2023 Toyota Corolla Cross
The Corolla is a small car, the Cross is not
The Toyota Corolla Cross is a lot bigger than what you might imagine a Corolla being. There’s enough space in the Corolla Cross to call is a family-friendly hatchback - and the onboard technology takes this vehicle to another level.
By J-F Wright
Fri, Dec 22, 2023 08:00 PM PST
Images by the author and edited by Erica Wright.
For our part of the world this still qualifies as a compact automobile. But I know lots of places where the Toyota Corolla Cross would qualify as a “regular-sized” vehicle. A family-hatchback for the masses, very different from, say, the Corolla GR - where I was not able to fit my family.
The Toyota Corolla, especially parked amongst the average family-sized SUV, does look small. The exterior does not give a hint as to what is hiding inside… the interior is where all the space is found. Toyota has done a good job at making the semi-small interior feel spacious and, for the price-segment, even a bit luxurious. Not luxurious in the way one might expect from, say, a big-sis Lexus, obviously, but for a Corolla, yeah!
The softTex-trimmed seats look and feel like leather, and the subtle zebra-looking styling in the middle of the seat-back gives it an extra kick. Of course, the front seats are heated. As for the rear seats, there’s enough space for three kids abreast, and the outer seats are definitely comfortable enough for adults too. Actually, the middle seat is actually not that small, so for the right adult-size bottom, it might even work as a fifth spot onboard.
The trunk has enough space for a real Costco run, albeit maybe not a run to Home Depot. However, if you fold away the rear row you’ll make room for either a lot of toys or a medium-sized Home Depot run.
The Monroney for the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross HV XSE mentions that the rear seat has vents. It goes on and mentions that the front has a dual-zone, automatic air conditioning system. The need to point out that the rear seats have vents might seem kind of strange, but in reality it’s not. There are multiple luxury vehicles that either lack vents for the rear entirely or have the vents just for show, not blowing any air through them. So I get why Toyota mentions that the Carola indeed has vents for the rear seat that actually blow air.
The Toyota Corolla cross comes with the latest Toyota safety systems - the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 - and a whole host of infotainment systems. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both hook up wirelessly, and there is a spot for wireless charging up front as well. There’s outlets both for the front seat occupants as well as those in the rear.
The JBL speaker system does a decent job - especially for a car priced at $37,000. It’s not mind-blowing, but it will definitely get your favorite tunes vibrating through your ears.
The adaptive cruise control and lane assist makes this an almost autonomous driving car. But don’t tell Toyota - they don’t want you to let go of the steering wheel. And they call it Lane Tracing Assist, not the “we’ve got it from here”-program. This is all included in Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 - which further includes their Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Road Sign Assist, and the Automatic High Beams - to name a few.
Handling & Power
The Toyota Corolla cross handles just like one would expect from a crossover. It doesn’t feel like an SUV, but nor does it handle like a sports sedan. It is somewhere in between - a “cross”over. There’s not much body roll, even in tight cornering, making the Corolla Cross a relatively fun vehicle to drive.
The hybrid 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine is actually pretty quick. The electric engine gives you instantaneous torque so you can get going - and then the combustion engine kicks in and delivers the real push. The CVT transmission is a great match for the Corolla Cross. It doesn’t take long for it to hit - and stay at - the optimum level of revs. Once you get used to it never shifting - you’ll enjoy its ability to always deliver the power you’re requesting. Together with the all-wheel drive system, the Corolla Cross is a fairly sure-footed vehicle.
The adaptive headlights and adaptive front lighting system for an additional $615 gives you headlights that swivel with your steering wheel. I don’t understand why all cars don’t do this per default… I mean, who doesn’t want their headlights to light up the path that the car is going to take?
Interestingly, the fuel economy is flipped on end due to the hybrid engine. You’ll get better miles per gallon driving around town than on the highway - 45 versus 38 MPG respectively. Both of those numbers are great though, so I would count it as a great commuter car, regardless of if you’re driving through the city or across the state to get to work.
Speaking of driving across the state… is the Toyota Corolla Cross comfortable to drive? And to sit as a passenger in, for that matter? Yeah it is, especially for a vehicle of its size. Sure, you don’t sit up as high as you would in an SUV (obviously!) but then again you aren’t having to fall into a lowrider either. For 30-some thousand dollars, I’m impressed by the size, the comfort, and the technology. Especially the tech.
What’s A Crossover?
The Toyota Corolla Cross is, as I previously mentioned, not a Corolla in my mind… and not really an SUV either. It’s somewhere in-between, hence, the name “cross”. Although I would like to see the car manufacturers use the words “station wagon” and “hatchback” (which the Corolla Cross really is) on this side of the Atlantic - not just everywhere else. Crossover, in my mind, is a cross between an SUV and a car, which would imply at least some sort of ground clearance. I mean, most of the “crossovers” out there aren’t going to go anywhere near off-road - and as for that dirt road to your “cabin”, you probably would do just fine in a Jetta with all-wheel drive. It sits pretty much just as high as most of the crossovers out there.
By the way - I, for one, really like hatchbacks and station wagons!
The Toyota Corolla Cross is a lot taller than your average Corolla - the result of a bit more ground clearance coupled with a lot more vertical space inside. The front of the Corolla has the classic Toyota look -snazzy headlights slightly leaning inwards, giving it a fairly aggressive stance. The rear has a classic Toyota-hatchback look to it. The built-on roof rack, including cross rails, give it more of an off-road-capable look.
Our test car actually sports a two-toned paint job - yellow with a black roof. Together with the black trim all around - the wheels, bumpers, window trim - the combo looks really nice. The black trim goes so far that as blackening out the actual Toyota emblem on the grille.
The Toyota Corolla Cross - our test vehicle clocking in at $36,659 - is a great car for the money. It comes packed with advanced technology - both for safety and convenience. The fact that it can haul a full family - or adapt to carry larger gear with the rear seats folded - makes it a strong contender for both families and young folks with no kids (but more toys). The Toyota Corolla offers a lot of bang for the buck - you might even say it’s a fun little drive.
About The Author
John-Fredrik Wright was born in Sweden, but raised on both sides of the Atlantic. His experience in the automotive industry starts with a summer-job as a host at Volkswagen’s premier showroom in Stockholm. Later, he worked as an instructor at Swedish Active Driving, teaching safe driving (among other things the renowned "elk-avoidance maneuver") and advanced driving techniques.