2022 Toyota Corolla Cross first drive review

A silver Toyota Corolla Cross

Toby Hagon

Posted January 23, 2023

As Australian’s taste in cars has shifted, so too has the humble Toyota Corolla – evolving into a compact SUV with an impressive hybrid output. Meet the new Corolla Cross. 

For decades the Corolla has been one of the most loved nameplates on the market.

But the SUV-surge has eroded the popular small car’s appeal, with buyers instead gravitating to one of the many small crossovers that provide a higher-riding alternative. In fact, 53.1 per cent of new cars sold in 2022 were SUVs. 

Cue the arrival of the Corolla Cross. 

While it borrows the familiar moniker, the Corolla Cross has little in common with the traditional Corolla other than its length and width.

Sitting alongside the C-HR that also fits into the small SUV category, the five-door, five-seat Corolla Cross has more conservative styling and a broader model range.

After taking the new Corolla Cross for a drive, it mounts a solid case in the compact SUV market while leveraging the longevity of the familiar Corolla nameplate but in a higher-riding body. What it lacks in design flair it makes up for with solid driving credentials and a refreshingly efficient hybrid drivetrain.

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A red, blue and white toyota corolla cross parked near the ocean

Toyota's Corolla Cross is a solid entry into the compact SUV market that benefits from the popularity of the Corolla name.

Toyota Corolla Cross models and pricing

The Corolla Cross is available in three trim levels – GX, GXL and Atmos – and with the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Buyers can also opt for a regular petrol engine or a hybrid system that uses less fuel.

There’s a basic level of equipment that includes alloy wheels and Toyota Connected Services, which can provide information via a smartphone app and allow remote locking and unlocking, among other features.

Corolla Cross GX

The Corolla Cross is priced from $33,000 before on-road costs for the GX which comes with a 2.0-litre engine, or another $2,500 if you opt for the Hybrid.

Corolla Cross GXL

The better-equipped GXL picks up some leather, dual-zone ventilation, a third USB charging port and a 10.5-inch touchscreen with navigation. It sells for $36,750 plus costs for the petrol engine or $39,250 as a hybrid. The GXL Hybrid can also have another e-motor added to its rear wheels for all-wheel drive capability, something that steps the price up to $42,250.

Corolla Cross Atmos 

The most generously appointed Corolla Cross is the Atmos, which sells for $43,350 with petrol propulsion, $46,050 as a front-drive hybrid and $49,050 as an all-wheel drive hybrid. It gets a digital instrument cluster, heated steering wheel and front seats, sunroof, powered tailgate, wireless charging pad and 18-inch alloys.

A quick glance at the numbers shows the Corolla Cross has premium pricing compared with prime rivals such as the Mazda CX-30, Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos and Nissan Qashqai.

 Toyota Corolla Cross safety 

The Corolla Cross may look undernourished for toys and trinkets on some models, but safety is one area Toyota has thrown plenty at it.

All models get blind spot warning, speed sign recognition, lane departure warning with steering assist, rear cross traffic alert and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection.

There are also eight airbags, including a centre airbag separating those up front.

The Corolla Cross can also use its telematics system to automatically contact emergency services after a crash.

All of these features has helped the Corolla Cross achieve a five-star ANCAP safety rating.


Interior of a Corolla Cross

The Cross's interior is basic but practical with those wanting more elegance able to opt for the Atmos.

Toyota Corolla Cross interiors

It’s basic stuff inside with a smorgasbord of greys broken up by the occasional silver fleck - none of which is enough to detract from the feeling that the Corolla Cross is more about getting the job done than tingling the senses.

At least those basics are done well.

The front seats provide good support and comfort for longer trips, and the plastics have a hardy aesthetic that suggests they’ll live up to Toyota’s reliability reputation.

Buttons are sparse but what is there is logical and easy to decipher. There’s Android Auto as well as wireless Apple CarPlay.

Having the touchscreen so high on the dash places it nicely in the driver’s line of sight, but it’s not until you get to the Atmos that there’s any sense of elegance to the cabin ambience.

While it’s a compact SUV, the Corolla Cross has ample head room and will be fine for small families. The boot capacity varies depending on the model, with petrol models having up to 436 litres of space. All-wheel drive hybrid variants have about 10 per cent less due to a higher boot floor required to house the additional electric motor and batteries.

Toyota Corolla Cross engine specs

The regular 2.0-litre engine is honest but uninspiring. Driving the front wheels through CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) auto makes for respectable acceleration, although the engine gets vocal if you call on brisker propulsion. 

It’s the hybrid that makes more sense, especially as it only brings a modest price premium.

Toyota hybrids have been on Australian roads for more than two decades and the Corolla Cross ushers in the latest iteration of the technology.

It’s surprisingly punchy with a lot more around-town zip than most will need. Even on the open road there’s extra in reserve for a slick overtake. For everyday driving, the additional flexibility of the electric motor makes traffic light take-offs that little more effortless.


A red toyota corolla cross in an urban environment

Hybrid models of the Corolla Cross are particularly convincing as a city car, using as little as (or even less than) 4.3L per 100km.

Toyota Corolla Cross fuel efficiency

The compact nature of the Corolla Cross means it’s respectably fuel efficient, with combined claimed fuel use of 6.0 litres per 100km. That climbs to a little less impressive 7.4L/100km around town, possibly higher in the real world.

But the hybrid mounts a far more convincing case, using as little as 4.3 litres per 100km – or 4.4L/100km as an all-wheel drive. CO2 emissions also drop to as little as 96 grams per 100km (down from the petrol version’s 136g/km).

More impressive is how that hybrid performs around town, with Toyota’s laboratory-derived figures suggesting the fuel use will be slightly less than the overall average in pure suburban running. 

Impressively, in an era when many car makers now stipulate premium unleaded, the Corolla Cross can run on the cheapest petrol brew.

Toyota Corolla Cross performance and handling

Light and breezy pretty much sums up the Corolla Cross driving experience.

The steering is light but accurate and predictable. It works nicely with suspension that provides a sensible balance between everyday comfort and driving enjoyment.

It makes the Corolla Cross one of the better compact SUVs to drive. It is surefooted and enjoyable. 

There’s the occasional hiccup, such as the ABS brakes that occasionally get flustered over a small bump.

Some drivers may also find the regenerative brakes of the hybrid are occasionally grabby and inconsistent.


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