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With gasoline averaging $4.60 a gallon nationwide according to AAA, our appetite for unwieldy, thirsty SUVs seems foolish and indulgent. Just as sky high interest rates are taking the air out of the housing market, Wall Street and NFTs, rising fuel prices are sure to drive consumers to seek something more sensible. Is the party over? If we must drive something akin to a pair of sensible shoes, is the Corolla Hybrid worthwhile? Well, yes.
The Corolla lineup is expanding, now consisting of its classic four-door sedan, a cute little hatchback and the new Corolla Cross SUV. But the gem of the bunch may be the Corolla Hybrid LE, which prioritizes fuel economy – the Corolla’s raison d’être. In fact, it rivals the Toyota Prius when it comes to fuel efficiency without the penalty of styling that resembles an alien life form.
The Hybrid comes solely in LE trim, a popular Corolla model. While you can get this Toyota compact sedan in sportier SE or XSE trim with a more powerful 169-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, it’s hardly the GTI killer you might expect, making this version of the Corolla its most fetching choice.
The Corolla Hybrid boasts a clean, lean look with gently flared fenders and accented with modern LED lighting. Its energetic face is pleasing, made for drivers who are secure enough to not shout their environmental credibility to the world.
The Corolla’s conservative, yet contemporary demeanor is a reassuring presence and one that will age well.
Inside, the Corolla is adeptly designed, sporting one of the most impressive instrument panel designs in the industry. It’s a model of elegant, eloquent simplicity. There’s nothing extravagant here, just quality materials and thoughtful design.
An 8-inch infotainment touchscreen anchors the center of the instrument panel. It’s large, but not oversized. Below it, you’ll find a row of climate control buttons bookended by rotary knobs that are ridiculously easy to use. Designers imparted a feeling of spaciousness by not visually connecting the center console to the instrument panel. It’s well-designed, more so than many far pricier cars that prioritize over-the-top style over convenience. The Corolla’s Hybrid’s instrument panel is very attractive and easy to use. That’s truly the ultimate luxury.
Under the hood, you’ll find a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine and a 53kW electric motor mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission that generates 121 horsepower and returns EPA-rated fuel economy of 52 mpg in combined city/highway driving. That’s far more efficient than the 31-34 mpg seen in other Corollas, and the same fuel economy rating as a Prius.
Safety and technology
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Corolla Hybrid five stars overall, as well as in front and side crash protection, but only four stars in rollover protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates it a 2022 Top Safety Pick +, their highest rating.
Every 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid comes with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, the automaker’s suite of driver assistance safety systems. The package includes a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, with pedestrian and cyclist detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Sway Warning System, Auto High Beams, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Road Sign Assist and Lane Tracing Assist.
Tech goodies include a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, Scout GPS compatibility, auxiliary audio jack, USB port, AM/FM/MP3, Bluetooth, a customizable home screen, and weather/traffic info.
Thanks to the presence of Eco, Normal and Sport driving modes and the added punch of its electric motor, the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid feels livelier off-the-line than its conventional siblings. There doesn’t seem to be much difference between Normal and Sport driving modes, although there is with Eco, which has the expected leisurely acceleration.
No, the Corolla Hybrid is not overly fast; it’s acceleration is average. But it is fuel efficient. Our weeklong test drive returned 49 mpg without much effort at economical driving.
Underneath, you’ll find a MacPherson strut front suspension, a multi-link rear suspension and a pair of stabilizer bars. It diminishes body roll while cornering and delivers a mostly comfortable ride. It’s also fairly agile, but not sporty. But that’s not unexpected of a Corolla. What is surprising is the gruff engine note when prodded, reducing the illusion of refinement.
2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE Specifications
|L: 182.3 inches/W: 70.1 inches/H: 56.5 inches/Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
|1.8-liter Atkinson-Cycle four-cylinder, and a permanent magnet motor, continuously variable transmission and front-wheel drive
|53 mpg city/52 mpg highway/52 mpg combined
|121 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $23,650; As tested: $25,394 including $995 destination charge.
The 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid makes a compelling case as an affordable, comfortable, fuel efficient sedan that feels somewhat sprightly. Its conventional demeanor is easy to live with year after year.
And it pencils well.
Compared to the Prius, the Corolla Hybrid costs $975 less while returning identical fuel economy of 52 mpg. And while you could opt for a Prius Eco with its 58 mpg fuel economy, the difference in price vs fuel economy would take more than 14 months to break even, given EPA monthly fuel cost figures. And the Corolla Hybrid boasts another advantage; it doesn’t resemble an alien life form.
If a compact hybrid is what you’re looking for, it’s hard to consider anything but the Corolla Hybrid LE.
2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE – Frequently Asked Questions
Is the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid worth it?
Compared to the Prius? Yes. The Corolla Hybrid starts at $975 less than the Prius and they both use the same drivetrain, and return the same EPA fuel economy. The Prius Eco nets better fuel economy, but it only saves you a $100 annually in fuel while costing $1,425 more.
Does 2022 Corolla Hybrid have heated seats?
Yes, if you order the optional Premium Interior package for $1,525. New for 2022, it includes heated front seats, as well as synthetic leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat.
Does the 2022 Corolla Hybrid have a spare tire?