In 25 years of reviewing cars, I have, on occasion, beaten the EPA fuel economy estimates.
Understand, I'm not a hyper-miler. I don't have the discipline or patience for that. But once in a great while---not often---I've done one, two or three MPG better than the EPA number.
By now, there are very few surprises when it comes to Toyota's hybrids. I've routinely gotten 50 mpg from every Prius I've driven the last ten years (and, come to think of it, did top EPA numbers while doing a highway trip in one seven years ago).
But not like this. The EPA fuel economy estimate for the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is 53 city/52 highway/52 combined. But on a 53.6 mile drive from my home to pick up my stepdaughter and take her to the airport, here's what I got.
That reads 64.2 miles per gallon.
I zeroed the trip computer before I left my driveway. I drove between 25 miles an hour and 70 (part of the trip was city streets, part was urban freeways).
There's no voodoo under the hood---it's your typical Toyota hybrid setup---1.8-liter four, with an electric motor. Continuously variable transmission, riding on low rolling resistance 15-inch tires.
It's no great shakes in terms of performance and when you ask for power, the gasoline engine makes some decidedly harsh tractor-style noise, but driven with a light foot, it gets the job done.
Apparently I'm not the only one to beat EPA in the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid---Car and Driver averaged 56 mpg in theirs---but 64.2? Now, the drive was mid-morning and it was still cool. The A/C (set to auto and 72) didn't really wake up. The mileage dipped to 63.1 on the 10-mile drive from the airport to work, and after being parked in the sun all day, the A/C was running on the 22-mile drive home that night, taking the average down to 61. But still---sixty one, when the EPA estimate is 52?
The base price of the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is $23,650. That's with Toyota's Safety Sense 2.0 standard, as well as LED headlights and taillights, a six-speaker audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and fabric-trimmed seats.
Our tester had some extra-cost options: Blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert ($500), the Premium Interior Package with Sof-Tex trimmed heated front seats, a power driver seat with lumbar support and a leather-trimmed steering wheel ($1,525) and the carpeted floor mat package ($249). With $1,025 delivery, processing and handling fee, the as-tested price of the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is $26,949.
Even if it just delivered on the 53/52 EPA estimate, that'd be really strong fuel economy at a time when gas prices are high. At a time when EVs are gaining momentum, hybrids are arguably on the wane---but unless there was some glitch in the trip computer, the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hybrid surprised and impressed me.