Car Comparisons

2024 Kia Niro vs Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Comparison Test

Comparison Data

2024 Kia Niro EX Premium
2024 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid XSE AWD
Engine Displacement
Engine Cylinders
I4 hybrid
I4 hybrid
Peak Horsepower
139 hp
196 hp
Peak Torque
195 lb-ft
Fuel Economy
4.5 / 4.4 / 4.4 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
5.2/ 6.2 / 5.6 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space
646 / 1,805 L seats up/down
609 / 1,750 L seats up/down
Base Price
A/C Tax
Destination Fee
Price as Tested
Optional Equipment
$540 – Barcelona red metallic paint with black roof, $540

You may have noticed that electric vehicles (EVs) have been getting a lot of attention lately.

So have we – but we also know they simply don’t work for everyone. They’re expensive, and for plenty of Canadians, the lack of suitable charging infrastructure makes them a non-starter.

The good news is that there are some great choices out there for affordable, efficient, electrified machines – they just happen to be hybrids.

In the scorching-hot subcompact crossover category, however, there are just two to choose from: the 2024 Kia Niro and the 2024 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid. And while both are great in their own ways, they take very different approaches to achieve that distinction.


AutoTrader’s December 2023 Price Index showed the average new vehicle transaction rose to more than $67,000. While that’s disproportionately impacted by the popularity of pickups and other large vehicles, it makes both the Niro Hybrid and Corolla Cross Hybrid look like downright bargains.

The 2024 Kia Niro Hybrid LX starts at $35,144 before tax, with three other trims to choose from up to the top-of-the-line SX $41,844. All prices include a non-negotiable freight charge of $2,549.

Meanwhile, the 2024 Toyota Corolla Cross is offered in two trims: the SE and XSE that are priced at $36,520 and $39,820, respectively. Those include a more affordable freight fee of $1,930.

Niro Hybrid: 8.5/10; Corolla Cross Hybrid: 9/10


Just because these two machines are affordable doesn’t mean they look cheap. Kia’s designers have been on a roll for a while now, and the Niro is no exception, with its funky style shown in its quirky headlight design and the available colour-contrast side blade that’s similar to an Audi R8’s.

The Corolla Cross is unmistakably a Toyota, while this tester’s gleaming Barcelona Red paint contrasting boldly against a black roof helps it pull off a great impression of a scaled down RAV4. Plus, with larger wheels and a taller overall greenhouse, the Toyota looks a little tougher and more expensive when parked next to the Kia.

Inside, the Kia’s 10.25-inch infotainment screen melds into the adjacent digital instrument display, giving the cabin a premium and contemporary look. Beyond that, the rest of the interior appears built to a restrictive price point, with plenty of cheap-feeling trim and plastic panels, and far too much gloss-black surface area for our tastes.

The Corolla Cross’s interior design is more traditional, with its smaller infotainment screen rising out of the dashboard, with a separate instrument binnacle for the digital gauge display. There are rows of little buttons and a couple of knobs for temperature control, and while also built for affordability, the Toyota feels like it’s finished in better quality materials, with surfaces designed to withstand many years of wear and tear.

Niro Hybrid: 7/10; Corolla Cross Hybrid: 8/10

Fuel Economy

A typical subcompact crossover will sip regular-grade gas at a decently thrifty combined rate around 8.0 L/100 km. However, these two hybrids are considerably more miserly.

The Corolla Cross Hybrid’s combined rate of 5.6 L/100 km is excellent for an all-wheel-drive machine. The lighter Niro is front-wheel drive and has a smaller engine, which makes it more efficient, with a combined rating of 4.4 L/100 km. The Kia also has a slightly larger fuel tank that results in upwards of 200 km extra range per fill-up.

Niro Hybrid: 9/10; Corolla Cross Hybrid: 8/10


Although our experience was similar to the published fuel consumption numbers, the same can’t be said for the combined output these two generate. The Corolla Cross Hybrid is rated at 196 hp – a significant 57 hp more than the Kia, and enough that it should’ve felt appreciably quicker zipping around town. It didn’t, and it’s due to two factors. First, the Kia’s combined output is surprisingly torquey, while the Toyota is hauling around the equivalent of a football lineman with it by comparison.

More significantly, Kia fits the Niro with a dual-clutch automatic transmission. Meanwhile, the Toyota’s automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT) is the Corolla Cross’s only real failing. Despite a separate cog to improve off-the-line responsiveness, the Corolla Cross is sluggish when pulling away from a stop. Once underway, the hybrid system motivates the Toyota briskly, delivering decent passing power at highway speeds, where the Kia runs out of steam, but the Corolla Cross’s swiftness comes with a lot of coarse racket.

Niro Hybrid: 7/10; Corolla Cross Hybrid: 7.5/10

Driving Feel

The Niro looks more like a subcompact hatchback than a crossover, and it drives like one, too – especially compared to the Corolla Cross. The lower seat height means less body roll is felt when cornering, and the Kia’s steering is decently quick.

The Toyota acquits itself just fine, but its greater mass and taller format make it feel more like the crossover it is. We saw a moderate snowfall during this test, and when there were places to be, it was the Corolla Cross’s all-wheel drive that provided just a bit more reassurance – though in fairness the Niro never missed a beat, even in the snow.

Neither machine was flogged like a sports car during this test, but even with both machines wearing winter tires they still provided enough handling chops to be competent little runabouts.

Niro Hybrid: 7.5/10; Corolla Cross Hybrid: 7/10


Competent, and practical, too. Even though the Niro appears a size smaller, its interior dimensions are surprisingly generous. Behind the rear seats, the two are nearly the same, with the Niro scraping out a few extra litres of volume. But with the rear seats folded, there’s an extra 50 L of space in the Kia than the Toyota.

The same is true for the passenger space, where front and rear head- and legroom are impressive for the size of these machines. The only dimension where the Corolla Cross measures slightly larger is in front-seat legroom; otherwise, the Niro is fractionally more spacious in every respect. Both will accommodate five occupants, though being relatively narrow, the rear middle seat is a squeeze.

The Toyota’s standard all-wheel drive gives it a slight advantage for those looking for peace of mind. The Toyota is also given a tow rating of 680 kg (1,000 lb), whereas towing isn’t recommended for the Niro.

Niro Hybrid: 7.5/10; Corolla Cross Hybrid: 8/10


Notwithstanding the Toyota’s considerable engine noise, both of these machines provide a comfortable drive. Their slightly elevated SUV format gives the suspension greater travel, meaning most road imperfections are consumed without much effort compared to little hatchbacks. The Corolla Cross’s larger wheels don’t cost it a penalty in ride quality versus the Kia, either.

Niro Hybrid: 7/10; Corolla Cross Hybrid: 7/10


The driver’s view is better out of the Toyota thanks to its taller greenhouse providing clearer sightlines in all directions than the Kia. The Toyota’s cockpit is better laid out, too. What it might give up in fashion to the Kia’s wide, dual-screen display setup the Corolla Cross makes up in functionality, with a straightforward (if smaller) touchscreen, a series of proper knobs and buttons, and larger, more usable cubbies around the cabin. The Toyota also comes with wireless smartphone connectivity; the Kia does not.

The Niro employs a minimalist set of controls that force the volume and tuning knobs to do double-duty as climate controls as well. Countless were the times we went to crank up the volume and instead cranked up the heat.

Niro Hybrid: 7/10; Corolla Cross Hybrid: 9/10


Even in this mid-trim setup, the Kia comes with all the key essentials most buyers are looking for. A power rear hatch, heated seats and steering wheel, a wireless phone charger, and even a sunroof are all found here.

The Corolla Cross has all those features, too, but also all-wheel drive. In the top-trim of our test unit, the Corolla Cross also has an upgraded stereo and fancier 18-inch wheels.

Both cars have three-year subscriptions to remote vehicle connectivity for vehicle tracking, although the Toyota’s also offers cloud-based navigation and intelligent assistant to go with it.

Niro Hybrid: 7/10; Corolla Cross Hybrid: 8/10


Toyota started putting its safety suite of advanced crash avoidance features on every model a few years ago. The Corolla Cross is no exception, and it gets adaptive cruise control with lane-tracing and steering assistance, pre-collision pedestrian detection, driver inattention warning, and automatic high-beam control. Kia has fitted each of those features, too, but our Corolla Cross Hybrid tester also had LED headlights compared to the Niro’s halogen projector beams, and the Toyota gets front and rear parking assist and automated braking versus rear-only for Kia.

The United States National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Niro a five-star crash rating, while the agency hadn’t yet rated the Corolla Cross Hybrid at the time of this writing. Conversely, the not-for-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Toyota a Top Safety Pick rating, but the Niro wasn’t scored at writing.

Niro Hybrid: 8/10; Corolla Cross Hybrid: 9/10

The Verdict

Usually, a clear winner emerges in these comparison tests – a vehicle that checks at least a few more crucial boxes than its competitor. Between these two it’s much closer than expected, as the two traded victories in several respects.

Those seeking efficiency above all else will want the 2024 Kia Niro Hybrid, but that comes with a big asterisk. Kia also makes a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version that not only costs fractionally more, but is more efficient and powerful, and it can travel on nothing but electrons. Oh, and it qualifies for federal, provincial, and territorial rebates, just like the all-electric Niro.

The Niro’s more refined drivetrain might also make buyers choose it over the Toyota’s coarse engine and rubber-band CVT. Ultimately, though, the 2024 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid ekes out important wins in terms of practicality, comfort, and user-friendliness, which are all key components to any vehicle ownership experience. Add it all up, and it’s enough to make this gas-electric Toyota our choice of the two.