Toyota and hybrid go together like caramel and salt, surf and Hawai’i, and Beyonce and Jay-Z. The automaker has one of the most extensive and popular lineups of hybrid vehicles, ranging from the segment-defining Prius hatchback to the 3-row, 8-passenger Highlander SUV. And for 2020, Toyota adds the new Corolla Hybrid to the mix.
Based on the standard Corolla LE sedan and using the same powertrain found in the Prius, this compact hybrid is a conventional and more affordable alternative to the iconic hatch with which it shares an engine, battery, and electric motor. At a starting price of just over $24,000, it nestles into some unoccupied white space in Toyota’s lineup, too.
In addition to serving as a Prius alternative, the new Corolla Hybrid might also prove appealing to people shopping for the considerably more expensive Toyota Camry Hybrid. With a starting price of just more than $29,000, the Camry Hybrid is a bigger and better-equipped hybrid sedan, but is it worth the extra cost?
We’re going to try to answer that question in this Toyota Corolla Hybrid vs. Toyota Camry Hybrid comparison.
Though the Toyota Camry Hybrid LE (bottom) gets the same 52 mpg as the Toyota Corolla Hybrid, it’s a far more powerful vehicle. (Photo: Toyota)
The best things about the Toyota Corolla Hybrid
In comparison to the Camry Hybrid, there are two reasons to get the Corolla Hybrid: you want to save thousands of dollars, or you want its more sophisticated advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). That’s literally it.
Priced $5,150 less than the Camry Hybrid LE, the Corolla Hybrid LE comes in a single level of specification. There are no option packages. You can add dealer-installed accessories if you’d like.
Aside from price, the Corolla Hybrid one-ups the Camry Hybrid with its Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) suite of ADAS. It has low-light pedestrian and cyclist detection, whereas the Camry’s Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P) package makes do with daytime pedestrian detection.
Additionally, TSS 2.0 equips the Corolla with a lane sway warning and road departure prevention system, a lane-centering assist system that works in tandem with the adaptive cruise control, and a road sign recognition system. These features are unavailable for the Camry Hybrid.
Aside from its low price, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid (top) offers a superior package of driving assistance and collision avoidance systems. But you can’t get a blind spot monitoring system in it. (Photo: Toyota)
The best things about the Toyota Camry Hybrid
Sometimes you do get what you pay for, and that’s true of the Camry Hybrid when you’re comparing it to the Corolla Hybrid.
For starters, it is bigger inside, has a larger trunk, and is offered in three different trim levels. The LE is the most efficient version, matching the Corolla Hybrid’s combined fuel economy rating of 52 mpg. The SE is the sporty model, and the XLE is the upscale variant. They both take a mileage hit, dropping to 46 mpg in combined driving.
With 208 hp, the Camry Hybrid is significantly quicker to accelerate than the Corolla Hybrid. It’s larger 13.2-gallon fuel tank also means you won’t stop as frequently for gas – especially with LE trim.
The Camry’s safety ratings are higher than the Corolla Hybrid’s even if its ADAS technology isn’t as sophisticated. It also offers an available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert system, reverse automatic braking, and steering responsive headlights, all of which are unavailable with the Corolla Hybrid.
On the infotainment front, the Camry Hybrid offers an embedded navigation option and a premium sound system, and this car is more comfortable thanks to a wider range of front seat adjustment, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a ventilated front seat option. Leather is standard in the XLE trim, an upgrade you can’t get in the Corolla Hybrid.
Bigger, safer, faster, and all-around better, the Toyota Camry Hybrid (bottom) is the thrifty sedan to buy. If you can afford it. (Photo: Toyota)
Toyota Corolla Hybrid vs. Toyota Camry Hybrid. Which is better?
Clearly, the answer to this question is the Camry Hybrid. But the larger, safer, faster, and more sophisticated car also comes at a cost.
Therefore, if you’re already scraping by, and you don’t want to get a used Prius, then the Corolla Hybrid is your pick. Otherwise, if you can pay the necessary premium, you’re likely to be happier with the Camry Hybrid.
Especially if you get a used one.