Making a Toyota Corolla crossover is such an easy idea, one might wonder why it took so long. Given that the Corolla sedan has long been known for charting safe, sensible paths for the past half century, it should come as no surprise that the 2022 Corolla Cross is cut from the same fabric.
If the smaller Toyota C-HR was perhaps a little more quirky, the Corolla Cross should feel more approachable. At 3 inches taller than the C-HR and 5.3 inches shorter than the RAV4, the Corolla Cross is smaller without feeling claustrophobic. With over 8 inches of ground clearance, it offers a suitably SUV-ish look that is more mainstream than the C-HR. It still carries some fun bits of flair, such as the clear body work over the wheel wells, but overall it’s pretty ideal.
The exterior of the Corolla Cross may be as fresh as a daisy, but the interior is a carbon copy of the Corolla sedan – and that’s not a bad thing at all. The cabin is intelligently arranged with the right amount of physical switchgear for infotainment and climate control. The dashboard is low, providing some excellent forward visibility. My top-trim XLE tester’s touch points are soft, but it’s a value-oriented car at heart, so there’s still a lot of hard plastic. I’m afraid Toyota may have cheapened too much on the quality of the headliner, but since this is a preproduction model, all I can do is look for something cool when the Corolla Cross hits dealers in October.
Whether carrying humans or groceries, the Corolla Cross has a decent amount of space. My 6-foot-tall gumby body has no problem front or rear, though I probably won’t haul three older adults in the back seat for hours at a time. The trunk offers about 26 cubic feet of cargo space, which is on par with the Chevy Trailblazer and ahead of the Hyundai Kona, but well behind the Ford Bronco Sport. Cabin storage is ample, with sufficiently deep door pockets, a cubby under the armrests and additional space ahead of the shifter, which, on some models, is occupied by a Qi wireless charger.
This brings me to perhaps the strangest part of the Toyota Corolla Cross: its charging status. The base L model has two USB ports at the front, one under the climate control and one in the center armrest. Moving to LE and XLE variants will remove That center armrest favors a USB port for a single Qi device and two USB ports for the rear passengers. Considering the speed (or lack thereof) of current in-car wireless chargers, I wish Toyota had left that extra USB port alone. wireless connectionOr The Qi barely nets a positive charge rate with the Pad, but that’s not a problem here, as the Corolla Cross only offers wired smartphone mirroring.
The rest of the technical setup of the Corolla Cross remains the same for Toyota’s course. A 7-inch touchscreen is standard on the L and LE trims, while the XLE rises to 8 inches. Both screens run Toyota’s tried-and-tested Entune infotainment system, which may not sound like the most flashy thing on the block, but it’s responsive enough and allows its owners everything from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to SiriusXM satellite radio and Amazon. Most of the things will be needed. Alexa connectivity. The nine-speaker JBL sound system is optional, and it’s great.
When it comes to security systems, Corolla Cross follows in the footsteps of Corolla with a whole slew of technical benchmarks. Each trim level comes with forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, full speed adaptive cruise control and automatic high beam. The midrange LE adds blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, while the XLE takes it a step further with parking sensors and rear automatic braking. It’s a solid technical complement that, like every Toyota, works smoothly and confidently.
Smooth is a good word to describe the on-road behavior of the Toyota Corolla Cross. Even on the XLE’s 19-inch alloys—which is the largest on offer in the entire range—this crossover is good enough at soaking up humps and bumps and transmitting a bit to the cabin. It does get a little tough on rough surfaces, but hey, you can’t conquer them all, and for the price I’m more than satisfied with how this crossover feels. Burdening the axle with the whole family and trunk would probably make it a little more stiff, while with smaller wheels less trim and more sidewall chock should have the opposite effect.
However, that extra heft will only exacerbate the biggest problem with the Corolla Cross: being underpowered. The Cross is a few hundred pounds heavier than the Corolla S sedan, from which its powertrain is borrowed. Sporting 169 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque from a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-4, the Corolla Cross delivers suitable acceleration on a flat plane. However, introduce hills and the experience becomes dangerous. Sharp inclinations are combined with a speedometer that moves like a solarium as the constantly variable transmission picks up revs to keep up or, if you’re feeling optimistic, pick up speed. Reducing the weight of all-wheel drive might help, and it’ll save you $1,300 in the process, but a fully loaded XLE AWD with two adults and camera equipment in the trunk makes for very poky times .
Keep the hills off and the Corolla Cross should return some decent fuel economy. The front-wheel-drive variant will return an EPA-estimated 31 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, while the all-wheel-drive model isn’t far behind at 29 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.
The Toyota Corolla has always been a pillar of affordability, and that doesn’t change with the introduction of the crossover. The base 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross L will set you back $23,410, including a $1,215 destination fee, with the medium-hair LE costing $25,760 and the XLE at $27,540. Those prices are for front-wheel drive, by the way; If you want all-wheel drive, tack on an extra $1,300, regardless of trim.
While I’m surprised it took Toyota so long to combine the market’s love for high-riders with a nameplate that’s been stagnant for half a century, now that the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross is here, it’s clear that Toyota has He has a good hand. It is a compact crossover that oozes value and provides adults and families with the essentials in a daily driver. It wouldn’t take long for these things to happen everywhere – except maybe in the hill country.