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2024 Toyota Corolla Road Test and Review

Brady Holt
by Brady Holt
March 9, 2024
2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt

From campus parking lots to the taxi fleets of Kabul, the Toyota Corolla has proven itself a staple of affordable, indestructible transportation. And the 2024 Toyota Corolla aims to prove that its talents extend beyond reliable basic transportation. 

The Corolla is sold as a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback with a choice of three powertrains and front- or all-wheel drive. We've tested several of these Corollas – including the gas-electric Corolla Hybrid sedan and the GR Corolla performance hatchback – to check on what Toyota has to offer these days. Is this a penalty box that lasts forever, or is it a car you’ll be happy to hold onto for the long haul? Keep reading as we explore the answer. 

Wide Range of Models

As we mentioned, the Corolla comes in a wide range of models. The Corolla sedan is available with a 2.0-liter 169-horsepower four-cylinder engine, priced from $22,050, or a 138-hp gas-electric hybrid (which costs $1,500 extra). 

The Corolla hatchback starts at $23,505, which unlike most hatchbacks, is actually a few hundred dollars less than equivalently equipped Corolla sedans. Most Corolla hatchbacks come with the 169-hp engine, but the GR Corolla (priced from $36,500) has a turbocharged 300-horsepower three-cylinder. The GR Corolla comes with all-wheel drive, which is also a $1,400 option on the Corolla Hybrid sedan. The GR Corolla also includes a six-speed manual transmission, while every other Corolla model uses a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

2023 Toyota GR Corolla ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2023 Toyota GR Corolla ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Affordable Prices

Whether you’re interested in the Corolla sedan, Corolla Hybrid, Corolla hatchback, or GR Corolla, you get plenty of features for the money. 

Even the lowest-price Corolla LE sedan comes with adaptive cruise control, automatic climate control, a six-speaker stereo, and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. Add the $1,340 Convenience Package and you’ll upgrade from steel wheels to 16-inch alloys, add push-button starting, and get blind-spot monitoring with a rear cross-traffic alert. Upper trim levels add amenities like leatherette upholstery, a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, and a premium stereo, but even they stay below $30,000. The Corolla isn’t a car that’ll make you break your budget to get its promised longevity. Toyotas also tend to have above-average resale value and include two years or 25,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance. And the Corolla Hybrid is America’s least expensive gas-electric vehicle. 

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Sharp Design

The latest Corolla generation debuted as a 2019 model for hatchbacks and a 2020 model for sedans. And to our eyes, it still looks sharp – an appealing balance between aggressive sportiness and subtle design restraint. 

Slim, crisp headlights sit astride a small grille and above a larger opening in the front bumper. The sport-themed SE, XSE, and Nightshade Edition have a more aggressive front bumper, a rear spoiler, and flashier alloy wheels. The rear end of the four-door sedan could be called simply dull, but the five-door hatchback looks sporty from the back as well, with sharper taillamps and an assertively hunched-forward stance. The GR Corolla bulges out the front and rear bumpers slightly to make flared fenders and has a reshaped rear bumper that highlights its three center-mounted exhaust pipes. You won’t put a poster on your wall of a Corolla LE sedan, but even the most basic Corolla has some flair without looking cheesy about it. 

2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Simple Interior

We’ve been fans of the current Corolla’s attractively understated dashboard since its debut, and it has aged well if you aren’t attached to a digital-heavy interior. 

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. It’s clean and simple, and the dashboard uses high-quality materials. Some details aren’t perfect. Toyota swapped to a new infotainment system last year without optimizing the system for the Corolla’s modest 8-inch touchscreen; on a Toyota Tundra’s 14-inch screen, everything is bigger, easier to read, and easier to tap correctly. (As we mentioned, you can also connect wirelessly to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay instead of using the factory infotainment system.) And Toyota saved some money on areas of the interior, like the bare-bones roofliner and the undamped center console bin. Still, we’re fans of the Corolla’s overall vibe of welcoming simplicity. 

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Decently Roomy

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. Certain trim levels have more supportive “sport seats” in the front, but you’d need the GR Corolla for anything that really feels sporty. The GR Corolla and other Corolla hatchbacks have less backseat space, though. It’s smaller than the sedan, and that gives it minimal rear legroom. 

For cargo, the Corolla sedan has a 13.1-cubic-foot trunk – decent but unexceptional for a compact sedan. The hatchback has 17.8 cubic feet behind its rear seat, but less floor space. Its advantage is cargo flexibility: You can fold down its backseat to create an open cargo hold. It’s not a huge cargo hold, even compared with a rival like the Subaru Impreza or Honda Civic hatchbacks, but it’s better-suited for Ikea runs than a Corolla sedan. 

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Easy to Drive

The Corolla also has agreeable ride and handling for a compact economy car. Certain trim levels — the SE sedan and the XSE and Nightshade Edition sedan and hathcback — have big 18-inch wheels that produce a slightly bumpier ride than the 16-inchers on the LE and XLE, but it’s nothing disastrous. Except for the GR version we’ll discuss soon, no Corolla is a lively performance machine on a twisty road. Still, it’s easy to drive and provides the natural agility of a small car. 

As we mentioned, the Corolla comes standard with a 2.0-liter non-turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a CVT. It makes 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque, above average for a compact economy car. Still, the engine isn’t lively or quiet even for this class – serviceable but not sporty. The Corolla Hybrid feels livelier to us in real-world driving but takes an extra second to reach 60 mph on a track: about 9.5 seconds. 

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Or Ferocious, If You Wish

Few Corolla buyers will choose the GR version, but we’re confident that they’ll love it. It’s a 300-hp manual-transmission AWD sports car wearing the Corolla hatchback’s attractively sporty body. 

The GR Corolla reaches 60 mph in 5 gleeful seconds, but the pure speed is only part of the fun. The engine’s growl and the transmission’s quick action make it rewarding to accelerate even at half that pace. What’s more, the firm, responsive steering is natural at any speed, and it’s not numb like many modern performance cars. The GR Corolla is stiff, noisy, and expensive for the typical Corolla buyer, but it’s a marvelous machine in its own right. However, Toyota doesn’t have anything to bridge the gap between simple transportation and raw enthusiast performance – nothing that’s quicker and more agile without taking things to an extreme. Car enthusiasts will likely either go all-out for the GR Corolla or choose a sportier rival like the Honda Civic or Mazda3. 

2023 Toyota GR Corolla ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2023 Toyota GR Corolla ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Economical Engines

The Corolla is an economical ride. The EPA estimates the most fuel-efficient versions – the front-wheel-drive LE and XLE trim levels of the hybrid sedan – will achieve 53 mpg city, 46 mpg highway, and 50 mpg combined. Other trim levels and all-wheel-drive hybrids score less, down as low as 47 mpg city, 41 mpg highway, and 44 mpg combined for an AWD SE or Nightshade. Our AWD SE test vehicle averaged 45 mpg during our weeklong test. 

The gas-only Corolla isn’t as amazing, but it gets better mileage than its competitors. The EPA pegs the LE sedan and SE hatchback at 32 mpg in the city, 41 mpg on the highway, and 35 mpg combined. Other trim levels get about 1 mpg less. We most recently averaged 35 mpg in an XSE sedan and 32 mpg in an XSE hatchback. If you spend a lot of time in stop-and-go traffic, the hybrid is likely worth the extra $1,500, but it won’t save you much fuel on the open freeway. Lastly, the GR Corolla gets EPA estimates of just 21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined on premium fuel. 

Competitors to Consider

The classic Corolla competitor is the Honda Civic. But these days, they’re almost in different classes. The Civic is much roomier and feels more premium, both in its meticulously finished interior and its carefully honed ride and handling manners. It also has an optional turbocharged engine with smooth, strong power yet even better gas mileage than the 2.0-liter Corolla – and a new Civic Hybrid is due for the 2025 model year. The flip side is that the Civic costs more. 

For simple, economical transportation, the Corolla’s top rivals are the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, and Nissan Sentra. All cost a bit less, and the Elantra and Sentra have more optional luxury features. But of those, only the Elantra is available as a hybrid, and in this case the Corolla costs less. And the Toyota’s reliability reputation remains a selling point. Meanwhile, the Civic, Mazda3, and Subaru Impreza are the leading hatchback alternatives. One again, the Civic is roomy and upscale but more expensive. The Impreza is roomy and affordable but gets lousy gas mileage. The Mazda3 is upscale, fun to drive, and affordable, but doesn’t have much room or great mileage. Another hatchback alternative is the Forte-based Kia Soul, which is pleasant and functional but lacks any of the Corolla hatchback’s sporty aesthetic. Lastly, the GR Corolla competes against the Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R, delivering rawer driving pleasure for less money – but once again, the competition has roomier interiors. 

2022 Honda Civic Touring ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2022 Honda Civic Touring ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Final Thoughts

In this review, we set out to establish whether the 2024 Toyota Corolla is a car that’s perfect for the long haul. Our answer is that it’s a mix. Driving enthusiasts will love the GR Corolla, but the rest of the lineup has little to offer them. Similarly, technophiles will appreciate wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay but won’t love the small 8-inch touchscreen. And families will wish for more interior space. 

So the Corolla isn’t perfect for everyone. But it can be just what a lot of folks will want. It looks good enough, drives well enough, doesn’t burn too much fuel, and isn’t likely to break down. We’d still shop it against roomier, better-driving, or less expensive competitors. But the Corolla’s all-around competence should make it a fine long-term ride for many owners. 

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE ・ Photo by Brady Holt


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