We take our compact SUV off-road and chase storms

The Corolla name suggests dependability and dependability more than excitement and adventure, but we were able to find plenty of the latter in our long-term 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross. Throughout its 10 months in our fleet, this small compact crossover was problem-free with nearly 14,000 miles of driving. Recently, we challenged Toyota’s small SUV by pushing it a little outside of its comfort zone.

On paper, the Corolla Cross LE’s front-wheel-drive layout and lack of off-road features should make it one of our last choices for off-road work or serious weather commuting. However, in the name of exploring the capabilities of the 2022 Corolla Cross, these are exactly the kind of things we did this summer.

Off-road adventures

In the middle of summer, our 2022 Corolla Cross took a trip to Utah and spent some time exploring the great outdoors with tech writer Gerd Korfhage behind the wheel. Korfhage has plenty of experience with off-roading, dirt biking, and rock climbing, so he used his time with Toyota to indulge in all of these interests while out in the wilderness. Fortunately, the Corolla Cross had the capacity to accommodate all of its equipment. Korfhage flipped the rear seats down in order to pack a 12-volt mini-fridge, a mountain bike, and camping gear for a weekend getaway.

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The Corolla Cross is integrated among the more traditional vehicles typically seen on high-clearance mountain roads. “A couple of people asked me about the Subaru I was driving,” Korfhage said. Given its mini 4Runner profile, the Corolla Cross handled all the bumpy roads along the way, though we recommend people who intend to spend a lot of time on unpaved terrain buy the all-wheel drive version for more traction and improved (albeit minimal) rock-crawling ability. .

Back on the highway, the Corolla Cross performed as it had on our previous long adventures. Toyota’s smallest SUV is a pleasant companion on road trips, with only a few exceptions, Korvag noted. “All I can complain about is the low-beam overrun at normal highway speeds and the extremely delayed throttle response that accelerates from a stop,” he said. Otherwise, the Corolla Cross was reliable as usual throughout its nearly 2,000-mile trip from California to Utah and back.

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Storm chasing

We followed the Corolla Cross’s cross-state journey by car to Northern California for a trip to Monterey Car Week. The little Toyota easily accommodated all the luggage needed for two people and provided excellent fuel efficiency throughout the trip. We spent just $0.17 per mile, and averaged fuel economy of 28.7 mpg over the past 10 months, a testament to the Corolla Cross’ proven savings.

The trip back to Los Angeles was anything but ordinary. Our travel dates aligned perfectly with Hurricane Hillary’s landfall in Southern California, which meant we were heading straight into some seriously bad weather conditions. However, no trip between the Bay Area and Los Angeles is complete without a quick stop at a produce stand, so we were sure to make time to pick up an avocado and corn With fresh roasted corn on the way back.

After completing our missions, we returned our full focus to returning home safely. Weather radar indicated that the rain would begin at the foot of the Grape Country, a mountainous area just north of Los Angeles County. As we approached the mountains, the clouds became thicker, and the eerie calm before the storm intensified.

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Hurricane Hillary was downgraded to a tropical storm as it reached Southern California, but the roads across the Grape River were already wet when we began our ascent of Corolla Cross. At partial throttle, as we started driving uphill, the traction control system activated as our front tires struggled to maintain grip on the road surface. Korfhage was right, it was better to have four-wheel drive in these conditions. The highway was sparkling with running water, but we proceeded cautiously.

We kept a low speed as we navigated the twisty strip of highway that led through the hills. Toyota places the Corolla Cross’s hazard lights button in a prominent place in the center of the dashboard, directly between the air vents. We were grateful for this convenient location as we freely used our flashers as we crawled past cars stuck in ditches and SUVs with their bumpers smashed against Jersey barriers. Other drivers used a similar strategy to flag puddles that seemed particularly treacherous. Once again, the Corolla Cross’s 8.1 inches of ground clearance kept us out of trouble as we waded through the storm’s aftermath.

The weather was starting to clear up as we hit the Los Angeles freeways, but the ground was still slippery from the rainwater. Fortunately, the standard Michelin all-season tires that come standard on the Corolla Cross do an excellent job of shedding water, and we carried on very confidently as we finished the adventure. Although the Corolla Cross hasn’t wowed us with its performance in the past, its reliability and ease of use proved to be undeniable assets during this trip.

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A new respect for the Corolla Cross

When the Corolla Cross arrived in our fleet, we celebrated its back-to-basics approach. Just because the Corolla Cross doesn’t have a powerful engine, all-wheel drive, or a differential doesn’t mean it should be limited to city driving duty. If anything, our humble little crossover reminded us that expensive features and options are just that: optional.

To learn more about the long-term 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross:

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Toyota Corolla Cross 2022 from Motor Trend LE
Service life 10 months/13,927 miles
Base/price tested $26,010 / $26,957
Options Activity rack ($399), cross bars ($299), and all-weather floor/cargo liners ($249)
EPA CTY/HWY/CMB fuel economy; CMB range 31/33/32 mpg; 397 miles
Average fuel economy or average miles/kWh 28.7 mpg
Energy cost per mile $0.17
Maintenance and wear $0
Damages no one
Days out of service/no loan 0/0
Delights Direct steering, wireless charging, supportive seats.
Harassment Independent rear suspension for 4WD models only, second row is cramped, boring to drive.
He remembers 1; The front passenger airbag may not inflate as designed due to a manufacturing error in the instrument panel where the airbag is located.

(Tags for translation)Toyota

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