If you wanted an affordable sedan with incredible fuel economy, you couldn’t go wrong with the Toyota Corolla Hybrid. Thanks to its miserly powertrain, it wasn’t hard to beat its EPA fuel economy ratings. However, the hybrid powertrain was only limited to the LE trim and only had FWD, the latter of which limits if appeal. The refreshed 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid has addressed the latter because it’s now available with AWD. On top of that, you can now get it in more versions and it also got some meaningful updates.
You won’t be able to distinguish the refreshed 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid from its predecessor, especially in the base LE trim since the design tweaks are subtle. Thankfully, you can now get it in SE and XLE grades, with the former getting dual-exhaust tips 18-inch wheels, unique front and rear diffusers, and revised LED headlights. Every 2023 Corolla Hybrid gets Toyota’s new user interface with a standard 8.0-inch touch screen and a virtual assistant you can activate by saying “Hey, Toyota.” It is also capable of accepting over-the-air (OTA) updates to add new features and improvements and can pair two phones via Bluetooth. XLE models also get a revised 7.0-inch instrument cluster display. A nine-speaker JBL audio system is optional on the SE and XLE grades.
The Corolla Hybrid carries over the same hybrid system as before but with several key improvements. That means it pairs a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with two electric motors, a planetary gear set, and a lithium-ion battery. The new main drive motor features a redesigned magnet and electromagnetic steel plate configuration with two more magnets to increase output. A new compact battery has also been added and is now mounted under the rear seats; however, Toyota didn’t disclose what it changed to it.
The automaker also didn’t reveal the combined power output of the updated hybrid system. Currently, the Corolla Hybrid makes 121 hp combined. The new components could lead to a significant increase.
One big upgrade for the 2023 Corolla Hybrid is the addition of AWD on the LE and SE grades. Like other Toyota hybrids, this is an e-AWD system that adds a third electric motor on the rear axle. When additional traction is needed, the system engages that unit to provide additional traction, improve handling, and minimize slip in the front wheels. SE models also get the firmer electric power steering tuning from the Corolla Apex Edition.
Every 2023 Corolla Hybrid gets the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 (TSS 3.0) suite of driver assistance features. This includes improved versions of front automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane centering, adaptive cruise control, steering assist, and automatic high beams. The car can now detect turns ahead of time so it can slow down and allow you to complete them at safer speeds. Automatic emergency braking also works at intersections, enabling the car to detect pedestrians and other vehicles when you’re turning. TSS 3.0 includes guard rail detection, daytime motorcycle detection, and lowlight cyclist detection just like in the all-electric bZ4X.
Other driver assistance features include adaptive headlights and parking sensors, which expand the automatic emergency braking’s operating range to include city parking lot speeds.
Expect the refreshed 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid to go on sale before the end of the year. These improvements, particularly the addition of AWD, will distinguish the sedan from its competitors, which include the Hyundai Elantra Hybrid and the upcoming Honda Civic Hybrid. With the addition of new variants, expect prices to also go up with upper trims likely costing closer to $30,000.