In the last two decades, the market has spoken, and spoken clearly: the people want crossovers and SUVs. This truth has seen Ford pull out of the sedan market entirely, while Volkswagen estimates 50 percent of its sales will be crossovers by 2025. Toyota has also taken notice, with the Japanese automaker deciding to take the Corolla—also known as the best-selling car of all time—and finally turn it into a crossover. Enter the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross.
The new model shares little in styling with its sedan or hatchback namesake, with the compact crossover instead striking its own path. It’s a more reserved, refined design, with less of the sharper folds and creases familiar in the present model Corolla. Plastic cladding and the higher ride height do much to support the crossover look, along with the typical two-box design, broad haunches, and high roofline.
The new crossover is built on the TNGA-C platform, the same platform as used for the Corolla, CH-R, and Prius, among other vehicles. It sports the same 2.0-liter M20A-FKS four-cylinder turbo engine as the Corolla, too, packing 169 horsepower under the hood and 150 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm. Wheelbase is identical to the Corolla hatch at 103.9 inches, while the 71.9 inch width places it just two inches wider, as a clue to the dimensions of the higher-riding crossover.
At at 175.6 inches long, it’s also just under four inches longer than the U.S. market hatchback. Think of it as bridging the gap between the CH-R and the RAV4 in the lineup. This is definitely a pavement-first crossover, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that the Corolla Cross has 8.1 inches of ground clearance, an above-average figure for the segment that’s just half an inch off the RAV4 TRD Off-Road.
Available in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models, it will feature Toyota’s K120 Direct Shift CVT transmission. This pairs a physical first gear along with a CVT, which provides for quicker takeoff where traditional CVTs struggle at lower gear ratios, as well as better fuel economy. Speaking of fuel economy, FWD models are expected to come in at 32 mpg combined, with AWD models claiming 30 mpg combined on the EPA test cycle.
No mention of a manual option, while the Corolla sedan and hatch (again, with the same engine and platform) both offer a six-speed stick with automatic rev matching. It’s not surprising to see that excluded here—the take rate would be laughably small, and Toyota is clearly trying to package this simply—but that won’t stop people from complaining about that, or saying they’d consider one if only it had a manual. Hey, if you do want one, hit up Toyota and let them know. It’s only the world’s biggest automaker. It can probably figure something out.
In a boon to those who want practicality out of their crossover, all variants of the Corolla Cross will be able to tow up to 1,500 pounds—enough to drag a trailer with some furniture or a big pile of mulch. Cargo volume in the back stands at 25.5 cubic feet for FWD models, and 24.3 cubic feet for the AWD versions. It’s a step above the regular Corolla, which boasts just 17.8 cubic feet in the back unless you nix the spare tire. There’s 60/40 split rear seating across the range too, though storage volumes with the second row folded down are yet to be announced.
The interior comes well appointed for modern life, featuring USB charging ports front and rear, along with wireless charging standard up front on the LE and XLE models. There’s the usual array of cupholders, as well as an optional power moonroof for fans of Earth’s sole orbiting natural satellite. By and large, the setup looks near identical to the current model Corolla. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a Toyota crossover—black and grey, with clean lines, and nothing outrageous or particularly memorable. Expect functional quality that you’ll not give a second thought once you’ve learned where all the buttons are.
The touchscreen entertainment system is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, a much-welcome feature given that a regularly-updated smartphone is often superior to any in-car entertainment system within a few years of launch. The center stack does continue the modern trend of a stuck-on-tablet style screen, so detractors of the style may find a lot to dislike here. A win for the analog generation, however, is the inclusion of multiple physical knobs. Ideally, they’ll make adjusting volume and other settings a breeze without having to take one’s eyes off the road.
The Toyota Corolla Cross has been on sale in other markets for quite some time now; countries like Vietnam and Indonesia saw the vehicle launch in August last year. However, this North American version sees a stronger engine, optional all-wheel drive—and at least at first, no mention of the hybrid version that’s available in other markets. Still, this will likely find a lot of buyers among the Toyota faithful. After all, when a Corolla owner wants a crossover or SUV, where better to go than another Corolla?
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