It’s the holiday season, so let’s play a little trivia: What’s among the most dependable and affordable new import sedans on the market?
There are a few answers, but even Stevie Wonder could see that Toyota Corolla should be the answer. And indeed, whether it’s 1992, 2002 or 2022, the Japanese compact sedan is the default setting in our collective consciousness when we think of “affordable, entry-level” cars.
The 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE sedan pricing minds inflation and the possible oncoming recession like it is its business. There aren’t too many new cars boasting a 52 mpg rating that cost $26,949, which automatically makes the Corolla a standout in the compact hybrid segment. Toyota doesn’t offer much customization, as if to suggest that Corolla buyers are simple people who neither want or need it. So the spartan-equipped LE trim is all there is.
For a buyer looking to ditch the cloth seats but not ready to splurge on the aftermarket choices, the newly available Premium Interior Package ($1,525) fits right in as a nice add-on and offers Toyota’s SofTex imitation leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. For the safety-conscious, blind-spot monitoring ($500) is another option.
While competitors may offer more regal interior or more finessed handling, they’ll cede the edge to Toyota’s time-honored reputation for longevity and reliability. Under the hood of the Corolla Hybrid is a 121-hp engine paired to dual electric motors and generating 105 lb.-ft. of torque. If this powertrain can be compared to anything, with a continuously variable automatic transmission, it’s to a base Prius. In fact, the mpg is identical. There are some give-away signs that it’s a hybrid, including hubcapped and lightweight aluminum wheels and hybrid badging. The fuel tank is 11.4 gallons compared to 13.4 gallons in a regular Toyota Corolla, designed to coexist with the 600-volt lithium-ion battery situated under the back seat.
The Corolla Hybrid glides along as smoothly and coherently as you’d expect from a compact sedan. You’d have to floor the accelerator to hear any feistiness from the engine, and it’s a foregone conclusion that speed is not this car’s calling card. Still, it’s tolerable for the 0-60 climb to take 10 seconds. Dial up the PWR mode and the engine revs really kick in around 40 mph. Dial down to Eco mode, and you’ll level down the fun to a very uneventful leisurely pace.
The true highlight of the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is that it’s actually pretty well-equipped, not just well-priced. Take in account 15-inch wheels and soft suspension, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus standard features such as automatic single-zone climate control, a modern-looking largely digital gauge cluster, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist – and you’ve got a well-rounded machine.
Although the tradeoff is lack of options, it’s also what underscores the idea that this is a no-nonsense car. Its combination of quality at a bargain price is hard to beat. The 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is a sure thing at base, and even with the Premium package and blind-spot monitoring added, its pre-tax 30K price makes it hard to overlook.
Edited by Slav Kandyba
Photo Credit: Toyota