Car Review: Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE is packed with technology and has extra space for cargo

The Toyota Corolla has been a mainstay for decades for buyers looking for a good, small sedan. However, it has never been known as an exciting car.

The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE is a sportier version of the compact stalwart. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

For 2023, the Corolla XSE Hatchback certainly looks sportier than other Corolla sedan models. It gets a new look with sleek LED headlights and a fresh front bumper design. A sport-mesh blacked out grill and large 18-inch alloy wheels give the compact hatchback a style not always associated with a Corolla. Out back, a spoiler on the roof, smoked taillight lenses and a lower black bumper adds to the visual appeal.

To match the sporty vibe on the outside, there is a bit more performance in the drive when compared to the sedan. You get 169hp, which isn’t a rocket ship, but there is a bit of pep under the hood. It will give the hatchback adequate performance for many small car buyers. The CVT transmission goes mostly unnoticed and the fuel economy is impressive on the highway. The Corolla XSE is not a hot-hatch when you hit the curvy roads — it does well, but there is some lean on quicker corners.

Good news — this suspension will treat you right on the daily commute, soaking up bumps and providing a pleasant ride. The new Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 adds many drivers’ aids and even radar-guided cruise control for this price was a nice surprise.

The interior of the Corolla Hatchback is equipped with technology improvements. An 8-inch touch screen with optional premium sound is easy to use with better graphics and, finally, the system is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. The Qi-wireless charger is a welcome item, however it probably will not charge with the cover on your phone. A seven-inch digital gauge cluster and sport seats up front convey the sportier side of this Corolla XSE Hatchback.

Back seat riders have good headroom and adequate legroom. The rear doors do not open very wide so it can be interesting on entry and exit. The hatchback design allows for easy loading of gear, and there is good space for a smaller car.

Cost: $26,430; as tested $29,924

MPG: 30 mpg city and 38 mpg highway; I managed 29.8 mpg in 270 miles in a very new low mile car.

Safety: Toyota Safety Sense 3.0; pre-collision system with pedestrian detection; full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control; lane departure alert with steering with steering assist; lane tracking assist; blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert

Options: $500 Blue Crush and Midnight Black roof; $299 removable cross bars, $1,095 delivery and handling fee

Things to know: The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE is a sportier-looking compact hatch with space and improved technology to make this Toyota worth a look.


  • A good amount of space for people and improved cargo space thanks to the hatch
  • Thrifty when it comes to fuel use
  • Updated technology and more safety features make this a more desirable compact hatchback.


  • Not very sporty even in the XSE trim level
  • A bit more noise in the cabin than some other compacts
  • Rear doors do not open very wide

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2023 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up