Is the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid’s Top-Tier Trim Level the Best Bargain Buy?
When Toyota’s entry-level hybrid entered the market three years ago, it only had the bare bones base trim. New for this year, the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid has refreshed styling, more horsepower, and optional all-wheel drive. But the biggest news is Toyota expanding the Corolla Hybrid sedan trim levels to three. Despite the welcome update, it presents potential buyers with the challenging task of choice. Which trim level—LE, SE, and XLE—is the best for the money?
What’s under the hood of the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid?
Last year’s base Corolla Hybrid had a lackluster 121 horsepower and just 146 pounds-feet of torque. The improved 1.8-liter four-cylinder mated with dual-electric motors increases output to 134 horsepower and 156 pounds-feet of torque. It may not be much, but it helps with highway driving, at least slightly compared to the outgoing model. Fortunately, each trim level has the upgraded drivetrain.
Fuel economy will depend on the trim level. Drivers should expect at least 53 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway. The numbers dip by three in each driving condition in the mid-range Corolla Hybrid. All-wheel drive (a $1,400 option) will drop fuel efficiency by a further two mpg. Four-wheel propulsion doesn’t make the hybrid a barnstormer. That rear electric motor only applies power when traction is lost at the front. Nevertheless, let’s get into the weeds about where the differences between the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid trim levels lie.
The Corolla Hybrid’s base LE trim level
Base Corolla Hybrids feature manually-adjustable front seats, six-way for the driver and four-way for the passenger, and cloth upholstery all around. On the tech side, the LE gains a new eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system connected to a six-speaker stereo. Luckily, occupants are gifted wireless Bluetooth functions, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Moreover, Toyota adds in voice command controls, automatic climate control, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and four—count ‘em, four—USB ports, all for $22,800.
Mid-range Corolla Hybrid SE
For those who want a sportier façade for their hybrid pursuits, the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE will fill those desires. It isn’t all appearance and no substance, however. The SE gains a gloss black front grille and rear diffuser, premium sport seats, and additional accents, but a reworked power steering system for more engagement on the backroads.
Inside, the SE features a leather-trimmed steering wheel and a push-button start. But there are no upgrades other than proximity keyless entry and 18-inch alloys for the $25,240 MSRP, Toyota says.
The top-tier XLE
In addition to the contents on the SE trim, for $26,600, the king-of-the-hill XLE is stocked to the max, with the most driver’s assistance features. Otherwise, the range-topping 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid gains a redesigned 7-inch information display in the instrument cluster, bigger than the lower trim levels’ 4.2-inch display. Heated seats are a delightful supplement in the front row, as is the moonroof just above them. While the mid-range features bigger wheels, the XLE must do with only 16-inch alloys. But occupants will enjoy synthetic leather upholstery through the cabin. Potential buyers can add a JBL premium audio system and wireless device charging for an extra $675.
Which 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid trim level offers the most safety?
The Corolla Hybrid, like any Toyota, is stocked with the impressive Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 system. Standard features include automatic high-beam headlights, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, and lane departure alert with steering assist. But wait, there’s more. Also included is a proactive drive assist function, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, and road sign assist.
The $1,180 Convenience package on the LE will provide blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. On the mid-range SE, the options are available as a part of the $1,220 Premium package. Yet, the XLE has the two safety features from the factory.
Which trim level is most worth it?
Equally equipped, the base and top-tier 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid are roughly $2,600 apart. Even adding in all-wheel drive keeps the range-topping hybrid sedan under $30,000. Matched against hybrid offerings from Honda, Hyundai, and the rest of Toyota’s lineup, it’s the cheapest on sale. If potential buyers can get past its undersized trunk, limited rear-row headroom, and droning drivetrain at highway speeds, it’s the most worthwhile hybrid sedan for the money.