The 2024 Toyota Corolla hybrid is a car that essentially has no faults. I know, it’s rare that I write this in my reviews, but when you look at what this car gives you for the price, it’s tremendously difficult to fault it. And when spiced up in this SE trim, complete with AWD, the Corolla basically renders all other compact cars obsolete.
2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Review: The Queen Of The Compact Cars
I’m not going to try to convince you that a dinky Corolla hybrid is as much fun to drive as the Corolla GR. Of course it isn’t. But this SE does at least make a convincing argument for getting a hybrid instead of a conventional ICE (internal combustion engine)-powered car. The beauty here is that the Corolla is alone in this space along with the Hyundai Elantra.
In Canada, Honda still doesn’t offer the Civic hybrid, so the Corolla has a massive advantage here.Why is a hybrid so important? Because gasoline is expensive and people are becoming more and more self-conscious about their CO2 emissions. And like I wrote in my Grand Highlander review, if you’re going to go hybrid, you better do it in a Toyota. It currently builds the best damn hybrids in the world.The 2024 Toyota Corolla hybrid you’re seeing in these photos is an SE. Historically at Toyota, SE was always the “Sport Edition”, essentially an aesthetic package and, more recently, some slight suspension and wheel upgrades. The neat thing about the current Corolla SE is that it only comes as an all-wheel drive hybrid now. This allows the Corolla to basically take on everything in its segment, from a Subaru Impreza to a Mazda3, all while essentially obliterating the front-wheel drive Elantra hybrid in the process.This SE also looks the part while being sold at a frankly decent starting price of $33,031. I know, paying north of 30k for a Corolla is insane, but that’s the world in which we live in now. Considering what the package gets you, it’s still a relative bargain.Power comes from Toyota’s ubiquitous 1.8-liter hybrid four-cylinder engine. On its own, it pumps out 134 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque. It powers the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT), but is aided by a tiny electric motor installed on the rear axle. This is what allows the car to be all-wheel drive.
I got to say, I’m quite impressed by how Toyota managed to squeeze hybrid propulsion into a wide range of different models. It also somehow managed to make them cool and fun to drive. Toyota is no longer the boring automaker it once was. Even the Prius is sexy now. I never thought I’d one day write this in one of my reviews.Thanks to Toyota’s TNGA modular architecture, which now underpins everything at the Toyota group – from Corollas to Lexi – the Corolla hybrid always feels well buttoned down, rock solid, refined and surprisingly fun to toss around on a winding road. This is, afterall, the same foundation as the weird Apex model I drove two years ago. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed driving this hybrid even more than the Apex for the simple fact that its hybrid drivetrain generates more horsepower and torque. Sure, it doesn’t come with a manual transmission (that would rock!), but hey, power is power. A quick car is always fun.Then you factor in the reality that you’re also getting the bonus of all-wheel drive, and you realize that in a northern climate like where I live, the Corolla SE is one heck of a tremendous value.But you don’t buy a hybrid Corolla because it’s fun to drive or because it’s painted in “Underground” grey, wearing a set of gunmetal rims. You buy one to save money at the pump and, if that sort of stuff is important to you (it is to me since I’ve become a father), to reduce your CO2 emissions. Does the 2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid AWD deliver? You bet it does.According to Natural Resources Canada, a Corolla hybrid AWD only emits 124 grams of CO2 per km. This makes it one of the cleanest gasoline-fed compact cars on the market. Fuel economy is rated at an equally impressive 5.3L/100 km. How did the car perform during my drive during a cool week of fall up here in Canada? 6.1L/100 km! That’s fantastic! What’s also fantastic is that the transitions of this hybrid powerplant from gasoline to electric propulsion are always seamless. My only gripe with it is how the thermal engine suddenly starts lamenting itself the moment you gun that throttle. But hey, this a Corolla hybrid, man. What did you expect?Now, I’m aware that I began this review saying that the Corolla hybrid has no flaws. It has some. For instance, while this car is very well put together and built to last, material quality and the overall styling of the dashboard are beginning to show their age, especially next to the much more refined Civic and Mazda3. The good news, however, is that Toyota massively updated the Corolla’s infotainment system. It’s no longer the slow-reacting, dated interface it once was. It also now comes with wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay.Sadly, the Corolla remains one of the most ergonomically challenged compact cars on sale. If you’re tall and don’t pay attention while climbing onboard, you’ll most probably ram your shin in one of the dashboard’s sharp edges. And that fucking hurts.Once I was strapped in the driver’s seat, I noticed that general seat comfort was ample, but it was hard to ignore how cramped this car felt. This is odd, considering that the Corolla’s exterior dimensions are competitive in its class. Most of it has to do with a lot of wasted space inside in favor of funky styling. Rear leg and head clearance are therefore only adequate, and total cargo space is compromised. For reference, the Corolla’s trunk is good for 370 liters of your gear. I mean, sure, that’s a lot, but a Honda Civic sedan can hold 420 liters.In all fairness, though, I’m nitpicking here. We’re talking about a freaking 2024 Toyota Corolla hybrid. The meat and potatoes are still absolutely brilliant. It’s hard to find another compact car currently on sale that offers this level of performance, reliability, and running costs at such a low price point. This is, without question, the best, most rational small car you can currently buy.
Review of the 2024 Toyota Corolla SE AWD Hybrid by William Clavey
- Surprisingly fun to drive.
- Solid fuel economy.
- Reliable and cheap to own.
- Ergonomically challenged cabin.
- Some rivals offer more cargo space.
- Interior is starting to show its age.
9 / 10
Clavey’s Corner is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prices and trim levels discussed in this article reflect the Canadian car market.
Special thanks: Toyota Canada
Photography: Guillaume Fournier
Contact the author: [email protected]