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Reviews2023 Toyota Corolla XSE AWD Review: Pimpin’ Corolla

2023 Toyota Corolla XSE AWD Review: Pimpin’ Corolla

The 2023 Toyota Corolla line up leaves no stone unturned


2023 Toyota Corolla Pros

– In 2023, there truly is a Corolla for everyone, even premium-loaded AWD sedan buyers.

– With hybrid power and AWD, this Corolla is hyper-efficient and entertaining to drive.

– Erm, it looks good too…


2023 Toyota Corolla Cons

– At nearly $35,000, the tested Corolla is pricey.

– As always, the eCVT robs the driving experience somewhat.


2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

One of the many problems in North America is that we always buy too big, or too much. To this issue, Toyota presents the most comprehensive Corolla family of vehicles ever and one of them is the sedan.


There is a Corolla for all

Truly, with a hatchback, a crossover, and the sedan, the only the Corolla name could get any brighter is with the addition of a 6-speed manual, turbocharged, hybrid, AWD, station wagon – watch my money go where my mouth is should this happen.

About the problem, when a Toyota Corolla Cross could do the job, we North Americans prefer to go out and buy a RAV4. Or worse, a Toyota Highlander, instead of a RAV4. While arguments supporting the purchase of something larger can occasionally be viable, one reason in favour of moving up a class was equipment and features. Toyota is here now, with the latest generation of the beloved Corolla, telling everyone that you can now have one with all the equipment and features.


Premium hybrid

2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Case in point: the tested 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD. At just over $34,000, it is the priciest new Corolla sedan ever thanks to its level of kit. However, the extra $4,500 or so over the Hybrid SE AWD is explained by a power driver seat, softex covered seats, and front and rear heated seats – not worth the money especially since the SE offers the same performance and efficiency.

The Corolla hybrid’s powertrain consists of a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine that is coupled to two motor generators as part of the standard planetary-type continuously variable transmission, or eCVT. All versions save for the LE FWD also gets a secondary rear-mounted electric motor to power the rear wheels. In typical Toyota style, the total system output is unknown however the 1.8L makes 138 hp and 105 lb.-ft. of torque. My butt-o-meter tells me the numbers are probably about 25 and 75 more respectively.

2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The dead giveaway is my head being nudged back against the headrest under hard acceleration. This is especially true from a standstill where the electric motors deliver maximum torque. While the eCVT will do what a CVT does, which is drone occasionally under sustained throttle input, in ECO drive mode and with the right mindset, it’s beyond tolerable. The kicker is that, when driven smartly, you will average just over 5L/100km.

The ride quality is also quite good. Toyota’s New Global Architecture-C platform is wonderfully solid and allows the suspension to do its job. And, the chassis’ rear double wishbones ensure a level of agility that few would associate with a Corolla outside the GR Corolla. I was entertained enough to smile all week in my Corolla sedan.


Not boring!

2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Let’s be honest with each other: The current and recently updated 12th-generation Toyota Corolla is actually decent looking. If one was to complain ever so slightly about styling, concessions would be made for the front end. The fang-shape of the headlights is overly aggressive and depending on your front-fascia-to-grille ratio preferences, it might be over the top.

Every other visual aspect, right down to the tester’s dual tailpipes and 18-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels, the 2023 Corolla is attractive. And, in my opinion, far easier on the eyes than the Corolla Cross.


Spacious and luxurious

2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The 2023 update dropped onto the Toyota Corolla has brought a number of upgrades including a standard 8-inch touchscreen display, Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, and the new Toyota Audio Multimedia.

What isn’t new is how roomy the Corolla’s cabin is. It’ll effortlessly accommodate five passengers though those sitting in the rear outboard positions will find headroom to be tight. Beyond that, it’s a good place to be and visibility is really good thanks to the thin “A” pillars. I will allow myself to complain about Toyota’s decision to cheap out on the heated steering wheel offered with all AWD models – it’s only partially heated. SMH.


From mega efficiency to mega-pimpin’

2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

As I write these lines, there’s a new GR Corolla in my driveway. Though not your regular Corolla, it serves to demonstrate that Toyota has maximized (or nearly, see wagon comment above) the sub-brand and there really is a Corolla to fit all needs. This even applies to those who once would have shopped for something bigger to get rear heated seats and AWD – there’s no need anymore.

And if the Corolla sedan’s too “small”, you can always get the exact same stuff in a Corolla Cross.

2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid XSE AWD | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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