Introduced last year, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid is one of the few small hybrid sedans on the market. Its Prius-like fuel economy gives this understated sedan an advantage over rivals, though its overall practical nature comes with a set of compromises. Keep reading to find out five things we like about the 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid and five things we really could do without.
What We Like about the 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid
Stellar fuel economy
Of course, this is at the top of the list. Buyers will be happy to know they can achieve more than 50 mpg with the Corolla Hybrid. The model is EPA-rated at 53/52/52 mpg city/highway/combined, putting it well within Prius territory. For comparison, the long-running hatchback gets 54/50/52 mpg in standard configuration and 58/53/56 mpg on the Eco trim.
Thanks to low windows and unobtrusive side pillars, it’s easy to see out of the Corolla Hybrid. Drivers will also appreciate the ample headroom up front.
Smooth power delivery
Under the hood, the Corolla Hybrid packs a 1.8-liter four-cylinder making 121 hp and 105 lb-ft of torque. That doesn’t sound like much juice, and it isn’t. Although power is merely adequate for merging onto the freeway, we appreciate that the Corolla Hybrid accelerates smoothly.
Solid ride quality
We don’t expect a magic carpet ride from a mainstream small sedan. But we were pleasantly surprised when our Corolla Hybrid tester absorbed most bumps in the road without punishing the driver. Neither too floaty nor too firm, the suspension delivers a more controlled ride than we might have expected.
Clean interior design
The Corolla Hybrid’s streamlined interior belies its $24,395 price tag. Although there are lots of plastics, a soft-touch dashboard and piano black accents spruce up the cabin. The 8-inch infotainment screen comes with logical menus, and the surrounding buttons and climate controls are well-organized. The interior also benefits from comfortable cloth seats and a crisp 7-inch digital instrument cluster display.
For 2021, the Corolla catches up to the rest of the world with the addition of Android Auto compatibility. This standard feature joins the already existing Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility.
A nice interior requires plenty of space, too. Back seat passengers will find a reasonable amount of legroom (34.8 inches). However, the Honda Insight is more spacious with 37.4 inches of room to stretch out in.
Honorable mention: Many standard safety features
The hybrid sedan boasts a slew of standard safety features, including pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and cyclist detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, and lane tracing assist that reads lane markings on the road.
What We Don’t Like
Acceleration in Eco mode
The Corolla Hybrid feels somewhat zippy driving through the city in Power mode. But switch over to Eco mode, and acceleration from a stop is downright gutless.
Lack of steering feel
Fortunately, the sedan responds to small steering inputs and is easy to park in tight spaces. But its dull steering feel leaves us unsatisfied on twisty roads, especially in comparison to the better-driving Honda Insight.
Even at middling speeds, a good amount of road and wind noise seep into the cabin. Although not outright surprising considering this is an inexpensive compact sedan, rivals such as Kia Forte or Volkswagen Jetta are quieter.
If you’re used to driving a pure gasoline car, it might take some time getting used to the Corolla Hybrid’s brakes. The brakes can feel a bit grabby when you first press the pedal, making it hard to brake smoothly. This is due to the transition between regenerative braking—which helps charge the Corolla Hybrid’s battery—and the mechanical brakes at each corner. Hybrid rivals like the Insight generally fare better in this regard.
Few available configurations
The Corolla Hybrid is available in one trim level, the relatively spartan LE. Only one package is available: blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. If you’re looking for a plusher cabin with heated, leatherette seats, a wireless phone charging, and other fancy creature comforts, the Corolla Hybrid is probably not your ideal pick.
|2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||1.8L/121-hp/105-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|TRANSMISSION||Cont variable auto|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,050 lb (mfr)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||182.3 x 70.1 x 56.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||10.3 sec (MT est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||53/52/52 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||64/65 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.37 lb/mile|