Do you really need hybrid power in your Toyota Corolla Cross?
Of those eight, only three have standalone petrol power. Clearly, the Toyota product planning team is steering customers down the petrol-electric road.
There’s an argument to be made for sticking with old-fashioned petrol power, though.
Sure, you’ll save some money on fuel with the hybrid, but the Corolla Cross Atmos petrol is $2500 cheaper than the front-wheel drive hybrid option, and a whopping $5500 less expensive than the range-topping AWD Hybrid we recently tested.
That buys you a lot of petrol. It also allows you to opt for a top-spec Atmos petrol instead of a mid-range GXL AWD Hybrid for very similar money.
The Corolla Cross range starts at $33,000 before on-road costs, and tops out just shy of $50,000.
The Atmos 2WD on test here is priced from $43,550 before on-roads, making it the cheapest way into a fully-loaded Corolla Cross. The 2WD Hybrid is $2500 more expensive, and the AWD Hybrid is $5500 pricier.
It’s just $1300 more expensive than the worse equipped, but more efficient Corolla Cross GXL AWD Hybrid.
The Atmos is aligned with the Kia Seltos GT-Line 2.0 FWD ($41,500) on price, along with the Mazda CX-30 G25 Touring ($41,990). It also crosses over with the larger Toyota RAV4 GXL 2WD Hybrid ($42,600).
2023 Toyota Corolla Cross pricing:
- Toyota Corolla Cross GX 2WD: $33,000
- Toyota Corolla Cross GX 2WD Hybrid: $35,000
- Toyota Corolla Cross GXL 2WD: $36,750
- Toyota Corolla Cross GXL 2WD Hybrid: $39,250
- Toyota Corolla Cross GXL AWD Hybrid: $42,250
- Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos 2WD: $43,550
- Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos 2WD Hybrid: $46,050
- Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos AWD Hybrid: $49,050
Prices exclude on-road costs
There’s plenty of Corolla about the front section of the Corolla Cross cabin.
The dashboard and steering wheel are lifted from the hatchback, although the Cross features a bigger screen and some unique detailing lower down. It’s reasonably handsome, but it’s not particularly expensive or flashy at first glance.
Up front the driver and passenger sit high in generously padded leather seats, for a more commanding view of the road ahead than a Corolla hatch or sedan can offer, and the tall roofline and generous glasshouse make the Cross feel quite spacious.
You’ll be able to get comfortable behind the wheel, no matter what shape you are.
All the major controls fall easily to hand.
There’s no missing the 10.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which dominates the dashboard, while the simple climate control pod below it is direct from the Corolla hatch.
Below that sits a bank of switches (heated seats, steering wheel) that look and feel like an afterthought, while the inclusion of just one USB-A port up front is hard to understand in a brand new car. Most rivals offer two plugs, and most have moved to USB-C.
As for the technology? Traditionally a Toyota weak spot, it’s much improved here.
The bigger screen features more modern graphics and faster responses than the outdated setup now being phased out elsewhere in the range, and the inclusion of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a win.
Does it propel the Corolla Cross to the top of the class? No, but it doesn’t feel like Toyota has brought a knife to a gunfight anymore.
The same applies to the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, which is more modern than the hybrid analogue/digital setup that’s featured on range-topping Toyotas until now. Volkswagen still offers more customisation, sharper graphics, and better mapping, but the Big T is closer than ever.
Although there are some high points, the front of the Corolla Cross can’t hide its budget origins. The dashboard trim to the right of the steering wheel is hard plastic, as are parts of the (slightly flimsy) door trims, and the love lavished on the RAV4 with its rubberised climate dials and interesting materials hasn’t been replicated here.
We were hoping for a bit more, although it’s easier to swallow in the petrol Atmos with its $43,000 sticker than the AWD Hybrid, which is nudging $50k.
Space in the rear seats is in keeping with the Corolla Cross’ pitch as a car for people who think the Yaris Cross is too small, and the RAV4 is too big.
Legroom is solid behind adults, although headroom isn’t standout in the Atmos with its panoramic sunroof.
The inclusion of air vents will endear the Cross to parents in Australia, as will the USB-C ports standard back there to keep devices charged. There are two ISOFIX and three top-tether points.
If you’re constantly carrying a full load of children, the RAV4 is a better bet. If you have a smaller family and have only just outgrown your hatchback, it’s likely the right size.
The only difference between the Atmos petrol and its hybrid brethren inside is the boot. At 415 litres, it’s up 45L on the AWD Hybrid we recently reviewed.
The flat floor and relatively broad load bay mean it’s a practical space, and the extra room is noticeable relative to the hybrid, but it still doesn’t feel as usable back there as a Kia Seltos.
The petrol-only unit on offer in the Corolla Cross is a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder with 126kW of power and 202Nm of torque, sending power to the front wheels through a CVT automatic.
The 100km/h sprint takes a claimed 9.0 seconds, making this the slowest member of the range.
Claimed fuel economy in the petrol is 6.0L/100km (136g/km of CO2) on the combined cycle, and the car drinks 91 RON regular unleaded.
The petrol Corolla Cross has the biggest fuel tank in the range, at 47L.
The Corolla Cross is comfortable and quiet, but it won’t set your pulse racing.
It also lacks the smooth, serene feeling you get from the hybrid at low speeds. Rather than setting off in silence, it can be gruff on startup and doesn’t enjoy being pushed hard.
Lean gently on the throttle and it hums along effortlessly, but ask for too much more and there’s plenty of noise in the cabin.
Toyota’s CVT is smoother and smarter than earlier iterations, and will imitate a conventional torque converter by shuffling through faux ratios for a more natural feeling, but it doesn’t feel like a natural athlete.
That’s okay, given the average Corolla buyer doesn’t want a sports car, but even the hybrid with its electric motor feels a bit livelier.
There are going to be plenty of people stepping up from older Corollas or RAV4s that will immediately feel comfortable behind the wheel given their last car didn’t have an electric motor, but the learning curve on Toyota hybrids isn’t what you’d call steep.
At a settled cruise, it’s impressively quiet. The Corolla Cross hums along with minimal wind, road, and engine noise at 100km/h on Australian roads, and the ride is excellent on the 18-inch alloy wheels standard on the range-topping car.
Sometimes small-ish SUVs with big wheels can crash and bash over potholes and expansion joints, but this feels impressively plush.
Other cars built on the TNGA platform can occasionally be a bit boomy at highway speeds, but the Cross hasn’t fallen into the same trap. It feels meaningfully more grown up than the Yaris Cross, and the elevated driving position will no doubt make nervous drivers feel more comfortable in the cut-and-thrust of the open road.
Coupled with light, fluid steering and excellent all-round visibility, the ride makes the Corolla Cross feel right at home on pockmarked city streets.
Toyota has improved the quality of its cameras and displays, leaving fewer excuses for scraped or dinged bumpers – although the static guidelines on the reversing camera and its low-light performance still feel a bit cheap relative to what’s on offer in rival crossovers.
The range of driver assists on offer work smartly. The adaptive cruise does a good job keeping a consistent gap to the car in front, the lane-centring feels the right amount of hands-on, and the lane-keep will confidently nudge you back between the white lines if you stray.
Corolla Cross GX highlights:
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- 17-inch temporary spare wheel
- LED headlights
- LED daytime running lights
- Heated, retractable side mirrors
- Automatic air-conditioning
- Fabric upholstery
- Keyless entry and start
- 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment
- Wireless Apple CarPlay
- Wired Android Auto
- DAB+ radio
- 6-speaker audio
- Toyota Connected Services
- Check lock/unlock status
- Check vehicle location
- Log recent trips
- Start the engine and climate control
- Set controls on guest drivers
Corolla Cross GXL adds:
- LED (high-grade) headlights
- Front fog lights
- Rear privacy glass
- Roof rails
- Leather-accented/fabric upholstery
- Leather-accented steering wheel, shifter
- Electrochromatic rear-view mirror
- Dual-zone climate control
- 10.5-inch touchscreen infotainment
- Satellite navigation
- USB-C rear charge ports
- 360-degree camera system
Corolla Cross Atmos adds:
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Panoramic sunroof
- Electric tailgate with kick sensor
- Leather-accented upholstery
- Heated front seats
- 8-way power driver’s seat
- Heated steering wheel
- Wireless smartphone charger
- Rain-sensing wipers
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- Advanced Park Assist
- 360-degree cameras with see-through view
Since its launch earlier this year, the Toyota Corolla Cross has earned a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Applicable to all variants, the Corolla Cross managed 85 per cent for adult occupant protection, 88 per cent for child occupant protection, 87 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 83 per cent for safety assist.
ANCAP praised the Corolla Cross for achieving the best vulnerable road user score against the 2020-22 criteria yet, though only Marginal protection of the driver’s chest was recorded in the frontal offset test, with a penalty applied.
Standard safety features include:
- Toyota Safety Sense
- AEB with Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Adaptive cruise control incl. curve speed reduction
- Auto high-beam
- Lane departure warning
- Lane keep assist
- Lane Trace Assist (centring)
- Lane change assist (NEW)
- Speed sign assist
- Blind-spot monitoring incl. safe exit assist
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Reversing camera
- 8 airbags incl. front-centre airbag
- Parking support brake incl. vehicle, object detection
- ‘Simple’ panoramic view monitor (360 cameras)
Atmos Hybrid adds:
- Enhanced panoramic view monitor (360 cameras with see-through view)
- Advanced Park Assist
- Parking support brake incl. pedestrian detection
The Corolla Cross is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which extends to seven years on the powertrain if the car is serviced using Toyota’s capped-price service program.
Maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres, and the first five services are capped at $230 each.
You can save some money upfront by opting for a petrol Corolla Cross, but the hybrid is undoubtedly a better car.
There are significant real-world fuel savings to be had, and it’s a nicer car to drive in the city thanks to its electric motor.
As we said in the Atmos Hybrid AWD review, the Corolla Cross has plenty to offer but its strengths are potentially better highlighted elsewhere in the range.
An Atmos 2WD Hybrid has all the nice bits and pieces on offer in our petrol tester, for example, but features a smoother and quieter hybrid drivetrain for $2500 more.
Alternatively, if you’re willing to forego some niceties the GXL AWD Hybrid is cheaper than the Atmos petrol, punchier, more efficient, and features all-wheel drive.
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