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2023 Toyota GR Corolla Review Highlights:

  • 2023 Toyota GR Corolla: $35,900 – $49,900
  • Pro: The Toyota GR Corolla is quite the performer with its potent turbocharged engine, grippy suspension, and all-wheel drive setup.
  • Cons: The GR Corolla’s ride is pretty harsh for daily driving and will only be made in limited quantities.
A side view of the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

“My Corolla doesn’t look like that,” my starry-eyed friend said as he peered at the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla I had just parked in the lot.
“This is the GR Corolla; it has 300 hp,” I replied.
“300! That’s insane!” he exclaimed.

If you’re on the hunt for a sporty hatchback and happen to get your hands on one of the 6,600 units produced for this year, expect that kind of reaction. Although the GR Corolla looks a lot like its sedate base stablemate, it stands out the more you look at it. The bold fender flares, aggressive front and rear fascias, and large wheels make it quite the site.

Toyota’s performance-vehicle division, Gazoo Racing, applied its tuner treatment to the standard-issue Corolla hatchback and churned out another hit. It’s complete with a turbocharged three-cylinder engine and a lot of spunkiness. And while it competes with other hot hatch stalwarts like the Volkswagen Golf R and Honda Civic Type R, the GR Corolla holds its own with its fiery uniqueness.

How does the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla drive?

I wish I could say that the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla is a comfortable daily driver to putt around town in, but it’s not. Of course, it wasn’t meant to. The GR Corolla is built on Toyota’s GA-C platform with enhanced frame reinforcements developed specifically at the GR factory. The car also rides on “circuit-tuned” springs and shocks, along with a set of beefy stabilizer bars, all of which make up for a harsh ride.

However, when you throw the car into tight corners, that sporty suspension really shines. The GR Corolla hugs the turns like an affectionate koala and grips like it has claws, thanks to its sticky Michelin tires.

The turbocharged 1.6-liter, three-cylinder engine is the main star of the setup. It produces a surge of power midway through the rpm band and all the way to the redline without much hesitation. It even makes cool blow-off valve noise when you lift your foot off the pedal.

Furthermore, the power is routed through the six-speed manual transmission and out to all four wheels, which is a rarity in this class. Speaking of the AWD setup, the GR Corolla has an ace up its sleeve via a small knob on the center console that changes the front: rear bias for the power delivery. The default setting is 60:40 (front and rear), but a flick of the knob can set it to 30:70 for more rear-drive power.

Additionally, setting it to “track” mode changes the setup to a 50:50 distribution for well-balanced driving dynamics.

Which Toyota GR Corolla trim is right for you?

There are only three Toyota GR Corolla trim levels to choose from:

  • GR Corolla Core: $35,900
  • GR Corolla Circuit: $42,900
  • Morizo Edition: $49,900

The Circuit and Morizo Editions are only sold in very limited quantities, so your best bet is to find a Core model. My Core model tester for the week came equipped with the Performance package, which came with all of the performance enhancements found on the Circuit model, but it was priced at $3,000 less.

What kind of equipment does the GR Corolla come with?

2023 Toyota GR Corolla front interior
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

This car may be a Corolla, but it’s well-equipped in its base form. The Toyota GR Corolla Core comes standard with LED head and taillights, 18-inch wheels wrapped with Michelin Sport tires, 4-piston front brake calipers with drilled and slotted rotors, and a sport-tuned suspension.

The Circuit Edition adds a forged carbon roof, front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials, red-painted sport calipers, hood vents, and a rear spoiler. On the inside, the up-level trim adds Brin Naub and synthetic leather sport seats, red stitched interior accents, a heated leather steering wheel, and heated front seats.

The Morizo Edition adds Brin Naub and synthetic leather front bucket seats, a suede steering wheel, GR-badged head rests, and a Morizo-signed shift knob.

How is the tech in the GR Corolla?

Considering the Toyota GR Corolla is a street-ready race car, you would think that it wouldn’t come with much tech. But you would be wrong. The GR Corolla comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, satellite radio, and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

The upper trims add a premium JBL sound system, which sounds amazing. Fortunately, the premium audio can be added to the Core trim.

What is the Toyota GR Corolla powered by?

2023 Toyota GR Corolla engine
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

All three of the Toyota GR Corolla trim levels are powered by the same engine:

Turbocharged 1.6-liter, three-cylinder engine
300 hp
273 lb-ft of torque
0-60 mph time: 4.99 seconds (according to Toyota)
Top speed: 142.9 mph

The GR Corolla is a lot to handle on the street, but I’m sure it’s fun to drive on the track. Luckily, every new GR Corolla owner will get a free one-year membership to the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). Upon enrolling, they can take advantage of their new GR Corolla on the track at a free high-performance driving event.

Is the GR Corolla fuel efficient?

Yes, the Toyota GR Corolla is fuel-efficient despite its high-energy nature. The EPA says it can achieve up to 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined. In my week of romping around town and shooting through the canyons, I achieved an average of 24.5 mpg.

Is the Toyota GR Corolla safe?

Yes, the Toyota GR Corolla is as safe as its tamer base model stablemate. The base Corolla hatchback was awarded a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Additionally, the GR Corolla comes with a host of safety features, including:

  • 10 airbags
  • Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 – pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert, automatic high beams, dynamic radar cruise control, and road sign assist.
  • Blind Spot Monitor with rear cross-traffic alert

MotorBiscuit awards the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla with a score of 8.5 out of 10

A rear view of the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

The editors at MotorBiscuit award the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla an overall score of 8.5 out of 10. The Toyota GR Corolla may have a similar formula to other cars like the Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R, but its unique styling and three-cylinder engine set it apart.

The GR Corolla is very fun to drive and performs well in the corners and straightaways. It even drove well on some dirt roads we put it on. However, the base Core model’s interior lacks some luxury, which fails to set it apart from the standard Corolla hatchback.

It’s also a bummer that the GR Corolla is only available in limited quantities, which equates to marked-up dealership prices. However, if you can find one at the sticker price or a little above, the GR Corolla is a pocket rocket that won’t disappoint you.