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As the hybrid sedan segment expands, traditional offerings are gaining eco-friendly powertrains to fulfill market demand. One of the recent newcomers was Toyota’s Corolla into the mix. Even though the compact hybrid sedan is one of the cheaper hyper-milers on sale, it’s still a big investment. Therefore, minds may focus on Toyota Corolla Hybrid problems and their frequency and severity.

First, what is the Toyota Corolla Hybrid?

Toyota released the hybrid version of their beloved Corolla commuter car in the 2020 model year. Although it’s available in all-wheel drive with impressive standard features and balanced handling, it prioritizes fuel economy. Potential customers can expect a claimed 50 mpg, with a slight horsepower boost in its current configuration.

Despite its undersized trunk and strained powertrain at highway speeds, Toyota’s diet Prius is one of the more affordable hybrid sedans on sale. Teamed with high predicted reliability, it’s an excellent choice for everyday transportation. But that doesn’t mean the Toyota Corolla Hybrid has no issues.

1. Poor fuel economy in extreme conditions

Engine Patrol reports an owner in “far northern Minnesota” whose 2022 Corolla Hybrid only achieves a fuel mileage in the mid-30s. While it’s disappointing, the owner says it’s commonly “-30 F,” and efficiency will fall in extreme cold. Yet, summer weather in the desert will have a similar effect.

2. Engine fails to start after running out of fuel

If that poor fuel economy in extreme conditions puts a driver on the hard shoulder, getting it started again will be an issue. It’s not the fueling system but a fail-safe feature in all of Toyota’s hybrid vehicles. Disconnecting the battery to reset the system may work, but the code must be cleared before the engine can start.

3. Electric-only mode unavailable

Another Toyota Corolla Hybrid problem is that it sometimes cannot run on pure electricity when “EV Mode” is engaged. Owners will see an error message stating, “EV Mode Unavailable Hybrid Battery Low.” Although concerning, it’s quite normal. The Corolla Hybrid only has a 1.3 kWh battery, which is good enough for puttering around a parking lot but not daily commuting.

4. Dead batteries

Owners have complained that the batteries are dying in their hybrid sedans. Like most modern vehicles, the Corolla Hybrid always has some electronics running in the background. For example, theft deterrents and keyless entry systems constantly draw some power from the battery. If the Toyota isn’t driven daily, owners could have an issue starting the car, especially in cold weather.

5. Noisy brakes

Hybrid cars are often quieter than their internal combustion engine counterparts. But this could reveal other areas of the vehicle that went unnoticed. Many Corolla Hybrid owners have reported a “whirring/buzzing” noise when braking at low speed. The sound is completely normal and part of the hybrid’s pressurized regenerative braking system.

6. Woodland critter-attracting electrical wiring

Yes, it’s true; a slight Toyota Corolla Hybrid problem is wiring that attracts mice, rats, and squirrels. The wiring insulation is a soy-based material. Therefore, it’s a tasty treat for hungry rodents.

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid problems

Toyota Corolla Hybrid problems are kept to a minimum
2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid | Toyota

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued two recalls for the 2020 model year. They include failing rear seat belt assemblies and impromptu deactivation of the Corolla Hybrid’s vehicle stability control system. Otherwise, 2021, 2022, and 2023 Corolla Hybrids and free and clear of government recalls. But the 2021 and 2022 model years are under NHTSA investigation for potential performance downfalls for pedestrian alert sounds.

Is the Corolla Hybrid a reliable car?

The issues mentioned above aren’t that significant, but they are part of the limitations of hybrid cars in general. Hybrids are more mechanically complicated than their internal combustion competitors, but reliability has improved immensely. The inaugural 2020 Corolla Hybrid was rated best-in-class by many, and it’s similar news with the most recent model.


The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Has 3 Drawbacks, U.S. News Says