Whenever someone asks me about what car they should buy next, it is not a question I take on lightly, and the process is often more scientific than they would expect. Tell me about your budget, the number of people you need to drive around, your annual mileage, and most importantly, your lifestyle. These questions help narrow down my recommendations, and lately, I have found myself recommending the 2024 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid a lot.
Like its nameplate suggests, the Corolla Cross is the crossover version of the Toyota Corolla, which has long been one of the most popular cars in North America. Oddly enough, the Corolla Cross shares very little resemblance with its sibling, but rather styled similar to the RAV4 in a smaller package. Our top-trim XSE tester receives 18-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, and an exclusive colour called Acidic Blast. The Corolla Cross is a pleasing looker out in the urban jungle, with well-balanced proportions and an overall look that does not stand out if it was painted in a more subtle colour.
Inside, the Corolla Cross is a typical Toyota affair — simple, easy, with a low enough learning curve that most can just get in and drive. The seats are power-adjustable, and there is a traditional shift lever and physical switchgear for most functions. We especially appreciate the switches for the heated steering wheel and seats, which stay on and will not reset when you switch the ignition off and back on.
The infotainment is controlled by an eight-inch touchscreen and is quite easy to use. The display is vivid and high-resolution, even with the reverse camera feed activated. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both supported wirelessly, and the upgraded JBL surround sound audio system is above average. As an entry-level commuter car, the Corolla Cross is very well equipped and its user-friendly cabin makes it especially welcoming for novice and inexperienced drivers alike.
Those coming from crossovers like the CR-V and RAV4 may find the Corolla Cross smaller than expected, but it certainly does not feel overly cramped. It will accommodate four adults comfortably, along with a maximum of 609 litres of cargo, which is a lot more than a Corolla. The power-operated rear liftgate on the XSE AWD model is a nice feature that we do not really see elsewhere in the segment just yet.
Powering the Corolla Cross Hybrid is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine paired with the brand’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system. Horsepower output is rated at 196 — 27 more than the non-hybrid model — which is enough to help the hybrid reach 100 km/h from zero in 8.2 seconds. None of these figures are really going to impress anyone, but it is plentiful as a commuter car navigating in the city, and a big bump over the gas-only models. The electric motor helps to bridge over the voids during acceleration, and the engine seamlessly picks things up for an unstressed driving experience.
These days, more people seeking my advice on their next vehicle seem to be prioritizing fuel economy over driving dynamics. The Corolla Cross Hybrid easily meets this criteria, especially among those who do not have a reasonable way of plugging their cars into an outlet. Fuel economy is rated at 5.2 L/100 km in the city, 6.2 highway and 5.6 combined, making it one of the most frugal non-plug-in crossovers on the market.
Standard on the Corolla Cross is Toyota’s Safety Sense 3.0 suite active driving and safety assists, which includes a Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Automatic High Beams, Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Assist, and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert systems. Toyota once again makes the Corolla Cross an easy recommendation by offering Safety Sense 3.0 standard across the entire lineup.
The Corolla Cross Hybrid starts at $34,190 for the SE AWD model, and our XSE AWD model gets a bump to $36,950. Add in the $540 paint job, and we arrive at $37,490 as-tested. This figure might seem steep for an entry-level subcompact crossover, but it is fully loaded and in-line with much of its competition, such as the Honda HR-V EX-L Navi and the Mazda CX-30 GT AWD. While the CX-30 is the prettiest of the trio here inside and out, we like the Corolla Cross Hybrid for its well-rounded and easy-to-like personality, as well as the unbeatable fuel efficiency.
There you have it. The 2024 Toyota Cross Hybrid is hardly the most charming vehicle on the market, but is easy to like. It fits the needs for most people who are looking for a new vehicle without breaking the bank, and it is quickly becoming my default answer whenever somebody asks, “What car should I buy?”