Road Test Review – 2024 Toyota Corolla Cross XSE Hybrid – A Corolla For The SUV Set

The Toyota Corolla has certainly had a very interesting history during its long time in production. We have seen it appear as a sedan and a hatchback over the years, but the one segment that it has never ventured into is the utility vehicle segment. That’s now changing with the 2024 Toyota Corolla Cross which is preparing to help the nameplate venture into this new frontier. Is The Corolla Cross XSE Hybrid the perfect gateway into the CUV segment?


Corolla Cross Formula Is Time Tested

At first glance, it’ll be hard to see how Toyota is reinventing the wheel here with the Corolla Cross. Like other CUVs that we have seen over the years, the Cross has the same core profile with the look embracing its car-based roots well. The front fascia has a large front grille that’s flanked by headlights that are somewhat reminiscent of the units seen in the bigger RAV4 utility. The lower front bumper has contrasting plastic trim and while it does project a youthful image, it also doesn’t light the styling fire like you would see in rivals like the Hyundai Kona which recently benefitted from an extensive redesign. In contrast, Toyota is taking a light touch to the Cross for 2024 with the addition of the aformentioned XSE as well as the Night Shade variant.

The rear end is still our least favorite thing about the Corolla Cross with the taillights doing little to distract us from just how bland the look as a whole is. Bland rear ends are a common issue in this segment but with Toyota’s marketing promoting the Corolla Cross as a youth-oriented product, it would’ve been nice to see the Cross have more fun with its styling. At least the XSE model gets stylish paint colors (red in our case) and black contrast trim to spice things up a bit.


Bland Interior Is A Clash of Personality

If you’re a fan of the smaller Corolla you’ll find a proverbial greatest hits album here inside the Corolla Cross. While the overall look is still a bit too bland for our tastes the materials and the basic layout of the controls are a mirror image of the smaller Corolla The seats in our XSE grade tester have a two-tone look to them with the upper and the leading lower portions of the seats being black while the lower portion of the cushion, bolsters and seat back get a striped fabric motif to them. The bolsters help improve side support but the Corolla Cross will never be mistaken for a formal CUV anytime soon in regards to having all-around support for occupants.

The rear seats in the Cross are on par with the Corolla sedan which means that they have a slight edge over the hatchback variant when it comes to hauling taller passengers. Lower trims embrace basic functionality with low-grade plastics and a strong focus on value. Move up to higher trims and the quality of the interior goes up with goodies like faux leather upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and even a handy flip-down storage console for the center console.

An 8-inch infotainment system is standard and it comes with bundled wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. On XSE models like our example, it’s also joined by a 7-inch fully digital instrument cluster. A JBL Premium audio system is also along for the ride too and like other JBL systems we have experienced over the years, it delivers good sound quality but it won’t make the likes of Bose or Bowers & Wilkins lose sleep anytime soon.


Corolla Cross Performance Is On Par With Other Rivals

Performance for the Corolla Cross XSE Hybrid comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s paired with three electric motors to produce a combined system output of 196 horsepower. While the setup helps improve fuel economy (more on that later) it also makes the Cross quicker with our tester only needing 7.3 seconds to make the sprint to 60 mph. That’s an improvement over the non-hybrid model which makes the slower jog to 60 in 9.2 seconds. All-wheel drive is standard but to help maximize fuel economy, Toyota uses a CVT.

Speaking of those figures, Toyota claims that hybrid models can get a company-estimated 45 mpg in the city and 38 mpg in freeway driving with 42 mpg in combined driving. That’s a healthy sum and it certainly makes up for the Hybrid not setting the world on fire when it comes to its driving dynamics. Like other rivals, the Corolla Cross Hybrid is an urban commuter and prefers to embrace this role versus being pushed hard on twisty corners where its oatmeal-like steering and soft suspension tuning become noticeable.


Value Quotient

Pricing for the 2024 Toyota Corolla Cross will depend on which flavor you choose with Toyota having two different pricing ladders for the hybrid and non-hybrid models. A non-hybrid model starts at $24,960 but many buyers will arguably move to the hybrid model for the improved performance and fuel economy on hand. Buyers that choose to do this will see the base price creep upward to $29,320.

Our tester arrived with a light appointment of optional extras which saw the $31,000 plus starting price move to a final as-tested total of $35,170. This pricing is right in the thick of it with many CUV rivals, but it also highlights some of the Corolla Cross’s disadvantages when compared to select models like the Hyundai Kona which received a large infusion of technology as part of its major revamp. Meanwhile, the Dodge Hornet has more performance and is leaning heavily on its Alfa Romeo underpinnings to try and shake up the segment.

However, we still see the Corolla Cross appealing to budget buyers especially those that are willing to sacrifice technology and raw performance to get comfortable ride quality, an approachable pricing ladder, and impressive fuel economy with the hybrid models.

Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as

Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.

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