The legendary Toyota Corolla has been available with a manual transmission since its debut in 1966. It is with sadness that we report 2022 as the last year to row your own gears in a Corolla. Well, almost. Thankfully, if you have $35,900 and want a high performance hot hatch, you can still purchase the GR Corolla which comes only with a 6 speed manual. Here’s the rundown on whether or not you can buy a 2023 Toyota Corolla with a manual transmission.
CVT is the only 2023 Toyota Corolla transmission option
The 2023 Toyota Corolla will not be available with a 6 speed manual. The 2023 non-hybrid Corollas will only be available with Toyota’s Dynamic/Direct Shift Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), according to CNet. Though it is certainly disappointing for enthusiasts to lose the 6 speed option, 2023 also eliminates the rather lethargic 139 hp/126 lb-ft 1.8L 4 cylinder in favor of the 169 hp/151 lb-ft 2.0L power plant. The means all 2023 Corolla’s come standard with the more powerful engine and Dynamic Shift – CVT.
The only way to configure a 2023 Toyota Corolla with a manual transmission is to opt for the Corolla GR hatchback model.
Why is Dynamic shift?
The 1.8L Corolla forced you into a conventional CVT. Having driven many miles in a 2022 Toyota Corolla LE, its powertrain, though incredibly durable, feels disconnected, rubbery, and a bit sluggish. The Direct Shift–or Dynamic Shift as it’s called on Toyota’s configurator–is supposed to feel far more like a traditional torque converter automatic.
The cause of this improved feel is the presence of a fixed launch gear. Simply put, a CVT is at its least efficient and most strained when pulling away from a stop. According to CNET, adding the launch gear addresses this problem by allowing the CVT to operate at higher ratios. This allows for greater efficiency, but also takes stress off of the belt theoretically allowing for increased longevity.
Do any Corolla competitors still offer a manual?
Despite the relative popularity in the compact sedan segment, over the last few years we’ve seen the remaining manual offerings either disappear or become trim specific. 2018 was the last year to buy a manual Nissan Sentra. The Hyundai Elantra’s manual was only offered on the N-Line trim last year, but will be killed for 2023 along with the 2023 Toyota Corolla. Despite this, we still have a number of trim specific manual offerings left in this segment.
The stick shift competition
The 2023 Mazda3
This model requires you to go for the $32,010 FWD 2.5S Premium Hatch in order to get the manual. This prevents you from getting the 250 hp turbo motor, AWD, or any other trim. You get a crisp 6 speed manual and a gorgeous interior, but only the 191 hp naturally aspirated 2.5L.
The 2023 Honda Civic
Honda’s Civic also restricts you to the hatchback body style, but does allow for more than one trim selection. This means you can opt for the $24,750 “Sport” or the $30,050 “Sport Touring”. The “Sport” gets the naturally aspirated 2.0L that makes 158 hp and the “Sport Touring” gets the 180 hp 1.5L turbo.
The 2023 Subaru Impreza
Taking nearly the opposite strategy to Mazda, the Impreza only allows you to opt for the manual on the base sedan and hatch and the sport hatch. All trims are fitted with the 151 hp naturally aspirated 2.0L boxer motor. Prices for manual Impreza’s range from $19,795 for the base sedan to $23,995 for the “Sport 5 -Door”.
The 2023 VW Jetta
Volkswagen’s Jetta offers its 6 speed manual in both “S” and “Sport” trim. Both come equipped with the very advanced 158 hp 1.5L variable geometry turbo motor. The “S” is priced at $20,415 and the “Sport” at $21,315.
The 2023 Kia Forte
This the most powerful on the list with a 201 hp 1.6L turbocharged engine. Kia only offers one trim with the manual and they’ve made it easy for us and called it the “GT Manual”. To buy the 6 speed Forte you’ll be spending $25,985.
Should I skip the 2023 Toyota Corolla for another car with a manual transmission?
If you really want to drive a manual, there is no substitute for a lacking third pedal. Thankfully, depending on your budget and needs, the cars on the list above should have you covered. That is not including manual high performance variants like the Civic SI and Type R, Jetta GLI, and WRX.
If you are okay with an automatic, the 2023 Toyota Corolla is hard to beat simply due to its reliability and ease of maintenance alone. It is a fantastic car with exceptional efficiency and great comfort. That said, if you’d rather avoid CVTs, the Jetta and Forte (GT trim only) can be optioned with a 7 speed DCT and the Mazda3 comes with a 6 speed torque converter automatic.