Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid Review: A new take on Toyota's hatchback

Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid: Hands-on review

Posted: 20 May 2019 12:36 pm
News

Toyota ZR Hybrid Review Image: Finder

History's bestselling car: The Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla is Toyota's bestselling car by a country mile. Having sold over 40 million worldwide, it's nothing short of a commercial success. In fact, it has been so successful that it's the bestselling car in the world of all time.

There are several reasons as to why it has been so successful: it's reliable, small yet practical, relatively inexpensive and safe. There's also another fact about the Toyota Corolla that has been true for quite some time though: it's a little bit boring.

It would appear Toyota has noticed this and has spiced things up. In recent models Toyota has gone with a new approach to styling, which has often been criticised for being mundane. The design team has had a field day and produced a Corolla with, in my opinion, the most personality yet. Priced at $31,870, the Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid we tested came in "Metallic Opal" which looked great when coupled with the chiselled lines and various black accents.

The interior in our test vehicle was more premium than you would have expected from the Corolla too. Our test vehicle had red and black leather accented trim, with seats resembling more of a racing style seat as opposed to the ones you would usually expect from a Corolla.

Toyota ZR Hybrid Seats Image: Finder

Sharp new looks and a sporty, modern interior while retaining all of the safety and practicality the vehicle is known for? Sounds like a winning formula.

There's more too. You also get a full eight-speaker JBL stereo system which includes an eight-inch touchscreen display. The display itself is reminiscent of the infotainment in other Toyota vehicles, albeit a bit prettier, but it's loaded with all the same software. Still with no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for the youngins, but you'll have good audio quality as you cruise around. This sound quality is amplified by the lack of engine and cabin noise too.

The hybrid combination of a 4-cylinder 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor produces 90kWs. It's very quiet and helps save the planet one trip at a time, but unfortunately the vehicle does feel as slow as it sounds. Chances are though, if you're purchasing a hybrid vehicle, you aren't overly concerned by 0–100 times or how many horses are under the bonnet. You care about saving them and the upside is, during our test we saw an average fuel economy of 4.8 litres per 100kms which is sure to reduce your carbon footprint.

Toyota ZR Hybrid Dashboard Image: Finder

Sitting in the back, with the driver's seat in my driving position (just over six-foot tall) it's cosy. There's slightly more leg room than the i30N we tested last week, but my knees are in the back of the driver's seat and were I any taller, my head would be pressed firmly against the roof. The soft-touch plastics used on the dash and doors in the front also make way for identical hard plastics.

Rear passengers will get air conditioning vents and one bottle holder in each door as well as two cup holders in the fold-down armrest in the central seat. With ISOFix mounting mounts located in the outer rear seats, child seat restraints can also be securely fastened.

In the front, along with your sporty, heated seats, you get a wireless phone charging bay, dual-zone climate control, a fast-charging USB port and a 12-volt plug as well.

Steering wheel controls are well laid out and intuitive. There's also an impressive range of safety technology in the ZR, including:

  • AEB with pedestrian detection, which works day or night, as well as cyclist detection which works during the day
  • Blindspot monitors
  • Lane departure alert (Lane keep assist)
  • Parking sensors
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Automatic high-beam
  • Hill start assist

In this suite of safety technology is also speed sign detection which worked well with the clear and easy-to-read heads-up display (HUD). However, it was puzzling how many times the HUD speed reading and the one on the sat-nav were in disagreement.

On more than a few occasions the HUD would say 70km/h and the sat-nav would say 100km/h or vice versa. This resulted in the Corolla constantly telling you to "please obey all road rules". It's a bit like driving with your parents in the car.

On the road the Corolla ZR Hybrid rides really well, chewing up the kms without bouncing you to pieces. The improved suspension package does a great job of keeping driver and passengers comfortable with the addition of the 18-inch wheels.

Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid Blue Bountains Image: Finder

As mentioned, the HUD is clear and easy to read and there's also a bright seven-inch multi-informational digital cluster. The user interface also gives a summary of how economically you're driving.

Being small and with a turning circle of 11.4m, the Corolla is easy to manoeuvre as you would already expect.

The Toyota ZR Hybrid review verdict

The Corolla is a bestseller for a reason. Regardless of what you may think about it, it does everything it was designed to do and it does it well.

Toyota has given the Corolla some attitude now too with new styling and a more premium cabin.

If you're in the market for a new car and do prefer to make decisions with your head and not your heart, then you should probably go and check out the ZR Hybrid (or any Corolla in the range for that matter) and give it a test drive. You're probably going to like it with its sharp new looks and tech.

Not sure if the Corolla is for you? Read more hatchback reviews here and compare them against their competitors.

Compare some options to finance a Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid

Data updated regularly
$
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Monthly Repayment View Details CTA
Plenti Car Loan
From
4.89%
(fixed)
5.44%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.89% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 with a Plenti Car Loan and benefit from no early repayment or exit fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.89% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 with a Plenti Car Loan and benefit from no early repayment or exit fees.
Loans.com.au - New and Dealer Used Car Loan
From
4.67%
(fixed)
5.22%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.67% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment. Settle the loan before 30 November 2021 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.67% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment. Settle the loan before 30 November 2021 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
IMB New Car Loan
4.99%
(fixed)
5.34%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.99% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one that's up to two years old.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.99% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one that's up to two years old.
Credit Concierge Car Loan
From
3.85%
(fixed)
4.91%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 3.85% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.91% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.

You'll receive a fixed rate of 3.85% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.91% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.

NRMA New Car Loan
From
4.99%
(fixed)
5.69%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 2 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 2 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
Wisr Secured Car Loan
From
4.74%
(fixed)
5.01%
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 4.74% p.a. to 16.01% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible car loan from $5,000 - $63,000 with personalised rates and rewards for strong credit customers.

You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 4.74% p.a. to 16.01% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible car loan from $5,000 - $63,000 with personalised rates and rewards for strong credit customers.

RACV New Car Loans
From
4.99%
(fixed)
5.69%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.
NAB Personal Loan Unsecured Fixed
From
6.99%
(fixed)
7.91%
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 18.99% p.a. ( 7.91% p.a. to 19.83% p.a. comparison rate) based on your risk profile
An unsecured loan up to $55,000 you can use for a range of purposes and pay off over up to 7 years. Note: Majority of customers will get the headline rate of 12.69% (13.56% comparison rate) or less. See Comparison rate warning in (i) above.
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 18.99% p.a. ( 7.91% p.a. to 19.83% p.a. comparison rate) based on your risk profile
An unsecured loan up to $55,000 you can use for a range of purposes and pay off over up to 7 years. Note: Majority of customers will get the headline rate of 12.69% (13.56% comparison rate) or less. See Comparison rate warning in (i) above.
OurMoneyMarket Car Loan
From
5.35%
(fixed)
5.65%
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 5.35% p.a. to 14.99% p.a. based on your risk profile.
Borrow between $2,001 and $75,000 to finance a new or used car up to 10 years.
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 5.35% p.a. to 14.99% p.a. based on your risk profile.
Borrow between $2,001 and $75,000 to finance a new or used car up to 10 years.
CUA Secured Fixed Car Loan
6.79%
(fixed)
7.16%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 6.79% p.a.
A secured loan with a high maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000. Redraw facility and no monthly fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 6.79% p.a.
A secured loan with a high maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000. Redraw facility and no monthly fees.
Latitude Personal Loan (Secured)
From
5.99%
(fixed)
7.26%
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.99% p.a. and 21.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Lock in a competitive fixed rate when you offer security. Loan can be used for any purpose and repayments are flexible. You can check your interest rate before applying with no impact to your credit score.
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.99% p.a. and 21.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Lock in a competitive fixed rate when you offer security. Loan can be used for any purpose and repayments are flexible. You can check your interest rate before applying with no impact to your credit score.
Stratton Finance New Car Loan
From
3.85%
(fixed)
4.05%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 3.85% p.a. depending on the lender you are approved with
Apply for up to $250,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 3.85% p.a. depending on the lender you are approved with
Apply for up to $250,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
SocietyOne Car Loan
From
6.99%
(fixed)
6.99%
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 20.49% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 20.49% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
Driva Car Loan
From
3.95%
(fixed)
5.1%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 3.95% p.a.
Borrow up to $250,000 with loan terms from 1 to 7 years. Get access to a range of lenders.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 3.95% p.a.
Borrow up to $250,000 with loan terms from 1 to 7 years. Get access to a range of lenders.
NRMA Used Car Loan
From
6.49%
(fixed)
7.19%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.49% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.49% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
Symple Loans Personal Loan
From
5.75%
(variable)
6.47%
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 5.75% p.a. to 25.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow up to $50,000 to pay for what you need.
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 5.75% p.a. to 25.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow up to $50,000 to pay for what you need.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Compare car insurance side-by-side and get quotes

Data updated regularly
Name Product Roadside Assistance Accidental Damage Storm Choice of Repairer Agreed or Market Value
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Awarded the 2019 Finder Award for the Best Value Car Insurance, this policy offers solid coverage at a low cost plus you will get 15% discount on first year's premium when you take out a policy online. Budget Direct’s claims service has received a 4.2/5 based on nearly 5,000 customer reviews.

Who it might be good for: People who want a comprehensive policy without breaking the bank.
Bingle Comprehensive
Market
Finder's summary:Bingle consistently comes up as one of the cheaper insurers out there. It only covers the basics, so you don't get to choose your own repairer, you're not covered for personal items in the car and unless you add it as an option, you won't get a hire car if your car is stolen. But this keeps its premiums low.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a low-cost option that covers them for the basics.
Coles Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Coles have two-tiers of comprehensive car insurance to choose from. You'll earn double flybuys points at Coles supermarkets and you can get $10 off your Coles grocery bill every time you redeem 2,000 Flybuys points. If you're over 30, you can get roadside assistance free for a year.

Who it might be good for: Coles customers and Flybuys collectors.
Poncho Comprehensive
Agreed
Finder's summary: Poncho works like a monthly subscription – you pay monthly and can cancel and leave at any time. You can also list multiple cars and drivers under one policy, making it ideal for families and groups living together under one household.

Who it might be good for: People who want their car insurance month to month.
Woolworths Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Woolworths catches our eye due to some unique perks like a price-beat guarantee, where it'll beat any current comparable comprehensive renewal notice if you're over 25. You'll also get 10% off your grocery shop once a month and can add roadside assistance onto your policy for just $7.35 per month.

Who it might be good for: Woolworths shoppers and those that want to take advantage of its price-beat guarantee.
Qantas Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You'll be able to choose how comprehensive you want your cover to be with optional extras like choice of repairer and the option of agreed or market value. Plus earn Qantas Points for joining and paying your premium. Sign up by 2 May 2021, you can earn up to 30,000 Qantas Points (points awarded will be based on your premium). T&Cs and eligibility apply.
ahm Comprehensive
Optional
Both
Finder's summary: ahm comprehensive car insurance lets you choose higher excess to reduce your premiums plus you can get up to 15% off when you purchase a new car insurance policy. T&Cs apply. Additionally, their Fixed Kilometre Plan can save you up to 30% compared to their standard comprehensive cover.

Who it might be good for: People who drive less than 15,000 km per year.
Virgin Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Finalists for the 2019 Finder Awards for Best Value Car Insurance, Virgin Comprehensive provides a good level of cover for a decent price. Get 15% off on your first year’s premium when you purchase a new eligible comprehensive car insurance online. T&Cs Apply.
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