Toyota Corolla Hybrid VS Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai Elantra versus Toyota Corolla. Which one is the better affordable hybrid car? That’s what we’re going to find out.
There are not a lot of options out there. If you want a hybrid similar to these two, aside from these ones, you also have the Kia Niro hybrid.
There’s the Toyota Prius, and coming for the first time to North America this summer is the all new Honda Civic hybrid.
But if you’re looking for a compact hybrid in that $30,000 price range, these are the two that you’re probably going to want to take a look at. So let’s start with the Corolla.
Transmission and Power
The Corolla hybrid comes with a 1.8 liter naturally aspirated four cylinder engine that comes connected to an ECVT planetary gear type transmission with two electric motors and a hybrid battery pack.
This hybrid system produces around 134 horsepower and 153 pound feet of torque, which is not really a lot of power, but it does feel perfectly adequate for a car like this.
And in any case, this is not the kind of car that you’re really buying for performance anyway. This car is all about the fuel economy, and that’s what it does extremely well.
It’s rated for around 45 to 53 miles per gallon, or roughly four and a half to five and a half liters per 100 kilometers.
And if you drive it carefully, you can even get much better than that. Now, as impressive as those numbers are, the Elantra hybrid is actually not that far behind.
It uses a naturally aspirated 1.6 liter four cylinder engine that comes connected to a six speed dual clutch transmission, a single electric motor and a hybrid battery.
It produces 139 horsepower and 195 pound feet of torque, which is a little bit more than you get with the Corolla, but in the real world, it really doesn’t feel that much more powerful.
It’ll feel more or less about the same. It also achieves very similar fuel economy as well.
Now the numbers on the Elantra are a little bit better, but I really didn’t notice a significant difference between them either way Both of these are extremely fuel efficient cars, and the hybrids are roughly around 30 to 40% more efficient than the equivalent non-hybrid version.
Advantages of Corolla: All-Wheel Drive, Refinement, and Reliability
So you are going to save a lot of money on gas if you buy either one of these, but even though these two are very similar in terms of their efficiency and performance, there are some major differences between them that give the Corolla a major advantage.
For one thing, unlike the Elantra hybrid, which is only available with front wheel drive, the Corolla hybrid is available with either front wheel or all-wheel drive.
And that’s a major bonus, especially for those who live where there’s harsh winters where all-wheel drive is a major selling point, and it’s actually a wonderfully simple all-wheel drive.
There’s No mechanical connection between the front and back wheels.
You just have an extra electric motor which eliminates the need for a drive shaft, a transfer case, any differential, which means you don’t have any of the maintenance that goes along with that.
Another advantage of the Corolla is its refinement. Although the Elantra is fairly smooth and refined, the hybrid system on the Corolla is just a lot better.
On the Elantra, you do notice the gas engine turning on and off a little bit more, which is a bit annoying probably because it still has a traditional starter, unlike the Corolla, which completely eliminates the need for a starter, an alternator or any belts.
All of that is taken up by the second electric motor, which makes it a much smoother and a more seamless hybrid system.
Another advantage the Corolla has over the Elantra is the transmission.
Now, I know there are some that might prefer the shifting feel of a normal six speed transmission like you get in Elantra, but my concern with it is that it’s a dual clutch automated manual transmission, which are sometimes known for being a little bit jerky, and they can be problematic as they age and be extremely expensive to replace.
It’s just not the smoothest or the safest type of transmission to go with, especially for long-term reliability.
Now, you’re not going to have any of those concerns with the Corolla’s ECVT, which is just a very simple planetary gear set design that is extremely durable and is very rarely known for having any kinds of issues.
And even though it does have that typical ECVT feel to it that not everybody is really crazy about, at least you know you can own it for an extremely long time and have absolutely solid reliability.
And the transmission situation of these cars really highlights the other major advantage that you get with the Corolla, which is a far superior reputation for reliability in general.
Now, not to knock the Elantra too hard here because it does have a fairly well proven hybrid system that has been used in the Kia Niro since 2017 and has been more or less trouble free.
And I do like that it has a naturally aspirate engine as opposed to a more complicated turbo engine that most of the other Hyundai hybrids have.
But even though the Elantra hybrid system is certainly not bad, the Corolla’s hybrid system is just far superior.
Toyota has been making hybrids longer than anybody else, and that expertise really shows the two motor hybrid system that’s used in the Corolla and many other Toyota models now is now in its fifth generation, and it’s been around for so long and been so thoroughly debugged by this point that the reliability is more or less bulletproof but it’s an extremely important one because if you’re the type of person that holds onto their car for as long as possible, upwards of 10, 12, even 15 years, and you wanna have the most trouble free ownership experience, well, it’s the Corolla that’s going to be the much safer one to go with.
Warranty and Battery Comparison: Corolla vs Elantra
Now, to be fair to the Elantra Hyundai does give you a very good warranty, a five year comprehensive warranty, and in the US a 10 year powertrain warranty, which is much better than the three and five year warranty that you get from Toyota, but it’s actually the Toyota that has the better hybrid warranty.
Unlike the Elantra, which has an eight year, a hundred thousand mile or 160,000 kilometer battery warranty,
Toyota gives you a 10 year, 160,000 mile, 240,000 kilometer battery warranty, which does give you a lot more peace of mind.
And for those curious about hybrid battery replacement costs, it’s actually the Toyota that has the less expensive battery.
I looked up the pricing and the price of the Toyota hybrid battery is around $2,800 Canadian versus around $4,300 Canadian for the Elantra.
Now keep in mind, hybrid battery failure is extremely rare, especially in the case of Toyota, where it’s practically unheard of, at least not until the vehicle is at least 10 to 12 years old, often even longer than that.
But it is nice to know if that if it were to happen, it’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg.
Interior Comfort & Safety Features
Now, when it comes to the interiors, this is where the Corolla and the Elantra are quite a bit closer.
I’d say the Corolla does stand out a little bit more for its slightly nicer fit and finish. But either way, neither one of these really stands out all that much.
They are both extremely functional, straight forward and do have a very good control layout. They also both come with fairly well-designed touchscreen infotainment systems.
Although the user interface on the Elantra does stand out as being a little bit better either way, both of these are still very good in terms of interior comfort
They also seem to be very similar. The Elantra does seem to be a little bit more spacious on paper, but I really didn’t notice much of a difference between them.
As long as you’re not too tall or carry really tall passengers, I think the interior space and comfort is perfectly adequate for these types of cars.
But keep in mind, they are still compact cars at the end of the day. Now, what is great to see is that both of these cars are excellent when it comes to safety.
The Corolla gets the top safety pick rating from the IIHS, whereas the Elantra does even better rated a top safety pick plus.
And both of these cars come standard with a lot of grade active safety technology.
Trims and Pricing: Corolla vs Elantra
Now, when it comes to the trims and pricing, the Corolla actually offers more trims to choose from, and that actually makes the pricing a little bit better than the Elantra.
The Corolla hybrid is available in three different trims and a choice of either front wheel or all-wheel drive, and the pricing ranges between 25 to 30,000 US or around 28 to 36,000 Canadian.
Whereas the Elantra Hybrid is only offered in two trims priced between 28 to 31,000 US or in Canada, it only comes one way with one single trim, which is priced around 33,000 Canadian.
Now, of course, real world dealer pricing can vary quite a bit, but realistically, neither one of these is an easy vehicle to get your hands on.
Hybrids are in extremely high demand and you are likely going to have to wait some time if you want to order either one of these.
Verdict: Corolla Hybrid – The Safer Long-Term Choice
So which of these two is it going to be? Well, I think it’s pretty safe to say at this point that even though the Elantra hybrid is a pretty good car, it is basically outmatched by the Corolla hybrid in almost every meaningful way.
Both have very similar performance and efficiency, but the Corolla hybrid is more refined. It offers the option of all-wheel drive.
It has a far superior reputation when it comes to longevity and reliability. It has a better hybrid battery warranty and lower battery replacement cost.
And although I think both of these cars will hold their value well over time, because Toyota hybrids have such a solid reputation, the resale value of the Corolla hybrid should be better as well.
At the end of the day, they are both very nice cars, but there’s nothing really about the Elantra that makes it stand out as being better than the Corolla in any particular way.
And if you had to buy one car to keep for long-term ownership upwards of 12 to 15 years, well, there’s no question the safer choice to go with is the Corolla.
So between these two, given the choice the Corolla hybrid is without question the one that makes the most sense to buy.
Impact of the Upcoming Honda Civic Hybrid
But what is going to be interesting is what happens when the Honda Civic hybrid is released in North America this summer.
That should be a very interesting choice. Honda is known for making excellent hybrids as well, and the Civic is one of the best compact cars on the market right now.
So I think when the Civic hybrid comes out later this year, I’m going to have to get it in a comparison with the Corolla hybrid and see which of these two is best.
But for now, let me know what your thoughts are on the Corolla Hybrid and the Elantra Hybrid. Which of these two would you go for?