Positives: Strong fuel economy for this class, especially hybrids
cons: Nice to drive and look at; Slow acceleration Not noticeable space and storage
The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross is the definition of what looks great and is completely acceptable in a midsize SUV. It’s smaller and cheaper than the RAV4, but it doesn’t look as quirky or weird as the canceled C-HR. It’s a Corolla, but in SUV form, and that makes sense for someone looking for a basic, utilitarian form of transportation. It has competent technology, good back seat and cargo space, and some of the best fuel economy in the segment. There’s also a hybrid to be added to the line-up later this year that will further improve fuel economy and give it an X-factor to a segment that only has one hybrid, the Kia Niro.
Unfortunately, the standard car doesn’t do enough to push the needle. There are plenty of other cars that are more fun to drive, have better technology, look sleeker, and are simply more fun vehicles to own on a daily basis than the Corolla Cross. On the other hand, the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid changes the dynamics dramatically as its superior fuel economy and slight increase in performance make for a more premium and simply better car. However, it’s still hard to get as excited about it as many of its SUV competitors.
Interior and technology | Passenger and cargo space Performance and fuel economy
What does leadership look like? Pricing and Features | Fault ratings and safety features
What’s new for 2023?
The big news is the addition of the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid, which we are reviewing here. It is pictured above. It adds the all-wheel-drive powertrain of the new Toyota Prius, as well as unique Sport trim levels that heighten its appearance. Every Corolla Cross gets Toyota’s latest infotainment system that runs on a standard 8-inch touchscreen. Additionally, it gets Toyota’s latest suite of standard driver assistance systems, ranging from TSS 2.0 to TSS 3.0.
What is the interior design and in-car technology like in the Corolla Cross?
While the exterior of the Corolla Cross doesn’t look like a Corolla, the interior is a picture with a fairly simple dashboard and infotainment screen jutting out from the middle. As is usually the case in the midsize SUV segment, the interior plastics are a mix. There is some soft plastic stitched on the front and center of the dashboard, but there are harder types in most other places (like to the left of the steering wheel where it may look like soft material but is actually just hard plastic with faux stitching stamped on it). Everything is well put together with tight gaps, and the XLE and XSE models look a little more premium than lesser models thanks to their two-tone color schemes. However, the test car had some rattles, and turning on the audio system can cause some annoying vibrations.
We appreciate the dedicated physical buttons and knobs for the climate control, as well as the volume knob. Toyota’s latest infotainment system, which the Corolla Cross was updated with this year, is much faster and more flexible than the old system, but its user interface can be difficult to navigate. Wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto are both standard equipment, and if you like talking to your car, Amazon Alexa-based voice control is quick and understands commands well. The mostly analog gauge cluster is standard and looks very simple by today’s standards, especially on the Hybrid model, but higher models adopt an all-digital cluster with nice, modern graphics.
How big is the Corolla Cross?
In terms of size, the Corolla Cross is what we call a midsize SUV, and as such, it’s a similar size to the Mazda CX-30, Volkswagen Taos, Kia Seltos, and Subaru Crosstrek. Notably, it has a decent amount of ground clearance at 8.1 inches, which is roughly equivalent to an all-wheel-drive Jeep Renegade and more than a Kia Seltos, though less than a Crosstrek or Renegade Trailhawk.
In terms of passenger space, the Corolla Cross falls somewhere in the middle of this category, but it represents a significant step up from its namesake Corolla (again, they’re barely related). There’s good space up front in all directions and a comfortable seating position, but the back seat is only a middle area to save space. The Volkswagen Taos and Kia Niro are significantly more family-friendly. The front seats have thick, comfortable cushions, though they don’t have much shape or support. The rear seats are firm and flat, and the seatbacks are more upright than we would like.
Cargo space is generous for a midsize crossover at 24.0 cubic feet with the regular, front-wheel-drive model, and 21.5 cubic feet with all-wheel drive and all hybrid variants. The hybrid also loses its spare tire due to the wiring harness that wraps through the area where it would normally go. This results in a lot of unused space.
What are the fuel economy and performance specifications of the Corolla Cross?
The gas-only Toyota Corolla Cross comes with one engine and transmission option. The car has a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine that produces 169 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. A CVT transmission is standard, and there’s a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Your choice of drive wheels will also affect fuel economy, although they will be among the most efficient wheels in the class regardless. With front-wheel drive, the Corolla Cross gets 31 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and 32 mpg combined. With all-wheel drive, the numbers drop to 29/32/30.
The Corolla Cross Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine augmented by Toyota’s three-motor hybrid propulsion system, giving it standard all-wheel drive. Total combined output is 196 horsepower, which Toyota says is good for 0-60 acceleration in 8.0 seconds (or about two seconds faster than the base engine). EPA-estimated fuel economy is 45 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 42 mpg combined. According to EPA fuel cost estimates, you can save about $500 per year by choosing the Cross Hybrid.
What is the Corolla Cross driving experience like?
In most respects, the Corolla Cross is good to drive. It has a slightly soft ride without being floaty. The steering is numb but precise. Wind, road and tire noise are high, but at the level expected for this class. If you focus too much on how a car drives and handles, the Corolla Cross is not the car for you. This is in contrast to the turbocharged Mazda CX-30 and Kia Seltos, which are surprisingly fun to drive. The Cross Hybrid is available exclusively on supposedly sportier trim levels that aren’t available on the regular model, but honestly, don’t get your hopes up. It’s a subtle difference, if there is one. Fortunately, this semi-sporty style doesn’t get in the way of comfort.
In the end, what reduces the performance of the Corolla Cross is the engines. The standard four-cylinder engine is rough, and has to accelerate hard to produce enough power to keep up with traffic. Because of the CVT, it tends to stall at a certain rpm for acceleration, resulting in a loud and unpleasant hum. It also takes some serious pressure on the pedal to wake up the Corolla Cross, as it’s working hard most of the time to keep the revs low and acceleration slow to maximize fuel economy. Now, the Corolla Cross Hybrid is actually more powerful, and acceleration has been improved from the back of the range right into the middle. There’s no argument about fuel economy either. The problem is that it’s still very noisy, with excessive humming noises from the engine and the hybrid system’s electronic CVT. Surprisingly, the same powertrain in the new Prius is quieter and more refined. This is just one of the reasons we’d sooner recommend the Prius over the Corolla Cross.
What other reviews can I read about Toyota Corolla Cross?
First drive review of the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid: More economical than fun
Our most comprehensive review of the hybrid, including details about its engineering and design.
What is the price of the 2023 Corolla Cross and what features are available?
The base Corolla Cross model is the L trim level, and it starts at $24,395 with a $1,335 destination charge. Adding all-wheel drive increases the price by $1,300 on all models. Convenience features are sparse on the L model. It comes with 17-inch steel wheels, LED headlights, single-zone manual climate control, manually adjustable cloth seats, power windows and locks, remote locking, and an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay. /Android Auto Wireless. It comes with a number of welcome standard advanced driver aids which we cover in the next section.
Above the L are the LE and XLE models. The LE adds roof rails, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, keyless entry/push-button start, automatic climate control, wireless phone charging, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and two additional USB ports. As for the XLE, it’s nicely outfitted with the addition of LED DRLs/turn signals, LED taillights, fog lights, chrome trim on the grille and window frame, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, ambient lighting, and upholstery. Leather, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, a foldable rear armrest with two additional cup holders, and a 7-inch dashboard screen.
The hybrid model is available in S, SE and XSE trims. It mimics the step-up in equipment offered by the gas-only version, but the S and SE trims come with some additional equipment like 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, LED headlights and taillights and a keyless entry/drive system. Start button.
Full prices for the gas-powered Corolla Cross are below, including destination charges. We will update this list with hybrid pricing when it becomes available.
Hybrid S: $29,305
Hybrid SE: $30,625
Hybrid XSE: $32,400
What are the safety rates in the Corolla Cross? And Driver assistance features?
The Toyota Corolla Cross earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award for the 2022 model year, and there’s little reason to expect it not to do so this year. It received a “Good” rating in all crash tests. The only drawback is a score of “Acceptable” for the headlights without the Adaptive Front Lighting System package.
The small SUV comes standard with a good range of driver aids, including everything in Toyota’s TSS 3.0 suite. It has automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and an automatic high-beam road signal that assists with adaptive cruise control at full speed. Move up to the LE, and you get blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning and Safe Exit Assist. The XLE adds front and rear parking sensors with automatic emergency braking and grid lines for the backup camera.