2023 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport Hybrid Sedan (car review)

In a world where automotive manufacturers seem to be prophesising and adjusting entire vehicle ranges towards electrification, Toyota continues to market its multi-decade name plate, the Corolla, in hybrid format.

Yours truly has always been a late adopter and so very much enjoyed taking in this latest incarnation of Toyota’s 20-year-old hybrid design, where an electric motor works in tandem with a 1.8-litre petrol engine to provide extra urge.

It also runs purely electric at low speeds and recovers energy when braking. It sounds complex, but it’s a well sorted system given how long it has been around now, and it’s all backed by a continuously variable transmission.

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The Jasper Red Ascent Sport Hybrid sedan before you was our trusty and ever reliable friend for a week of pottering around Sydney’s roads. Sliding into the cloth seat for the first time, the price point become immediately clear.

Is it bad? Not really, but it is truly a sea of dark grey hard plastic as far as the eye can see, and surely a plastic steering wheel is a thing of the past – even for a basic model like this. Although apparently not.

2023 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport Hybrid Sedan
2023 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport Hybrid Sedan

The unnerving quiet that follows pushing the start button is something we never really get used to. But the interior came to life, including a basic instrument screen and the 8.0-inch multi-information display screen atop the centre stack.

Poking around the usual locations to find a USB port took frustratingly long. We gave up at one point and went to connect Bluetooth, at which point the inclusion of wireless Apple CarPlay and a small USBC socket in the dash became apparent.

This is a nice to have but makes the plastic steering wheel seem even more confusing. One thing that really drew us in though was the space. This model can be had in a hatchback too, but the leg room front, and back was really impressive and belies its compact size.

Two adults could comfortably travel in the back, even for longer trips – just don’t expect to be able to charge devices back there. In general, we found the cabin to be a quiet and comfortable place to be, making it easy to mow down the kilometres on the road.

Vision is great and controls are light, which make it an excellent town car. But a fantastic commuter doesn’t make an exciting car – and that’s fine. It executes everything with comfort, reliability and minimal fuss.

dash
Inside the 2023 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport Hybrid Sedan

In terms of driving experience, combined power is up from the last model, which is good and provides more than adequate pep in any condition one may find oneself in. The combustion engine delivers 72kW and 142Nm.

That’s paired with the 70kW and 185Nm of the electric motor. Toyota doesn’t quote combined peak torque figures, presumably because of the CVT gearbox, but it does get up and go when you need it to.

Our only gripe is the noise levels in the higher end of the rev range. Being a CVT transmission, when the throttle is anywhere past halfway, by design it will find and hold the optimum revs to respond to the driver requirement. It’s harsh and just noisy.

Thankfully you don’t really need to be that rough on the drivetrain a lot of the time. What’s most impressive is the fuel usage. On a full tank, the displayed range was just a whisker under 1000km. Impressive stuff given the 43-litre fuel tank.

The best we were able to see during the test period was 4.2-litres/100km in a combination of driving scenarios that swayed towards inner city. Given the size and utility, this is quite an impressive number.

rear seats
Inside the 2023 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport Hybrid Sedan

It also comes with a fair stack of safety gear for a basic model too, including seven airbags, ABS, blind spot monitoring, junction assist, lane departure and keep assist, lane trace assist, forward automatic collision braking, and a reversing camera.

Reverse cross traffic alert and traction control are including and it’s kid friendly too, with ISOFIX anchor and top tether points in the rear row. That’s a lot at this price point. The 2023 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport Hybrid has a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty.

Capped price servicing is also included and finally, here’s the kicker, it’s just $31,680 plus on road costs. With Toyota reliability, the Corolla is easy on fuel, packed with safety tech and easy to drive.

If you just want a car that will get you from one place to another with ease and not let you down, this could be it. You can find out more, and build your own, on the Toyota Australia website. If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.

Our test vehicle was supplied by Toyota Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport Hybrid sedan, contact your local Toyota dealer. Pictures courtesy of Andrew E Hempsall.

boot
Inside the 2023 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport Hybrid Sedan

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Driving experience
6.5
Exterior styling
7.5
Interior look and feel
6
Technology and connectivity
8
Family friendliness
8
Value for money
9

SUMMARY

Pros = fuel usage; roomy inside; compact outside; easy to drive.
Cons – sea of grey interior; plastic steering wheel; drivetrain noisy when pushed.
Kalen Ziflian
Kalen Ziflian
A lifelong motoring enthusiast, Kalen has a passion for anything with wheels and a motor. His passion lies in collectible Japanese performance vehicles but he’s been known to enjoy off-roading touring and camping across Australia.

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<strong>Pros =</strong> fuel usage; roomy inside; compact outside; easy to drive.<br> <strong>Cons –</strong> sea of grey interior; plastic steering wheel; drivetrain noisy when pushed.2023 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport Hybrid Sedan (car review)