|✓ Smart design||☓ Okay (but not great) performance|
|✓ Available AWD, decent ground clearance||☓ Middle-of-the-pack ride (fine for most buyers)|
|✓ Good fuel economy|
|✓ Great value in its class|
I take it the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross on a few Texas dirt roads to test its AWD setup.
First of all, Toyota did not provide an off-road course for the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross. We took it upon ourselves to find a few lightly challenging roads to test the vehicle’s all-wheel drive (AWD) system. All of this while doing a full review on the tiny crossover as well. Like many folks who saw our first video review said, I think this little guy will sell like hotcakes – and for good reason.
This is a happy little car. Its main competition consists of vehicles like the Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Ford EcoSport, Subaru Crosstrek and Volkswagen’s new Taos, among others. It’s a crowded segment, one that represents “active lifestyle” vehicles that average around 30 mpg combined. Sure, Toyota has the C-HR “crossover,” but that’s only available with front-wheel drive and it’s poorly setup for utility, or anything off-highway.
I think it’s a handsome design, one that’s inoffensive, and it manages to mitigate the angry grille design Toyota has recently embraced. The lines are kind of sweet – considering this vehicle’s humble powertrain. I especially like the beefy-looking fenders. Overall, unlike the over-styled, underperforming C-HR, the Corolla Cross is a smarter design.
The platform (TNGA-C) is shared with other Corollas, and the Prius – among others. In this case, it manages to hold passengers in the most effective way, compared to other Corollas. It has pretty much the same dashboard, and infotainment system as the Corolla as well. The center display can run up to seven-inches (otherwise, it’s four-inches) and the top model gets an eight-inch infotainments screen.
We were in the top trim XLE model, which gives you comfy premium (“SofTex” leatherette) seats and the optional moonroof. A power driver’s seat is standard on the higher end models, but the rest of the seating is pretty basic.
This configuration gives you the least amount of cargo space. You lose about one cubic foot of cargo space with an AWD model, and a bit more with the intrusion of the moonroof. Total maximum cargo space can be up to 66.8 cubic feet. That’s not too shabby – near the top of the class.
One important note: the rear seats have air conditioning vents! It may not be a big deal to some, but (as a parent) I know the little ones will appreciate it. Not many competitor’s have rear seat vents.
The 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross packs a familiar powertrain
The 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross comes with one engine, one transmission and optional AWD. Packing a mediocre 169 horsepower 2.0-liter engine that makes 150 lb-ft of torque, the little guy take a moment to gather momentum. Fortunately, it comes with Toyota’s “Direct Shift” continuously variable transmission (CVT). I’m no CVT fan, but Toyota’s setup adds a real first gear, before switching to the CVT. It makes for less of a rubber band-like sensation. It also helps the 3,300-pound vehicle get respectable fuel mileage.
If you opt for AWD, you will gain about 165 pounds over the front-wheel drive car, and lose $1,500. Fortunately, it’s available in every trim.
Driving impressions — on and off the beaten path
With a real first gear, it’s a little more eager off the line than a Honda HR-V. Still, the little Corolla Cross will struggle to keep up with many competitors with turbochargers. It’s fairly quiet, and the ride is a fine compromise. The VW Taos rides a tad better, and the Mazda CX-30 handles much better. I find the Corolla Cross to sit in the middle of the pack for overall ride and performance.
We did our testing with three people in the car at once. All of my data is based on real-world information, at less than 1,000 feet elevation. Still, it has enough power to pass on fast highways, without feeling too pokey. It’s fairly quiet too.
When I chose to find some dirt, the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross did well enough. The AWD system, which it shares with the Toyota Camry AWD, splits torque up to 50/50 front and rear – if front slippage is detected. There are no buttons to push to activate the system, and it works with an electromagnetic clutch to keep the car running the front wheels for maximum efficiency. Over dirt paths, and through a few off-camber turns, the system was rapid to send power aft.
Still, we need to do a full evaluation in the Rocky Mountains to see what’s what in the rough.
Prices, fuel economy and more
To me, starting at $22,000 the FWD L model makes more sense than a Corolla Hatchback for utility and comfort. Starting at $25,845, the LE is comprehensibly equipped and will most likely be the volume seller. The $28,000 XLE will give you most of the goodies, leaving only a few popular options available. With that being said, Toyota will offer 29 additional components you can add to your Corolla Cross. Those items include roof-racks, bike carriers and whatnot.
Remember, all-wheel drive costs an extra $1,500 on all trims.
According to Toyota, the (LE & XLE) FWD Toyota Corolla Cross will deliver 32 mpg combined, but you can get up to 33 mpg combined in the base L model. The AWD models all average 30 mpg combined. While it’s not “best in class” it is very competitive.
If I met someone starting out with a small family, or needed a tiny AWD with maximum utility, the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross would be in my top five. It is a lot smaller than a RAV4, and less expensive, yet I feel it may tempt buyers away from Toyota’s own RAV4 — hurting that model’s overall sales. If nothing else, it looks like a MUCH better entry crossover than the C-HR. On top of that, it comes with Toyota’s solid reputation.
All of that adds up to a hell of a good start.