Home » The 2024 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE Is A Cheap Way Of Boosting Your Confidence

The 2024 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE Is A Cheap Way Of Boosting Your Confidence

Toyota Corolla Xse Ts2

When a normal person has a midlife crisis, they might think of emptying out their 401(k) and buying a Corvette. When a car person has a midlife crisis, they might think about selling off half-finished projects and finally buying something reliable. Well, what’s a bigger byword for reliability than Toyota? For $27,750 in freedom dollars or 33,354 and a half loonies, you could take home this top-spec 2024 Toyota Corolla XSE hatchback with all the bells and whistles. It gets a huge standard feature list for not an exorbitant amount of cash, an equation everyone’s looking for in times of headline inflation.

The Toyota Corolla Hatchback may be entering its sixth model year, but it doesn’t seem like it was launched that long ago. Perhaps the Corolla’s indestructible reputation has something to do with that. Either way, it has to fight off a raft of fresher competitors, but can it hold its own with several years under its belt? Is its confidence quiet and assuring, or built like wax wings? Naturally, I had to find out.

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[Full disclosure: Toyota Canada let us drive this Corolla for a week, so long as I returned it shiny-side up, photographed it, and reviewed it. As is traditional, I paid for my own fuel and washed it myself because that black roof is awfully difficult to keep dust-free.]

What Is The 2024 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE?

2024 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE

Well, it’s a Toyota Corolla with more convenient cargo access. Look, the Corolla nameplate is one of the best-selling cars in the world, so the concept of a Corolla hatchback shouldn’t be particularly foreign to anyone, regardless of where you live. Still, the current-generation car represents a remarkable turnaround for the model. Not only is it interesting to look at, it rides on a modern platform and features a uniquely-designed CVT that’s supposed to feel more eager around town. It’s not a hot hatchback, but it is relatively inexpensive, practical transportation with a sense of style.


The Basics

Price: $27,750 ($33,354.50 Canadian)

Engine: Two-liter naturally-aspirated 16-valve four-cylinder gasoline engine.

Transmission: Continuously variable transmission with physical first gear.

Drivetrain: Front-wheel-drive, open differential.

Horsepower: 169 horsepower at 6,600 rpm.


Torque: 151 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm.

Fuel Economy: 30 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, 33 mpg combined.

Body Style: Five-door hatchback.

Curb Weight: 3,060 pounds.

How Does It Look?

2024 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE


Back in 2019, the relaunched Corolla hatchback was a shocking transformation for what was, for several generations, a rather dowdy economy car. The chariot of the Consumer Reports warrior got smart sheetmetal shrink-wrapped around a properly compact silhouette, with just enough restraint to make the Honda Civic of the time seem positively garish. Nearly five years later, and this Corolla’s styling is aging like fine scotch. It’s received a facelift with fresh lighting, a smattering of tasteful trim, and the merciful deletion of rear valence trim meant to ape exhaust tips, and that’s only bolstered its appeal.

2024 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE

Sure, the grille is positively enormous, but the 2024 Toyota Corolla Hatchback carries no punched-out air curtains in the front bumper, no extraneous slashes, no ridiculous split headlamp treatment. Bathed in red then partially dipped in black, my test car looked as refreshing as a cool glass of water at three in the morning. It’s a compact car you look back at once you park it, and that’s a tricky thing to pull off.

How About The Inside?

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If you’ve driven a new Honda Civic or a Mazda 3, you might think that the Corolla’s cabin is starting to show its age. For instance, the stitching that runs from the passenger air vent to the left edge of the center stack isn’t picked up to the left of the steering wheel. It just sort of gives up its will to live, which feels a bit odd. Interior plastics are good but not outstanding, tightly-grained but of average texture and sheen. However, once you look at pricing, everything becomes more than okay. Sure, there’s nothing standout about the Corolla’s dashboard, but there’s nothing offensive either. Besides, the steering wheel feels lovely, there are more buttons in the cabin than on an ’80s Hi-Fi, and outward visibility’s solid for this day and age. Stop nitpicking over having a soft-touch life and get with the fundamentals.


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If anyone tells you there isn’t enough rear seat room inside a Corolla Hatchback, they’re probably a giant. For the record, I’m five-foot-ten and have awesome space behind my driving position. The seat cushion’s properly soft too, so there’s no chance of road trip pins and needles here. Chuck in clever rear seat cupholders molded into the door armrests and a smattering of USB-C ports, and you end up with a second-row that nobody should really be complaining about. If anything, it’s the front seats that are all wrong if you’re a certain body type. Yes, even with two-way lumbar support and fake leather softer than the real thing, the seats in the 2024 Toyota Corolla XSE are, well, bad. Upper back support is seriously lacking, and those long in the inseam will pine for more thigh support. My advice? Test drive a Corolla for an extended period if you’re looking to buy one, just so you know if it fits right.

What’s It Like To Drive?

2024 Toyota Corolla XSE hatchback

Sad news: The standard Corolla hatchback is no longer available with a manual gearbox. This is rather annoying news because while the two-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine kicks out a solid 169 horsepower, the CVT makes it remarkably atonal. However, Toyota’s CVT is a bit cleverer than most. The biggest weakness of a belt-type CVT is that it can instantly turn an eager little car into one that limps off the line like an injured tortoise. It doesn’t matter if you brake-torque it, use manumatic mode, or pray to god of Bomex I hope your speed over the rival, you usually won’t get to fifteen MPH faster than you would on a used Schwinn. To fix this, Toyota’s used a physical first gear, and it’s nothing short of transformative. Jovial pick-up off the lights and impressively low engine speed while cruising? Yep, I’ll take that compromise.

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It’s a similar story of strange divides when you inevitably reach a corner. The steering is so overboosted, you could use a hangnail to park the Corolla, and you’d have better luck finding D.B. Cooper than feeling any feedback through the column. Speaking of excessive assistance, the brake pedal, in true Toyota tradition, feels like stepping in boiled peas. However, don’t let the gossamer steering and big-toe brakes turn you off, there’s a solid chassis beneath this easy-to-drive hatchback. Because its TNGA architecture is so stiff, the suspension can actually do its job, soaking up mid-corner imperfections like a serviette while letting you really lean on the tires. What’s more, the Corolla will happily rotate under trail braking, as if there’s a bit of GR in this mainline model trying to get out.

If you aren’t driving like an absolute tillerman, you’ll enjoy the smooth ride quality, the reasonably low cabin noise for a small hatchback, and how easy it is to flip a U-turn in the current Corolla. You won’t get this sort of ride comfort out of a Mazda 3, even if the Volkswagen Jetta offers a yet more serene experience. Whether you’re 19 or 90, the 2024 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is an easy car to pilot, just as you’d expect from a compact car.

Does It Have The Electronic Crap I Want?

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Most of it, certainly. You can’t get a Corolla hatchback of any stripe with a sunroof, but otherwise, the gadgets are definitely here. For 2023, the Corolla gained Toyota’s latest infotainment system, which is lightyears ahead of the old unit. I’m talking fast, fluid menu structure, flawless wireless Apple CarPlay, quick boot time, and excellent touchscreen black levels. Sure, it feels more modern than the rest of the Corolla’s interior gizmos, but that’s no bad thing.

In fact, there are electronic gadgets on the Corolla hatchback that are great because they operate in a slightly outdated manner. For instance, because the heated seats are physical rocker switches and the heated steering wheel is operated by a two-position button, memory for those functions is built-in. On a particularly chilly morning, that’s luxury right there. Then there’s the fact that you can hit a physical button to turn off the wireless phone charger, providing a place to stash your mobile without it reaching the melting temperature of titanium.


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The JBL premium stereo on this top-trim XSE model is pleasant, if not phenomenal. It’s strong and doesn’t fall into the V-shaped equalizer trap, but bass isn’t outstandingly defined and treble can be a tad shrill. Then again, the compact car segment has never held a particularly high bar for audio, and the Honda Civic’s optional Bose system can’t hold a candle to Toyota’s JBL.

Of course, beyond the flashy headline tech, every Corolla comes with more advanced driver assistance systems than you can shake a stick at, and the LED headlights truly are brilliant at night. Even if you don’t pop for the flash, loaded XSE trim, you’ll still end up with a handful of solid t0ys, and that’s a good thing.

Three Things To Know About The 2024 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE

  1. It’s more stylish than it has any right to be.
  2. The new infotainment system is a vast improvement.
  3. No more manual gearbox without stepping up to the GR Corolla.

Does The 2024 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE Fulfil Its Purpose?

2024 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE

Six model years on, the Toyota Corolla Hatchback still has it. Pleasing to look at, easy to drive, and now with tech that’s more iPhone 15 than Blackberry Playbook, it’s a reasonably priced, practical hatchback that’s far more than just a promise of dependability. For decades, it’s been a universal truth that when your boss gives you your papers, when your partner calls it off, when you’ve had an absolutely shambolic week, a Corolla will still be there for you. Sure, a Honda Civic or Mazda 3 feels fancier than this latest hatchback, and a Hyundai Elantra is cheaper, but there’s just an unwavering level of psychological safety that comes with a Toyota Corolla. To some, that will be enough, and everything else is a bonus.


What’s The Punctum Of The 2024 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE?

2024 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE

It’s good to look at, easy to drive, and feels willing to rescue you from a quarter-life crisis, a mid-life crisis, or even an entire-life crisis, and do it for sensible coin.

(Photo credits: Thomas Hundal)

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Gōd of Cårß
Gōd of Cårß
4 months ago

I had a ’22 Corolla Hatch to hold me off until my ’22 GR86 came in and it was fantastic. I slapped on some springs and an exhaust and it made it a lot more interesting to drive and look at. We also have a ’22 Corolla sedan as our family car and love it; Toyota really knocked it out of the park with this gen.

4 months ago

I’m talking fast, fluid menu structure, flawless wireless Apple CarPlay

What about wireless Android Auto?

4 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Hundal

Is it a safe assumption these days that whenever there is wireless of one you will also get wireless of the other?

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