NATURE’S UNNATURAL FORM: Some of nature’s most breathtaking beauty is on the photosynthesizing green plant side. Yet, the first steps towards a greener motoring world have been characterized by wild things far less natural in appearance. There is some truth that an unconventional look to garners early adopters’ attention. However, the primary reason for the unnatural unattractiveness of the first wave of electrified cars has been functional in terms of drag reduction and battery packaging.
CONVENTIONAL PETALS GONE GREEN: Today’s battery technology has progressed to tidier packaging. It would seem that a second generation of greener vehicle adopters prefer their electrification to look and operate like a conventionally attractive internal combustion car. Thus the maker of the unconventional looking Prius, introduces a new 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid for those wishing to remain completely inconspicuous about their affordable voltage assisted motoring.
WHAT: 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE. Designated E210, it is part of the twelfth generation of the world’s best selling car resting on the modular TNGA GA-C platform. The single trim 2021 Corolla Hybrid is the third generation of Corolla to offer a gas electric hybrid model. Roadblazing.com has previously tested a gas 2020 Corolla 2.0 XSE.
Standard Power: 1797 cc Atkinson cycle, dual VVT-i DOHC 16V start-stop idle I-4 cylinder gasoline engine: 95 hp/ 105 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm; 90 kW (121 hp) net hybrid + Continuously Variable Transaxle, parallel shaft gearset coupled, arranged parallel to:
- 1 x 650V synchronous AC traction / regenerative charging motor, front wheels: 53 kW (71 hp), 120 lb-ft, coaxially mounted with
- 1 x 650V synchronous AC Hybrid Starter Generator: 8 kW
- Battery electric supply: Ni-MH, 201.6 V, 43 kW, 1.3 kWh
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE(S):
Other than unique aero wheels and blue “Hybrid S (for Synergy)” emblems little externally separates the 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid from the rest of the Mk. 12 Corollas. Paradoxically the current chunky, tall beltline and rear deck profile comes off more athletic than an appliance. There are catchy details like sequential segmented rear “L” border directionals and wider wrap around reflectors. A deep darkened lattice lower front fascia widening trapezoid grille is formidable as is are high cheekbone inboard pointing front fascia corner creases. A dark strip wrapping over the lower bumper cover, seems slapped on, but hopefully protects against parallel parking rash.
WHY: Conventional looking best selling car ever can return nearly 60 miles per gallon without diesel
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Summer 2020
WHERE: Toyota new car dealers
WHERE MADE: Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
HOW STRONG: Selectable sport mode makes for surprisingly peppy launches, and clawing onto the shorter CVT ratios longer. Any lesser mode demands planning ahead to merge with the traffic ahead. While free from much wind or road noise, the engine groans when acceleration goes urgent. On a more pleasing sensory note, the electric traction motor to Atkinson gas powerplant hand-off has been refined to nearly the point of barely imperceptible. A regenerative “B” drive mode, however, doesn’t seem any more aggressive than easing on the throttle in normal or eco modes.
HOW LIMBER: Bumps in the road are pillowed over by the independent suspension, without excessive wallow. Low rolling resistance tires ensure dull turn in but announce impending oversteer. Compared to your average Prius hybrid, steering response is less inert, though wanting road sensation, while the disc binder occupying four corners exhibit more linear pedal action but nothing that would be hot lap helpful.
HOW FAR: 53 miles per gallon combined fuel economy. 60 miles per gallon is achievable in urban suburban duty. Range = 590 miles interstate range per tankful (or 90 miles > Corolla XSE).
- By Comparison: city / highway / combined fuel economy:
HOW BIG / LITTLE: When the latest Corolla chopped a whopping 6+” inches from it’s back seat it went from limousine to typical compact sedan. Two won’t graze elbows in back, and they’d have to top out at over 6’2″ for knees to rap the front seat backs. Front seats are positioned low and only driver’s adjusts for height. Thankfully the cowl is low. Low door mounted wing mirrors help forward visibility.
- 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid 106.3″ wheelbase = identical to Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
- 34.8″-inches Row 2 legroom = 0.9″ < Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
- 34.8″-inches Row 2 legroom = 0.9″ < Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
HOW USEFUL: √ Trunk = 2 full size cases and two carry-ons; Load liftover is low and with a taller lid line storage is deep; √ 60/40% split rear seat backs fold for wide pass through but not very flat.
- Generous center armrest bin and glovebox
- /- Sliding front center armrest can obstruct aftmost cupholder
- -1 Sparse front door pocket space
- -1 Shallow rear center seatbelt receiver recess
• 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid 13.2 cu. ft. cargo space (nom.) = 44% < Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
HOW SAFE: IIHS 2021 Top Pick = √ 8 airbags, √ Rear camera w/ fixed gridlines, √ Sonar park audible park assist;
Driver assist technology: √ 8 airbags; √ Rear camera; √ STANDARD Toyota SafetySense 2.0 = Pedestrian & daytime cyclist detection braking; Forward collision avoidance braking; Lane departure, Road edge & Sway Warning, Lane Keep Assist; Adaptive cruise control – partial, Automatic High Beam headlights
♦ Optional: Blind Spot & rear crosss traffic warning.
The 2021 Corolla Hybrid speaks to the set desiring a sensible and cohesive place to work in. Nary a cheap blue LED digital clock is to be found. Taken from the RAV4 crossover, are large displays, with intuitively placed controls, and ample storage. Materials avoid being over-plasticky, while panel shapes and accents rise to please.
√ Ballistic cloth front bucket seats; √ Power windows w/ full express, full retract x 4; √ Thick padded front and rear door armrests; √ Enhanced cabin insulation.
- +1 Fatigue reducing seats pay off.
- -1 Non-height adjusting front passenger seat
Cool Gizmo(s): √ 7.0″ inch selectable graphics color TFT gauge cluster multi-function display.
Details Done Right: ♦ Stitched leatherette thin upper dashboard, metallic band spanning and encasing corner climate vents; ♦ Floating gauge cluster hood; ♦ Sloping padded lower instrument panel w/ stitching; ♦ Piano black accents traced by “U” metallic bands encasing center dash climate & center console and front door pulls; ♦ Tight pebble grained soft mid dash and upper door panels; ♦ Contrasting seat panels.
Nearly Non Descript: -1 left lower dashboard blank switch covers
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: +1 More automakers need to do a pod mount, tablet style media display this well.
√ Dash top tri-pane 8.0″ flat-panel touch LCD infotainment screen; √ Voice command, hands-free communications; √ SMS; √ Siri Eyes, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto; √ 6-speaker, HD radio streaming audio; √ USB x 2, 12V x 1;
Free Apps: ♦ Entune 3.0 = limited to Amazon Alexa (NOW DEFUNCT: XLive, I-Heart, NPR One, Yelp, Sports, Fuel Prices, Stock values, Facebook, Movie Tickets)
By Subscription (trial): ♦ Sirius XM radio (3 mo.); ♦ WiFi by Verizon (2 GB); ♦ Toyota Connected Services (3 yrs.)
- +1 Excellent hi-resolution tablet touch screen
- +1 Android Auto, cheers, IS HERE!!
- -1 No 2nd Row USB ports
HOW MUCH: $24,855 suggested retail price 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE
WHAT’S MISSING: Trunk lid grab handle
(Contributing Editor: S. Frissell)