Is This Our Favorite Family Car for $40,000? 2023 Toyota GR Corolla with Child Seat Installation
Based on one of the best-selling vehicles in the world, the GR Corolla takes what works for many families around the world and applies the Gazoo Racing treatment to make a really engaging driver's car, but how does it translate into family life?
I can always tell how well a vehicle resonates with me personally by how much time I spend on the manufacturer's build and price page of their website after having a press vehicle. For this GR Corolla, I already have my perfect build figured out. Reading Holli's reactions is sometimes easy (GR Supra, Lexus LC) and sometimes more nuanced.
The first thing that caused Holli to pause with making this an immediate hit with her is the fact that the GR Corolla is only offered as a six-speed manual. This is great for enthusiasts like me, but she is yet to let me teach her the ways of the force...I mean how to drive a stick.
The second thing to give her pause was the rear storage situation. Mentioning how small the cabin felt for our family of three (plus one with Tucker's friend) also brought up the limited trunk space in the hatch. Unlike the typical Corolla hatch, the GR has a raised styrofoam platform to make room for the vehicle's battery back in the back. This severely cuts down on rear storage space, leaving us to pack tightly for the four of us to spend one night away from home.
The last thing to give Holli pause was the window sticker. Being the racing model of the Corolla meant a premium on the price tag versus non-GR models. Starting at $35,000 and optioned up to just over $40,000, this GR Corolla is not an expensive car by today's standards, it is practically a steal for this level of performance if you can actually find one for MSRP. However, the $40,000 price range for purely family car things has many more suitable options that would not have us crammed in like sardines for a weekend away (check out our time in Toyota's $39,000 Camry hybrid).
Clearly, it was not all sunshine and rainbows in our time with this GR Corolla, but it also had its positive attributes. For one, it is a Toyota so it should last forever. Holli has been impressed and commented on every Toyota we have had feeling extremely solidly built, with nary a rattle to be heard. Toyota's design team has finally gotten away from their days of churning out appliance-level designs on their vehicles, and this GR Corolla is something to behold. With wider front and rear tracks, the body kit on this vehicle really gives it some presence on the road.
Inside, we get modern amenities like adaptive cruise, heated seats, wireless charging, and Apple CarPlay. Racing seats hold you in place, even if they cannot support a 5-point harness. Getting a child seat secured in the rear seat was no big issue, once removing that rear parcel shelf in the back window. In fact, this was the most secure I have ever felt I was able to make Tucker's car seat in a press vehicle. I am truly impressed with how easy it was to snug down.
While this car appealed to my family side with its rear hatch, AWD, and generally nice appointments for the price, it really spoke to my performance side with its 300 horsepower and six-speed manual. If you want to know more about how fun it was to drive, go read my solo review and watch my videos taking it out by myself and track-testing it too.
For us, I don't see the GR Corolla as the newest addition to the garage, but if we were seriously looking I would put all my chips on the table to make sure it stayed in the conversation. Who knows, maybe we can do a family test with its main rival the Honda Civic Type R and that might be an easier sell... stay tuned.
2023 Toyota GR Corolla Specs:
1.6L Turbocharged Inline 3-Cylinder Engine
273 lb-ft of Torque
6-Speed Manual Gearbox with Rev-matching
Driver-selectable Torque Split:
60 Front/40 Rear
30 Front/70 Rear
MacPherson Strut Front Suspension
Circuit-tuned Coil Springs, Shock Absorbers, and Stabilizer Bars
Double-wishbone Multi-Link Rear Suspension
Four-piston Front Two-Piston Rear Brake Calipers
14-inch Front Ventilated and Slotted Rotors
11.7-inch Rear Ventilated and Slotted Rotors
Front and Rear Torsion Limited Slip Differentials
235/40 R18 Michelin® Pilot® Sport 4 S Tires
Toyota-claimed 4.99 Second 0-60
12.3-inch Digital Instrument Cluster
Added Aero for Increased Downforce
Cloth Front Sport Seats with Increased Bolstering for Cornering Support
8-inch Color Infotainment with Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Qi Wireless Phone Charger
Toyota Safety Sense 3.0
Pre-collision System with Pedestrian Detection
Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
Lane Tracing Assist
Automatic High Beam Headlights
Road Sign Assist
JBL 8-speaker Premium Sound
Complimentary 1-year National Auto Sport Association (NASA) membership, *including one free High-Performance Driving Experience (HPDE) *
EPA Fuel Economy 21/28/24 (city/hwy/cmb)
Starting Price: $35,900
Price as tested: $40,159