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In-depth reviews

Toyota Corolla review: hybrid family hatchback is better than ever

The Toyota Corolla offers impressive efficiency, peerless reliability and an enjoyable drive, but admittedly isn’t the most practical hatchback

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

  • Comfortable ride
  • Precise handling
  • Solid build quality
  • Rivals offer more boot space
  • Limited rear passenger space
  • No plug-in hybrid option
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The Toyota Corolla no longer leads the family hatchback segment when it comes to practicality but the world’s best-selling car can still hold its own against newer, slicker competition. Thanks to great refinement, a comfortable ride, fantastic build quality and handling that’s precise and controlled – if not the last word in driving pleasure – there’s very little to dislike about the Corolla.

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What’s more, this updated model receives subtle improvements to performance with no effect on the car’s impressive efficiency, plus an overhaul of the infotainment system and on-board technology that resolves one of our main gripes with the 12th-generation Corolla. Overall, the British-built hatch is still as solid a family car as ever.

About the Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla has been around in various forms since 1966 and has been the world’s best-selling car for a good portion of its nearly six decades of production. But you don’t get a sales smash just by turning up in the market. The Corolla’s global success is a testament to Toyota’s ability to pinpoint the needs of generations of drivers and deliver the right product to meet them. 

We’re now on the 12th-generation Toyota Corolla, which is built in the UK, at the Japanese brand’s Burnaston factory near Derby. This car was refreshed in 2023 with new technology and revised hybrid powertrain.

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It uses the same TNGA platform as Toyota's C-HR SUV, and the Prius hatchback which is due to return to UK showrooms in 2024. The Corolla is hybrid-only, so you have a choice of 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines paired with an electric motor and a standard CVT automatic gearbox. There’s no plug-in hybrid version, unlike with some of its key family hatchback rivals such as the Vauxhall Astra, Peugeot 308 and Volkswagen Golf.

The latest Honda Civic is perhaps the Corolla’s most direct rival now, having also gone all-in on hybrid power for the 11th-generation model, and is more economical, spacious and better to drive than ever. The faithful Ford Focus has yet to embrace electrification, but it remains a key player in the family hatchback segment.

The Corolla saloon has been discontinued in the UK, so you can choose from either the five-door hatch or, if you need the extra luggage space, the Corolla Touring Sports estate: our Estate Car of the Year for 2023. As well as choice of body styles and engines, buyers can pick one of four trim levels – Icon, Design, GR Sport or Excel – with prices now starting from over £30,000.

That price is higher than in years gone by, but standard kit is also more generous than before. Every model comes with sat-nav on a new 10.5-inch screen, over-the-air update capability, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, dual-zone climate control, alloy wheels, LED headlights, parking sensors all round, a reversing camera, Toyota’s Safety Sense tech and wireless smartphone charging.

Frequently Asked Questions
It might not be the most practical family hatchback around, and isn’t offered with plug-in hybrid technology like many of its rivals, but the Toyota Corolla is well-built, refined and surprisingly enjoyable to drive. Plus a recent overhaul of the infotainment system has resolved one of our main gripes with the 12th-generation Corolla.

For an alternative review of the Toyota Corolla, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...

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