Outrageously good fuel economy makes this an easy recommendation
Do you care about driving? No? Good. Do you care about saving money at the pump and transporting yourself in reliable fashion? Good! Sounds like the Corolla Hybrid is for you. The Toyota Corolla Hybrid knows exactly what it is, and what it wants to be: This is pure transportation and nothing more. It has only two missions: to get you where you need to be and while using as little gasoline as possible. It's actually crazy to think Toyota hasn't sold a Corolla Hybrid before in the United States. Maybe they thought it would take sales away from the Prius, which it should, as this new model proves the Prius is a lie - the Prius is only ugly because they decided to make it ugly, not because of efficiency. Yes, the Corolla Hybrid gets 95% of the same economy all while having greater performance and not looking like a Dr. Seuss creation gone awry on absinthe. Yes, I averaged 50 MPG during my time with the Corolla Hybrid. 5-0. Buy it for that alone; Many already have.
As stated, the gas mileage - the incredibly good gas mileage. As fuel prices across the country have crept up, a machine that sips such little petrol has become all the more appealing. While I fell short of the 52 MPG government-EPA claim, a real-world 50 is nothing short of stupendous. You're not going to be buying a Corolla Hybrid because you like driving, or if you do, you have something fun that sits in the garage six days a week instead. No, you're going to want this car because you want to save on gas - it's that simple. That 50 MPG figure I attained, by the way, was with lots of full-throttle accelerating at times, so I think it's easy to be confident in getting even more if you drive like a sedated nun.
This Corolla Hybrid, in LE trim, is also attractively priced and equipped at its $26,949 as-tested price. They start significantly cheaper, too, but this one had a few things thrown in like fancier, convincing faux-leather-clad seats and a real leather steering wheel. It's also a much better looking car than the Corolla of yesteryear, though I do think it looks stubby next to the new low-slung Honda Civic. But, looks are highly subjective. I do recommend any color except this horrid Celestite light blue, though, the kind of cringey huge that the derelict guest room at your grandmother's house was painted 40 years ago.
On the road, it's a thoroughly decent mode of transporting several humans and small dogs from and to wherever you desire. 5 adults was too many, as the rear seats are not exactly abundant in space, but this is a compact car. I do remember the last Civic I tested having more rear-seat volume in practice. But, anyways, it's a Toyota, so you can feel rest assured that your Corolla Hybrid will work for years and years to come and always be there for you to depend on. It's competent, without exhibiting any trace of excitement, but it's comfortable, composed, and quiet enough at motorway speeds.
And why fly?
Because you'll gladly trade some pump savings for excitement. And for that, Honda has a brilliant new Civic that drives nicer, has more power, and still achieves an average of 40 MPG with its turbocharged 1.5L engine. Oh, and the interior is finished nicer, too. They'll also have their own new Insight hybrid eventually and Hyundai has the relatively rampant Elantra N-Line now available. But, nobody comes close at the moment when it comes to fuel economy in this size and price bracket of cars starting under $25,000. I will be very keen to drive the new Insight when it does happen for comparison, but those do run a few more thousand than a comparable Corolla Hybrid.
Who am I kidding, though, because the main drawback to this car is just how boring it is. It's also impossibly slow, needing 10 seconds to hit 60 MPH from rest; It may look better than a Prius, but it's no quicker. Take it to some bends and you just get the sense that it'd be much happier going straight, even though I know from experience that other Corollas, like a Hatchback SE, have a properly engaging chassis and enthusiastic handling. Not the Corolla Hybrid, though. Steering is vague and whole feel is not one of confidence.
While these are rather large knocks, basically saying it's no good behind the wheel, it's still inconceivably easy and fine to drive when driven like a normal car, which is what over 99% of drivers do anyways. That's the point of it, to save gas and get you to and from Trader Joe's. And it does that very, very well. It does have to be said that a Corolla Hybrid LE is nearly $3,000 more than a non-hybrid LE, though the Hybrid is slightly better furnished from the start at least.
Buy it for what it is, and for the time being, it's an easy recommendation; It gets 50-freaking miles to a gallon, and isn't hideous like a Prius! That's why you want a Corolla Hybrid. If you want a small and fun car, you wouldn't be looking at it to begin with, but for the million of commuters wanting to spend under $25,000 and save on gas (hint, lots do, especially with inflation), it's hard to do better than a Corolla Hybrid. Also be sure to consider the Honda Insight if you can spend closer to $30,000 for their more premium Touring offering.
2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE
As-tested price: $26,949
Pros: Stupendous economy, the perfect car for many people
Cons: One of the most boring cars in existence
Verdict: As affordable transportation goes, it's wonderful