2023 Toyota Corolla First Look: Base Engine Goes Away, New Tech Moves In06/01/2022
The 2023 Toyota Corolla sedan and hatchback models are getting slight changes outside and big improvements inside. (The new-for-2022 Corolla Cross SUV, being new, needs nor receives any updates beyond a new hybrid model for 2023.) Besides a redesigned front fascia and new LED daytime running lights, the 2023 Corolla upgrades to Toyota’s newest infotainment system—the same setup that debuted in the 2022 Tundra pickup—while the Corolla Hybrid now offers the option for all-wheel drive. The biggest news of all is that the Corolla sedan’s ancient 1.8-liter engine has been dropped from the lineup, leaving only the more powerful 2.0-liter I-4 from last year’s Corolla XSE sedan and the hatchback models as the lone non-hybrid powertrain for 2023.
These updates come at a critical juncture, especially given the Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra have recently received compelling redesigns, and as customers may be keen to consider a compact car now that gas prices are high.
The Changes Outside
As in the past, Toyota differentiates its Corolla grades with specific styling and trim. The sportier-bent Corolla SE and XSE, as well as the up-level XLE sedans get redesigned LED headlights. Lowly LEs add a new rear bumper, while the SE and XSE receive a rear sport diffuser and 18-inch black wheels.
The hatchback (only available in SE and XSE grades, in addition to the new-for-2023 GR Corolla hot hatch guise) builds on those changes, adding a new grille with chrome accents and a rear bumper that combines body color and chrome elements. The glossy graphite-colored 18-inch wheels available in the sedan also make their way to the hatchback.
Toyota also is offering new colors on the Corolla, with Underground and Midnight Black Metallic replacing Black Sand Pearl on the sedan. Hatchback models get Inferno and Blue Crush Metallic.
The Magic is Inside
While the changes outside are subtle, inside is where the update party is at. In the past, we’ve complained about the Corolla’s slow and outdated infotainment system, which suffered from a lowish resolution and 16-bit-seeming graphics, and thankfully that’s being replaced for the 2023 year model.
Every 2023 Corolla comes with an 8.0-inch infotainment screen with Toyota Audio Multimedia, the new infotainment system that debuted in the Tundra and is rapidly proliferating throughout Toyota’s lineup. Besides adding a faster processor and sharp graphics, the infotainment also comes standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and can be updated over the air. Voice controls are available when you say, “Hey Toyota,” and SE, XSE, and XLE models have the option of adding a JBL premium audio system with nine speakers.
While all Corollas come standard with Toyota Safety Sense, Toyota’s suite of driver-assistance technologies, the 2023 Corolla gets a few upgrades. A pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, dynamic radar cruise control, lane tracing assist, road sign assist and automatic high beams are now standard across the lineup. Parking assist with braking and adaptive front lights are available on higher trims.
Hybrid, Now With All-Wheel Drive
For the first time in the first-ever Corolla Hybrid, (which was new for 2020), all-wheel drive is available. The system is the same as in the mechanically related Prius, with the same gas-electric hybrid powertrain used by the front-drive Corolla Hybrid plus a second electric motor powering the rear wheels. That means there is no driveshaft mechanically connecting the rear axle to the front, and also that the AWD only kicks in in low-traction, low-speed scenarios.
While Toyota says the 2023 Corolla Hybrid will be more powerful than the current model, it doesn’t specify by how much or whether this is a function of the added power from the AWD version. Currently, the Corolla Hybrid makes 121 hp, making it the most lethargic hybrid compact sedan out there (even though it is supremely efficient, at 52 mpg combined). The 2023 Corolla will again use a 1.8-liter engine paired to two electric motors (plus that rear axle drive motor on AWD versions), so any boost to its piddling power figures will be welcome.
Anyway, those details and more, including pricing, should arrive closer to when the 2023 Toyota Corolla will arrive to dealerships later this year. That pricing shouldn’t change much from today’s models, so the Hybrid likely will remain supremely affordable, while the regular Corolla sedan will start around $21,000.
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