The 2023 Toyota Corolla receives updated front and rear styling, upgraded active safety systems, and a new infotainment system, while the base 1.8-liter engine is dropped and the Corolla’s trim lineup has also been greatly simplified. Rally enthusiasts will be delighted to know that the high-performance GR Corolla is now available.
Choosing Your Toyota Corolla
The Corolla sedan is offered in LE, SE, and XSE trim levels with base prices that range from $22,645 to $27,795.
The hatchback is offered in the SE and XSE trims and is priced from $24,060 to $27,525 while the new high-performance GR Corolla hatchback can be had in Core, Circuit Edition (available early 2023), and Morizo Edition (available late 2023) trims levels with prices spreading from $36,995 to $50,995.
The pedestrian versions of the Corolla sedan and hatchback are now solely powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque with power routed through a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) to the front wheels. The manual transmission is no longer offered, however, the CVT utilizes a fixed-ratio first gear to help reduce the typical CVT rubber-band feeling when accelerating from a stop. The less-powerful 1.8-liter four-cylinder is dropped from the line-up as the larger engine is more powerful and fuel-efficient, earning an EPA-estimated 35 miles per gallon combined (or 34 mpg with the sedan’s SE and XSE trims and 33 with the hatchback’s XSE trim).
The GR Corolla is in an entirely different league. It exclusively offers a 1.6-liter single-scroll turbocharged three-cylinder engine that produces 300 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque – the Morizo edition cranks up the boost for more torque (295 lb-ft). A six-speed manual with (defeatable) rev-matching and a variable torque-splitting all-wheel drive system are also included. The Core offers limited-slip front and rear differentials through the $1,180 Performance Package that is standard on the Circuit and Morizo trims. Not surprisingly, the hot hatch’s score of 24 mpg means you can expect to pay nearly $1,200 more in annual fuel costs – if this is your daily driver.
Passenger and Cargo Capacity
The Corolla sedan is 182.3 inches long and 70.1 inches wide which puts it about 10 inches longer than the hatchback. Inside, the sedan offers 34.8 inches of legroom for the rear passengers which shrink to just 29.9 inches in the hatchback. The hatchback makes up for that with a larger cargo space – up to 23 cubic feet vs 13.1 cubic feet in the sedan. A split-folding rear seatback is standard.
The GR Corolla features a wider track and enlarged fenders that push the width out to 72.8 inches while the track-focused Morizo edition removes the rear seat (among other items) to reduce weight, which allows for an up-right row of a second set of tires to neatly fit inside.
The Corolla receives Toyota’s latest active safety system (version 3.0) that includes traditional functions such as automatic emergency braking (with low light pedestrian detection), lane-keep assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control with lane centering, automatic high beams, and road sign assist, while also adopting an expanded use of the systems to predict deceleration events to automatically provide braking support and avoid upcoming obstacles (aka people, cars, objects) by automatically providing steering input.
The XSE trim and the GR models are equipped with blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert which is optional on the LE and SE trims.
The Corolla receives a much-needed infotainment system update and it arrives with an eight-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM, HD Radio, Bluetooth with dual device connectivity, Wi-Fi, remote connected services, over-the-air update capability, and natural speech command recognition. A JBL premium sound system with nine speakers, an 800-watt amplifier, and a 10-inch subwoofer is offered on the SE and XSE (sedan) trims for $600-$675. It also brings a wireless charging pad to supplement the four (increased for 2023) USB ports. The XSE hatchback now includes the upgraded audio system as standard.
Last year’s base L trim has been dropped and the LE takes its place. LED headlights, daytime running lights, and tail lights, 16-inch steel wheels, heated power mirrors, automatic climate control, cloth seats with a six-way manual adjustable driver’s seat, and a 4.2-inch driver information display are among the notable standard features. The LE Convenience Package ($1,340) includes proximity entry and 16-in alloy wheels while the Premium Package further adds a sunroof for $850.
The SE trim takes on a sporty tone and is the base trim for the hatchback model. New glossy 18-in alloy wheels, a gloss-black sport mesh grille, revised front and rear bumpers, a sport rear diffuser, mirrors with integrated turn signals, painted gray sport rocker panels, a body-color rear spoiler, dual chrome exhaust outlets, proximity entry, red interior accents, premium sport seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and metallic interior trim with chrome door handles are included. The SE Premium Package includes a sunroof and blind-spot detection for $1,220.
The SE hatchback trim features a black upper grille surround, a rear spoiler, a single exhaust outlet with a black diffuser, and newly designed 16-inch alloy wheels.
The XSE uses the SE’s sportier appearance and adds more features such as a sunroof, a painted gray rear spoiler, heated synthetic leather seats with cloth inserts and 8-way power-adjustability for the driver, a seven-inch digital gauge cluster, and paddle shifters.
The top hatchback trim gains those features as well as fog lights, chrome accents on the front and rear bumpers, and dual-zone climate control.
The GR Corolla is a rally-inspired high-performance model that is built on a dedicated assembly line that better allows for low-volume manufacturing. Along with its unique drivetrain, the chassis receives additional bracing, spot welds, and structural adhesives for improved rigidity, as well as unique suspension tuning, a mechanical hand brake, wider tires, 18-inch gloss-black wheels, and bigger brakes (with four-piston calipers in front and slotted rotors). An active exhaust with an added central outlet is also included for optimum sound and flow. The body wears a unique front bumper with a molded-in black front grille with functional air ducts and integrated fog lights, wider fenders with a gloss-black front fender vent, gloss-black mirrors with integrated turn signals, a body-color rear spoiler, a unique rear bumper with functional vents, and underbody paneling for improved aerodynamics.
Inside, the GR features proximity entry with push-button start, heavily bolstered fabric seats with GR embossing in the headrests, a six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, a unique leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a 12.3-in. digital gauge cluster with GR start-up animation, aluminum sport pedals, and gray interior stitching. The $1,180 Performance Package adds mechanical limited-slip differentials to the front and rear axles and red-painted brake calipers. Other packages include the Cold Weather Package ($500) which brings a heated steering wheel and heated front seats and the Technology Package ($770) which installs the premium sound system.
This trim is exclusive to the 2023 model year and utilizes a carbon fiber roof panel, a gloss-black front grille and lower rear bumper insert, functional hood vents, a gloss-black rear spoiler, and the items from the Performance Package. Inside, the heated seats are wrapped in suede and leather with red mesh inserts and stitching, there is a unique shift knob, and the premium audio system is included.
The Morizo trim prioritizes track-day performance with stronger 18-inch forged wheels, a suede-covered shift knob and steering wheel, and the removal of rear door speakers (for a total speaker count of two), rear wiper, and the back seat which reduces the curb weight by about 100 pounds.
For some, the GR Corolla provides precisely what they’re searching for as its performance and rally-focus are unique in the U.S. market (since the demise of the Focus RS). However, the upgrades seen on the base Corolla plus the added features of the Convenience Package equip it with enough everyday safety and creature comforts to make it the best choice for most.