The Toyota Corolla and Toyota Prius have been selling like crazy for decades: 52 years for Corolla, 23 years for Prius.
This year, the two cars have joined forces.
The new Toyota Corolla Hybrid has the body of a Corolla and the hybrid powertrain of a Prius. It’s a great option for buyers who want Toyota reliability and the excellent fuel economy of a hybrid, but prefer a sedan to a hatchback, or can’t spare the extra coin required for a Prius, or don’t care for Prius’ unconventional styling.
Corolla Hybrid has the same hybrid system as Prius: a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine, two electric motors, and a 1.3-kWh battery. It produces 121 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque, and is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
The car accelerates from a stop with underwhelming verve but does it evenly. When heavy acceleration is necessary after getting under way, that also takes a bit of time, but again, the process is smooth. The engine, however, is quite vocal about the strain it’s under.
Corolla Hybrid’s fuel economy rating is an outstanding 53 mpg city, 52 mpg highway, and 52 mpg combined. After my week of mixed city, highway, and woodsy Snohomish County backroads driving, the driver information display showed my average was 55.5 mpg. My mileage would have varied had it not been the week before a stressful presidential election when I’d decided I needed to chill out a little.
Pricing for the Corolla Hybrid starts at $24,355 including a $955 destination charge. There is just one trim level, the LE, which is decently equipped with standard features. They include a smart key system with push-button start, automatic climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with six-speaker audio compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, LED headlights and taillights, and a 60-40 split fold-down rear seat.
My test car had one optional feature, a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. It’s an extra $500 that I’d enthusiastically spend if I were buying this car, or any car.
Toyota’s group of safety and driver-assistance features is also standard equipment: a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane keeping assist, automatic high beams, and road sign assist.
The Corolla Hybrid interior is tastefully styled and skillfully crafted. It isn’t decked out in the most expensive materials available, of course, but everything feels substantial and built to last. The cabin is roomier than you’d expect in an affordable compact hybrid, and more comfortable, too.
Official capacity of the trunk is 13.1 cubic feet, which isn’t much mathematically, but the configuration and opening are designed for maximum usefulness. I loaded goods from Costco and feed store pilgrimages without even having to fold down the rear seat.
2021 TOYOTA COROLLA HYBRID
Base price, including destination charge: $24,355
Price as driven: $24,855
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.