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2024 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

Toyota adds to gas-electric hybrid litany

Mention the Toyota Corolla name and a flood of imagery begins flowing.  It’s one of Toyota’s longest running nameplates and one available in a multitude of body styles and propulsion selections appealing to multiple generations of budget-minded shoppers.
 
Toyota’s sold More than 50 million units of its venerable compact since its 1966 debut (arriving in the U.S. beginning in 1968 as an extra-diminutive rear-wheel-drive two-door), a brag precious few makes and/or models can or will ever top; and the number of Corolla variants has never been greater as the Corolla family has blossomed into a half-dozen selections.
 
In addition to the storied compact sedan with a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE), Corolla boasts a four-door version with gas-electric hybrid propulsion.  A five-door hatchback body style is also available with conventional ICE. In the 2022 model year, Toyota introduced the slightly larger Corolla Cross with ‘Cross’ referencing its crossover type body. It’s based on a different platform with a slightly higher ground clearance than the sedan or hatchback.  One year later, Toyota added a gas-electric hybrid selection to the sporty-looking Corolla Cross. For those seeking the most available horses within the Corolla family, check out the 300 horsepower GR Corolla, a gas-exclusive choice.

With a cadre of recent Corolla arrivals, Toyota waved good-bye to the underpowered C-HR subcompact five-door hatchback lasting one model generation.  The sharp-looking C-HR debuted in the 2018 model year, soldiering on until 2022 but fell short of Corolla’s people-pleasing touch.

During an annual pilgrimage to sunny South Carolina, Corolla Cross hybrid served as our means of transport. Our intrepid group traded in above-average Chicagoland temperatures in the 70’s for above-average temperatures in the 90’s along coastal Charleston.

All available 2024 Corollas build upon a car-based, uni-body platform, rather than the heavier, truck-based body-on-frame construction found in larger, off-road intended sport utility vehicles.

Toyota’s been perfecting the self-charging gas-electric hybrid model for longer than a quarter century, longer than most rivals and continuously ups its game plan. The current Corolla Cross features Toyota’s well-respected fifth-generation hybrid system.

Conventional self-charging hybrids such as the Corolla Cross offer a comparably inexpensive compromise for improved fuel economy while tapping down the effects of greenhouse gases. The Electric Vehicle (EV) revolution continues forward with impressive results, but with starting pricing currently out of reach of too many mainstream and working-class folks.

Expect an ultra-impressive 42 miles per gallon of travel when combining city and highway travel.   Around town, this powertrain performs best with an estimated 45 miles per gallon due largely to the wonders of regenerative braking.  This technology graces all recent emerging electrified choices (gas-electric hybrids, EV’s and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) by capturing kinetic energy created during the mechanical braking process (or when the accelerator pedal is not depressed) for recapture in the battery pack.
 
Corolla Cross hybrid boasts a quicker zero to 60 time compared with the conventional gas version.  It’s due in part to a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine generating 169 horsepower working in tandem with three electric motor/generators for a combined 196 horses. The relatively small, self-charging 222-volt battery pack (consisting of 60, 3.7-volt lithium-ion cells) stows out of sight under the rear seats.

Regular, 87-octane fuel fills the 10.6-gallon tank. The system teams with an automatic style electronic continuously variable transmission (ECVT), a welcome and higher-performing advancement for the similar-sounding CVT, a long-serving technology (first patented in the 1880s), sometimes prone to repair issues.

A three-hour route beginning in Charlotte, North Carolina to Charleston allowed for a continuous highway experience.  The combo engine/motor trio provided plenty of power when passing 18-wheelers with audible excitement not heard during mundane periods.   Despite an ‘EV Mode’ push button near the transmission shifter used when desiring all EV travel, this vehicle has very limited range in a pure electric setting.
 
The comfortable ride also handles corners effectively despite the added weight when compared to a conventional gas-only Corolla Cross. Electric power steering provides effortless, light maneuverability when piloting this fuel-friendly compact.
 
Corolla Cross qualifies as a full hybrid rather than a mild variant, an important distinction since full hybrids promise superior fuel economy and higher level of sophistication.  Too often the word ‘hybrid’ gets stamped onto a vehicle without proper explanation.  Full hybrids travel in pure electric mode for short distances at low speeds with no assistance from the gas engine.  This design sometimes refers to FHEV with the F representing ‘Full’.  Lower priced mild gas-electric hybrids (MHEVs) only assist the engine, which constantly drives the axles, and delivers less impressive miles per gallon ratings.

Corolla Cross hybrid offers three trims: S, SE and top-level XSE. All include electronic, on-demand all-wheel drive standard. This on-demand style primarily engages the system’s front drive axle, automatically engaging the rear axle when extra traction is sensed; no driver input required. Little changes from its 2023 model year introduction save for a ‘Nightshade’ package available in the mid-grade SE trim.

All trims include Toyota’s Safety Sense version 3.0, an array of technology available in just about every Toyota sold in North America and impressive for an entry-type compact. Advancements include adaptive cruise control which automatically increases/decreases highway speed depending upon the distance of the vehicle ahead.  A decade ago, this adorned primarily high-end luxury choices.  Also included, road sign assist displaying speed limits and other information within the instrument panel. Automatic braking assist with pedestrian detection and lane-departure alerts are also included.

A two-tone Acidic Blast (a trendy mild green) XSE with black highlights framing the roof top and scuff-prone lower regions served as our guide during the week-long Southern Exposure.  Starting price: $31,155.  A handful of available extras included highly recommended adaptive headlights ($615) with lighting that turns along with the direction of the steering wheel.  Smaller framed deer inhabiting barrier islands surrounding the Charleston peninsula came to light after dusk thanks to this enlightening tech.
 
A $1,200 Convenience Package (tilt/slide moonroof and power liftgate), $800 premium sound system and aforementioned two-tone exterior ($500) sent the bottom line to $35,670, representing the most opulent 2024 Corolla Cross hybrid available. A base S checks in at an enticing $27,970. By comparison, the lowest priced all-wheel drive Corolla Cross gas version starts at $24,910, a mere $3,000 or so less than the full hybrid. The non-hybrid gets by with the same, dependable 169-horsepower gas engine, but minus the battery pack, three electric motors and goosed-up mpgs.

Exclusive to the top trim XSE:  LED taillights, LED fog lights, rear-seat air vents, automatic dual zone front settings, satin finish interior door handles, 10-way power adjustable driver seat with lumbar support, ambient interior lighting, soft-text seating material and leather shift knob.

Toyota makes good use of limited space within a compact’s confines.  Two front riders enjoy average leg and head room although row two is best experienced by two adults, three would cramp most vacation styles. All trims include an 8-inch flat multi-function center dash touch screen that’s relatively easy to master with a left-hand in-screen column icon menu. Four C-Style USB ports adorn the top two trims with Base S models including half as many. Wireless Smartphone charging comes standard in XSE and SE trims.
 
A sole twist button controls volume/on/off.  Climate control functions build in-screen with relative ease of use, but not as efficient as with traditional buttons and dials.

Despite over packing tendencies by some participants, all oversized luggage, camera bags and tennis rackets found homes within the XSE.  Second row seatbacks fold with a 60/40 split increasing capabilities, if desired.

Toyota’s technological lead within the Eco-friendly gas-electric hybrid community make Corolla Cross hybrid a smart, cost-effective selection for empty nesters or young families just starting out. If the compact size remains a constraint, Toyota includes larger sized offerings with similar gas-electric hybrid advantages.

Corolla Cross hybrid, as with just about all Toyota products, qualifies for ToyotaCare, covering normal scheduled maintenance (oil changes, etc.) for two years (or 25,000 miles) along with 24-hour roadside assistance.

2024 Corolla Cross Hybrid

Price as tested:  $35,670
Engine: 2.0-liter four cylinder
Combined horsepower:  196
Wheelbase: 103.9 inches
Overall Length: 178.8 inches
Overall Width: 71.9 inches
Overall Height: 64.8 inches
Fuel Economy: 45 mpg city, 38 mpg highway
Curb Weight: $3,430 pounds
Assembly: Huntsville, Alabama