Toyota said today that the 2023 Corolla line expands with four new Hybrid grades, including a more powerful hybrid system and optional all-wheel drive. It’s a half-step to the EV future that planet earth needs to survive.
On the retrograde gasoline side of the Corolla family, LE, the most popular version, now has the 169-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine used in all other Corolla fossil fuel burners. Replacing a 139-hp 1.8-liter engine, it is quicker by two seconds to 60 mph. It is also more slightly efficient, improving on the previous engine fuel economy ratings by more than 1 mpg per gallon with a manufacturer-estimated 31 city/40 hwy 34 combined MPG.
The Corolla, of course, has sold more than 50 million units globally since 1966 in 12 generations, and has become the world’s top-selling model. Toyota also remains the world’s hybrid leader and appears to be migrating away from the Prius nameplate. Now there’s more power, more traction, with Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive (AWD), as used in other Toyota Hybrids. It’s built off of the Toyota New Global Architecture-C platform (TNGA-C).
There are also more model choices, with the Corolla Hybrid LE FWD joined by four new offerings: the LE AWD grade, sporty SE and SE AWD grades and a premium-focused XLE grade. Whether such complexity in the showroom is a good thing is debatable particularly since Toyota is scrambling with the negative effects of semiconductor supply issues. (AutoInformed: Toyota Annual Results Show Profitability Struggle Goes On; Semiconductor Crisis – Toyota Again Suspending Production)
All 2023 Corolla Hybrid models have a more powerful hybrid system. As before, the system uses a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gas engine with two motor-generators through a planetary-type continuously variable transmission. A compact high-output/low-loss drive motor has been newly developed for the transaxle/motor, which includes a redesigned magnet and electromagnetic steel plate configuration with two additional magnets for increased output. The new hybrid system also includes a newly developed lithium-ion battery that’s now located under the rear seat to lower the center of gravity and maximize trunk cargo capacity. Toyota, of course, was very late to adopt lithium-ion batteries.
Notably, the 2023 Corolla Hybrid is the only compact hybrid passenger car available with all-wheel drive at this time. For buyers, it could be viewed as the best of both worlds: added traction for slippery road conditions and efficient fuel economy.
Following other Toyota Hybrids, the 2023 Corolla Hybrid AWD claims an advantage. Instead of transfer gears and a driveshaft to the rear wheels, Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive employs a separate rear-mounted electric motor to power the rear wheels when needed.
The system is said to work seamlessly and transparently(AutoInformed hasn’t driven it), preemptively distributing driving power to the rear wheels to help suppress front wheel slip during off-the-line starts. It also engages the rear motor in response to loss of grip at the front wheels and enhances cornering agility by helping to reduce understeer.
The driver can view torque distribution on the Multi-information Display and audio system screen, which can be a good thing because the Toyota Safety Sense technology in Corolla evolves to version 3.0 and includes enhanced versions of:
- Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD)
- Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA)
- Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
- Lane Tracing Assist (LTA)
- Road Sign Assist (RSA)
- Automatic High Beams (AHB)
The 2023 Corolla Hybrids also have enhanced brake control, while the SE grades (FWD and AWD) inherit the firmer-feel Electronic Power Steering from the Corolla Apex Edition performance model. The 2023 Corolla also comes equipped with a standard next generation 8-inch Toyota Audio Multimedia system providing a wide range of enhanced connectivity and convenience features, including being Over-the-Air (OTA) updatable.
Users can interact with the new systems design through intuitive touch and voice activation controls. With the latest available Connected Service, Drive Connect*, users have access to Intelligent Assistant, Cloud Navigation and Destination Assist. With Intelligent Assistant simple phrases like “Hey Toyota” awakens the system for voice activated commands to search for the directions, find Points of Interest (POI), adjust audio controls, change the cabin temperatures and more. Cloud Navigation is the available onboard navigation solution that utilizes the cloud to download the latest available map, traffic and routing information. Up-to-date search capabilities are via POI search provided by Google Points-of-Interest data. Destination Assist also gives access to 24/7 live agent assistance to locate your next destination. * Active Drive Connect trial or subscription required.
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