Toyota has long been known as the king of hybrid brands since they first introduced us to the concept back in the late 1990s with the Toyota Prius. As the 2022 model year rolls around, we can see that the Toyota Prius is still with us and still going strong. Alongside it, however, are many other hybrid models in Toyota’s range, including the Toyota Corolla Hybrid which was first added to the range in the 2020 model year.
The Corolla series has long been among the most popular in Toyota’s range, but how is it faring as one of the newest Toyota hybrids compared to the Prius, it’s longest-serving hybrid model. Let’s take a closer look at these two hybrid cars and see how they compare.
The Corolla Hybrid and Prius are both very comparable compact sedans which share the same engine. The Corolla Hybrid offers a more exciting drive and marginally better rear seat legroom. The Prius has a significant advantage in cargo capacity, but it’ll also cost you a little more.
While the two hybrids are similar in size and scale and offer about equal fuel economy, the more established Prius marque will set you back a little more money from entry level. The Prius starts at $24,525, whereas the Corolla starts at $23,650. That’s the only starting price for the Corolla Hybrid, too, since there is only one trim level available, the LE.
The Prius, on the other hand, offers a total of 8 trim levels – L Eco, LE, LE AWD-e, XLE, XLE AWD-e, Nightshade Edition AWD-e, Nightshade Edition FWD, and Limited – with the top-level Limited trim starting at $32,820.
Toyota Prius Prime: A Plug-in hybrid alternative
While our comparison focuses on the standard ‘mild hybrid’ Corolla and Prius, it is important to know that the Prius is also offered as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) which houses a bigger battery can drive short distances using the electric motor alone in ‘EV mode’.
The Prius Prime costs more than the standard Prius and Corolla Hybrid and is your only option if you were looking for a PHEV Toyota sedan.
Exterior and Interior Styling
Those unfamiliar with typical styling wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that on the surface the Corolla and Prius look fairly similar, but there are some marked differences. While the overall size and scale is certainly similar, the Corolla has a higher front end when compared to the sleeker and more sloping front end of the Prius. The Prius generally has a more angular and distinct appearance than the more conventional line and curves of the Corolla Hybrid.
To look at the two on the outside, it’s a safe bet that the Corolla Hybrid has the most universal appeal in terms of pure looks. The Prius has always been somewhat divisive in its unconventional and quirky exteriors, but has always made up for it in its promise of eco-friendly function.
On the inside, the Corolla Hybrid also will appeal more strongly to those with more conventional tastes. With its instrument cluster behind the wheel, floating infotainment screen in the upper center, and signature Toyota application of optional piano black finishes, soft-touch materials and comfortable, supportive seats, the Corolla Hybrid easily pleases. On the other hand, lovers of the unconventional and contemporary prefer the Prius with its center-mounted instrument cluster, and much-enlarged Tesla-esque infotainment touchscreen.
Each has their merits, with some preferring the premium feel but tried-and-tested style of the Corolla Hybrid and others enjoying the unique style of the Prius. If you want dials and buttons, the Corolla is a better bet. If you want avant-garde with more storage space, choose the Prius.
Both hybrid models house a 4-cylinder 1.8L engine, neither of which are major horsepower producers, both generating a maximum of 121-hp and 105 lb-ft of torque. Of course, hybrid cars aren’t typically marketed for their prowess in either horsepower or torque.
Where both of these models excel in their performance is with efficiency, and in particular their fuel economy. The more-established Prius at its best offers 58-mpg in the city and 52-mpg on the highway, making for a combined rating of 56-mpg. The Corolla isn’t far behind but does lag slightly at 53-mpg in the city, 52-mpg on the highway, and 52-mpg combined.
As for drive quality, the Corolla Hybrid has distinct advantages over the Prius. Even after two decades of development, the Prius continues to receive criticism for its inelegant handling, braking issues, and lack of power. The Corolla won’t offer more power, but reviewers have noted that its steering and overall handling ability is better, which makes for a more fun driving experience overall.
Above we mentioned that the two are both very practical when it comes to fuel consumption, with the Prius having a slight edge. Another area the Prius has an edge is in storage. The Prius offers 24.6 cubic feet behind the second seating row, which grows to an impressive 50.7 cubic feet if you lower the rear seats. The Corolla only offers 13.1 cubic feet, but that’s what you get with a sedan compared to a hatchback like the Prius.
One practicality the Corolla does have is rear legroom. At 34.8 inches, the Corolla has more rear space to offer than the 33.4 inches of the Prius. As a family car with growing kids, or as a carpool commuting vehicle for adults, therefore, the Corolla works out a bit better.
Technology & Features
The Toyota Corolla is a bit more conventional, only offering up to an 8-inch infotainment display that combines touchscreen with regular buttons and dials. It’s a little dated, but many appreciate the physical controls, especially when driving. The Toyota Prius offers an optional 11.6-inch touchscreen display with split screen capability in its premium models. Both have the option for a premium sound system from JBL.
Smartphone connectivity in both is easy, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa all compatible with the models. Digital instrument displays also feature prominently, though as mentioned above, the Prius has its instrument cluster mounted in the center of the dash, which some find irritating.
Both models feature the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 driver assistance package which includes pre-collision mitigation, pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assistance, automatic high beams, road sign assist and more. They also include the Star Safety System which delivers traction control, ABS, enhanced vehicle stability control and more.
The Prius adds as standard an extra 1-year trial of its safety package called Safety Connect, which adds emergency assistance, stolen vehicle locator, roadside assistance and automatic collision notification.
It’s hard to beat a Toyota hybrid when it comes to mild hybrid compact sedans in a similar price range, but the Hyundai Ioniq is worth considering.
If you’re looking for a bigger car, the Toyota Camry Hybrid is the natural option (read our Prius vs Camry Hybrid comparison).
Of course, there are also PHEV and fully electric cars, but they’ll cost you more and come with disadvantages of their own.
If you’re trying to distinguish these two on performance alone, it’s a struggle. The Corolla is somewhat more fun to drive, but doesn’t offer any more power than the Prius does. The Corolla will satisfy those looking for a premium-feel but affordable family sedan whereas the Prius offers something a bit more distinct in terms of styling, and arguably a more prestigious name.
In the end, the difference mostly comes down to matters of personal taste rather than objective difference. They carry much of the same Toyota DNA, but it manifests into two cars that satisfy very different preferences.
|2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid||2022 Toyota Prius|
|Engine||1.8L Inline-4 Hybrid||1.8L Inline-4 Hybrid|
|Horsepower||121 hp @ 5200 rpm||121 hp @ 5200 rpm|
|Torque||105 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm||105 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm|
|Transmission||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)|
|Drivetrain||Front-Wheel Drive||Front-Wheel Drive|
|Rear Wheel Size||P195/65SR15||P195/65SR15|
|Front Wheel Size||P195/65SR15||P195/65SR15|
|Turning Diameter (ft.)||35.6||33.5|
|MPG/MPGe - Hwy||52||53|
|MPG/MPGe - City||53||58|
|MPG/MPGe - Combined||52||56|
|Gas Tank Size (gallons)||11.4||11.3|
|Cruising Range - Hwy (miles)||592.8||598.9|
|Size and Weight|
|Max Width (in.)||70.1||69.3|
|Trunk Volume (cu. ft.)||13.1||-|
|Front Seat Leg Room (in.)||42.0||42.3|
|Front Seat Head Room (in.)||38.3||39.4|
|Front Seat Hip Room (in.)||53.9||53.4|
|Front Seat Shoulder Room (in.)||54.0||55.0|
|Rear Seat Leg room (in.)||34.8||33.4|
|Rear Seat Head Room (in.)||37.1||37.4|
|Rear Seat Hip Room (in.)||51.3||51.9|
|Rear Seat Shoulder Room (in.)||51.7||53.0|
|HD Radio||Not Available||Not Available|
|Entertainment System||Not Available||Not Available|
|Premium Sound System||Not Available||Not Available|
|Auxiliary Audio Input||Standard||Standard|
|Smart Device Integration||Standard||Standard|
|Hard Disk Drive Media Storage||Not Available||Not Available|
|Premium Synthetic Seats||Standard||Standard|
|Sun/Moonroof||Not Available||Not Available|
|Leather Steering Wheel||Optional||Not Available|
|Woodgrain Interior Trim||Not Available||Not Available|
|Rear A/C||Not Available||Not Available|
|Seat Memory||Not Available||Not Available|
|Seat-Massage||Not Available||Not Available|
|Multi-Zone A/C||Not Available||Not Available|
|Power Liftgate||Not Available||Not Available|
|Head-Up Display||Not Available||Not Available|
|Automatic Parking||Not Available||Not Available|
|Navigation System||Not Available||Not Available|
|Power Driver Seat||Not Available||Not Available|
|Cooled Rear Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Hands-Free Liftgate||Not Available||Not Available|
|Heated Rear Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Remote Engine Start||Not Available||Not Available|
|Cooled Front Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Heated Front Seat(s)||Optional||Not Available|
|Power Passenger Seat||Not Available||Not Available|
|Remote Trunk Release||Standard||Not Available|
|Heated Steering Wheel||Not Available||Not Available|
|Adaptive Cruise Control||Standard||Standard|
|Navigation from Telematics||Not Available||Not Available|
|Universal Garage Door Opener||Not Available||Not Available|
|Steering Wheel Audio Controls||Standard||Standard|
|Night Vision||Not Available||Not Available|
|Rear Parking Aid||Not Available||Not Available|
|Blind Spot Monitor||Optional||Not Available|
|Cross-Traffic Alert||Optional||Not Available|
|Lane Keeping Assist||Standard||Standard|
|Tire Pressure Monitor||Standard||Standard|
|Lane Departure Warning||Standard||Standard|
|Knee Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Driver Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Seatbelt Air Bag||Not Available||Not Available|
|Passenger Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Rear Head Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Rear Side Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Front Head Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Front Side Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Basic||3 Years / 36,000 Miles||3 Years / 36,000 Miles|
|Corrosion||5 Years / Unlimited Miles||5 Years / Unlimited Miles|
|Drivetrain||5 Years / 60,000 Miles||5 Years / 60,000 Miles|
|Maintenance||2 Years / 25,000 Miles||2 Years / 25,000 Miles|
|Roadside Assistance||2 Years / Unlimited Miles||3 Years / Unlimited Miles|