Jim Bray's Car & Tech rants - publishing online exclusively since 1995
Toyota Corolla Cross

New Corolla-compatible adds another small SUV to Toyota's stable

By Jim Bray
February 10, 2022

The Toyota Corolla is a great car, one that has helped propel its maker to the heights of automotive success over its many decades of production and sales around the world. And now Toyota is upping its ante – by which I mean it's jacking it up higher than a traditional sedan would be and turning it into a little SUV/Crossover thingy, undoubtedly as a way to convince folks currently eschewing sedans that they can have their Corolla cake and eat it, too.

It's a decent vehicle, too, though it makes me wonder why Toyota would bother with it when they already have the little CH-R for offer. On the other hand, the CH-R is smaller and isn't available with all-wheel drive. So go figure. And the CH-R is, to these old eyes, weird looking, with its multiple creases and folds and stuff, whereas the Corolla Cross looks pretty much like a smaller RAV4.

Alas, the current RAV4 got a substantial uglification during its switchover from the previous to the current generation, though that doesn't seem to have affected its sales any. And as I've said before, beauty is in the eye of the keyholder, so one person's assault on the eyes is another's Automotive Mona Lisa.

Whatever way you slice it, they're all excellent vehicles and this new Corolla Cross will also undoubtedly serve its customers well. Heck, my family has had two Corollas in our past (sedans) as well as a Supra and a Celica – and we currently have a previous generation RAV4, so the appeal of Toyota is not lost here.

An all-new model for 2022, the Corolla Cross starts at just under $25,000 for front wheel drive, and you can option it up from there to Toyota's sample unit's XLE AWD trim level, which stickered at $34,245, sans fees etc.. That extra lucre will give you such niceties as a power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, blind-spot monitoring, power tailgate, heated steering wheel and more.

"At Toyota we know that well-designed and engineered small vehicles deliver big driving fun – which is why we created the all-new Corolla Cross," said Cyril Dimitris, Vice President, Toyota Canada Inc. "Toyota designers crafted a premium-feeling subcompact SUV, and Toyota engineers delivered: The Corolla Cross is stylish, dynamic, and capable – with smart technology features, fun-to-drive performance including sure-footed AWD options, impressive space and versatility, plus Toyota's unmatched quality and efficiency."

Toyota Corolla Cross

Add to that the fun-sucking appeal of a continuously variable transmission (and this one exemplifies how noisy and horrid they can be for driving enthusiasts) and you can take the "fun to drive" part as hype. And it also feels a tad thin, as in cheap, compared to my wife's RAV4.

On the other hand, you can get into a larger and more capable RAV4 for only about three grand more ($28,500 for the base, FWD model climbing to $34,550 – sans options etc. – for the XLE AWD). And that's with an eight-speed automatic transmission, not a damn CVT. Easy choice for me; your mileage may vary.

On the other, other hand, Mazda's CX-30, which competes pretty well head-to-head here, is a lot more interesting and enjoyable. It starts at $26,926 – and if you really want to go for the gusto you can option it up with all-wheel drive and their lovely turbo four (250 hp/310 lb.-ft. torque) for about $38,626. That's a little more dear than the Corolla Cross, but it's twice the vehicle if you like your wheels to be more than just transportation.
Powering the Corolla Cross is a 169 horsepower, two litre four-cylinder DOHC 16-Valve gas engine (a hybrid isn't available yet, but it wouldn't surprise me if it is down the, er, road).  Power is fine for a vehicle such as this, and I thought Toyota's tuning of the suspension (struts up front, double wishbone rear, stabilizer bars fore and aft) was just right.   

So were the brakes – discs front and back. Brake feel is just fine and the performance was also serenity-inspiring.

The all-wheel drive system defaults to front drive under normal conditions – like most of its competitors – but can send up to half the torque rearward when needed. Alas, if you like doing handbrake turns, you're out of luck because there's only an electronic parking brake (as with most competitors these days, too, alas).

Toyota estimates the Corolla Cross to achieve 7.8L/100 km combined.

It was really cold and the roads were very icy during my week with the Toyota and that gave me a great chance to see how it does when the roads suck. And it does well, though my wife's 10-year-old RAV, wearing the same Blizzak winter tires (but older and therefore more worn), is better.

Still, Toyota has its priorities. This is from their press release announcing the Corolla Cross: "...as a special treat, every model includes two-dozen Easter Eggs: 24 Corolla Cross logos hidden throughout the vehicle – representing the 24/7 dedication of the team that designed and engineered this outstanding model."

Yeah, or you could just make it drive better…

I don't believe you can buy a Toyota today without getting its Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which is your typical bundle of "active safety technologies" that lull the non-driving savvy into thinking they're savvy.  This isn't just a Toyota thing, of course, it's a Nanny State thing and most, if not all, carmakers are falling all over themselves to create the cream of cocoons for complacent car conductors.

Here, you get Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist and Road Edge Detection, Automatic High Beams, Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian and Bicycle Detection, Lane Tracing Assist, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

Shut 'em off, which you can, and you may enjoy the drive more.

Toyota Corolla Cross

Other standard safety features in the Corolla Cross include a back-up camera (a wonderful feature!), 10 air bags, and a tire pressure monitoring system. There's also the Star Safety system, which adds Smart Stop Technology, Stability Control, Anti-Lock Brakes, Traction Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist. Pretty standard stuff these days.

The XLE version is only offered with all-wheel-drive (and that's fine) and, besides what was mentioned above, also brings to the mix stuff like an upgraded (and pretty good), nine speaker JBL audio system a seven inch full colour multi-information display, leather-wrapped "shift" knob, power adjustable driver's seat (but not the passenger's), auto-dimming rear view mirror, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED fog lamps, LED headlamps, LED rear combination lamps, and a power tailgate.

Other niceties include keyless entry/push button start/stop, wireless charging, a 12-volt accessory
power outlet, about 1000 cup holders (okay, I exaggerate), a power slide/tilt moonroof, and roof rails.

Despite the company saying the XLE version only comes with all-wheel drive, the sample's price sticker included a $255 cost for "Corolla Cross XLE AWD." That's still pretty cheap for all-wheel drive, though it seems odd when the press release said it would be included in the price – which also includes three years of roadside assistance and a tank of gas.

I probably wouldn't buy a Corolla Cross, because my automotive needs and wants lie elsewhere, but I can certainly see why people would want one. It's small and reasonably efficient, inoffensive in design and execution, and, being a Toyota, will probably last until after planet Earth's next Major Extinction Event.

That's a lot of goodness.

Copyright 2022 Jim Bray

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