Corolla’s popularity and low price make its hybrid version a force in the marketplace

Dale Johnson: The Toyota Corolla is a hybrid for the massesThe Toyota Corolla has been one of Canada’s best-selling cars for decades, ever since the late 1960s when it was the entry-level Toyota. Globally, the Corolla is the best-selling model of all time, with over 50 million produced since its introduction in 1966.

In 2022, the Corolla replaced the Honda Civic – after 24 years – as the best-selling car in Canada. In all, 33,096 Corollas were sold across the country last year; that’s about 93 Corollas sold every day.

I recently test-drove the top trim level of the Corolla Hybrid, the XSE AWD model. It has a 1.8-litre 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve gasoline engine, combined with two hybrid motors. This combination provides outstanding fuel economy – without worrying about “range anxiety,” which is sometimes part of having a pure electric vehicle.

Natural Resources Canada rates the Corolla Hybrid at 5.0 litres per 100 km in the city (56.5 miles per gallon) and 5.7  litres per 100 km (49.6 mpg) on the highway. That’s significantly better in the city than the base 2.0-litre gas version, which is rated at 7.4 litres per 100 km (38.2 mpg) in the city and 5.7 litres per 100 km (49.6 mpg) on the highway.

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But it costs money to save on gas; the least-expensive gas-only Corolla in Canada starts at $25,834, while the base hybrid starts at $28,874. The price tag on my top-end XSE AWD test vehicle – with fees and freight – is $36,178.70.

The XSE model includes an 8-way power driver’s seat, heated front and rear seats, and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel.

There’s a lot to like about the Corolla. Sitting on a 2,700 mm (106.3 in) wheelbase with an overall length of 4,636 mm (182.5 in), the Corolla is easy to handle and park. And visibility out the rear window is better than many other vehicles.

But the Corolla isn’t perfect. I didn’t find the seats all that comfortable, it’s fairly plain inside, and it could be quieter.

I have complained about not-so-easy operating sound system controls in the past, and the Corolla doesn’t escape my nitpicking. The volume knob for the sound system is small, and so are the controls for the heating and ventilation system. This could be especially inconvenient when driving with mitts or gloves.

The Corolla is not a luxury car, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s a lower-priced vehicle that appeals to the masses – and the fact that it’s the best-selling car in Canada proves that Toyota has figured out how to create cars that people want to buy.

The hybrid version will attract the growing number of people looking for a way to save on gas. Hybrids are especially attractive to people who do a lot of city driving. Low-speed, stop-and-go driving is where hybrids excel because the electric motors provide most of the power and the gas engine shuts off, which means no gas is being burned when you’re stopped in traffic.

The gas engine seamlessly kicks in if more power is needed or it is especially cold. So a hybrid provides the advantages of both an electric motor and a gas engine. The Corolla’s mass popularity and low price make the hybrid version a force in the marketplace.

Just a few years ago, hybrids and electrics were expensive, high-end cars for consumers who prided themselves on being early adapters or wanted to demonstrate they could afford the latest hybrid technology. Now, with the hybrid Corolla and several other lower-priced hybrids on the market­, this new technology is moving to the mass market and becoming more widespread.

Dale Johnson is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who has worked in TV, radio, print and online. While the manufacturer provided Dale with a vehicle to test drive, the content of this review was not reviewed or accepted by the manufacturer.

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