The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback starts at $24,250 in the U.S. and at $25,250 in Canada, freight and delivery charges included.
High fuel economy, High feel of durability, high resale value.
Low on trim level and powertrain choices, low on rear-seat room, low on cargo space.
As the subcompact-car segment is just about dead in the United States and Canada, compact cars are now amongst the most affordable vehicles on the market. In this category, we find the 2023 Toyota Corolla in sedan and hatchback configurations which, together, represent the second best-selling passenger car in Canada and the fourth most popular car in the United States through the first six months of the 2023 calendar year.
By passenger car, we’re talking coupes, sedans, hatchbacks, wagons and convertibles, not crossovers. Because the Japanese automaker also sells the Toyota Corolla Cross, which is a subcompact utility vehicle, and a rather different vehicle than the Corolla Hatchback we’re reviewing today. For the 2023 model year, it receives front and rear styling tweaks, a standard 8.0-inch infotainment system touchscreen, an upgrade to the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 suite of active safety features, and paint color changes.
The 2023 Toyota Corolla is available with two powertrains in the case of the sedan, including a hybrid system, and two for the hatchback. For the latter, one of those two is the turbocharged 1.5L inline-three found in the mighty Toyota GR Corolla, which is a different beast altogether. The mainstream Corolla gets a naturally aspirated 2.0L four with 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. A continuously variable automatic transmission is standard on all trim levels, as only the GR Corolla now gets a clutch pedal.
For the daily commute, the 2.0L engine does the job nicely. It serves up more than enough power to merge confidently into traffic, it’s refined and sounds pretty decent when we put the hammer down. That said, the Corolla Hatchback doesn’t offer a powertrain to compete with the 241-horsepower Volkswagen Golf GTI, the 250-hp Mazda3 Turbo or the 201-horsepower Canada-only Kia Forte5 GT, not that it really has to. The Forte5 is also offered with a 147-hp 2.0L engine, the Mazda3 comes standard with a 191-hp 2.5L four, while the Subaru Impreza can be configured with either a 152-hp 2.0L four or a 182-hp 2.5L four. The Honda Civic Hatchback is available with either a 158-hp 2.0L four or a 180-hp turbo 1.5L four.
From a fuel economy standpoint, the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback boasts city/highway/combined ratings of 32/41/35 mpg or 7.5/5.9/6.8 L/100 km. That’s segment-leading efficiency, as none of the competitors’ powertrains can do better—although those of the Civic come close. During our test of a Corolla XSE, we managed a decent average of 33 mpg or 7.2 L/100 km.
The Corolla Hatchback is available in the United States in SE, SE with Premium Package and XSE trim levels, with pricing that starts at $24,250 including freight and delivery charges. The Canadian market gets SE, SE Plus, SE Upgrade and XSE, with pricing from $25,250. For the record, the GR Corolla starts at $36,995 in the U.S. and at $47,250 in Canada.
Why You Should Buy a 2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
- The Corolla in general enjoys a strong reputation for durability, resulting into strong resale value.
- The Corolla Hatchback boasts good build quality, with solid-feeling switchgear and durable, yet upscale materials. The first impression when sitting in the Corolla is that it’ll last a long time.
- The 2.0L powertrain is quite satisfying, as long as we’re not looking for all-out performance. Even the CVT functions well, incorporating a proper fixed-ratio first gear before shifting into the variable-ratio portion. Under normal driving, it feels like a conventional automatic.
- Although it isn’t the slickest infotainment system out there, Toyota’s interface with standard 8.0-inch touchscreen is easy to use, even while driving. Of course, we can always plug in our smartphone and use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto if we prefer. But Toyota’s system is pretty good, and includes six speakers—or a JBL stereo with eight speakers in the XSE.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy a 2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
- Unlike the sedan, the hatchback doesn’t offer a hybrid powertrain or AWD, as it’s marketed as a sportier variant of the Corolla. Still, it’s the most fuel-efficient compact hatchback out there, so the competition isn’t doing any better with their five-door compacts in that regard. Still, the Corolla is no GTI or Mazda3 Turbo fighter, for those who want a more satisfying everyday driving experience.
- Although we’d think a hatchback would be more versatile than the sedan, it’s not necessarily the case. Rear-seat legroom is not only tighter than in the sedan, but than in all of its five-door competitors. The Corolla Hatchback’s 17.8 cubic-foot or 504-litre cargo area volume with the rear seatbacks up is also the smallest in its category, and barely bigger than the sedan’s 13.1 cubic-foot or 371-litre trunk. Toyota doesn’t even publish a cargo volume rating with the seatbacks down, and we’re not wondering why.
- Although Consumer Reports gives the Corolla sedan a perfect 5 out of 5 score for reliability, the hatchback only gets a rating of 3 out of 5. The reputable U.S. publication cites engine and transmission issues among the most serious problems.
- This is a minor drawback, but we’d really like the front doors to have handles near the rearward edge of the armrests, not just a big grab handle near the door hinge. It makes it much easier to hold the door when stepping out the vehicle, especially on windy days. This should be on every vehicle.
The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is competitively priced, competitively equipped and relatively fun to drive, with the added bonus of class-leading fuel economy. It’s a more unique proposition for those who want a Corolla, but can’t handle seeing two or three Corolla sedans on every street corner—because there are a lot of them out there.
On the other hand, the Corolla Hatchback is no more versatile than the sedan, and it’s the smallest in the five-door compact category. It’s also not the sportiest choice out there, as the XSE is sporty in appearance, but not in the way it drives—at least compared to the base SE. As with pretty much every other automaker that still peddles compact cars, the Corolla’s sedan portfolio offers a wider range of trim levels and powertrains, along with a slightly more affordable price. If a hatchback is the only compact car we’re willing to buy, the Corolla Hatchback is a rationally good choice, but not an emotional or practical one.