Road Tested: 2021 Corolla Hybrid LE – Low price, high economy
SEATTLE — When a Prius just won’t do, there’s the Corolla Hybrid LE. It’s bigger, better looking than a Prius and still gets a whopping 52 miles per gallon. It has very edgy looks and flair to keep it interesting for a younger generation of buyers with the sensibility of great fuel economy for older ones.
Our LE test model was outfitted with a 1.8-liter inline 4-cylinder engine that has only 121-horsepower. It’s paired with a boring, 6-speed CVT transmission. If you’d like more power, you can opt for the SE or XSE trim levels that have a 2.0-liter and are good for 169-horsepower. The SE and XSE also feature paddle shifters for a bit more sporty feel.
Clearly, the Corolla was never intended to be a speedster and while our LE model won’t set any acceleration records, it’s good enough as a daily commuter. And that’s perfectly okay for its intended customer.
One could easily make the case that this current generation of Corolla is the best looking. Even though that might be subjectively the case, we agree with that notion.
Inside, there’s plenty of room for the driver and front passenger. The driver seat is 6-way-adjustable and the front passenger seat is 4-way adjustable. There’s ample leg room for taller adults up here.
The rear seats, while comfortable, aren’t quite as forgiving. You’ll find that passengers over 6-ft tall are going to likely feel a bit cramped. Not only in headroom but also legroom. However, that is an issue that plagues many compact sedans.
Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice after you get inside, is the 7-inch touch-screen that is prominently placed in the middle of the dash. Instead of having a slight tilt to the driver, it’s rather flat.
Support for AM/FM/Sirius Satellite, CD and Bluetooth Audio are all here. Don’t expect too much high fidelity sound quality here as its frequency response is rather dismal. It has adequate music playback quality but far from being great. Something new for 2021, however, is the native support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so that’s a bonus.
Driver aids include blind spot monitoring, LED headlights with auto high-beam, rear backup camera, heated front seats, a telescopic steering wheel, electronic parking brake, hill start assist control, tire pressure monitor and adaptive cruise control with active lane control as well.
On the road, the Corolla has a very nimble feel to it. The steering has a good feel to it, not being too light or too heavy. It’s surprisingly adequate for this kind of car. We didn’t experience excessive body roll and overall, it handles itself very well on the road – even at freeway speeds.
It’s very easy to say that the 2010 Corolla Hybrid LE has a pedestrian feel to it and that’d be right on the money. However, by design, it is a commuter car for the most part. It’s not the kind of car that’d be your first pick for doing a multi-day road trip in and that’s okay.
Even though there’s nothing overly remarkable about this Corolla, outside of its great fuel economy, it’s still a solid value. Given its relatively low starting price of under $25k and its stellar fuel economy, it’s easy to recommend anyone in the market for a highly economical commuter car, to test drive one.