2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid new car review

The Toyota Corolla was once one of the most affordable small cars on the market but a raft of price rises in recent years has pushed its price up significantly. We find out if it’s still worth it.

The Toyota Corolla isn’t a cheap car any more

Remember when you could get hold of a new Toyota Corolla for $20,000 drive-away?

Those days are long gone. The range currently starts from about $31,000 drive-away for a basic model, but you’ll need about $43,000 drive-away to get hold of the updated ZR Hybrid model shown here. That’s about $3000 more than the pre-facelift version, though Toyota isn’t alone in raising prices in the past few years.

At least it’s cheap to run, with impressive fuel economy of 4.0L/100km and affordable servicing that amounts to $205 per year.

But it isn’t a basic machine

Like most cars, the Corolla gets fancier with every update. The ZR’s cabin feels like quite an occasion these days, benefiting from red and black leather trim for heated sports seats pinched from the GR Corolla hot hatch. Running changes to the current model include a digital dash readout that joins a head-up display and an 8-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone mirroring linked to an eight-speaker JBL stereo.

Other tech includes a subscription to Toyota’s new suite of online services, and a roof-mounted SOS switch to call for help in an emergency.

The big changes are under the skin

The updated Corolla looks quite familiar, wearing the same bodywork and 18-inch alloys that have been on Aussie roads for five years. Peek beyond the subtly reworked cabin to examine the hardware in hybrid models and you’ll find that they benefit from significant changes.

A new lithium ion battery contributes to improved performance from a 1.8-litre four-cylinder hybrid engine that saw power increase from 90kW to 103kW. Better still, fuel consumption has dropped from 4.2 to 4.0L/100km, making this one of the most efficient cars in its class.

The Corolla is great to drive

Crisp steering, grippy tyres and well-judged suspension lend rare athleticism to the Corolla, which is genuinely one of the best cars to drive in this class.

It really is sweet to steer, representing a far more engaging proposition than previous iterations of the breed.

The hybrid motor is surprisingly urgent, and its e-CVT transmission does a great job keeping things on the boil.

And Toyota’s mastery of the hybrid art includes a consistent response from the brake pedal – whether the car is using its brake discs or electric motor to wash off speed.

Low-profile tyres contribute to an occasionally firm ride, and there’s no shortage of tyre noise from its sporty rubber.

Practicality is not a strong point

Toyota decided current-generation Corolla customers could choose between a hatchback with a sporty approach, or a conservative-minded sedan. The latter has soft suspension, a big boot, and a longer wheelbase that translates to extra legroom for back seat passengers.

The hatchback’s dynamic drive and eye-catching looks require customers to make do with a tiny boot and somewhat cramped back seat. We reckon the next model will be a more practical machine. – though it won’t be in showrooms for a couple of years.

Leave a Comment