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  • Writer's pictureMitchell Weitzman

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Nightshade review: Get the Prius

This economical and affordable sedan scores big in economy

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid review | The Road Beat

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE review by The Road Beat

Words and pictures: Mitchell Weitzman


While the new Prius certainly wins in the looks and performance department, the everyday fuel economy king torch has been passed to the Corolla Hybrid. Why should you consider a Corolla Hybrid? Because this SE Nightshade model easily returned 44 MPG during our week together. For those keeping score, that's actually a two MPG improvement over the last Prius I tested. However, there's really no other reason to buy a Corolla Hybrid other than to bask in its hybrid fuel economy glory.


That's not to say the Corolla Hybrid does much wrong, but rather it's one that only accomplishes a single objective attribute greatly, while the rest is resigned to modest and humble numbness. Toyota did improve the Corolla Hybrid's performance slightly upon previous model year iterations, now producing 134 total system horsepower verse 121 in 2022, but it's still a slow and noisy racket (a coarse and blender-inspired four-cylinder), and those seeking actual acceleration decency are better off stepping up to a Prius. Wow, what a weird thing to even think of saying, yet here we are in this strange new world where the Prius is not only just not slow, but even kind of quick. Corolla Hybrids can be had in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and while it's next to impossible to notice any changes in driving demeanor on the road, the all-wheel drive is a practical and thoughtful option for those that seek extra security in more wintry and challenging climates.

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid interior review

Still, stomp your right foot to the floor, and this Corolla Hybrid can reach 0-60 MPH in nine seconds dead. Slow, sure, but a pre-2023 version took over 10 seconds...so that's an improvement at least! And because this hybrid uses a continuously variable transmission paired to its rough combustion engine, there is a constant droning and unbalanced ruckus emitted anytime you accelerate. Engines like this are what helps make the smooth and silent nature of fully-electric power units much appreciated. You might be thinking that I'm being harsh on a sub-$30,000 car, but other brands make four-cylinders that are easily smoother and increasingly pleasant, and they're not even what I'd consider smooth forms of combustion to begin with.


Obviously, the answer would be to turn up the stereo to drown out that four-banging trash compactor, and you might be hopeful when you spot the JBL-branded optional stereo this example has fitted for an extra $600. Yet, it's a terrible sound system, being thin and sterile, and turning up the bass to compensate just makes it worse as fidelity is lost. I've never been a fan of the supposedly JBL 'premium' sound systems that Toyota uses, and this reaffirms my predisposition. It's so disappointing, a friend even commented on it because they, too, expected more upon seeing the famous 'JBL' letters on a speaker grille.


2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE Nightshade

The rest of the interior is a tired and gloomy affair, appearing and feeling rather outdated. It was a breath of fresh air for Corollas when this generation was introduced in 2020, but it just as easily could have been 2012 by the aesthetics and rubbery materials. At least this SE Nightshade has a leather steering wheel, rather than the atrocious, 80-grit sandpaper item they equip as standard. If you are commonly taking adult passengers, the rear seats are snug and are best left for either children or short journeys. At least the outside shows some effort thanks to the SE Nightshade package, even if those bronze wheels and rear diffuser look wildly out of place for such a slow vehicle. Also, what is up with the badges adorning the rear? Why is the SE and Hybrid so large, and why are they tilted at an angle? I guess it's to follow the angle of the tail lights, but it just looks crooked instead and as if the badges were purchased cheaply on eBay. Very distasteful.


It's a pity the powertrain is so absent-minded, because the steering is actually decent, with accurate responses and more weight than the zero-gravity, toy car steering that inhabits the Prius. Athleticism is notably improved over past Corollas, but this is still not a car that lives for corners. If you like turning, a Mazda3 or Honda Civic will easily provide the satisfaction you (and I) crave. But, compared once again to its competing stablemate, the Prius actually does handle better, with increased poise and a balance that the Corolla Hybrid lacks.


2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid interior

"Back to the start," says Chris Martin in Coldplay's seminal "The Scientist," and so let's go just there, to happier times, because it is fuel economy where the Corolla Hybrid shines. Actually, that's about the only area where the Corolla Hybrid convincingly delivers. As this Nightshade comes in at just under $30,000, I would greatly encourage to look at the Prius instead, with its modern interior, exotic looks, and drastically better performance. Likewise, a 1.5L turbocharged Honda Civic Touring is a much nicer car in each way besides efficiency, and even then it still averages 35 MPG even without any hybrid assist; That's a sacrifice that is well worth the upside in everyday pleasure and enjoyment. Does the Corolla Hybrid make sense in any circumstance? Maybe at its most basic offering, where it retails for under $25,000, but then you'll have to make do with that aforementioned shitty carboard steering wheel.


This car is so sensible and economical that, in translation, it has neighter a sense of fun nor quality. Buy it for one reason and one reason alone: the great fuel economy.


2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE Nightshade

As-tested price: $29,971

Pros: Magical economy

Cons: Tight rear seat; No semblance of fun to be found here


2024 Toyota Corolla interior

2024 Toyota Corolla hybrid se

2024 Toyota Corolla Nightshade

toyota corolla hybrid se nightshade interior

2024 toyota corolla rear seats

2024 toyota corolla rear seats

2024 Toyota Corolla Hybrid SE Nightshade review by The Road Beat.


All photos by Mitchell Weitzman of www.mitchellweitzmanphoto.com

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