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Long the darling of left-brainers, the Toyota Corolla provides hundreds of thousands of owners every year with reliability, efficiency, and practicality, but not much in the way of driving excitement. And with the ever-expanding popularity of small crossovers, it doesn’t take much out-of-the-box thinking to realize that tossing the Corolla’s sterling reputation into a consumer-friendly, high-riding package could be a formula for showroom success.
Enter the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross. Featuring the same 2.0-liter inline-four, continuously variable transmission, and mechanical underpinnings as the sedan, the Corolla Cross brings an added dose of logic to a segment that also includes the recently revealed Honda HR-V, stylish Mazda CX-30, and not-a-Golf Volkswagen Taos. And while it doesn’t set the enthusiast heart ablaze, the Toyota will easily find its way to the garages of people who value under-the-radar vehicular competence and good value over heavy-breathing driving dynamics.
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- Exterior Color: Celestite
- Interior Color: Black
- Wheel Size: 18 Inches
Corollas tend to be styled for the lowest common denominator, and the crossover variant is no exception. But emotive design is rare in this segment, save perhaps Toyota’s own C-HR, which compensates for its cramped interior with happy-frog styling. Unlike that polarizing (and claustrophobic) CUV, the Corolla Cross will happily serve in the background, attracting fewer jeers than if it had wildly love-hate style. The long front overhang and wide-eyed headlights do take some getting used to, but sculpted front and rear fenders help keep the design grounded.
Inside, there’s an ergonomically laid out dashboard with a monolithic center touchscreen and adequate – though not class-leading – materials. My only significant complaint about the cabin is a dash top that’s more reflective than I’d like. It’s still not as bad as the high-gloss Kia Seltos or plasticky Volkswagen Taos, but the Corolla Cross does cast some distracting reflections onto the windshield on bright days.
- Seating Capacity: 5
- Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
- Cargo Capacity: 25.2 Cubic Feet
Despite an unimpressive rear legroom measurement of 32.0 inches, the Corolla Cross never feels particularly cramped thanks to its upright seating position. Toyota’s pleasant SofTex faux leather upholstery covers the supportive seats, which are heated up front. The Corolla SUV also rides reasonably well, thanks in part to the all-wheel-drive model’s multilink rear suspension (front-drivers get a less sophisticated torsion-beam setup).
Unfortunately, the lethargic 2.0-liter inline-four and continuously variable transmission are a recipe for engine thrash, so you’d best get accustomed to the noise if you want to keep up with freeway traffic. And the air conditioning has a hard time keeping the cabin frosty when temperatures crest 90 degrees and the sun is in the sky. There’s also a slight lack of storage – there are no door pockets in the back, and the narrow center console and shallow armrest cubby make it tough for the front seat occupants to stash their wallets, phones, and other accouterments.
- Center Display: 8.0-Inch Touchscreen
- Instrument Cluster Display: 7.0 Inches
- Wireless Apple CarPlay / Android Auto: Yes / Yes
Using Toyota’s dated-looking Entune infotainment software, the Toyota Corolla Cross won’t be taking the stage at CES any time soon. But simple menus and a split-screen function for the 8.0-inch center display mean it’s easy to keep an eye on things while driving down the road. The semi-digital instrument cluster bundles a 7.0-inch screen in the center with a few analog gauges flanking it, and it’s likewise easy to operate using the steering wheel buttons.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. There’s a Qi wireless charger in the center console to go along with a single data/charging USB-A port up front and two charging USB-A ports for rear-seat passengers.
- Engine: 2.0-Liter Inline-Four
- Output: 169 Horsepower / 150 Pound-Feet
- Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission
Try as I might, I couldn’t get excited about driving the Corolla Cross. Credit where it’s due, the aforementioned multilink rear suspension gives the Toyota impressive road manners, with well-controlled body motions and surprisingly good handling on a winding, bumpy road. But the engine feels wheezy and underpowered when accelerating up a freeway onramp, and the CVT does nothing to inspire enthusiasm. A hybrid model is coming to market that should improve on both fronts. The steering is relentlessly numb, as well. Unless Toyota decides to liven up the Corolla Cross with a GR variant, don’t expect much behind-the-wheel fun from the small SUV.
- Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2
- NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
- IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick+
Toyota loves throwing the safety-feature book at its commodity cars. The Corolla Cross comes standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure prevention with lane centering, automatic high beams, and full-speed adaptive cruise control. To that impressive list, the top XLE model adds blind spot monitoring and parking assistance with low-speed automatic braking. Although it uses a one-generation-old version of Toyota’s safety suite, the Corolla Cross still provides good road manners with all those features activated.
- Base Price: $22,445 + $1,215 Destination
- Trim Base Price: $29,090
- As-Tested Price: $32,420
Starting at less than $24,000, the base Corolla Cross L is a good value for folks on a budget, with a lot of space and practicality for not much cash. All-wheel drive is a great way to spend an additional $1,300, ditching the twist-beam rear suspension for something a bit less akin to an oxcart. If you want keyless entry and start, you’ll have to swing for the mid-level LE, while heated SofTex seats are reserved exclusively for the flagship XLE.
On top of that vehicle’s $29,090 starting price with all-wheel drive, my Corolla Cross tester had a $3,330 package with JBL premium audio, a power hatch, a sunroof, and steering-adaptive headlights. If it were my money, I’d be okay losing out on the fancy speakers and the swiveling lights. Stick with the $1,250 Convenience package (sunroof, power hatch) and you’ve got a well-equipped, practical, and efficient crossover for $30,340. Such a logical choice could only be the purview of a Corolla product.
Corolla Cross Competitor Reviews:
- Chevrolet Trailblazer: 8.0/10
- Ford EcoSport: Not Rated
- Honda HR-V: 8.5/10
- Hyundai Kona: 8.0/10
- Jeep Compass: Not Rated
- Kia Seltos: Not Rated
- Mazda CX-30: 8.3/10
- Nissan Rogue Sport: Not Rated
- Subaru Crosstrek: 8.5/10
- Volkswagen Taos: 7.9/ 10