2023 Toyota GR Corolla: Which Trim Is The Best For The Money?

Toyota is keeping things simple with the 2023 GR Corolla. There are three trims, and each of those can be had in one of, at most, three colors. One engine, one transmission, all-wheel drive as standard, and while there are options packages, they're only offered on the base trim. At a time when configuring some cars feels like it demands a month of homework beforehand, Toyota's system is refreshingly straightforward.

The cheapest is the GR Corolla Core, from $35,900 (plus $1,095 destination). It gets the 1.6-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine (with 300 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque), plus a 6-speed manual transmission and GR-FOUR all-wheel drive. Color options are Black, Ice Cap White, or $425 Supersonic Red.

Then there's the GR Corolla Circuit Edition, from $42,900 (plus destination). It has the same drivetrain, but instead of Black, there's a $425 Heavy Metal metallic gray. It also gets ultrasuede and faux-leather sports seats, plus standard front and rear limited-slip differentials.

Finally, the GR Corolla Morizo Edition — a nod to the name Toyota president Akio Toyoda races under — is $49,900 (plus destination). It massages 295 lb-ft of torque out of the same 1.6L engine and comes in either $425 Wind Chill Pearl or $1,645 Smoke paint finishes. Toyota is only making 200 of this most-potent version.

The smart money starts Core and adds the right options

The biggest difference between the Core and Circuit Edition cars is the limited-slip differentials, which help the GR Corolla put as much power as possible down to the asphalt. The good news is that, if you don't need all of the other niceties from the Circuit Edition, and just want the mechanical improvements, Toyota has you covered.

There are seven options available on the Core trim, though they're mainly just different combinations of the same three packages: Cold Weather, Technology, and Performance. Of those three, it's the $1,180 Performance Package that's most important, because it's what gets you the front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials.

Add that — you also get red-painted brake calipers and a GR logo — and it takes the 2023 GR Corolla Core to $37,505 (plus destination). No, you're not getting the fancier interior trim, or the heated seats and steering wheel, or the navigation, or indeed some of the slicker exterior styling like a forged carbon-fiber roof or hood bulge. At the end of the day, though, the GR Corolla's main reason for existence is smiles-per-mile, and this configuration promises the most of that for your money.

A future classic - if you can find one

That's not to say that, if you somehow find yourself with the opportunity, you shouldn't jump at the chance to pick up a GR Corolla Morizo Edition. Unlike many so-called "special edition" cars the industry loves to release each year, there are some significant differences between this short run of extra-special Corollas and the rest of the GR series. Rather than what's been added, though, it's all about what's been taken away.

Most conspicuous, includes the rear seats. Toyota strips those out, and in the process trims 99 pounds of curb weight from the GR Corolla Circuit Edition. It also loses the front seat heating and the steering wheel heating, and Toyota even drops six speakers from the Morizo Edition's cabin: your music gets just the two. Gone, too, is the rear windshield wiper.

You're paying more for less, then, but with excellent reason. Our own experience at the wheel suggests the GR Corolla Morizo Edition is a bonafide track star. It trims the 0-60 mph time (minutely: 4.92 seconds, versus 4.99) but also pumps out more torque plus at lower revs. That, combined with rarity, means that of the three trims, this is most likely to be the future classic.