2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Review

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross - Hybrid powertrain, affordable pricing, Toyota reliability makes Corolla Cross a winner.


Replacing the CH-R in Toyota's lineup, the Corolla Cross is a subcompact crossover that seats 5 passengers and come with front- or all-wheel drive. Gasoline and Gas-hybrid versions are offered. Competitors include the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Kia Niro, Mazda CX-30, Nissan Kicks, Subaru Crosstrek and Volkswagen Taos.

Gas models come in L, LE and XLE trim. All get a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 169 horrsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. Hybrid models come in S, SE, and XSE trim. They get a hybrid version of the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that pumps out a combined 196 horsepower. Both engines mate with a continuously variable automatic transmission. Towing capacity is 1,500 pounds.

Standard on all models is forward-collision warning with automatic braking, lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control. Optional safety features include blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. Gas models start at $24,945 and hybrids start at $29,305.

Gas or hybrid, Corolla Cross isn't going to win many stoplight grand prix. The gas-only model runs from 0-60 MPH in a tick under 10 seconds, while the hybrid is only slightly quicker. And while Corolla Cross feels peppy enough around town, it really loses steam in highway passing situations. Though most vehicles in the class have similar performance, the pairing of the soul-less 2.0-liter four and continuously variable transmission lead creates an uninspiring powertrain.

Corolla Cross' all-wheel drive system does not have a low range and is not intended for extreme off-road use. In most situations, front-wheel drive will provide more than enough traction - especially if fitted with all-season tires.

Given Its lackluster performance, you would expect Corolla Cross to offer solid fuel efficiency - and it does. Front-drive gas models get an EPA rating of 31 MPG city, 33 MPG highway and combined number of 32 MPG. Hybrid models are even more impressive, garnering a city rating of 45 MPG, highway rating of 38 MPG and a combined rating of 42 MPG. Both types run fine on regular-grade gasoline as well. In routine suburban commuting expect to average close to the EPA ratings, unless you do a lot of stop-and-go driving with a full passenger load, then don't expect better than 25 MPG in either model.

Given its mission, the Corolla Cross provides a comfortable and composed ride. It's not sporty in any way other than its subcompact size makes it easy to drive in urban environments. The suspension does an excellent job of softening hard impacts without unduly upsetting the chassis. Conversely, there's lots of lean in turns and brake drive in hard stops.

Dynamically, Corolla Cross is one of the least athletic subcompact crossovers. It's combo of rubber bandy CVT transmission, soft suspension and numb steering make sure of that. Hybrid models are not entirely smooth in power delivery either as there are peaks and valleys as the powertrain shifts from EV to gas and combo mode.

Interior noise levels are impressively low around town, but there's also a fair amount of road and wind noise on the highway.

Corolla Cross is one of the larger subcompact crossovers in both height and width. This leads to a roomy and spacious cabin with lots of room for four adults to spread out. The overall design is modern, but materials are just mediocre and there aren't any high-end finishes. Hybrid models get a digital instrument cluster while gas-only model get traditional analog dials. Both get a large central infotainment screen. Most other controls are well placed and clearly marked.

The front seats have adequate cushioning but come up a bit short on thigh support for taller drivers. Still, they prove comfortable. The rear bench is flat, but the seatbacks are adjustable. Front-seat head and leg room are quite good, given the class. Rear seats could use a bit more leg room. Outward visibility is excellent and step in is about perfect.

From a technology standpoint Corolla Cross is packing all of the expected features. A nice one is adaptive cruise control with lane centering that works very well. Interesting to note that many vehicles in this class are eschewing navigation systems, instead offering standard support for Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

Cargo capacity is good for the class with 25 cubic feet behind the rear seats. Fold those seats flat and that number grows to more than 61 cubic feet -- though totals are somewhat smaller on all-wheel-drive and hybrid models. Though the load floor isn't quite flat, the hatch opening is large.

Bottom Line - Corolla Cross has been selling very well for Toyota -- and for good reason. It's comfortable, economical, packs plenty of features and, most importantly, is affordable. No, it's not the most athletic or nicely finished. But it offers buyers plenty of vehicle for a fair price and comes with Toyota's reputation for long-term reliability.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.