Toyota Corolla Hybrid 2021 – Review, Specs, Photos

The Toyota Corolla has served as a punching bag for automotive enthusiasts for years. Its ubiquity, its boring driving dynamics, and, more recently, its oddball design, have not made it a driver’s darling. That message hasn’t made it to compact car buyers, however, as they continue to snap up the things undaunted. A 2021 redesign for the sedan model (a new Corolla hatchback debuted for 2021) left us with hope that the Corolla could continue to appeal to its core audience while transcending its boring station. The new hybrid version undercuts that optimism. Full review and all information about the car – 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

New Toyota Corolla Hybrid 2021

Three engine and two transmission options stay on the order sheet for the 2021 Toyota Corolla sedan. Start a Corolla L, LE, or XLE and you’ll wake up a 1.8-liter inline-four putting 139 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission. This combo garners EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 29 miles per gallon city, 37 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined. Opt for the LE Hybrid, and you gain two motor-generators slapped onto the same engine/transmission combo, but you lose 18 hp and 19 lb-ft of torque , for final output figures of 121 hp and 105 lb-ft. The benefit, however, is fuel efficiency: The Corolla LE Hybrid rakes in a Prius-like (and, in some cases, Prius-beating) 53 mpg city and 52 mpg highway and combined ratings. Built on a reputation for reliability and value, the Toyota Corolla is the best-selling vehicle of all time. As impressive as that statement is, we’ve knocked previous Corolla generations for their lack of inspiration when it came to styling, performance and refinement. With the introduction of the all-new Corolla, those old conventions no longer ring true. On top of all of the improvements, there’s also a new hybrid model for even greater appeal. The 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid takes the sharp, new redesign of the conventional Corolla and adds the highly efficient powertrain from the Prius. The result is an attractive compact sedan with phenomenal mileage. That combination has been rather elusive until just recently, with Honda’s introduction of the Insight and the Accord Hybrid. Toyota Corolla Hybrid 2021 – photos colors and price in this article!

Interior

Toyota says the Corolla’s cabin employs a theme of “sensuous minimalism.” Black, beige or gray cloth seats are standard on L, LE and LE Hybrid models. Throw some extra cash at an XLE or XSE model and you’ll gain “SofTex” synthetic leather seating for added luxury. In the SE and XSE grades, the front seats feature additional shoulder and side bolsters to fit with the sportier aesthetic. Available ambient lighting adds a dash of color to the front door trim, console tray and front cup holder. Rear occupants will also appreciate the sedan’s 34.8 inches of legroom — which, in fact, is almost 5 more than you’ll get in the Corolla hatchback. The Corolla sedan offers an EPA-rated 13.1 cubic feet of cargo in its trunk, which is less than the more functional hatchback (17.8 cubic feet), but at least it offers a standard 60/40 split folding rear seat for longer items. Toyota Corolla Hybrid 2021 – see the photo in the gallery on our website.

Exterior

Toyota has overhauled its line-up in the last few years, and this year it was Corolla’s turn. Toyota decided the car might as well be designed to accommodate a hybrid powertrain, as well as the usual gasoline-only engine. This speaks to the success of Toyota’s hybrid technology which, slowly but surely, has crept from the Prius into other Toyota vehicles. While some cars can go on and on without a visit from the design team, the Corolla is popular, and Toyota’s design team frequently revisits it. Its last total redesign was in 2014, with a refresh in 2017. In between, Toyota has released special editions. The trim levels and features are significantly revised each year to keep up with new trends. The 2021 Corolla Hybrid has a simplified version of the Toyota Camry’s new front, with a large grille and a sloping hood that dips low. It might not be the most thrilling design, but it’s nothing to scoff at given the price.

Colors

Like the Honda rivals, the Corolla Hybrid gains favor with a long list of standard advanced safety features and an interior that exceeds expectations for quality. Holding it back, however, is a singular (and notably modest) trim level, slower acceleration, grabby brakes, lack of Android Auto integration, and limited rear headroom. Even with these drawbacks in mind, the 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid makes a compelling case for itself among the Honda rivals. It’s a huge step in the right direction, adding even more justification for its best-seller status.

Fuel economy

The Corolla may indeed have its shortcomings, but the hybrid accomplishes arguably the only task it needs to: delivering exceptional fuel efficiency. Our example returned 46 mpg over the course of two weeks with us in mixed city and highway use. While that’s significantly below its EPA’s estimates—52 mpg combined, 53 city, and 52 highway—it’s still quite good given our staff’s aggressive driving styles. Even more impressive is the 56 mpg the Corolla returned on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, which works out to a highway range in excess of 600 miles. Consider that the Corolla hybrid costs only $3450 more than the comparable gas-only model but is estimated at nearly 20 mpg higher on the combined fuel-economy scale (and beat that car’s efficiency by 16 mpg on our highway test), and this car makes a strong case as a fuel-sipping appliance for a penny-pinching commuter. Consider it, then, the ultimate Corolla, if not the best showcase for the latest Corolla’s aspirations beyond bland reliability.

Horsepower

It is, however, painfully slow. A 2.0-liter, 169-hp gas-only Corolla can get from zero to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 16.3 seconds. The Corolla hybrid needs a glacial 10.7 and 18.0 seconds to reach the same marks. Our test car’s 195-foot stopping distance from 70 mph also is pretty poor, and we noticed moderate fade after repeated hard stops. The Corolla is so reluctant to accelerate that after driving it for a few days you’ll forget that quick starts or left-lane passes were ever a viable option. Those looking for a smidge more driving satisfaction may want to consider the Corolla hybrid’s main rival, the Honda Insight, which we recently evaluated in a head-to-head comparison test with the Toyota.

Technical specifications

The 2021 Toyota Corolla’s EPA-estimated fuel economy is as high as 31-mpg city and 40-mpg highway. Those numbers, however, are only for the SE trim level with the available 2.0-liter engine and CVT transmission. The XSE with that same powertrain combo has estimates of 31/38-mpg city/highway. Pair the 2.0-liter engine with a 6-speed manual in the SE, and fuel economy drops further to 29/36-mpg city/highway. Most versions of the Corolla use a 1.8-liter engine, and although it is smaller, it’s not as economical as the 2.0-liter. The L and LE trim levels are rated at 30 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. The fancier XLE slips by one mpg in both measures, to 29/37 mpg. Far and away the most economical version of the Corolla is the Hybrid model, which gets 53 mpg in the city and 52 mpg on the highway.

Price

A base 2021 Corolla L sedan starts at $20,780. See a full trim price breakdown below. All prices include a $955 destination fee. Corolla LE: $21,230; Corolla SE: $23,230; Corolla SE Nightshade Edition: $23,930; Corolla Hybrid LE: $24,355; Corolla XLE: $25,180; Corolla XSE: $26,680.

Safety

The Corolla has Toyota’s Safety Sense suite of driver assistance features, with a full list of safety tech. I used all but two of the features; automatic high beams and pedestrian and cyclist detection. I was in the city, so high beams weren’t necessary, and no one stepped or rode in front of my car. My harshest test came one rainy night along a road with iffy markings and erratic traffic patterns. The lane keep assist could find the center dotted lane, which had reflectors, but it had a hard time finding the right lane marker, which had crumbled away in places. The Corolla’s steering assist gently suggested I hug the center lane marker more than I would like. I also had dynamic cruise control set on this trip, and it worked well. This system takes you all the way down to a stop, and when it detects that the car in front of you has moved, it nudges you to press a button, or the accelerator, start up again. It follows traffic as it should. It was able to adjust quickly when another car cut into my lane, and it read speed limit sign correctly.

Motors

Like the GR Yaris, the GR Corolla will likely receive power from a turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine that mates to a six-speed manual. Expect it to push the three-pot’s 260-ish horses to all four wheels courtesy of a standard all-wheel-drive system. Although the GR Corolla is our true white whale, we’re happy to settle on the upcoming Apex sports package for the time being. Expect Toyota to release more information, as well as pricing, for the kit in the coming weeks.

Configurations

The 2021 Corolla hybrid also is cheaper than the Prius, starting at $23,880—a base 2021 Prius runs $24,700—but is also available in lowly LE trim. That corresponds to the mid-level trim in the non-hybrid sedan’s lineup. It shares most of its engineering with the non-hybrid Corolla, but it’s powered by the same 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-four and pair of electric motors that motivates the Toyota Prius. There’s also a 1.3-kWh battery stored beneath the rear seats. The system as a whole produces 121 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque. And it isn’t as though the Corolla hybrid LE is sparingly equipped. It comes standard with automatic climate control, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and LED headlights and taillights. Our test car tacked on optional body side molding, floor mats, and mud guards, bringing the total to $24,467, still less than the least-expensive Prius.

Review

Base Price: $24,055. Powertrain: 1.8-liter inline-four with two electric motors and a 1.3-kWh nickel-metal hydride battery | CVTi transmission | front-wheel drive Horsepower: 121 horsepower @ 5,200 RPM Torque: 105 pound-feet of torque @ 3,600 RPM EPA Fuel Economy: 53 mpg city | 52 mpg highway | 52 mpg combined Curb Weight: 3,050 pounds Cargo Volume: 13.1 cu. ft. The 2021 Toyota Prius, By the Numbers. Base Price: $25,155 (L Eco trim) Powertrain: 1.8-liter inline-four with two electric motors and a 2.16-kWh lithium-ion battery | CVTi transmission | front-wheel drive with optional all-wheel drive Horsepower: 121 horsepower @ 5,200 RPM Torque: 105 pound-feet of torque @ 3,600 RPM EPA Fuel Economy: 54 mpg city | 50 mpg highway | 52 mpg combined Curb Weight: 3,075 pounds Cargo Volume: 27.4 cu. ft.

Release date

Corolla is not a new kid on the block. It debuted in the late 1960s, with more than 46 million sold around the world. Yet many other Toyotas received the hybrid treatment before the Corolla, including the RAV4, Highlander, and even the Camry, Corolla’s larger sibling. The Corolla Hybrid is affordable, but it’s not the least expensive hybrid. The 2021 Honda Insight and 2021 Hyundai Ioniq are a few hundred dollars cheaper. I tested the Corolla Hybrid in the Pacific Northwest’s rainy January weather. It’s an ideal time to test the car’s driver assistance features (without putting myself or the car in any deliberate danger).

Video

The standard Corolla can pass 40 miles per gallon on the highway without too much effort, but the Corolla Hybrid looks at that figure and says, “Hold my gasoline.” Over my week with the hybrid variant, I saw a combined fuel economy of 53 mpg. While I don’t think I’d be able to top the EPA-estimated 56 mpg combined from the Toyota Prius Eco, I feel confident that those considering a Corolla Hybrid over the homely hatchback won’t feel like they’re missing out on too much thrift. This fuel-sipping comes despite my usual fat-foot nature; it’s not hard to squeeze this economy out of the Corolla Hybrid. While the car almost always starts from a stop under the power of its electric motor alone, it’s hard to keep it running on electrons without accelerating so slowly that traffic behind me starts to get impatient. I find it’s best to lean a little harder on the accelerator when getting up to speed, using just a bit more of the 121 net horsepower that comes from the 1.8-liter I4 and electric motor. The continuously variable transmission emits some drone, sure, but it’s programmed for efficiency, and things like simulated gear changes only reduce its efficacy.

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