When it comes to a reliable, practical, safe commuter car, the venerable Toyota Corolla has weathered the test of time.
You may not think of a commuter car as anything more than an economical vehicle that transports you from point A to point B. Nothing more. Nothing less.
The 2023 Corolla Hatchback XSE will make you think again. With its striking design, the Corolla Hatch mixes in a bit of mischievous fun with the tried and true. And who’s not down for a little mischievous fun?
My tester was powered by a dynamic-force, direct-injection, inline four-cylinder engine that delivers exuberant performance from 169 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 151 lb-ft. peak torque at 4,800 rpm. Its features read like those of a sports car: very high compression ratio (13:1), ultra-low internal friction, Toyota D4-S fuel injection combining direct injection and secondary port injectors, along with high-speed combustion.
Mated to an automatic transmission with manual paddle shifters, the Hatch is a driver’s machine that seats up to five adults in a squeeze while delivers 38 miles per gallon fuel economy down the highway. It zigs, it zags, and zips in and out of traffic and parking spots with amazing aplomb.
Exterior amenities included a “Finish Line Red” coat of enamel, 18-inch graphite-colored aluminum wheels, and a rounded, muscular physique that creates an active, well-planted attitude.
And there’s nothing more practical than a rear hatch. It’s lightweight, easy to open and close, and easily modified by folding the second-row seats flat or switching out the spare tire for a tire repair kit. Both options yield surprising storage capacity.
The new eight-inch Toyota audio multimedia system offers more versatility than ever, including standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. All models include two rear-seat USB-C ports, bringing the total in the car to four. The XSE piles on value by making Qi-compatible wireless device charging standard, along with the acoustically stunning JBL premium audio system with its 800-watt, eight-speaker system. Dual-zone climate control is also standard.
Seating comfort, always a Toyota strength, is optimized in the Corolla Hatchback to provide a natural body posture and position. Ample front door storage includes cup holders that can fit 24-ounce bottles. Rear seat passengers have upper door cup holders that hold 16-ounce bottles.
Other amenities include hands-free phone operation, navigation and vehicle information including fuel efficiency and tire pressure and TSS 3.0 functions. Other important parameters and system settings are also available, and the driver can operate the system via steering wheel-mounted controls or voice command.
Toyota became an early leader in equipping its vehicles with safety systems featuring automatic emergency braking. For 2023, Toyota Safety Sense technology in Corolla evolves to version 3.0 and includes enhanced versions of the following:
• Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
• Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
• Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
• Lane Tracing Assist
• Road Sign Assist
• Automatic High Beams
New features are proactive driving assist, obstacle anticipation assist and deceleration assist. In addition, blind spot monitor is standard on XSE trim level.
The 2023 Corolla Hatchback has 10 standard airbags and Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes enhanced vehicle stability control, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, anti-lock braking system, smart stop technology and backup camera.
Corolla is manufactured in Aichi, Japan, and includes a 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty that applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles and corrosion with no mileage limitation.
Base Price: $26,430
Price As Driven: $28,450
Destination charge is included in base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.
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