. However, the Corolla was more than peppy on E470 and could run at high speeds easily. The steering and suspension made the drive comfortable, along with the racing suspension a spirited drive.
The interior had a Toyota 6-speaker sound system andsport fabric seats. The jockeybox on the side of the doorwas narrow and tight and could be easily lengthened. During the week I never was completely in control of the sound system that had screen controls hard to manipulate, especially while driving; a simple dial for stations and volume are safer and easier to control.
The Corolla can pass for a low-cost sports car, along with long range commuter making 47 mpg highway and 41 in city traffic. The hybrid technology recharges on starting and stopping. The transmission has a B for battery drive that I used returning from Colorado Springs. There was no difference between engine and battery power.
A surprise came when checking the fuel gauge; during the week I had used almost a full tank of gas. More surprising was that the tank only held 10 gallons of fuel; it only took 8 gallons for the week’s drive of over 300 miles.
Lastly, and probably most significantly, this Corolla has a perfect five-star safety rating with very high overall scores. It is loaded with all of the Toyota Safety Sense features, cross traffic alert, lane departure alert, lane tracing, pedestrian alert, and the Star Safety System.
Overall, this Corolla was a fun and comfortable experience.