2022 Toyota Corolla vs. Hyundai Elantra: Which Subcompact Car Is More Fuel Efficient?

If you’re shopping for a compact sedan, there are many cars to choose from. The 2022 Toyota Corolla and the 2022 Hyundai Elantra are two mainstays in the category. Both cars are sized similarly, have many of the same tech features, and boast stellar fuel economy numbers. But which of these two is more fuel-efficient?

The 2022 Toyota Corolla is available with two different gas engine choices

A Toyota Corolla is a staple among the best small cars and competition for the 2022 Honda Civic.
A Toyota Corolla Apex | Toyota

First, let’s take a look at the 2022 Toyota Corolla. Under the hood of the Corolla SE and XSE trim levels is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engine that produces 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. This is the larger of the two engines, and it gets up to 31 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA. The smaller 1.8-liter engine can be found in the L, LE, SE, and XLE trim levels.

This engine puts out 139 hp and 126 lb-ft of torque, and while you might think that it gets better fuel economy than the larger 2.0-liter mill, it doesn’t. According to the EPA, the smaller 1.8-liter engine can achieve up to 30 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Both of these engines churn out good fuel economy numbers, but if you want to save even more on gas, then the Corolla Hybrid is the way to go.

The 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is the range-topper when it comes to fuel efficiency

A red 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid drives down a back road.
The 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid gets over 50 mpg. | Toyota

While the 2022 Toyota Corolla fitted with the 2.0-liter engine can easily get around 40 mpg, you can expect even more from the Corolla Hybrid. This unique version of the Corolla is powered by a 1.8-liter engine that’s paired with an electric motor for a total output of 121 hp. The Corolla Hybrid’s horsepower rating may be low, but its fuel economy figures are high. According to the EPA, the Corolla Hybrid can get up to 53 mpg in the city and 52 mpg on the highway.

The 2022 Hyundai Elantra only has one engine under its hood

A red 2023 Hyundai Elantra compact sedan parked underground
2023 Hyundai Elantra | Hyundai Motor America

If you’re shopping for a gas-power 2022 Hyundai Elantra, you’ll only find one engine under its hood. Nestled between the front fenders is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engine that produces 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. According to the EPA, this engine can get up to 33 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway in the base Elantra SE. Opting for the higher trim levels drops the fuel efficiency by 3 mpg and 2 mpg, respectively.

For the best fuel economy, choose the Hyundai Elantra Hybrid

The Hyundai Elantra Hybrid is a competitor for the Toyota Corolla Hybrid and the rest of the best small cars.
Hyundai Elantra Hybrid | Hyundai

While the non-hybrid Elantra can easily eclipse the 40-mpg mark without trying, the 2022 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid pushes the number past 50. To be exact, the EPA rates the Elantra Hybrid at 53 mpg in the city and a whopping 56 mpg on the highway. Those are some astronomical figures, and it’s clear they beat out those of the Corolla Hybrid.

The Elantra Hybrid is more powerful, too. It’s powered by a 1.6-liter engine that’s paired with an electric motor for a total power output of 139. So, it’s only slightly more powerful than the Corolla, but it’s definitely a little more efficient, so that’s a win-win situation in our book.

Which of these cars and trim levels should you pick?

Whether you pick the hybrid version or not, the 2022 Hyundai Elantra is the clear winner between these two cars. The gas-powered Elantra has a little less power than the Corolla’s 2.0-liter, but it gets better fuel efficiency. Also, if fuel efficiency is a must-have and you really don’t care about power, then the Hyundai Elantra Hybrid is the car to get.

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