Just when you thought the industry had the SUV covered 6 ways to Sunday more and more of them are introduced. Take Toyota for example. They’ve already got small, compact, midsize and large covered in a number of ways yet they’ve recently debuted 2 more; the bz4X EV and this one, their least expensive, the Corolla Cross.
If you like the value of the Corolla but favor an SUV body-style, the Corolla Cross is calling. Already offered as a sedan, hatchback and hybrid model with a high-performance variant joining soon, a Corolla crossover SUV just seemed inevitable.
Priced from $23,410 including destination it’s a welcome alternative to the slightly more expensive CH-R which favors style over practicality and can’t be had with all-wheel drive. Thought it’s not much to look at this well-appointed XLE grade packs a lot of usefulness and features into its elevated body which clears an impressive 8+”.
For those who are intimidated by the size and fuel economy of a traditional SUV but crave its commanding view and 5-door versatility, the Corolla Cross slots in nicely. Rated at 30mpg with a nearly 400 mile driving range it’s a value proposition that asks few sacrifices of its owner.
With adequate sizing in the front, middle and rear, a roof rack and the ability to tow 1,500 pounds, the Corolla Cross presents as a do-it-all for the car shopper on a budget. Its least desirable trait comes from the powertrain – a CVT mated to the modestly powered 2.0-liter engine with its 150 pound-feet of torque which can at times cast a pall on the driving experience but I’m guessing it would hardly bother the typical Corolla Cross owner.
From a driving perspective there’s an easy going nature to the Corolla Cross that matches its versatile nature with get-in-and-go simplicity and a high seating position that gives it a true SUV feel…well as long as you’re not in the passenger seat which has no height adjustment.
Toyota designed this for the urban environment where the CVT plays better because of the slow moving nature of city driving. And under light loads the 169 horsepower 4-cylinder and continuously variable transmission aren’t a detriment. It’s only when your right foot is asking too much of the Corolla Cross when the CVT and 2.0 create their cacophony and slowness ensues.
And with the roof rack cross bars and some tire noise, it’s not exactly a quiet cabin. But the ride and handling attributes are agreeable. As long as you’re not a lead foot, the drive is suitable for small crossover.
Front-drive models receive a more basic torsion beam rear suspension while this all-wheel drive model utilizes a fully-independent setup that does an excellent job of maintaining a comfortable ride quality over rough surfaces.
Though this is not a vehicle designed for off-road driving, the rear wheels will join the party when the computer senses a need for all-wheel drive, getting up to 50% of the available power – otherwise the rear axle is disengaged to save fuel.
New Goodyear Assurance Finesse low rolling resistance tires provide all-season traction and reliable tread life.
This fully optioned XLE is the highest of the 3 available trim levels and comes with notable features such as adaptive front head lights that swivel in the direction of travel, a power tailgate, dual zone climate control with a cabin filter and rear seat vents, a sunroof, faux leather heated seats, a 9-speaker JBL audio system and the complete portfolio of safety and security features including front and rear parking assist with automatic braking.
With all-wheel drive and a smattering of small options MSRP is $32,718…a very palatable price for an SUV with just right sizing and excellent gas mileage.
There are 3 available packages and this one has the most stocked known as Audio Plus with JBL with options priced at $3,300 giving you everything the Corolla Cross offers.
The carpeted mats and cross bars are extra.
As for infotainment, it’s the previous gen Toyota system with wired CarPlay and Android Auto for navigation, Amazon Alexa compatibility,
and a backup cam with gridlines; easy to use and basic.
And there are myriad driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, auto high beams and various collision avoidance measures.
The information display can also be configured for an analog or digital layout.
With a power lift-gate and retractable cover, the Corolla Cross makes the most of its efficient packaging with impressive dimensions.
The rear seats fold flat though not without some wrangling to make room for them and they also sit a little higher than the cargo floor itself so the space isn’t completely level but there’s lots of capacity here nevertheless.
The rear seats are also nicely sized with a bump out in the ceiling to create more headroom. The only sign of real cost cutting in here comes in the low grade headliner.
Built by Mazda at their new joint manufacturing plant in Alabama, the Corolla Cross is more than just another utility vehicle – it’s one that strikes a compelling balance in every aspect of its offering.
2022 TOYOTA COROLLA CROSS TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES | TESTDRIVENOW.COM 2022(c)