2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Featuring an unparalleled travel range of 582 miles
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Pop the hood on this Corolla and you'll see an advanced hybrid motor that is strictly 2022. But look under the fender wells and you'll find wheels and tires that are so 1975. The latest Corolla hybrid is a perplexing study in contrasts. On the one hand, you've got a Prius-quality hybrid engine that has been refined by decades of development. In the new Corolla, it tops the charts for efficiency with an overall fuel economy rating of 52MPG. But to get those MPG figures, Toyota installed a set of small and narrow 6.5Jx15 inch alloy rims fitted with tall sidewall Yokohama Avid tires (195/65R15) that make the otherwise stylish Corolla look awkward and geeky.
Like most of the other performance parameters for this sedan, the hybrid's handling is strictly slow lane stuff, occasionally verging on middle of the road behavior. The Avid radials partially compensate for their dwarf size by sticking resolutely to the pavement thanks to a compliant treadwear rating of TW280. But make no mistake, the hybrid is as far from a sporting proposition as you can get in Corolla land. Toyota's market landscape for the Corolla consists of no fewer than 13 separate models, ranging from the base Corolla L (139hp 1.8 liter engine) to the XSE Apex Edition (169hp 2.0 liter motor). The hybrid we tested stands alone from all its siblings in the power department, with an electric motor tied to a 1.8 liter inline gas fueled 4. This combination produces just 121hp and 105 lb.-ft. of torque. In the 2,850 pound hybrid, the parsimonious drivetrain posts a stodgy power- to-weight ratio of 23.55lb/hp.
Okay, so you won't be match racing any BMWs with this iteration of the Corolla. But you will enjoy the optional interior revamp available for the first time in 2022 models. Toyota calls this their $1,525 "Premium Interior Package," and it consists of SofTex trimmed seats which look and feel like leather without the animal sacrifice. Add heated front seats, a leather wrapped steering wheel, and power lumbar support for the driver's seat, and you've got a comparatively inexpensive upgrade that makes the base trim Corolla cabin much more inviting. Our only complaint was a center console lid between the front seats that clicked and clacked every time we contacted it with our right elbow.
The most compelling aspect of Corolla design is the layout of the interior. The 8 inch color touchscreen operates without requiring an advanced degree from you in computer science. Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported by the system. The standard 6 speaker sound system does a great job of maximizing enjoyment of the free 3 month subscription to SiriusXM radio. In fact, at one point, we parked the Corolla in a shady spot overlooking San Francisco Bay and spent a relaxing hour in the Corolla cabin listening to some special shows on XM's "Fifties on Five" station. When the car isn't moving, you start to notice and appreciate some of the design subtleties that go into making a cockpit classy. Take the sun visors, for example. In an economy compact class vehicle, you wouldn't necessarily expect to find visors that not only pivot, but also offer lengthy pull-out tabs to extend coverage. Both front visors also include illuminated mirrors on their backsides. Although the hybrid is only available in the utilitarian LE trim level, you won't find yourself wanting for much here if you upgrade to the Premium Interior Package. LED headlights are standard, as are keyless entry and start, an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, automatic climate control, and voice recognition. This hybrid proves that life in the slow lane need not be uncomfortable.
If you're looking for an economical ride around town, this Toyota fits the bill. While it acquits itself well on freeways, and somewhat less well on winding back roads, the hybrid Corolla's strength lies in its unparalleled travel range of 582 miles between refills of its 11.2 gallon tank. Link that kind of an economy to a very competitive base price of just $23,650, and you've got a comfy travel companion that will keep you content in our brave new world of $5.00 per gallon gas prices.
2022 TOYOTA COROLLA HYBRID LE
ENGINE: 1.8 liter inline 4, Dual VVT-i, plus Electric Motor
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 53MPG City/52MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $26,949
HYPES: Livable Cabin, Miser on Fuel
GRIPES: No Giggle to Drive
STAR RATING: 8 Stars out of 10
SEE ALSO Full 2022 Toyota Corolla Line Specs