Ask Eric: 2023 Corolla LE?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Martin asks:

My wife is thinking about getting a new 2023 Corolla LE.  We can’t figure out whether or not the 2023 Corolla has the hated stop/start system.  According to documentation we’ve seen, it seems to have it.  But we just went to an auto show and talked with a Toyota representative, who claimed that the Corolla does not have it.  Also, he said that, for models that have it, there is an off button that can be pushed to turn it off.  We looked in the 2023 Corolla LE and it had no off button.  We found an article that said that the Corolla hatchback has the stop/start system, but the LE is a sedan, not a hatchback, so we think perhaps only the hatchback has it but not the sedan.  If the LE sedan has it, since there seems to be no off button, this means that there may not be any way to turn it off.  If this is the case, we would not buy this vehicle.
Can you suggest an alternative vehicle in this class that definitely does not have the stop/start system?  My wife only likes to drive small cars.  Otherwise, my preference would be for her to get the Camry.  I’ve read that the Mazda 3 is a pretty nice small car comparable to the Corolla.  Also, there is the Honda Civic.  I haven’t checked into whether or not the Civic or Mazda 3 has the stop/start.
Thanks for any help you can offer!
My reply: Unfortunately, every 2023 Corolla – all trims – comes standard with the hated auto stop/start feature. Here is a link to Toyota’s media-access web site and detailed product specs. The good news is the system can be turned off. The bad news is it has to be turned off each time you start the car to disable it for that trip. I agree with you wholeheartedly that this is an irritating, unwanted “feature” that most of us would likely never choose to buy. So why is Toyota – whey are they all – installing this “feature” in literally every new car made? It is solely for reasons of compliance – with Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) mandates. The automated stop/start (ASS) system ups a given vehicle’s fuel economy by maybe 1 MPG overall – usually less. It sound like it’s not worth the cost – and hassle – but from the point of view of regulatory compliance, every little improvement matters.
I wish I could suggest a new small car that does not have ASS. Unfortunately, they all do. If you want to avoid ASS, you could buy an older/used car that did not come with this “feature.” It was not ubiquitous until recently, so if you go back about five years, you’ll have a number of choices to consider – including Corolla.
Which, by the way, is a fine car – a tremendous car, in my view. So tremendous, I’d still consider a new one, even one with ASS. You might make it a condition of sale that the dealer permanently disables the ASS. They can do this as ASS is not a federally mandated “safety” or “emissions” control component.
Keep us posted!

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  1. It seems to me that it should be possible to knock together some simple electronics that would effectively “push” the button for you a few seconds after starting the engine. Power it from the accessory terminal on the fusebox, and set it up to close and open a relay a few seconds after power is applied. Wire the relay terminals across the back of the ASS switch. It’ll reset when the car’s shut off.


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