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2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE|2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE|2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE|2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE interior|2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE interior

2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Review

While the all-new GR Corolla basks in the sunlight following its highly-anticipated debut last year, the regular Corolla Hatchback sings for your attention by enhancing its strengths for 2023 – style, value, comfort. The XSE trim brings a healthy dose of all three and an updated Toyota Safety Sense system that really impresses. The manual transmission may be gone, but the GR Corolla has one to satisfy the needs of those who actually want to drive one. Need all-wheel drive? Civic doesn’t have it either, you’ll have to go to the GR Corolla or a Subaru Impreza for that.


The Corolla Hatchback continues to be the more stylish body style for this perennial favorite among new car shoppers. The proportions are good, with appropriate amounts of front and rear overhang. The 18″ wheels on the XSE trim fill the wheel wells nicely, and the rear end still uses a lightweight composite material for the hatch, which incorporates a rear wiper! Other markets receive a panoramic moonroof option that adds some contrast to the roof, but we don’t get any sunroof here in America, unfortunately.

Just like up front, all of the lighting in the back is the LED variety, giving the Corolla a more premium appearance. It nearly matches the Mazda3 Hatchback for having the most premium air about it, though the exterior paint on this tester is more juvenile than any of the options on that Mazda. The rear hatch is made of composite material, allowing Toyota to drastically reduce its weight and carve it into the more intricate shape you see here.

2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE


Inside, the Corolla carries on with the same dashboard it rocked when it debuted in 2018. That’s not a bad thing, as the layout is simple and easy to use while carrying a more premium feel than you might expect. It’s not Mazda3-level luxurious, but the quality of materials and fit ‘n finish is just as good, if not better. The infotainment software has been upgraded to the new Toyota Audio Multimedia system, bringing better graphics for both the main 8″ screen and the 7″ instrument cluster display.

2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE interior

While the all-new 2024 Subaru Impreza has a more impressive dashboard with its 11.6″ vertical touchscreen, the Corolla still manages to use nicer materials and implements a more intuitive UX. Audio Multimedia is a great upgrade over Entune, but it is cursed by multiple subscription services. If you want features like built-in navigation and “Hey, Toyota” voice controls, you’ll have to start paying a fee after a year. Luckily, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are wireless and don’t cost you any extra.

2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE interior

Front seats are heated on the XSE trim and are very comfortable, but sit behind yourself in the second row and you might wish you had gotten a Civic or perhaps the Corolla sedan. Rear seat space was not prioritized in the transition to this body style, but in a pinch you could put average adults back there no problem. Three across is a non-starter. The rear seat in my Hyundai Veloster N actually had more perceived leg room. Cargo space is also not worth writing home about, as this is on the smaller side of the hatchback segment. With the second row up, you’ll have 17.8 cubic feet of space, creating a sizable delta from the sedan’s trunk (13.2). Folding the seats down reveals around 40 cubic-feet of space. The Civic Hatchback will hold more than 24 cubic feet with its second row up, for reference.


The Corolla Hatchback now comes in two flavors for 2023. The SE and XSE trims come standard with a 2.0L naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder producing 169 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque via a CVT transmission and front-wheel drive. This setup garners 33-35 mpg combined depending on the trim, but a manual transmission is no longer available thanks to non-existent demand.

If you really want a manual transmission, you do have a new option in the form of the fantastic GR Corolla. That model is Toyota’s first hot hatch in America and it has blown critics away with its capability. It is powered by a crazy 1.6L turbocharged 3-cylinder producing 300 horsepower, 273-295 lb.-ft. of torque via a 6-speed manual and all-wheel drive. That’s a very different car that we look forward to conducting a full review on. Stay tuned for that.

The Drive

Right away, it is clear that the Corolla Hatchback is more fun to drive than both the Corolla Sedan and Cross. In terms of 0-60 performance, keep in mind my location in Michigan where I have to do these tests at less than ideal temperatures. It took me about 8.5 seconds to get from 0-60 mph, and then 128 feet to get back from 60 to 0. Thanks to its short wheelbase, this car is easy to throw into a corner and maneuver around parking lots, rendering it more usable than the Corolla sedan. That car is not big by any means, but the hatchback is just more nimble and tuned towards the sporty side, giving it a unique character.

The Hatch also handles rough corners a bit better than options with a torsion beam rear suspension like the Corolla Sedan, the Mazda3 and the Hyundai Elantra. If you get the hybrid version of the Corolla or Elantra, you’re going to find independent rear suspensions, so this will feel a lot closer to those vehicles than any variant of Mazda3. I find the Corolla to be a little more refined than the newest Honda Civic hatchback, which has a longer wheelbase and is a substantially larger car. This feels a little bit more sophisticated than that car, but it still can’t hold a candle to the Mazda in that regard (until you turn a corner). Having just driven the new 2024 Subaru Impreza, the comparison is fresh. I am happy to report that, for Subaru’s sake, they now have the most fun-to-drive hatchback in the segment. The Corolla comes in at a close second.

The suspension basically muffles any sort of sharp jolts or rough portions of pavement. It soaks it all up quite nicely no matter what speed you’re traveling. At 50 mph, I measured cabin noise at 68 decibels, which is certainly not the quietest you’ll find. It’s not as quiet as the Mazda3, but it’s still perfectly fine for this price category and, honestly, I never once thought about it during my week with the car. You’ll definitely hear some road noise and some wind noise at higher speeds, but it never reminds me of older Hondas. Cabin noise has always been one of their weak spots, and it doesn’t seem they have overcome that hurdle when compared to the Corolla.

When it comes to fuel economy, I only managed 30.8 mpg during my test loop. It’s nice to see that big number 3 in front, but if you want better fuel economy out of a Corolla-badged vehicle, you’ve got the Corolla Sedan hybrid and the new Corolla Cross hybrid, both of which will get into the 40 mpg range, and in some cases the 50s, depending on how you treat them.

Pricing & Verdict

The non-GR Corolla Hatchback starts at $24,100 for the SE trim. Only one engine/transmission/drivetrain combination is available, and the only way to increase the cost of the vehicle is by selecting one of the more expensive paints and adding accessories. There are some cool two-tone exterior paint options to spice things up, costing as much as $925 if you’re interested. The Enhanced Cargo Area package that gives you more cargo space under the rear load floor is a no-cost option. Stepping up to the XSE trim ($27,525) adds fog lights (headlights are standard LEDs on all models), larger 18″ graphite wheels, heated leather seats, a larger 7″ instrument cluster display, dual-zone automatic climate, a JBL premium audio system, and the larger 8″ Audio Multimedia infotainment system. Fully-loaded with the most expensive paint – $28,450.

The Corolla Hatchback is an excellent alternative to the sedan if second row comfort is not one of your main priorities. The Honda Civic has better packaging for that. Everything else about the Corolla feels more expensive than its sticker price may dictate. The ride quality is smooth and premium, acceleration is peppy enough to satisfy the average driver, the driver assistance tech is top-notch for its segment, and it looks great. The one thing it’s missing now? A sunroof.

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