The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback has been enhanced with refreshed front and rear aesthetics, expanded driver-assist safety capabilities, and an all-new infotainment system as part of its updates.
The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback now offers two fresh exterior color options: Blue Crush and the fiery Inferno, complemented by the XSE trim’s brand-new 18-inch black-finish wheels. This Japanese-built vehicle begins with the SE trim, starting at $25,250, which includes a non-negotiable delivery fee of $1,760. Stepping up to the SE Plus costs $27,150, while the SE Upgrade is priced at $28,790. The top-tier XSE model, like the one I tested, starts at $31,650 before applicable taxes.
In 2023, the changes to the Corolla Hatchback’s appearance are subtle yet attractive, encompassing revamped headlights, refreshed fog light surrounds, and fresh brightwork on the rear bumper. The base SE model boasts 15-inch steel wheels, while the SE Plus upgrades to 16-inch alloy wheels, and the Upgrade and XSE trims enhance the aesthetics with 18-inch alloy wheels. For an additional cost of either $540 or $795, depending on your chosen body color, you can opt for a two-tone paint scheme that includes a black roof.
The interior exudes simplicity yet remains visually appealing, featuring an eight-inch touchscreen starting from the Plus trim and above, a stylishly stitched dash pad, and, in my test model, eye-catching two-tone seat upholstery.
The Corolla Hatchback achieves the top-tier five-star crash-test rating from the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and secures a coveted Top Safety Pick accolade from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Notably, the IIHS has refined its side-impact test to more accurately simulate collisions with larger SUVs, and the Corolla Hatchback earns an “Acceptable” rating, just one level below the highest “Good” rating.
Every trim level comes equipped with a comprehensive suite of safety features, encompassing full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-departure assist, lane tracing assist, road sign assist, emergency front braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, and automatic high-beam headlights. Additionally, a mandatory back-up camera is standard on all new vehicles, ensuring enhanced safety across the entire lineup.
The updated pre-collision system now employs a gentle braking mechanism to slow down the vehicle when coasting and approaching another vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist too rapidly. Moreover, all trim levels except for the base SE come equipped with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert for enhanced safety and awareness.
The SE trim, while relatively basic, offers several essential features:
- push-button start,
- LED headlights,
- wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto,
- automatic climate control,
- heated mirrors,
- 15-inch steel wheels.
Stepping up to the SE Plus introduces an upgraded eight-inch center touchscreen, heated seats, wheel-mounted shift paddles, and 16-inch alloy wheels. Opting for the Upgrade trim adds a heated steering wheel, along with 18-inch wheels and a convenient wireless charger.
In premium XSE test model, additional enhancements were incorporated, such as an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-speaker audio system, a seven-inch instrument cluster display, a combination of fabric and faux-leather seats, as well as fog lights for improved visibility. Furthermore, the Corolla Hatchback’s updated multimedia system for 2023 offers subscription-based services, available either as a trial or for purchase. These services encompass safety and service notifications, mobile applications that enable remote locking and vehicle location tracking, as well as navigation services.
Improving rear-seat access could involve wider-opening back doors, but aside from that, the Corolla Hatchback excels in simplicity and user-friendliness. Temperature control in the cabin is managed through user-friendly dials, while fan speed and vent modes are adjusted via straightforward buttons. A dedicated volume dial governs the stereo, and the shift lever follows a traditional P-R-N-D-L setup, eschewing electronic knobs or dials. Seat heaters with two levels are controlled by convenient buttons, and the steering wheel-mounted controls are both intuitive and user-friendly.
Navigating the icons on the center screen is a straightforward process, and if you’ve chosen to subscribe to the drive connection service, a simple “Hey, Toyota” command activates the virtual assistant. This assistant is capable of managing a wide range of functions, including climate control, audio adjustments, and handling navigation requests with ease.
When it comes to headroom, the Corolla Hatchback ranks somewhere in the middle among its closest competitors. Front-seat legroom is ample and nearly on par with rivals like the Honda Civic Hatchback, Kia Forte5, and Mazda3 Sport, differing only by a few millimeters. However, in terms of rear-seat legroom, the Corolla falls behind, as it’s not particularly designed for accommodating passengers in the rear. If you intend to transport adults in the back, they may request that you adjust the front seats forward and keep the journey relatively short for their comfort.
The compromise here is that you get 660 liters of cargo space, which falls in between the Honda, offering more space, and the Kia and Mazda, providing less. However, it’s worth noting that in the Toyota, when you fold down the rear seats, they don’t lie completely flat; instead, they are slightly elevated above the cargo floor. This means that for longer items, you’ll need to angle them in rather than simply sliding them forward.
The front seats offer excellent support and comfort, even during extended journeys. In terms of rear seats, they feature more sculpting compared to the flat panels found in many entry-level models, especially for passengers occupying the outer seats. However, the unfortunate soul in the middle seat has to contend with the ridge between them. While the ride leans towards the firmer side, it remains comfortable. Although there’s slightly more road noise than some competitors, it doesn’t reach unbearable levels. All trims except for the base SE come equipped with heated front seats, and the Upgrade and XSE models go a step further by including a heated steering wheel for added comfort.
Every trim level utilizes a 2.0L four-cylinder engine, generating 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. This engine is paired with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) and operates with front-wheel drive (FWD). While the Corolla sedan offers the option of a hybrid powertrain and all-wheel drive, it’s important to note that neither of these choices is available with the hatchback body style.
The engine in the Corolla Hatchback is quite spirited and well-suited for this compact vehicle. It delivers smooth acceleration and provides ample power for overtaking on the highway. While some competitors offer multiple engine options, including more potent turbocharged units, it’s worth noting that when comparing the 2.0L engines found in the Honda Civic, Kia Forte5, and Mazda3, the Corolla Hatchback outperforms all three in terms of power output.
Driving Feel: 9/10
While it may not reach the level of a true hot hatch like the GR Corolla, the Corolla Hatchback still delivers an enjoyable driving experience. Its steering is nimble and responsive, with a light feel that makes it effortless to navigate through crowded parking lots. When it comes to handling, it excels in cornering, displaying minimal body roll and maintaining sharpness around curves.
The spirited engine in the Corolla Hatchback pairs seamlessly with its CVT, avoiding the common “rubber-band” sensation that can sometimes occur in gearless transmissions. In this case, the CVT behaves more akin to a traditional transmission. Additionally, you’ll find paddle shifters on the steering wheel, allowing you to sequentially “shift” between simulated gears in the transmission—a feature that adds a touch of novelty and excitement, particularly when navigating winding roads. It’s worth noting that the availability of a manual transmission has been discontinued, which isn’t surprising considering the segment’s low demand for manual gearboxes; for that option, you’ll need to explore the GR Corolla.
Fuel Economy: 8/10
According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the Corolla Hatchback achieves fuel efficiency ratings of 7.5 L/100 km in city driving, 5.9 L/100 km on the highway, and 6.8 L/100 km in combined driving conditions. During my week of testing, I consistently averaged 7.5 L/100 km. It’s also worth noting that this vehicle operates on regular-grade gasoline.
The combined fuel efficiency of 6.8 L/100 km falls comfortably within the range of its nearby competitors equipped with 2.0L engines and automatic transmissions, and it maintains a slight advantage. To put it in perspective, the Honda Civic Hatchback achieves 7.2 L/100 km, while both the Kia Forte5 and Mazda3 record a slightly higher 7.7 L/100 km in combined driving conditions.
The Corolla Hatchback has a base price of $25,250, but many buyers will probably opt for higher trim levels to access additional features. The SE Plus, priced at $27,150, is likely the preferred choice for most, as it comes with a larger center screen, heated seats, and blind-spot monitoring. The range culminates with the top-tier XSE model, which I tested, priced at $31,650.
The pricing of the Corolla Hatchback is competitive when compared to its rivals. The Mazda3 starts at a slightly lower price point of $25,155, while the Kia Forte5 and Honda Civic are priced higher at $25,290 and $31,960, respectively (all prices including destination charges). However, it’s worth noting that the base models of Mazda and Kia come with more features than the entry-level Toyota, for a difference of just under $100. These features include blind-spot monitoring and at least an eight-inch screen.
At the higher trim levels, the Forte5 reaches $33,890, the Mazda3 climbs to $38,355, and the Civic goes up to $39,460, significantly exceeding the Toyota’s price range. It’s important to mention that these higher prices are attributed to the more powerful engine choices available in those models.
The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback may not be flawless, but it boasts several appealing qualities. It offers an enjoyable driving experience while remaining practical for everyday commuting, excels in safety ratings, and sports a sleek and stylish design. If you’re inclined towards a hatchback over a sedan, it’s definitely worth considering this option.