The Toyota Corolla Cross blends the brand’s excellent hybrid technology in a small SUV package that buyers are clamouring for. Is the all-wheel-drive GXL the sweet spot in the range?
- Excellent fuel economy
- Decent performance
- Nice ride, especially over scrappy roads
- Apple CarPlay glitches
- A lack of usable storage options
- Hard-working CVT prone to droning at speed
It’s a dollop of vanilla ice cream or a slice of white bread, staples loved by many, if not all. The Toyota Corolla Cross is a new small SUV from the Japanese brand that takes the world’s best-selling car (Toyota Corolla) and turns it into a compact SUV.
But, if you’re expecting a jacked-up version of the Corolla hatchback, then think again. Externally, the Corolla Cross bears no resemblance to its small car stablemate. Instead, it presents more like a scaled-down version of the brand’s popular RAV4 medium SUV. And why wouldn’t it, the RAV4 the second-best-selling vehicle in the world in 2022 (870,000) behind the Corolla (1.12 million).
Sure, its styling is a little frumpy compared to the cutting-edge C-HR, but the Corolla Cross focuses its buyer appeal on practicality and a known quantity in the Corolla name.
It might be a little vanilla, but it will no doubt appeal to a large swathe of buyers who revere simple, fuss-free and economical motoring.
Whether the Corolla Cross can make it a trio of best-sellers, we’ll find out at the end of 2023.
How much does the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid cost in Australia?
The Corolla Cross is available in three model grades – GX, GXL and the curiously named Atmos – with a choice of either a 2.0-litre non-turbocharged petrol engine, or Toyota’s venerable hybrid powertrain that blends a version of the same 2.0-litre petrol engine with a single permanent magnet electric motor.
While the petrol-only models are only available in front-wheel drive, two of the three hybrid variants – GXL and Atmos – can be had either as a front- or all-wheel drive. Only the GX hybrid misses out on all-wheel drive.
The range starts at $33,000 plus on-road costs for the front-wheel-drive petrol and tops out eight variants later at $49,050 for the Atmos all-wheel-drive hybrid.
On test here we have the most affordable all-wheel-drive hybrid model, the Corolla Cross GXL Hybrid AWD. It’s priced at $42,250 plus on-road costs, a $3000 impost over the front-wheel-drive hybrid, or $5500 more than the front-wheel-drive non-hybrid GXL.
For context, the larger Toyota RAV4 isn’t that far out of the Corolla Cross’s price range, a similarly specified RAV4 GXL hybrid with all-wheel drive asking for $45,600 plus on-road costs. Still, we’d venture there is Corolla Cross availability while wait times for RAV4s continue to stretch into the distance.
As the middle grade of the three-grade Corolla Cross range, our test car is equipped with a nice list of standard goodies.
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Highlights include 17-inch alloy wheels, “high-grade” LED headlights and daytime-running lights, a 10.5-inch infotainment touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, DAB+ (digital) radio, keyless entry and start, power-folding and heated side mirrors, satellite navigation, leather-accented and fabric seat trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear selector, dual-zone climate control, rear privacy glass, a 360-degree camera, and roof rails.
There’s also Toyota’s comprehensive suite of safety technologies that we’ll detail later in this review.
Our test car, finished in a surprisingly nice-in-the-metal shade of Jungle Khaki, one of two no-cost colours in the palette of eight (the other six hues command a $575 premium), rolls out of the dealership and into your driveway for circa $46,521 drive-away based on Sydney delivery. The final drive-away price will vary from state to state.
How much space does the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid have inside?
While from the outside the Toyota Corolla Cross resembles a baby RAV4 rather than a jacked-up Corolla, inside it’s a different story.
Anyone who’s spent time in a Corolla recently will feel right at home. The layout and ergonomics bear more than a passing resemblance to that found in its hatchback and sedan namesakes.
Key elements of the dash design, switchgear, and the leather-cloaked steering wheel have been lifted straight off the Corolla parts shelf, no bad thing as Toyota’s small car has always presented well inside.
There’s a nice linearity to the dash design, enhanced by some faux aluminium garnishes that lift the ambience.
It’s a shame, then, that a preponderance of hard scratchy plastics mar what is otherwise a nicely designed cabin, albeit one with some faults.
The seats themselves, trimmed in cloth with faux leather accents, are supremely comfortable, perhaps even surprisingly so. You sit up nice and high in the cabin, too, exactly what buyers are after in a small SUV. After all, isn’t that elevated driving position one of the appeals?
The steering wheel is adjustable (manually) for tilt and reach, feels solid in-hand, and frames the digital instrument display nicely.
The Corolla Cross loses some points for its distinct lack of storage options. There’s a small central bin, but it’s tiny, barely able to accept a smartphone and a set of keys. A pair of cupholders located towards the rear of the centre console are awkward to reach and use, their prime real estate taken up by the gear selector.
Ahead of the gear selector is another small and flat storage area. It’s almost, but not quite, regular smartphone-sized. A little more ergonomic effort would have gone a long way.
The Corolla Cross claws back some points for its generous door pockets up front, although the amenities in the second row run out pretty quickly. There are no door pockets of note, while cupholders amount to a small receptacle in the door cards.
In good news, the second row offers a decent amount of room for back-seat passengers, certainly more space than what is found in the Corolla hatchback or sedan. There are air vents back there and a pair of USB-C plugs.
ISOFIX anchors are fitted to the outboard seats, while three top-tether mounts adorn the seatbacks.
Those back seats fold away in 60:40 split fashion to free up cargo space. With the seats upright, there’s 390L available. Toyota doesn’t quote a figure for the expanded area, and it’s worth noting that folding the back seats doesn’t reveal a flat floor. Instead, a large hump where the seatbacks pivot eats into valuable cargo space.
There’s no spare tyre of any kind, the AWD versions of the Corolla Cross Hybrid instead come equipped with a puncture repair and inflation kit. Not ideal.
|2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GXL Hybrid AWD|
|Boot volume||390L seats up|
Does the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid have Apple CarPlay?
Toyota has invested in updating its infotainment operating system. Where once rudimentary screens and clunky graphics felt a decade behind, Toyota has moved into modernity with larger screens and a more responsive set-up than previously.
In the Corolla Cross GXL grade, the infotainment touchscreen runs to 10.5 inches (against the 8.0-inch screen in GX variants). There’s wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, while satellite navigation and DAB+ radio also come standard.
We found connecting Apple CarPlay wireless problematic, the system not always connecting and then when it did, occasionally dropping out mid-function. And reconnecting when entering the Corolla Cross also proved iffy, often taking over a minute before the software finally found its mojo and started projecting my phone to the infotainment screen.
It got to the point where I instructed my phone to ignore the Toyota’s wireless connection and went straight to connecting via a good old-fashioned cable. To that end, a lone USB Type-A plug up front is your friend.
Adding to the frustration, ask Siri to read an incoming SMS and you’ll have to strain to hear her dulcet tones speaking over whatever was already playing on the Corolla Cross’s audio system. Similarly, dictate an outgoing SMS to Siri and you’ll be talking over the top of the audio system. It’s the first time we’ve encountered this mildly annoying glitch. Siri usually mutes whatever’s playing on the audio system.
To be fair, as with any new model, we’ve cycled through a few Corolla Cross variants here at Drive recently, and while some other reviewers found the wireless CarPlay connection a little glitchy, no one else reported the same issue with Siri. Perhaps an isolated issue to this specific car, and one, we dare say, can easily be fixed.
The Corolla Cross’s digital instrument cluster is pretty basic, with a large centrally positioned dial that can be customised to show fuel use, battery life, as well as energy flow and consumption.
Pleasingly, climate controls are accessed via an array of switches and dials underneath the infotainment screen, and not buried inside menus and sub-menus as part of the operating system, as is increasingly the case in today’s automotive landscape.
The Corolla Cross also debuts support for the myToyota Connect app, where you can track the car’s location, control doors/windows, set speed limits for novice drivers, and more.
It’s free for the first year for the full suite of features, but will cost between $9.95 and $12.50 per month from the second year of ownership. For more details on what the system offers, click here to read our news story.
Is the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid a safe car?
The Toyota Corolla Cross was awarded a five-star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) tested under the just-superseded 2020–22 protocols.
It was rated at 85 per cent for adult occupant protection, 88 per cent for child occupant protection, 87 per cent for vulnerable road user protection (pedestrians and cyclists), and 83 per cent for safety assist technology.
The Toyota’s vulnerable road-user score was the highest recorded by ANCAP under the 2020–22 test criteria.
What safety technology does the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid have?
A full suite of Toyota’s advanced safety technologies is fitted across the Corolla Cross range: autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with day/night pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, lane-keep assist, lane-centring assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, door exit warning, speed sign recognition, auto high-beam headlights, as well as a low-speed AEB system for car parks.
But, tyre pressure monitoring isn’t included in any Corolla Cross, a bit of an omission, we believe, the valuable safety technology increasingly common in cars today of all shapes, sizes and price points.
A complement of eight airbags are standard across the range: dual frontal airbags, side (torso) airbags for front occupants, full-length window curtain airbags, a driver’s knee airbag, and one more airbag between the front seats to prevent occupants’ heads clashing in a severe side impact.
Our week with the Corolla Cross didn’t ring any alarm bells in terms of the safety technology on board, neither overly eager to intervene nor too lazy either. Nice one, Toyota.
How much does the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid cost to maintain?
Toyota continues to be a leading light in terms of ongoing maintenance with one of the more affordable capped-price service programs.
Service intervals for the Corolla Cross are scheduled for 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first, and will set you back just $250 a pop for the first five years/75,000km.
The Corolla Cross is covered by Toyota’s standard five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, but that can be extended by two additional years (engine and drivetrain) by adhering to Toyota’s logbook servicing schedule. For commercially used vehicles (including rideshare), the warranty is capped at five years or 160,000km.
Comprehensive insurance for the Toyota Corolla Cross GXL Hybrid runs to $1519 per year based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on location, driving history, and personal circumstances.
|At a glance||2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GXL Hybrid AWD|
|Warranty||Five years, unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$750 (3 years)
$1250 (5 years)
Is the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid fuel-efficient?
Toyota claims the Corolla Cross GXL Hybrid in all-wheel drive will use just 4.4 litres of regular 91-octane unleaded per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle.
Our week with the crossover returned an indicated 5.5L/100km. That’s about on par with most of Toyota’s wider range of hybrids we’ve tested in the past.
The fuel tank weighs in at 43L, down on the 47L offered in non-hybrid variants of the Corolla Cross.
|Fuel Usage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||4.4L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||5.5L/100km|
|Fuel type||91-octane unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||43L|
What is the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid like to drive?
As we stated from the outset, the Toyota Corolla Cross is a wholly inoffensive vehicle. That’s a good thing as it does nothing particularly wrong, certainly not in terms of the driving experience.
Its 2.0-litre petrol engine is paired with two electric motors, an 83kW/206Nm up front and a 30kW at rear. On its own, the petrol engine is good for 112kW and 190Nm. Total power output is rated at 146kW.
That’s plenty enough under the right foot for most applications. This is no performance car, nor does it need to be. Instead, the Corolla Cross is adept at handling the daily nuances of driving in a pleasant if unremarkable manner.
The hybrid system works effortlessly and works well. The electric motor is the default method of motivation from standstill and works alone at speeds of up to around 35km/h before the petrol engine kicks in. It’s a seamless transition, too, quiet and refined, so much so that sometimes you have to really listen to hear if the combustion engine is, well, combusting.
Of course, harder pressure on the accelerator will see the petrol engine kick in much sooner, always ready to provide that extra bit of zing for more urgent acceleration. But in stop-start traffic and around town at slow speeds, it’s the electric motor doing the bulk of the slow work.
The circa 1kWh battery pack located under the back seat harvests energy during coasting and braking; energy it then feeds back to the electric motor to maximise efficient driving. It’s a tried and tested system, one that Toyota has perfect over 20-plus years.
The Corolla Cross remains nicely composed on the road too. Our test car came equipped with 17-inch alloys and a decent amount of rubber sidewall. And that pays dividends on the scrappy roads around Sydney where the Toyota remained supple and comfortable. Its ride characteristics won’t startle anyone.
The steering feels light and precise, and ideal for those tighter urban enclaves where, we’d venture, the Corolla Cross will spend a lot of its time.
Out on the highway, the hybrid system takes a back seat to the petrol engine, although it’s worth pointing out that the two sources of power work together to maximise efficiency and feed energy back into the battery.
Our only minor complaint is the continuously variable transmission (CVT) that can be prone to making a lot of noise under harder acceleration with little to show for it. It’s perfectly adequate around town, but out on the highway, the CVT can groan and drone away in its effort to keep the petrol engine’s revs within the optimal power band. It’s a small blot on the Toyota’s copybook.
|Key details||2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GXL Hybrid AWD|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol hybrid|
|Power||112kW @ 6000rpm petrol
83kW electric (front)
30kW electric (rear)
|Torque||190Nm @ 4400–5200rpm petrol
206Nm electric (front)
No combined figure quoted
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Continuously variable automatic (CVT)|
|Power to weight ratio||94.5kW/t|
|Spare tyre type||Tyre repair kit|
|Tow rating||750kg braked
Should I buy a Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid?
The Toyota Corolla Cross is a decent option in the small SUV segment. With a spacious cabin and that excellent and economical hybrid drivetrain, it’s easy to see why around 70 per cent of Toyota buyers in this day and age opt for the electrified combination.
It might be an entirely unremarkable and inoffensive vehicle, but it’s pleasant to drive without the ‘wow’ factor some small SUVs are keen to promote. And for many buyers, that’s the perfect accompaniment for their daily motoring needs.
We’d suggest that this all-wheel-drive GXL Hybrid variant is a touch on the high side when it comes to pricing. If you can live without all-wheel drive, the front-wheel-drive GX Hybrid is arguably a better proposition at around $40K drive-away.
Either way, the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross hybrid is the answer to a lot of people’s motoring needs.