Comparison: Toyota Corolla Hybrid vs. Toyota Prius

  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
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Crushed by student loan debt, young Americans need affordable, practical, reliable, and efficient vehicles to drive. Similarly, older Americans who haven’t saved enough money for retirement need the exact same sort of car.

We’ve got good news: Toyota builds two of them.

One is the iconic Prius, a gas-electric hybrid hatchback with lots of interior room. The other is the new-for-2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid, which uses the guts of the Prius but in a traditional 4-door sedan body style. Both are rated to get 52 mpg in combined driving*, and both are “Top Safety Picks” according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Nevertheless, each has its pros and cons. Before we dive into the details, let’s summarize the latest news for each car.

About the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid:

  • The Toyota Corolla Hybrid is new for 2020, based on the redesigned Corolla sedan
  • Priced $3,000 higher than a standard Corolla LE
  • Gets 19 extra miles per gallon compared to a standard Corolla LE
  • Has the same 13.1 cubic-foot trunk as a standard Corolla LE
  • The fuel tank is smaller: 11.4 gallons vs. 13.2 gals.

2019 Toyota Prius Changes:

  • New trim level designations: L Eco, LE, XLE, and Limited
  • Optional all-wheel-drive system debuts for LE and XLE trim
  • Revised exterior styling and updated interior colors
  • Additional USB ports, a larger wireless smartphone charging pad
  • Heated steering wheel standard on upper trim levels
  • Supersonic Red and Electric Storm Blue paint colors

OK, with that out of the way, let’s figure out which one is right for you.

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Price and Configurations

White 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Front View
To eliminate price overlap with the Prius, Toyota offers the Corolla Hybrid only in LE trim. As Drew Carey might say, the price is definitely right. (Toyota)

Toyota sells the Corolla Hybrid in a single trim level called LE ($22,950). Highlights from the standard equipment list include:

  • LED exterior lighting
  • Heated side mirrors
  • Automatic climate control
  • Premium fabric seat upholstery
  • Two quick-charge USB ports
  • An 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Apple CarPlay and Siri Eyes Free
  • Amazon Alexa-compatible
  • Safety Connect service with a free 3-year trial period
  • Wi-Fi Connect service with a free 6-month/2GB trial period
  • Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)

Optional equipment is restricted to dealer-installed accessories. Among the choices, you can upgrade the Corolla Hybrid with:

  • Carpeted and all-weather floor mats
  • Cargo organization and carrying features
  • Finish protection
  • Removable roof cross-bars
  • Rear seat universal tablet holders

2019 Toyota Prius Price and Configurations

Blue 2019 Toyota Prius XLE AWD in Snow
Offered in four trim levels and with a new optional all-wheel-drive system, the Toyota Prius is ready to battle blizzards. (Toyota)

Toyota sells three different cars with the Prius nameplate. The Prius c is a subcompact hatchback, and the Prius Prime is a restyled plug-in hybrid version of the standard Prius. This comparison article includes only the standard Prius model.

Four different versions of the standard Prius are on sale. They include the L Eco ($23,770), the LE ($24,980), the XLE ($27,820), and the Limited ($32,200). The optional AWD system is offered for the LE ($26,380) and the XLE ($28,820).

Choosing LE trim adds the following features over the base L Eco trim:

  • Intermittent rear window wiper
  • Front seatback pockets
  • Cargo cover
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Semi-autonomous parking assist
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Temporary spare tire

To this, the Prius XLE adds:

  • Automatic headlights
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Heated steering wheel
  • 17-inch aluminum wheels
  • SofTex simulated leather upholstery
  • SofTex interior detailing
  • Semi-gloss interior trim
  • Expanded Smart Key operation with illuminated entry
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Programmable garage door opener
  • Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charger
  • Tire repair kit

Limited trim includes:

  • Adaptive headlights that illuminate around curves
  • Larger 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen mounted portrait-style
  • HD Radio
  • Navigation system
  • Entune App Suite
  • Premium sound system
  • Predictive traffic information
  • Doppler radar weather information
  • Sirius/XM satellite radio with 3-month free trial period
  • Safety Connect service with a 1-year free trial period
  • Color head-up display

Options are available in the form of factory-installed packages and dealer-installed accessories.

The Best Things About the Toyota Corolla Hybrid

Front view of Toyota Corolla Hybrid vs Toyota Prius
Neither of these cars is attractive in a traditional sense. The Corolla Hybrid, however, is more conservative than the Prius. (Toyota)

 

You might assume that the Corolla Hybrid’s restricted equipment and utility prevent it from competing on equal footing with the Toyota Prius. That’s not the case. Based on our analysis, these are the best things about the Corolla Hybrid compared to the Toyota Prius:

  • Lower price
  • More traditional styling
  • Next-generation Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 ADAS
  • Slightly better crash-test protection according to the IIHS
  • More modern standard infotainment system equipped with Apple CarPlay
  • 3-year free trial period for Safety Connect
  • Offers Wi-Fi Connect service

The Best Things About the Toyota Prius

Toyota Corolla Hybrid vs Toyota Prius Dashboard Designs
As is true of the exterior styling, the Corolla Hybrid’s interior is conservative in comparison to the futuristic, center-justified cabin in the Prius. (Toyota)

 

You’ll pay a premium for a Prius, but there are good reasons for that. Only you can decide whether or not those reasons are worth the extra expense. Listed below, you’ll find the things that are better about the Toyota Prius compared to the Corolla Hybrid:

  • L Eco kills it on fuel economy, with an EPA-rated 56 mpg
  • Hatchback utility to the tune of 27.4 cu.-ft. in the trunk and 65.5 cu.-ft. with the rear seats folded down
  • Wider variety of trim levels and equipment
  • Available AWD system for people who live in cold climates
  • Available blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, which is not offered in the Corolla
  • Upscale materials and technology in the Limited trim

Toyota Corolla Hybrid vs. Toyota Prius Which is Better?

Rear view of Toyota Corolla Hybrid vs Toyota Prius
Choose the Corolla Hybrid for its low price and advanced technology. Choose the Toyota Prius for its utility, range of choice, and available AWD. (Toyota)

 

If money is the only object, or you absolutely require the latest and greatest infotainment and ADAS technologies, get the Corolla Hybrid and deal with its lack of cargo space.

If you can afford the upgrade, it’s hard to go wrong with a Prius, especially now that it offers available all-wheel drive. However, we’re going to recommend waiting until the 2020 model year. Why? Chances are good that it will get some of the ADAS and infotainment upgrades from the Corolla.

And if it doesn’t, well, we’re gonna need to re-think our recommendation.

* The L Eco is the exception, posting an EPA rating of 56 mpg in combined driving.

RELATED: Read our review of the 2019 Toyota Prius AWD


About the Author

  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
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