Home » The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Takes After Its Big GR Brother And Starts Spinning All Four Tires

The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Takes After Its Big GR Brother And Starts Spinning All Four Tires

Morning Dump 2023 Toyota Corolla

The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid adds electric all-wheel-drive, Jeep gets Jurassic again, Ford makes some big hiring moves. All this and more on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

The World’s Best-Selling Car Nameplate Gets A Fresh Update

My23 Corolla Hybrid 0003
Photo credit: Toyota

While the GR Corolla is the Toyota Corolla we all want, there’s something to be said for having one reliable car and one really dumb toy in the garage. What’s more reliable than a regular Corolla? Toyota introduced the current generation model in June of 2018, so it’s about time for a mid-cycle refresh.

Let’s start with the gas-only model. The old base model’s 1.8-liter engine has gone in the bin, and the two-liter 169-horsepower four-cylinder engine from higher trim levels has made its way down the range. Toyota claims shaves two seconds off the base model’s 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) time and better fuel economy, an all-around win if I’ve ever seen one. Moving on up to the hybrid model is where things get really interesting. Or should I say hybrid models? Don’t worry, you can still get a front-wheel-drive Corolla Hybrid, except now you can get one that spins both axles with help from an electric motor out back. In addition, hybrid models get a new front motor and a new space-saving lithium ion battery pack, pretty solid upgrades. Toyota hasn’t finalized power or efficiency figures for the all-wheel-drive Corolla Hybrid, but we’ll keep you updated as information becomes available.

My23 Corolla Hybrid 0002
Photo credit: Toyota

Moving on to styling and trims, exterior revisions seem fairly light. All models get ever-so-subtly updated front fascias and sweet new LED daytime running lights, while all models but the base L and luxed-up XLE sedans get revised rear valences. On the trim level front, customers can now combine hybridization with the sporty SE trim, in which case they get an added bonus of steering tuning from last year’s sporty Apex Edition model. Not a bad perk if you ask me. Moving to the cabin, Toyota’s new-generation infotainment system is offered on all Corollas, a welcome upgrade over the outgoing system’s washed-out low-resolution touchscreen. All Corollas now feature an eight-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, removing the Corolla from the shitlist of cars that offer wireless charging but no wireless phone mirroring. Also on offer? An updated available digital gauge cluster and an enhanced driver assist suite. Not bad. Toyota hasn’t announced pricing or timing for the 2023 Corolla, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see in showrooms before the end of the year. Hey, more cars that aren’t crossovers are always good and if a sensible, small, all-wheel-drive hybrid helps at least one person justify putting an old Jaguar XJR in their garage, I’m all for it.

Jeep Goes Jurassic Again

With the impeding release of a new Jurassic World movie on June 10, it was about time that Jeep did something to celebrate. Is it a stickered-up Wrangler? Maybe they tapped Jeff Goldblum to do another ad? Erm, no. However, Jeep did use Amblin Entertainment’s expertise to show a dinosaur for the first time in a global TV ad. See, the Carnotaurus is a theropod from the late Cretaceous period, and paleontologists have only found one Carnotaurus skeleton – an adult. Using some serious research and expertise, the team at Amblin Entertainment created what is believed to be an accurate depiction of a baby Carnotaurus for a minute-long TV ad and its 30-second cutdown. Pretty cool.

As for the ad itself, it’s pretty cute and features some electrified options in Jeep’s lineup. The hero car is clearly the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid, but there’s also a Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrid midsize SUV on display. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Jeep has any plans for a special Jurassic World-edition Wrangler, but a spokesperson for the brand said on Wednesday that Jeep is always looking for special edition opportunities. Hey, if Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 got a special edition Wrangler, there’s still a smidgen of hope.

[Editor’s Note: I want square headlights and a graphics package. -DT]

The Chevrolet Bolt Just Got Properly Cheap

2023 Bolt Ev Side Profile While Driving On An Urban City Street
Photo credit: Chevrolet

After several months off the market due to a massive battery recall, the Chevrolet Bolt EV is back. While I’ve already detailed the Bolt’s new blacked-out Redline mall goth appearance package, the real hook for new customers is a recently-announced lower starting price. How low? $26,595 including the freight fee. Yeah, that’s a bargain if I’ve ever seen one. For context, a base-model Nissan Leaf will run you $28,425 and only come with a paltry 149-mile (239 km) range to the Bolt EV’s 259-mile (417 km) range. Oh, and the Leaf uses a less widely-available CHAdeMO fast-charging connector to the Bolt’s CCS connector, making short road trips in the Bolt that much easier.

While $26,595 is cheap, it could be cheaper. See, Chevrolet has exhausted its supply of federal EV tax credits, so there’s no getting $7,500 back from the federal government for purchasing a Bolt EV. The good news is that price cuts for 2023 aren’t isolated to the base-model Bolt. The uplevel LT model is also $5,900 cheaper than last year, now starting at $29,795. Oh, and the long-wheelbase Bolt EUV is also playing along. According to Chevrolet’s press release, it gets a $6,300 price cut over 2022, so the base trim starts at $28,195 and the top-spec Premier trim starts at $32,695. Honestly, with gas prices up, a cut-price EV sounds like it could be a winner.

Polestar Turns Up The Wick

Polestar 2 Bst Edition 270
Photo credit: Polestar

One thing I really like about Polestar is that every so often, the brand will bolt some fancy suspension onto something, add some power, see what it’s like to drive, and then often produce it because it’s a bit of a laugh. While the Polestar Engineered variants of the Volvo S60 sedan and V60 wagon are brilliant, it’s time for Polestar to turn its attention inward and focus on its entry-level luxury EV.

The Polestar 2 BST Edition 270 is a bit of a mouthful, but it does add some very cool stuff. While 476 horsepower on tap is nothing to sneeze at, it’s not the headline here. After all, dual-motor 2023 Polestar 2s with the Performance Pack receive an identical boost in power. The real story is the revised suspension setup and tire package that promises to make this Polestar 2 lower, stiffer, and grippier than all the rest. Ride height is down by 25 mm, almost a full inch lower than the standard car on springs that Polestar claims are 20 percent stiffer than standard. Lower, stiffer springs often call for special dampers, so the BST Edition 270 gets upgraded two-way adjustable Öhlins units with knobs for compression and rebound damping. There’s also a front strut tower brace on tap for increased body rigidity. Wheel diameter clocks in at a massive 21 inches, while tires are bespoke Pirelli P Zeros. Polestar only plans to make 270 units, with a maximum of 47 units making it to North America starting in the fourth quarter of 2022. If the idea of this hunkered-down EV floats your boat, you might want to get in line early.

Ford Offers People Some Jobs

Flat Rock Assembly Plant
Photo credit: Ford

It’s no secret that Ford has some serious ambitions, and serious ambitions often require a lot of effort to achieve. Since many hands make light work, Ford is reportedly making some serious investments in hiring and job security. According to CNBC, Ford is looking to invest $3.7 billion into several American plants for products ranging from the next Mustang to another electric commercial vehicle. Big investments mean big manpower, so Ford’s looking to hire 6,200 full-time unionized workers throughout the Midwest. In addition, 3,000 temporary employees will gain full-time roles and benefits, a solid boost in job stability.

United Auto Workers President Ray Curry seems pretty pleased with the deal, stating in a press release that “This announcement to UAW members who contribute their skill, experience and knowledge to the success of the Ford Motor Company,” adding that “Ford stepped up to the plate by adding these jobs and converting 3,000 UAW members to permanent, full-time status with benefits.”

We may live in an age of low unemployment, but it’s always good to see more solid, unionized jobs open up. Plus, kudos to Ford for continuing to invest in combustion-powered vehicles. While electric vehicles are undoubtedly cleaner, they remain a difficult to live with option for sparsely-populated areas of the country given the current state of the public charging network.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. While $26,595 for a brand new Chevrolet Bolt seems pretty cheap, I’m curious to hear how you feel about an entry-level EV priced in the mid-20s. Personally, price doesn’t matter to me so much as payment does. Electric cars are evolving so quickly that I’d be reluctant to place equity into a mass-market model. Lease one for three years, write off business-related mileage, consider the state of the marketplace towards the end of the lease, and then figure out the next move. Then again, I’m likely an outlier. Maybe you’d feel perfectly comfortable financing a Bolt either knowing that a short supply of off-lease vehicles helps with short-term vehicle equity or knowing you’d feel comfortable driving one for a decade or so. Regardless of your position, I’d love to hear from you.

Lead photo credit: Toyota

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41 Responses

  1. While I like that the price is dropping, I’m still waiting on a pure bare-bones commuter level EV. The equivalent of a Kia back in the early 2000s when every dealership was doing the “Buy A Kia, Get A Kia Free!” deal.

    No frills. No infotainment. No heated seats. Just something affordable for the everyman.

    1. The problem is, almost the entire cost of an EV is in the battery, and the cheap-to-build frills are what sells the high price to buyers.

      Pretty sure at this point having the heat pump controlled via software on a touchscreen costs less than the installation and wiring costs of the traditional 3 knobs.

      If you rip out the heated seats and touch screen on a Bolt, you might save what $20 on the bill of materials? Who wants to pay $26,575 for a Bolt with no head unit and unheated seats?

      Additionally, heated seats on an EV is actually a practical item; the heating pad on your butt and back is supposed to help you limit cabin heat use and wring more range out of it.

    2. And you’d sell maybe 20 or 30 of them. This is the tyranny of the market. Which has declared loudly that if it isn’t a giant pickup truck with a blind spot measured in children which requires a step-ladder to get into and six acres of heated and cooled leather, they have no interest in buying it.

      Chevrolet Bolt: 22,073 in 2021
      Chevrolet Silverado 1500: 529,765 in 2021

    3. As I read that, I’m picturing a boxy two door RWD car focused on maximum range + low price. Something like a Datsun B-210 Honey Bee. Have plugs on the dash where you can install an infotainment screen later if you wish. Basic HVAC.

      1. Build that, and I will definitely buy it—in 12-15 years for $800.

        Honestly, a bare-bones EV is perfect for an elderly or retired person buying their last car. No gas to go stale while sitting, way fewer belt & hoses to rot away. While I kinda want a Tesla, I’m way more likely to buy as basic an EV as I can find when it’s time to sell my trade tools in 10-15 years. The electric equivalent of a ‘92 Camry LE would suit me fine

      2. Ugh, the B210 was so sloooooowwww, even for it’s time. It was one of the 3 cars I learned to drive on, and it didn’t really feel any faster than our 1973 type II. The 510 was by far the best of the 3 cars I learned to drive on.
        And, yes, I know the B210 was good for what it was in its day, but it still sucked.

        1. No doubt, but its basic enough to fit his criteria, although I doubt they’d build such a car.

          I’d take a 510 today. So disappointing that Nissan didn’t build the concept from a few years ago.

    4. The Bolt price drop probably just means MSRP better represents what they have been selling for. Nobody has paid close to MSRP for a Bolt in a very long time.

  2. The Bolt is the only right size/right range option for me offered in North America. I wish there were some others to also choose from, but the price reduction gets my attention. I wonder if they will lower the price in Canada too. I think there are still tax incentives available in some parts up here, so GM may decide to continue to take some profit. Which is fine, they have a business to run after all.

    Any word if there are Corolla trim levels still offered with a stick?

    1. GM Canada’s confirmed they feel the Bolt is “already competitively priced for our market.” Right now, there’s still a federal tax credit, along with provincial credits in BC, Quebec, and most of the Maritimes. I think the combination of federal and provincial money in Quebec is like $12k, which gets the Bolt’s $40k base down to a much more tempting point.

      1. Federal is around $5k so it would be about $35k in Ontario. Still a bit more than I like paying. Then installing a 240v charger would not be cheap. As it stands the wife and I both have cars that will last us another 5-10 years unless some misfortune happens. I’ll just keep saving my nickels until then.

    2. I was looking into the stick shift Corolla issue, myself. It seems as if the Corolla hatchback can be had with a stick in either trim, and at least the base and XSE sedans can, as well. What irks me is the lack of a hybrid hatchback option.

      1. No hatch for the hybrid? Well, cross that off my list I guess. Why do compact sedans even exist, when hatchbacks are so much more useful and require basically no sacrifices?

    3. A new Hyundai Kona EV starts at 34k, with the tax credit that gets it down to 26,500. It has identical range to the Bolt, and has a nicer interior.

  3. I bought a Bolt at the end of 2017 for slightly less than that list price, after tax credits, and now with 65000 miles, I’ve saved upwards of $8k in fuel and maintenance costs. Given gas prices, that is only accelerating. Other than the battery recall screwup, and crappy software, the car has had basically zero issues. At the mid $20k price point, the car will likely pay for itself after 200,000 miles in running cost savings. Maintenance so far has been tires (same as a gas car), a couple of $10 cabin filters, some washer fluid, a $3 rear wiper refill, and the big item was recently- an $18 jug of coolant, since the dealership that did the battery swap didn’t get all the air out of the coolant system. I would guess that the battery lost about 5% capacity in the first 65000 miles, and based off others who have well over 100k miles and only slightly more degradation, the original battery likely would have been fine to beyond 200k miles. The wife even sold her car last summer, as she was rarely ever driving it, so the electric is now our primary vehicle, including trips. We also live out where everyone seems to think that an electric car can never work- it’s almost 100 miles to get to a town with more than 10,000 people, as well as a DC fast charger other than one that is local and not useful for us. The car isn’t happy on -20F mornings left outside, but is far less cranky than any gas powered car I’ve had at those temps. With snow tires on the Bolt, the old Jeep basically just sat in the garage all winter, other than one large snow day, and has only done about 200 miles since I last went to a gas station on November.

  4. I think the looming possibility of reinstated federal incentives will keep me observing electric cars for now. No matter how much sense it makes to buy one now, I’d feel horrible if the incentives made it out of legislation a few months later.

  5. There is nothing wrong with a lower-cost EV as long as it doesn’t burn down like the Bolt 😛

    I’m surprised electric AWD isn’t more common. I know Honda offers it on the CR-V hybrid

  6. Electric cars are evolving so quickly that I’d be reluctant to place equity into a mass-market model.

    I’m going to refer you to my oh so salient points last week about the fact that BEVs are strictly disposable cars. Particularly the Bolt. (Which still hasn’t even come close to completing existing battery replacement recalls.) That, by the way, is the reason for the price cut. It’s not because anything is cheaper. They would never admit that. It’s because the Bolt is such an absolutely destroyed brand from the repeated recalls and fires that their only option is to accept lower margins or even loss-leader. Don’t worry, Mary Barra will still be taking home her full $24M+ in compensation.

    But point remains that you absolutely cannot repair a Bolt. Period. You will be dropping $27k for a car which – if it does not spontaneously catch fire this time – can only go to the scrapyard on the first major repair, which based on empirical data, will generally appear between years 6 and 8. And said failure will either be completely unrepairable due to GM refusing to sell parts, or the parts costing more than the car is worth. That’s ignoring the fact that by year 5, you can expect to have a measurable reduction in range.
    And the Bolt’s depreciation curve reflects these facts as well. It holds value fairly well up through year 4, at 83.4% of original price. That’s less than 10% a year for the first 4. And then at year 5? Vaporized. 72%, then 65%, then 57%, and by year 8 you’ll be looking at under $15k. And that’s before the price cut.
    But the batteries will not be getting a price cut. The depreciation curve will also accelerate with the price cut (perception and knowing GM, the quality will also take a huge hit,) so you can probably expect to hit 55% by year 6, or about $15,000.
    Replacing the batteries in a Bolt costs around $16,000-17,000 as is, if you can even get them. (You can’t.) Newer, bigger batteries will cost more.

      1. Chevy will need to throw cash on the hood of the 2021 and 2022 model year vehicles.

        They dropped the price on the 2022 model year due to the tax credit expiring and again now. I would probably own a Bolt if it wasn’t for that stop sale that went into effect in late 2021. I hope to test drive one this weekend.

      2. The answer there is pretty obvious, and really gives away the whole game GM and everyone is playing with “inflation” bullshit.
        There is no inflation, there is only profiteering. If there was inflation, GM could not possibly afford to cut the price by $6,000 when materials costs are unchanged or higher. They were making at least $6,000 of margin on every 2022 Bolt.

        1. GM is making $6000 or more on each Bolt transaction, but not because they cost $6000 less than sale price. It’s highly unlikely there ever was $6000 in margin in the price of a Chevy Bolt.

          GM is making money hand over fist on trucks and SUVs, which get terrible mileage. GM is saving money on EPA credits by selling the Bolt instead of buying EPA credits on the open market, mostly from Tesla.

          1. Oh, yeah, there is some oversimplification which is specifically why I said ‘margin or willing to be a loss-leader.’ They’re printing so much money with bogus ‘inflation’ increases they can afford it, especially with how few they sell. But as I’m not privy to GM’s accounting (and am not a chartered accountant,) and am bad at explaining it, I tend to oversimplify so laypersons can understand more easily.

    1. You are extrapolating depreciation and maintenance requirements. The Bolt came out in 2017, so there is currently 5 years worth of depreciation (which is probably much heavier than it will be going forward because of the recalls) and maintenance history. I’d expect that the depreciation will be lower for current models (assuming GM has fixed the issues, as they historically do right before cancelling a car).

      1. That’s the problem though – we have to extrapolate for every single model year.
        Absolutely every single Bolt ever made is subject to an involuntary recall with strict ‘limit charging, do not park inside’ instructions attached. All 59,392 cars ever made. “Do not charge fully, do not park inside,” and every single one needs an entirely new HV battery system.
        And this is the third recall for the exact same defect. Yep. Campaigns 21V650000, 21V560000, 20V701000 are all the exact same defect that causes them to catch fire.

        Normally, a recall that sees an HV battery replacement would arrest depreciation or even restore value to the cars. But this is the THIRD go-round for the exact same defect with the exact same results. And GM has on more than 5 occasions attempted to cheat the recall, the latest excuse being a software update that 1) permanently reduces charge limit by 20% 2) immediately disables the vehicle if it calculates less than 70 miles of range 3) was implemented because there are basically zero replacement parts available, still, and 4) lets them make excuses to avoid more buybacks. (They have been fighting hard against buying back customer cars that they have admitted are extremely likely to burst into flames without an entire new HV battery unit.)

        That absolutely fucking craters resale and basically creates a stop-sale on used Bolts. Remember: they still do not have repair parts available. If you see a used Bolt for sale, it is a lemon buyback or is a fire hazard. Per GM, not me. That is what GM has said. And just perusing Bolt forums, dear fucking gods do these things break early and often. The only thing propping prices up at all is lack of availability – because the only available cars catch fire or are buybacks.

        Also remember: the Bolt is the second one. We have another car to extrapolate from – the Chevrolet Volt which was introduced in 2011 and sold through 2019. Which actually proves that we’re being too generous with the Bolt. The Volt depreciated by 72% within 5 years – the highest depreciation rate of any car.
        And we can further extrapolate that by using competitors (both HEV and BEV) like the Prius, Insight, etcetera. Know how fast a Honda Insight depreciates? 50% within 3 years – and still falling for the MY19 version. Your 2019 Insight is, regardless of mileage, uneconomical to perform major repairs on. Toyota Prius? They hold value for about 5 years, then immediately plummet to >50% at year 6.

  7. Interesting to see Toyota switch to a lithium battery. Given the pricing and supply issues I’ve been reading about, I’d sort of expect they’d double down on non-lithium chemistries for hybrid systems where the ICE is doing the bulk of the work, unless those are in the same boat

    1. People talk a lot about Lithium, but it’s honestly a minor component in battery cost (one peer-reviewed published paper I found in 5 minutes of googling stated a 300% increase in cost of lithium increases cost of a car battery by less than 10%). Other scarce metals (Nickel) are common to most chemistries. The packaging / performance benefits probably outweighed any slight cost difference.

      What I am surprised about is they haven’t gone for LiFePo batteries, as despite having slightly lower density (still better than the original Prius NiMH), it can support higher charge-discharge rates (as a percentage of total capacity), which I would think would prove beneficial to hybrids (which, having smaller batteries & an ICE backup, I would expect would be more power-limited than energy-capacity-limited).

      1. That’s a good point about the LiFePO4 cells. We have a home backup battery that uses them and the stability relative to NMC was a *major* component of the sales pitch. The sales rep had a ton of links to videos of NMC cells melting down after suffering various forms of abuse, whereas their LiFePO4 cells would gladly get drilled and hammered and the like. I wonder if that would reduce a future Bolt scenario.

        Fwiw, LG Chem is another major home backup system supplier and anecdotally was the most failure-prone option. Didn’t encounter any stories of fires though.

        We didn’t go with the LiFePO4 based system because we were particularly concerned about thermal runaway, but because the local guy could actually install one, where Tesla, despite having far and away the best $/kWh and most established system, dicked us around for nine months and then tried to raise the price on our executed purchase order.

  8. I’d consider one on lease if it was cheap and high mileage. My current commute is perfect for a 260 mile BEV. Most of the trips I’d do are within that span too. The crap DCFC rate is the one negative for taking longer trips. It absolutely wouldn’t work for camping, even with an electric hookup.

  9. I just can’t get excited about EVs regardless of the price. I get that for a lot of people they make sense financially and lifestyle wise and that for a lot of others that literally don’t care and just need to get around they’re great, but I’m just not interested.

    1. You can of course do a you like, but I’d like to point out that the era of EVs being penalty-boxes is behind us. Driving any modern EV is at least on par with an average car, and many offer a pretty engaging experience. I’d encourage you to test drive a Mach-e GT, if you have the chance. The instant reaction to pedal input and the passing power are pretty sweet!

  10. “[Editor’s Note: I want square headlights and a graphics package. -DT]”
    We’re all proud of you for not only getting a movie reference, but referencing specific details. You’ll learn popular culture yet!

    1. Now I want to see David Tracy cosplaying as Dennis Nedry (and one of his Jeeps cosplaying as Dennis Nedry’s Jeep). Borrow Tomato from Jason and have her (him?) be the dilophosaurus hiding in the car.

  11. The price of the Bolt has really got me thinking about one. I could probably trade in my current vehicle for an even swap on the base-model.

  12. I’d be willing to buy an off-lease Bolt in two years. We did that with our 2017 Volt and got it for half the original sticker price.

    1. Plus, if you’re looking to buy a 2020 Bolt this year, it will have a brand new battery once it’s gone through the replacement program.

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