October 5, 2022

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2022 Toyota Corolla Cross LE AWD review

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In a world filled with crossovers of all shapes, sizes, and powertrains, do we need another one? This is a question of particular pertinence to the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, which comes from a brand that already offers almost twice as many crossovers and SUVs than it does sedans and hatchbacks.

When it lands later this year, the Corolla Cross will slot right between the C-HR and RAV4. Unlike RAV4, however, the Corolla Cross is based on Toyota’s TNGA-C platform, so it’s directly related to the Corolla sedan and hatch from which it earns its name, as well as C-HR.

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It’s designed so that it is visually distinctive from either of its range neighbours, looking a little less futuristic than C-HR and less rugged than RAV4. Aesthetically, it presents itself as a tall Corolla and at first glance of the specifications, the Corolla Cross appears to satisfy the same use case as both C-HR and RAV4.

If one wanted to speculate about the need for a Corolla-based crossover, one could make a valid argument. Take the legendary Corolla name, the proven platform, and make it taller in order to satisfy buyers in one of the most popular segments. Think of it more like a brand extension of Corolla than just another crossover in the line-up.

That’s over-simplifying automotive product planning and whether Corolla Cross will cannibalise sales from the C-HR and RAV4 remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Toyota thinks it will bring new buyers into the fold.

Wheels Reviews 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross LE AWD Barcelona Red US Spec Static Rear 2

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We’ve already heard that when the Corolla Cross does land on our shores, it’ll be available with two powertrains, a naturally aspirated 1.8-litre four-cylinder and a hybrid based around the same petrol engine. For this first drive, we’ve evaluated a North America-spec Corolla Cross in LE Premium AWD trim.

On that side of the Pacific, Toyota has fitted this crossover with a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 125kW at 6600rpm and 203Nm from 4400 to 4800rpm.

Like the Australian-market Corolla Cross, the only transmission available is of the continuously variable (CVT) variety. It is available in front- or all-wheel drive and there is no hybrid option for North America.

Aesthetically, it presents itself as a tall Corolla and at first glance of the specifications, the Corolla Cross appears to satisfy the same use case as both C-HR and RAV4

Wheels Reviews 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross LE AWD Barcelona Red US Spec Engine Bay

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The front suspension uses MacPherson struts, and while front-drive Corolla Crosses receive a torsion-beam rear suspension, all-wheel-drive models benefit from a multi-link set-up. Steering is by electrically assisted rack and pinion, as expected for 2022.

Brakes are 305mm vented rotors at the front while the rears are 282mm solid rotors with single-piston calipers for all four corners. As with the Corolla hatch and sedan, the parking brake is electronic.

The interior is surprisingly honest to the Corolla nameplate with a design that is evocative of both the sedan and the hatchback. In fact, the entire dashboard looks like it was lifted direct from the car-based siblings and elongated to satisfy the taller cabin height of the Cross.

Some subtle differences can be detected if you’re directly comparing the Cross with either of the lower-slung versions, but that’s a boon for this crossover because the design is clean and ergonomic. Front cabin storage is similar to that of the Corolla sedan and hatch, but is lacking for a crossover of this size.

Wheels Reviews 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross LE AWD US Spec Interior Driver Control Layout

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The rear seat uses a 60:40 split-folding design and when folded, it offers a voluminous 1869 litres of cargo capacity.

With the seats upright, storage under the hatch is a reasonable 736 litres. Upper trims include a folding armrest with a pair of cup holders, as well as a height-adjustable power tailgate.

Most North American models feature a 7.0-inch touchscreen, while the top XLE is fitted with an 8.0-inch unit. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. The system uses a recent version of Toyota’s infotainment software, but not the latest version that is rolling out across other models.

The interior is honest to the Corolla nameplate with a design that is evocative of both the sedan and the hatchback

Wheels Reviews 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross LE AWD US Spec Interior Infotainment Screen

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As with all modern Toyotas, the Corolla Cross comes with a full suite of standard active and passive safety systems including a forward collision system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, as well as nine airbags for occupant protection.

From the driver’s seat, the tall windows offer excellent visibility in all directions and with the upper trim levels, you’re supported by blind-spot monitoring and a rear cross-traffic alert system. A reversing camera is standard equipment, which makes parking as easy as pie.

The steering wheel appears to be lifted directly from the Corolla sedan and hatch, with identical secondary controls. It’s shaped perfectly and encourages drivers to keep their hands at the ‘nine and three’ position.

As with many modern cars, the infotainment screen is perched atop the dashboard but doesn’t interfere with visibility, and it’s placed square to the dash so is equally accessibly by both driver and passenger.

Wheels Reviews 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross LE AWD US Spec Interior Instrument Cluster

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Minimalism is the name of the interior’s game, with simple HVAC controls, all other buttons and switches kept as few as possible and placed in logical locations.

The switches for the electronic parking brake and its auto-hold function are located easily within reach behind the gear selector. Alas, the auto-hold doesn’t remain switched on and must be re-engaged following every restart, which will be a small annoyance for those who spend time in stop-and-go traffic.

For crossover drivers who fancy themselves as techies, Toyota’s infotainment system is best used with the supported Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, particularly with their embedded navigation systems and options for audio programming. Save for accessing the native system for terrestrial radio stations, smartphone-based interfaces are a significant improvement over Toyota’s software.

The 125kW 2.0-litre petrol engine of this North American spec tester is modestly powerful and will only accelerate the 1490kg Corolla Cross from zero to 100km/h in around nine seconds – if you get lucky with the perfect launch.

Wheels Reviews 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross LE AWD Barcelona Red US Spec Dynamic Front 2

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Undoubtedly some drivers still prefer a traditional automatic to a CVT, but Toyota has programmed some unnecessary faux gear changes when you’re accelerating near full throttle and running the engine to its redline.

To the human behind the wheel, it does feel somewhat reassuring, but when you remember that the CVT will optimise its ratios, the shifts come off as a little forced. The CVT also permits the driver to select virtual gears by sliding the shifter over from drive to its manual mode.

For those of us who enjoy some performance and refinement in our crossovers, the two-litre petrol engine is both raucous and lethargic, certainly better suited to smaller Toyota vehicles. On the other hand, if you’re prudent with the throttle, it will return reasonable fuel consumption of 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres.

What’s impressive about the Corolla Cross is that it drives akin to its sedan and hatch brethren, as if it’s got a similarly low centre of gravity

Wheels Reviews 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross LE AWD Barcelona Red US Spec Dynamic Side 1

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What’s impressive about the dynamics of the Corolla Cross is that it drives akin to its sedan and hatch brethren, as if it’s got a similarly low centre of gravity. Alas, that isn’t the case but from the driver’s seat, handling is better than the average crossover, inspiring some confidence.

Only near its handling limits do the dampers give up to reveal inadequate body and wheel control, but within normal driving conditions, the Corolla Cross provides capable ride and handling.

Over large road imperfections, suspension crash-through is intrusive, with sound and vibrations transmitting themselves into the cabin.

Given it’s electrically assisted, the steering is light but doesn’t feel over-boosted and offers only limited feedback to the driver. Braking, on the other hand, is quite good for a crossover, providing the driver with plenty of confidence in terms of both stopping power and control.

Wheels Reviews 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross LE AWD Barcelona Red US Spec Static Front 1

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VERDICT

With so many crossovers already available under the Toyota umbrella, it’s challenging to understand the need for another one in the range.

However, the Corolla Cross is a natural move up for Corolla sedan and hatchback buyers. Beyond the utility inherent in the crossover layout, a driver moving from the sedan or hatch to the Corolla Cross will find themselves perfectly at home with similar ergonomics, features, and dynamics.

Certainly, Toyota hopes that the Corolla Cross will bring new buyers to the marque, but time will tell whether this all-new crossover will be successful.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross LE AWD specifications

Body 5-door, 5-seat small SUV
Drive all-wheel
Engine 1987cc I4, DOHC, 16v
Bore/stroke 80.5 x 97.6mm
Compression ratio 13.0:1
Power 125kW @ 6600rpm
Torque 203Nm @ 4400rpm – 4800rpm
0-100km/h 9.0sec (est)
Fuel consumption 7.8L/100km (combined/claimed)
Transmission CVT
Weight 1490kg
Power/weight 84kW/tonne
Front suspension MacPherson struts, anti-roll bar
Rear suspension multi-links, anti-roll bar
L/W/H 4474/1824/1649mm
Wheelbase 2639mm
Track N/A
Steering electric assisted rack and pinion
Front brakes 305mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers
Rear brakes 282mm solid discs, single-piston calipers
Wheels 17 x 7-inch (f/r)
Tyres 215/65R17 (f/r)
Price TBC



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