Is the 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid as Painfully Slow as Everyone Says It Is?

“This thing isn’t that slow,” I thought to myself as I mashed the accelerator on the 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid. After reading a number of reviews that all stated how slow the Corolla Hybrid is, I fully expected to be sweating bullets when pulling onto the freeway. Instead, I was fully surprised at how well the Corolla performed.

The 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid has a Prius heart and a Corolla body

2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid driving down a highway in white
2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid | Toyota

In case you’re not familiar with it, the 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is the compact sedan that you can buy if you don’t want to pay for a Prius but want its stellar fuel economy. I say that because underneath the hood of the Corolla Hybrid, there is the same 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine and electric motor combination that you’ll find on the current Prius. However, the Corolla Hybrid is cheaper than its fuel-sipping stablemate with a starting price of $23,650 as compared to the Prius’ starting price of $24,525.

Pricing aside, the main highlight of the Corolla Hybrid is its exceptional fuel economy. According to the EPA, the 2021 Corolla Hybrid is rated at 53 mpg in the city and 52 mpg on the highway. In my real-world testing, I’ve been able to achieve up to 62 mpg according to the car’s onboard readout, which is utterly insane. However, no one is questioning that the car can go a long way between fill-ups. The real question here is: How well does it perform?

The Corolla Hybrid can actually get out of its own way

rear shot of the 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid driving down a highway
2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid | Toyota

In Car and Driver’s review of the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid, the publication stated that the car took 10.7 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill. To be honest, it’s really slow, so I was expecting to be infuriated behind the wheel when getting onto the freeway or passing other cars. After all, the Corolla Hybrid only produces 121 hp and 105 lb-ft of torque from its hybrid powertrain.

Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. When pulling away from a stop, the Corolla Hybrid’s electric motor provides quick and quiet acceleration and then seamlessly transitions to the gas motor when more power is needed. The electric motor also provides some good mid-range torque, so it doesn’t really feel that slow when pulling onto the freeway. I even made it a point to slow down and accelerate hard to pass other cars just to see if it’s as painfully slow as other reviewers made it out to be. In my opinion, it’s not so bad.  

It’s smooth, but it’s also loud

2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid rear badge
2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid | Toyota

That all being said, it’s worth it to note that while the Corolla Hybrid’s powertrain is smooth and can adequately get the car up to speed, the cabin can get noisy under hard acceleration. That’s to be expected considering it’s a Corolla and not an Avalon, however, some may find it a little too noisy for their taste.

Nonetheless, the Corolla surprised me in its ability to perform decently in mixed driving conditions in addition to its ability to average well over the EPA’s estimated mpg rating. I’d personally recommend it if you’re looking for a fuel-efficient sedan that gets Prius-like fuel economy without the funky hybrid car looks.

RELATED: The 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Delivers on Everything It Promises