By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com

We first test drove the Toyota Corolla hybrid when it debuted about four years ago in Savannah, Ga. Then, the compact car boasted bold styling, competitive price and consistent value. Same and more applies to the slightly more powerful 2023 Corolla hybrid in which we recently spent some time.

The hybrid is equipped with a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to two motors/generators for a total 138 horsepower (up by 17) @ 5200 rpm and 105 pounds-feet of torque @ 3600 rpm. Depending on the model, you can get the continuous variable transmission or a 6-speed manual gear box. The MacPherson strut front and a multilink rear suspension soak up obstacles with ease and maintain stability in all types of tricky situations. And the revamped electric power steering is precise and crisp. Normal, eco and sport modes are offered.

Up front, the new design is sleek, sharp and eye-catching. Flanking the slim, J-shaped bi-beam LED headlights and fog lamps is a rounded nose with a sport mesh black grille, sculpted bulging wheel arches and sharp body lines. A color keyed spoiler, gloss-black diffuser and dual chrome exhaust tips bring up the rear. The practical cabin is simply laid out with metallic accents on the dashboard and chrome door handles. Basic amenities include auto a/c, sport fabric trimmed seats, six-way driver and four-way front-passenger seats, new 8-inch touch screen for audio, phone and nav controls with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 4.2-inch TFT multimedia screen, leather-wrapped manual tilt/telescopic steering wheel, six-way driver adjustable and four-way front-passenger seats, four USB-C ports, digital clock and a 60/40 rear fold seat.

Dual front and side airbags, driver knee airbag, side curtain airbag, vehicle stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, three-point seatbelts for all, keyless entry, blind spot monitor, front/rear crumble zones, rearview camera, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard. The no-cost and updated Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 translates into a pre-collision system that detects pedestrians, proactive obstacle anticipation/road sign/lane trace assists, lane departure alert and dynamic cruise control.

Folks, this one’s a no-brainer as gas continues to hover around the $3.20 gallon range. Base-priced at $25,500 and peaking at $29,000, the Corolla SE hybrid touts 50 mpg city and 43 mpg highway figures with combined mpg at 47. With its agility, good looks, fun-to-drive character, fair price and roominess, this Toyota should march ahead of the competition, again!


Tires: P225/40R18

Wheelbase: 106.3 inches

Length: 182.3 inches

Width: 70.1 inches

Height: 56.5 inches

Fuel capacity: 11.3 gallons

Weight: 2,850 pounds

Web site: www.toyota.com