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2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Road Test and Review

Brady Holt
by Brady Holt
February 5, 2024
2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Everyone knows about the Toyota Prius, the compact gas-electric hybrid that cuts your fuel bills without needing a plug. And the Prius recently got even more attention with a sporty new redesign, winning praise for its sleeker looks and more potent engine. 

But when value outshines dazzle, there’s another small Toyota hybrid to consider. It’s the 2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid, a gas-electric version of the company’s best-selling economy sedan. For less money than the Prius, this fuel-sipper flies under the radar with no design flourishes or quirks to call attention to itself. Yet it still achieves up to 50 mpg in mixed driving. We just spent a week testing the Corolla Hybrid. Keep reading as we discuss this small sedan’s pros and cons to learn whether it’s the right fuel-saving option for you. 

America’s Least Expensive Hybrid

At a starting price of $23,500, the 2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is America’s least expensive hybrid – the only one priced under $25,000, for that matter. It costs $1,500 extra to upgrade to the hybrid powertrain from a gas-only Corolla. 

The first Corolla Hybrid appeared in 2020 exclusively as a lightly optioned base model, but that has changed in the intervening years. Now you can get the same choice of four trim levels as the gas-only Corolla sedan: the base LE, the sport-themed SE ($25,940) and Nightshade Edition ($26,940), and the best-equipped XLE ($27,250) with leatherette upholstery and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. All-wheel drive is a $1,400 option on all but the XLE, which is sold only with front-wheel drive. The Prius picks up right where the Corolla leaves off, at $27,650. Accounting for the Prius’s extra standard equipment cuts its price premium to about $3,000. 

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Doesn’t Look Like a Prius

When the Corolla Hybrid debuted, the fact that it looked nothing like a Prius was an advantage for many people. While the Prius of that day was a flamboyantly quasi-futuristic hatchback, the Corolla is a simple, upright economy sedan with an appealingly crisp front end. (There’s also a five-door hatchback version of the gas-only Corolla, but the hybrid is sold only as a four-door sedan.) Only subtle badges distinguish the Corolla Hybrid from the gas-only sedan. 

With today’s Prius winning acclaim for a conventionally sporty appearance, the Corolla Hybrid no longer has the same appeal. But it’s non-controversial and not flashy. If you’re not looking to advertise that you drive a Toyota hybrid, or simply don’t like how the latest Prius turned out, the Corolla Hybrid offers an inoffensive alternative. If that sounds stodgy, we don’t mean it that way. The SE has a subtly aggressive front end and sporty 18-inch wheels, while the new-for-2024 Nightshade Edition adds bronze wheels and blacked-out details. 

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Conventionally Pleasant Dashboard

The Corolla Hybrid also avoids quirks inside. Once again, the difference from the Prius was more dramatic back in 2020 when the Prius had a center-mounted speedometer and a stubby little gear selector sticking out of the dashboard. But even now, the digital-heavy Prius looks quite different from the more conventional Corolla Hybrid. 

We’ve been fans of the current Corolla’s attractively understated dashboard since we first saw it in 2019 (debuting on the five-door Corolla hatchback a year ahead of the sedan and hybrid). The dash goes straight across the car rather than flowing down into the center console, broken up with graceful lines and a tidy cluster of easy-to-use controls. The only available infotainment touchscreen measures just 8 inches, which is modest by today’s standards, and its icons and labels are small. We wish the clean-looking speedometer used increments of 5 rather than 10. And while the dashboard itself is nicely finished, the Corolla Hybrid’s interior isn’t fancy overall; the roof is lined with a light fuzz, and the undamped center console bin slams down hard if you let go. Still, we’re fans of its overall vibe of welcoming simplicity. 

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Decent Passenger Room

The Toyota Corolla isn’t the roomiest sedan on the market, or even the roomiest compact sedan. Still, it’s comfortable for two adults and usable for four. The SE and Nightshade trim levels have more supportive “sport seats” in the front, but no Corolla Hybrid comes across as especially sporty. We appreciate that heated front seats are available on even the base LE, though only the XLE lets you upgrade beyond cloth upholstery and manual seat adjustments. 

There isn’t room in the back to stretch out; the previous-generation Corolla was friendlier for Uber and Lyft passengers. But nor will most folks need to jam their knees into the front seatbacks. Also, since the latest Prius no longer has an especially spacious backseat, the Corolla Hybrid catches up by standing still. However, even the smaller new Prius has a valuable practicality advantage: cargo room and versatility. As a five-door hatchback, the Prius has 20.3 cubic feet of cargo room behind the backseat, and you can fold it down to create an open cargo hold. The Corolla Hybrid has a conventional sedan trunk with 13.1 cubic feet, and folding the backseat only allows long items to pass through. 

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Up to 50 Miles per Gallon

As we mentioned, the Corolla Hybrid gets up to 50 mpg. Specifically, the front-wheel-drive LE and XLE models get an excellent EPA-estimated 53 mpg city, 46 mpg highway, and 50 mpg combined. The AWD LE drops to 51 mpg city, 44 mpg highway, and 48 mpg combined. 

The front-drive SE and Nightshade, with bigger wheels, manage 50 mpg city, 43 mpg highway, and 47 mpg combined. And the AWD SE and Nightshade get 47 mpg city, 41 mpg highway, and 44 mpg combined. That’s well behind the Prius and even some larger mid-size hybrids. Note also that the gas-only Corolla is rated for 40 to 41 mpg on the highway, depending on the trim level; you may not recoup your investment if you spend most of your time at high speeds. However, the gas-only Corolla sedan manages only 31 to 32 mpg in stop-and-go conditions where hybrids excel – electric motors can help out more at low speeds where gas engines are the least efficient. We averaged 45 mpg over our weeklong test of the SE AWD, but we topped 50 mpg during lower-speed trips. 

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Agreeable Driving Manners

In an update to the Corolla Hybrid last year, Toyota bumped up the output of the little sedan’s powertrain. It’s nothing like the 194 horsepower you’ll now find in a Prius, but with 134 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque, it’s punchier than past Corolla Hybrids. (It’s also about 2 mpg less economical in EPA testing.) The updated engine also sounds better, which is good news, because it can get loud if you rev it hard. 

The Corolla also has agreeable ride and handling for a compact economy car. The SE and Nightshade Edition’s 18-inch wheels produce a slightly bumpier ride than the 16-inchers on the LE and XLE, but it’s nothing disastrous. No Corolla Hybrid is a lively performance machine on a twisty road, but it’s easy to drive and provides the natural agility of a small car. 

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Available All-Wheel Drive

The Corolla Hybrid is one of the few small sedans available with all-wheel drive, which Toyota achieves by adding a second electric motor to power the rear wheels when needed. (The Prius is available with a similar system.) 

During our test, we saw the rear electric motor activate as we drove up a slushy hill and when the car needed to make extra power. The operation is seamless, though; if we didn’t have an eye on the Corolla Hybrid’s “power flow” display, we wouldn’t have known that anything was different. The Corolla Hybrid doesn’t get any extra ground clearance with AWD, and this small sedan clearly isn’t built for off-roading. But it could prove its worth in a few sticky situations. As we mentioned, it’s a $1,500 upgrade on all Corolla Hybrids except the top XLE, which doesn’t offer the system. 

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Current and Future Competitors

We’ve compared the Corolla Hybrid extensively to the Prius in this review. To recap, the Prius has more room, more power, better mileage, and a higher-tech interior, but the Corolla Hybrid costs thousands less, still gets great mileage, and offers a simpler aesthetic. Toyota also sells a Corolla Cross Hybrid, which is an SUV version of the Corolla with more cargo room; like the Prius, it costs several thousand dollars more than the Corolla Hybrid (albeit with standard AWD), and it’s also less fuel-efficient than any Corolla Hybrid sedan. 

The Corolla Hybrid’s top competitor beyond fellow Toyotas is the Hyundai Elantra Hybrid, another gas-electric version of a compact economy sedan. We like the Elantra’s peppy turbocharged engine, especially since it’s even more economical than the Corolla Hybrid. It also has more flash and a bigger touchscreen. But the Toyota costs less and offers all-wheel drive. Another big competitor is on the way this year: a long-promised return of the Honda Civic Hybrid. Honda hasn’t yet released specifications, but we expect the Civic Hybrid to be more fun to drive, more opulently finished, roomier... and quite a bit more expensive than the Corolla Hybrid. 

2023 Toyota Prius ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2023 Toyota Prius ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Final Thoughts

If you like the 2024 Toyota Corolla sedan, you’ll like the 2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid. The hybrid is slightly slower under full throttle, and it isn’t much more economical on the open freeway, but it delivers fantastic mileage in stop-and-go traffic and when you’re running errands around town. And it doesn’t cost much extra. 

Sure, you could also pay extra for the power, pizzazz, and practicality of the Prius hatchback. But the Corolla Hybrid proves you don’t have to spend a ton to get modern fuel-saving technology in a well-rounded package. 

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt


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