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On the Road: 2023 Toyota Corolla XSE

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By Peter Perrotta

Toyota is one of the world’s largest volume sellers of automobiles on the planet. As such, this very successful Japanese auto maker has had a staple model in its lineup for decades that could easily be called its bread and butter: the Corolla.

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I must admit, a few years back, I was not thrilled with the direction the Corolla was taking. It seemed to be a bit underpowered, and quality had slipped a bit. I recently got behind the wheel of the 2023 Corolla XSE for one week to see if this popular model had gotten on the right track again.

It certainly has.

This week’s On The Road installment will take a look at the 2023 Toyota Corolla XSE and the 2023 Volvo XC 90.

2023 Toyota Corolla XSE

On a scale of 1 to 10 I would have to give the revamped Corolla a strong 8.5.

I drove the top-of-the-line XSE sedan (starting at $27,795) for one week recently and I must say I was quite impressed.

For a compact sedan, it offered plenty of leg, head and shoulder room for my six-foot frame. The car handled well, but not superbly, and was very comfortable to drive.

Toyota upgraded the power plant to a spunky 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 169 horsepower. It had previously offered a 1.8 with 139 horsepower.

While this new engine won’t win you any races, it is certainly powerful enough for any routine everyday traffic situation you may encounter.

Toyota also upgraded the build quality of the new Corolla. Previous models started to feel a bit plastic. However, it seems that someone at Toyota got the memo at some point and put some better-quality build materials in the new generation Corolla.

There are eight different trim levels of the 2023 Corolla so it might be wise for anyone who is considering buying or leasing a Corolla to do a little homework before heading down to your local dealership.

The entry level is the LE sedan ($22,645 base); Hybrid LE sedan ($23,895); SE hatch ($24,060); SE sedan ($25,085); Hybrid SE sedan ($26,335); XSE hatch ($27,525); Hybrid XLE ($27,695) and the XSE sedan ($27,795).

The folks at Car and Driver gave the Corolla high marks for its “attractive styling, many standard features and hyper efficient powertrain.”

The hybrid Corolla gets an Environmental Protection Agency estimated 50 miles per gallon per gallon (mpg) in city driving and 43 mpg on the highway. The gas powered XSE gets about 40 mpg in highway travel and 36 mpg in city driving.

Overall, I feel that the new generation Corolla is a big improvement over previous years and is well worth considering if you are in the market for a compact, fuel-efficient sedan.

2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge Ultimate

The mid-sized luxury three row SUV segment is in a crowded field with a lot of fancy competition. However, Volvo seems to have hit a home run with its rebadged 2023 XC90.

I recently drove the 2023 XC90 Ultimate Recharge for one week and must say I was quite impressed.

I’d have to give the new generation XC90 a 9 out of 10 for its impressive ride, handling and overall sound build quality and luxury feel.

For 2023, Volvo has renamed its trim levels. Formerly there were two trims for the XC90, the Momentum and the Inscription. No there are three: Core, Plus and the Ultimate.

Volvo has electrified all of 2023’s powertrain offerings – it doesn’t offer an EV (electric vehicle) model yet.

The Core trim features a 2.0-liter turbo engine aided by a 48-volt electric motor giving it a spunky 247 horsepower.

The top-of-the-line Recharge Ultimate I tested for one week adds a more powerful electric motor and plug-in hybrid capabilities. It puts out an impressive 455 horsepower combined with the added electric motor.

The base model Core starts at $57,095 before options followed by: Plus ($60,995); Ultimate ($70,295); Recharge Core ($72,995); Recharge Plus ($74,695) and the Recharge Ultimate ($80,995).

I wasn’t the only one impressed with this new generation XC90.

The folks at Car and Driver gave the 2023 XC90 a 9.5 overall rating out of a possible 10 after they road tested it.

Car and Driver said, “Super Swede styling, masterpiece of an interior, XC90 Recharge is a quick accelerator.”

I must agree.

However, this mid-sized luxury segment is crowded with some excellent choices. There is the Genesis GV80, Porsche Cayenne and the BMW X5 and X6 as well.

All of the top competitors in this segment offer up impressive vehicles. However, the Volvo is a bit different then all the rest – a bit more refined and elegant in its class.

It is worth checking out if you are in the market for this type of SUV.

Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears every other week. He can be contacted at pperrotta@comcast.net.

On the Road is sponsored by Capital Motor Cars of Springfield, N.J. one of the leading car leasing agencies in the tri-state area.

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