In these days of nose-bleed fuel pricing, hybrids, plug-in hybrids and true EVs are definitely good choices for those in the market for a new car. On my annual trip to Florida for the NHRA Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals—one of the biggest drag races of the year—I was fortunate to have the 2022 Toyota Corolla LE hybrid available for review.
The Blueprint-colored, deep blue sedan has a graphite – near white – interior. The exterior of the latest Corolla model from Toyota is classy and inviting, with its all-LED lighting, clean front and side visages and subtle rear-end styling. With very little brightwork, the 2022 Toyota Corolla LE hybrid is pretty much invisible, an attribute nice to have when one’s dealing with motorists trying to see just how far over the speed limit they can ride before encountering the law.
The LE model is the only one for Toyota’s Corolla hybrid sedan this year, and the hybrid is only available as a sedan – the company’s hatchback isn’t offered as a hybrid. To move this 2850-pound car, which is kind of light for a hybrid, Toyota uses a 16-valve Atkinson cycle 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine with 121 horsepower, 105 lb-ft of torque and a permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor that produces 71 horsepower and 105 lb-ft. The combined output is stated at 139 horsepower at 6100 rpm and 126 lb-ft of torque at 3,900. Redline is 5,600 rpm.
An electronically-controlled continuously variable automatic transmission (ECVT) is used and it’s just fine to move the Corolla down the road, while MacPherson struts and multi links keep the Corolla stable at all speeds. The electronically-controlled rack and pinion steering offers a nice 35.6-foot turning ratio, while all-wheel disc brakes do an excellent job. Yokohama 195/55R 15-inch tires ride on twinned five-spoke wheel covers.
There are three drive modes: normal, power and eco – we applied normal for all but a few miles on power setting; getting just under 50 mpg throughout the week’s visit with this Toyota Corolla LE hybrid from its 11.4-gallon tank. This economy meant only two refills for the week, despite traveling from Orlando to visit a friend in Sarasota and then off to Gainesville for work before returning back to Orlando in brain-dead Sunday night traffic. We did slightly more than 500 miles from Wednesday through too-early Monday morning. The Corolla hybrid is rated at 53/52/52 miles per gallon using regular fuel. Non-hybrid Corolla models should achieve about 10-mpg less than the hybrid.
This is not a fancy car, but it sure is competent at everything it’s asked to do. While the engine combo isn’t the smoothest or quietest in the world, it gets the job done, even in Florida where you’re either turning 90 or sitting in traffic. There seems to be no in-betweens. There is passive entry and pushbutton start, along with one-touch driver’s window. There was only a four-legged passenger so the other windows weren’t used.
Weather played a huge part in this week-long trip to Florida, as it absolutely poured on Friday at the racetrack. Everyone from fans to officials are parked in dirt, which became deep mud. Watching others winched from their parking spots led to worry about leaving – after our feet were covered in mud – but light application on the accelerator driving both fore and aft got us out of the muck on a single try. Good work by Toyota to have all the under-pinnings working properly to save the day.
As stated, this is not a fancy car. All seats are manual and easy to adjust fore, aft and for height, and the steering wheel is adjustable. There’s exceptional comfort after more than a few hours behind the wheel and all controls fall readily to hand. Radar cruise control is easy to use and does have adjustments for following distance. There are cup holders in all four doors and at the central area next to the driver and front-seat passenger, where a 12-volt plug is also available through the small central storage. At the base of the center stack there’s a good spot for the easy-to-pair cell phone; a USB plug is pretty well hidden to the lower right of the center stack.
Toyota mounts an eight-inch touchscreen at the center of the dash to work both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, making a nav system almost superfluous. We used Apple CarPlay and, as ever, it’s a truly efficient piece of work. There are six speakers for audio and Toyota equips this sedan with SiriusXM satellite radio with three months gratis. There are soft-touch materials about the cabin, adding elegance that was unexpected and the sedan has more rear-seat space than the hatchback. It even has more usable luggage space despite being five square feet smaller than the hatch’s cargo area (18 vs 13 cubic feet). There was space enough for a big Costco box, our 22-inch carry-on and large backpack, with room for even more.
This 2022 Toyota Corolla LE hybrid is an easy car to own with a list price of $25,394. There were only two options: blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert ($500) and a car mat package for $249. Still, Toyota places its complete suite of safety and convenience items on this four-door front-wheel-drive sedan: Toyota’s SafetySense 2.0 pre-collision system, with its pedestrian detector, lane departure alert with [mild] steering assist, lane tracking assist, automatic high beams, along with road sign assist on the dash.
Toyota’s Corolla is the best-selling car in the world, and one reason could be the complimentary scheduled maintenance and competitive warranty. The Corolla is a handsome sedan that features a good-looking exterior, an excellent, comfortable and comforting interior and a capable batch of mechanicals under hood. If this is the price range a buyer is considering, and if the buyer is interested in a Toyota hybrid that’s not a Prius, this is the choice. It’s a vehicle I’d seriously consider buying. You might, too.
story and photos by Anne Proffit