The Toyota Corolla lineup has expanded for 2022 with the introduction of an all-new subcompact crossover called the Corolla Cross. It's smaller than a RAV4 and provides a new entry point in the Toyota crossover and SUV lineup. While similar in size and price to the Toyota CH-R, the Corolla Cross delivers a more mainstream exterior style with 8.1 inches of ground clearance compared to the CH-R's 5.9 inches. All models are powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine that provides a punchy 169 horsepower paired with a continuously variable transmission. It's available in both front and all-wheel drive, although there is no low range for off-roading.
The Corolla Cross is available in three trim levels known as the L, LE, and XLE. Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, and LED projector headlights come standard on all trims. Prices start at $22,195 for a FWD L model and climb up to a starting price of $27,625 for an AWD XLE model. Competition includes crossovers such as the Buick Encore GX, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30, Nissan Kicks, Subaru Crosstrek, and Volkswagen Taos. I spent a week in the Corolla Cross XLE and here's what stood out...
Exterior Styling (+/-)
Think of the Corolla Cross as a mini-Highlander in terms of styling. It's not groundbreakingly stylish, but not completely anonymous either. Key design cues include a black grille flanked by standard LED lighting that looks confident. Available LED fog lights are neatly tucked in the lower portion of the grille. Black body cladding surrounds the lower portion of the vehicle, including the wheel arches. A floating roof design is featured thanks to a small chrome accent piece that stretches across from the top portion of the side windows with Corolla Cross embossed in it. Around back is an integrated rear spoiler, LED lighting, and a clean, simple design. Overall proportions are spot on with a nice ride height, even overhangs and appropriate tire sizes. Wheel options range from 17" steel up to 18" alloys depending on the trim. The 18" silver alloys on the XLE are the sportiest while the other designs are mediocre.
All models are equipped with the same four cylinder 2.0 DOHC 16-valve with dual variable valve timing engine that churns out 169 horsepower and 150 lb.ft. of torque paired with a CVT. Front wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available. Among its classmates, the Corolla Cross has one of the highest horsepower outputs. Despite better numbers on paper, acceleration feels average to competitors like the Kona, CX-30 and Seltos. Estimated 0-60 time is in the 9-10 second range. When pushed hard during highway merges, there's a fair amount of engine noise as it seems to work hard to get up to pace.
Around town, it delivers a comfortable ride that handles well. Steering is on par for the class and feels easily controlled. It's a solid crossover that is leisurely composed. Keep in mind this is a more practical vehicle versus an enthusiast vehicle and it will be sufficient for its core buyers. All signs point to a more potent hybrid version in the future.
Fuel Economy (+/-)
When it arrived with a full 13.5-gallon tank it had a range of around 385 miles. EPA estimates are 29/32/31 MPG city/highway/combined for AWD models and after a week of driving around the suburbs, I averaged 30 MPG. Fuel economy is average for the class.
Straightforward & Simple (+)
From its design to its functionality, the Corolla Cross is simple in the best of ways. It's the type of crossover anyone can get in, get comfortable, adjust the mirrors, and drive. From its intuitive infotainment system to standard gear shifter and adjustable seats, there's no confusion. The overall interior layout has everything within reach and where you'd expect it to be. Traditional dials for audio and climate are incorporated into the current technology. This package makes it a great vehicle for first-time drivers who won't be distracted figuring out how to make adjustments.
Interior Quality (+)
Despite being an affordable, entry-level vehicle, it is very well-built with soft touch materials, piano black trim, brushed silver accents and more. Overall feel will vary with each trim level, but even at its base, it is class appropriate. Much of the cabin is borrowed from the Corolla sedan and hatchback, which is generally a good thing. The two-tone padded dash in my test model looked much more premium than some competitors that are priced higher. Both the doors and seats feel durable and capable of withstanding some abuse.
Cloth upholstery is standard while a synthetic leather, heated front seats, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat and leather-trimmed steering wheel are available. Passenger room up front was good with plenty of room all-around. Seats could be adjusted to accommodate drivers of all sizes and are comfortable. Back seats offered good head and shoulder room, but leg room was tighter for taller adults. All three of my kids fit comfortably in back but there was no room to spare.
Cargo space will vary slightly depending on if it's FWD or AWD. FWD models deliver 26.5 cu.ft. in back and 66.8 cu.ft. with the seats folded down. AWD is slightly less at 25.2 and 65.5 cu.ft.. Overall cargo space is impressive with more space than most in the class.
Infotainment is readily available via a 7" touchscreen on L models or an 8" touchscreen on LE & XLE models. Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, and Apple CarPlay are standard along with two USB ports, a 4.2" cluster display, and a Sirius XM trial. Stepping up to the LE will add in Qi-wireless charging, smart key with push button start, three USB ports, and auto climate control. XLE adds an all-digital instrument panel with a 7" multi-information display in the cluster, dual zone climate control, and heated front seats. Options include a JBL 9-speaker sound system, moonroof, and a power rear liftgate. Regardless of the trim level, Toyota's infotainment system is intuitive and reachable. There were no issues with connectivity and the placement for the wireless device charging was good.
Like many other Toyota models, modern safety is a priority with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of active safety feature standard.
Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 includes:
* Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection
* Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
* Lane Tracing Assist
* Road Sign Assist
* Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
* Automatic High Beams
Also standard is Toyota Star Safety which includes enhanced vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist and smart stop technology. Blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert come standard on LE and XLE, while front and rear parking assist with automatic braking is standard on XLE. All grades come standard with nine airbags throughout the cabin to help protect occupants.
The Corolla Cross adds another level to the Corolla stable that has seen everything from rear-wheel-drive coupes to station wagons in its 55 years of existence. It's a sensible option among many competitors that is bound to hold its value like the Corolla sedan. With a simple, clean design inside and out it will appeal to many potential buyers that are looking for a reliable and capable crossover. The Corolla Cross may not be for the enthusiast type of driver, but it's worth a test drive as it will satisfy nearly every other kind of driver.
First Impression Summary:
Test Vehicle: 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE AWD
Exterior Color: Celestite Gray Metallic
Interior Color: Parchment
Options: Audio Plus ($1,465), Moonroof/Power Rear Door ($1,250), Auto Leveling Adaptive Lighting ($615), and other misc options.
MSRP as tested: $33,550 (With Delivery/Destination)