With gas prices taking a bigger bite than ever out of everyone’s wallets, suddenly an ultra-efficient car like the Toyota Corolla Hybrid is having a moment. Yearning for an SUV or anything “cooler?” Just think about all you could do with the cash you save at the pump. We figured the time is ripe for our first check-in with the fuel-sipping sedan since its debut, even before the revised 2023 version arrives later this year with a new touchscreen, upgraded safety features, a new hybrid battery, and optional all-wheel drive.
Why It’s Important
The 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is a rolling shrine to affordability in a time of grotesque price inflation. How does 52 mpg and a $25,075 price tag sound? In 2022, that’s practically talking dirty to any weary car shopper who’s facing $5/gallon gas and average new-car transaction prices pushing $50,000.
To recap, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid is cheaper than a Prius and the more stylish Hyundai Elantra hybrid, though not quite as efficient. It trades the regular the Corolla’s 1.8-liter gasoline engine for a hybridized version assisted by dual electric motors.
This 121-hp, 105-lb-ft powertrain (including its continuously variable automatic transmission) is pulled directly out of and nails the same 52-mpg combined rating as the base Prius. You might notice the hubcapped lightweight aluminum wheels and hybrid badges, though the smaller 11.4-gallon fuel tank (regular Corollas get 13.4-gallon tanks) and 600-volt lithium-ion battery stuffed under the rear seat are well hidden.
Pros: What We Like
We mentioned the 52 mpg, right? During the course of 200 miles of tooling around Dallas for a week, we easily achieved that figure, which theoretically delivers nearly 600 miles of range per fill-up. We drove the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid normally, too, squirting in and out of traffic like we needed to get someplace; oh, and there was a heatwave, so we blasted the A/C to combat average daytime temps hovering past 100 degrees.
In other words, we didn’t “hypermile” the Corolla Hybrid by treating its gas pedal like an eggshell, coasting more than a mile to a stop, or sweating without A/C. Nor does the Toyota make pained noises when you demand everyday acceleration from it. Credit the hybrid’s seemingly substantial ability to drive around under electric power alone.
Even at higher speeds, the engine will wink off and you can even (gently) accelerate on electrons alone. There’s an electric-drive mode, too, though it only delivers about a mile of EV-only travel at a time, and at slower speeds.
The powertrain is smooth and mostly quiet, with the engine note picking up only when you mat the throttle. While objectively slow—our most recent test data says it needs more than 10 seconds to reach 60 mph—the Toyota feels adequately powered. Select the “PWR” mode, and engine revs stay higher, and it almost feels punchy up to about 40 mph. Avoid the Eco mode, as it dulls most inputs and reminds you of just how leisurely this sedan’s performance really is.
This is no penalty box, either. With its relatively small-diameter wheels (15-inchers!) and soft suspension tuning, the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid rolls quietly and smoothly over even the worst city streets. An 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic single-zone climate control, a mostly digital gauge cluster, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assist are standard.
An optional package adds blind-spot monitoring for $500, and a Premium package throws some leather on the steering-wheel rim, replaces the cloth seat upholstery with eco-friendly faux leather, and adds front-seat heaters. The trunk is big and has a nicely shaped opening, and even offers a pass-through to the cabin.
Cons: What We Don’t Like
Three years into its lifespan, the Toyota Corolla is neither as nicely appointed nor well-packaged as the Honda Civic. Interior materials are just OK, the rear seat is tighter, and storage throughout the interior is lacking. The center console has only a single cubby buried under the dash that can’t fit a regular-sized iPhone, and the armrest cubby is tiny. Rear passengers do without air vents, USB ports, or door pockets that can hold anything of note. There is at least a fold-down center rear armrest with two cupholders.
Other complaints include the fuzzy graphics on the touchscreen—soon to be addressed with the sharp new Toyota Multimedia Audio system on the 2023 model—and the doughy handling. Between the soft suspension and hard, fuel-economy-biased tires, the Corolla rolls more than is typical for a compact sedan and can require corrections at the wheel when it meets bumps while turning or sailing up an off-ramp.
Also, yes, if you’re the sort of driver that shoots for gaps in traffic or regularly drag races others from stoplights, the Hybrid is not quick, something also being addressed on the newer model next year.
The Bottom Line
The 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is the right car for the times, and it’s better-looking than a Prius. But wait for the 2023 model if you want some of its flaws ironed out.
Looks good! More details?
|2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid|
|LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||1.8L/121-hp/105-lb-ft Atkinson-cycle DOHC 16-valve I-4, plus 71-hp/105-lb-ft electric motor; 121 hp/105 lb-ft comb|
|CURB WEIGHT||2,900 lb (mfr)|
|L x W x H||182.3 x 70.1 x 56.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||10.3 sec (MT est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||53/52/53 mpg|
|EPA RANGE, COMB||600 miles|