The Toyota Corolla Cross is one of the brand’s most hotly-anticipated new arrivals for those who want a smartly sized, decently priced and family-friendly small SUV.
With an expansive range of models and variants, we’ve sampled the top-spec Atmos and the base version GX in petrol form. This was our first chance to have a go in the GX Hybrid, which we’d previously suggested would be the pick of the entry-level versions.
Is it? You bet – with supreme real-world efficiency and usability, the hybrid powertrain makes the Corolla Cross move from a car that you should consider, to one that you should probably just go ahead and order.
But the GX trim? Hmmm. Maybe fork out a bit more and get the GXL. You’ll find out why if you keep reading…
The Corolla Cross GX 2WD Hybrid is the more expensive of the entry-grade versions, attracting a $2500 premium over the petrol equivalent at $35,500 plus on-road costs.
But if you’re after a “proper” hybrid rival at this price, the only other small SUV you could really consider is the GWM Haval Jolion Lux HEV ($36,990 drive-away). That said, I’d have the Corolla Cross Hybrid in a heartbeat.
2023 Toyota Corolla Cross pricing:
- Toyota Corolla Cross GX 2WD Petrol: $33,000
- Toyota Corolla Cross GX 2WD Hybrid: $35,500
- Toyota Corolla Cross GXL 2WD Petrol: $36,750
- Toyota Corolla Cross GXL 2WD Hybrid: $39,250
- Toyota Corolla Cross GXL AWD Hybrid: $42,250
- Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos 2WD Petrol: $43,550
- Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos 2WD Hybrid: $46,050
- Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos AWD Hybrid: $49,050
Prices exclude on-road costs
It doesn’t feel like a special experience in the cabin, but it does do basic very well.
I don’t love the fact that it’s got a dark headliner. It makes it feel a little bit hemmed in. That, in combination with the dense array of greyscale plastics throughout the cabin, do make it feel a little bit dark.
The storage on offer is pretty good – cupholders between the seats, a covered centre console bin with a 12-volt plug and USB-C port, a storage section in front of the shifter (with a USB-A nearby for connecting to the media system, which you will need to use if you have an Android phone) bottle holders in the doors with additional sleeves for extra items.
What isn’t lovely is the entry-level polyurethane steering wheel and shifter – not the most enjoyable material to hang onto for long periods of time.
At least it has single-zone climate-control air-conditioning, a decent 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with wireless Apple CarPlay and sat-nav, and other convenient things like push-button start, keyless entry, a 7.0-inch digital instrument display, and all of the controls are very very easy to get used to.
It’s definitely a ‘built-to-a-cost’ style interior, just like it is in an entry-level Corolla hatch or sedan.
In the back seat, with the driver’s seat set to my position (I’m 182cm/6’0), I had enough knee room, toe room, head room and shoulder room to be comfortable.
It is a spacious back row, but not the most spacious. If you want more back-seat room, a Haval Jolion or Nissan Qashqai will be more suitable. Or an S-Class…
A plus is that there are directional events (you don’t get those in the Corolla Sedan), but there are no door pockets aside from a bottle holder on each door.
There’s only one map pocket (on the back of the front passenger seat), and in the GX there is no centre armrest with cup holders.
Parents will be happy with the fact that there are ISOFIX anchors and three-tether points, and it’s possible to fit a rearward-facing baby capsule in with enough space ahead for a front-seat passenger.
The annoying thing for parents is that loading in a child or a child seat can be a bit of a tedious process, because the doors don’t open very wide. If you want a really wide opening backdoor SUV, look at a Nissan Qashqai.
Boot space is exceptionally good, easily large enough to fit a pram and some luggage.
Toyota has – believe it or not – five different claimed boot capacity figures. But the one for the GX 2WD Hybrid is 425 litres, which is large for the class.
Just note, if you’re planning a trip to IKEA or Bunnings and you do need to fold down the seats to store a larger item, there is no flat load through space – it has a huge hump in the way.
See the pictures for a better indication of the imposition of said bump.
The hybrid version of the Toyota Corolla Cross runs a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine running on the more efficient Atkinson cycle, and the engine itself offers 112kW and 190Nm.
There’s an e-CVT transmission, and an electric motor at the front axle producing 83kW and 206Nm. Juicing up the electric motor is a 4.06Ah lithium-ion battery pack.
There is no all-wheel drive version available in GX trim, but the GXL and Atmos models with hybrid all-wheel drive add a 30kW rear axle motor.
No biggie, though, because Toyota says the combined power output for the 2WD and AWD models is the same, at 146kW. There’s no combined torque output published.
The 0-100km/h time, for those interested, is 7.5 seconds. But it feels quicker than that.
I really enjoyed the drive experience of the Corolla Cross – it’s just like a Corolla Hatch, only bigger.
That is to say that it has very enjoyable dynamics – the ride is comfortable, and yet, it still has a nice level of handling capability.
The steering is light but accurate, easy to point the car wherever you need to go – whether you are pushing it a bit through a twisty corner, or parking at the shops. The reversing camera is basic but fine, but if you want a surround-view camera, you need to step up to the GXL.
The only issue really with the handling side of things is that the tyres aren’t fantastic, but that’s an easy fix.
The hybrid powertrain – as expected – is a highlight, with ample pulling power and easy acceleration from a standstill.
I reckon this could out-sprint a few of its contemporaries from 0-50km/h. That’s the benefit of a battery backing the petrol engine up.
It’s also super duper efficient, as you’ll see in the ownership section below.
The way it dips between EV power and petrol power, or a combination of the two, is very impressive.
However, my partner also drove this car and she said she thought that the transmission was a bit wacky – in that it “seems to always make the car rev really hard”. She’s bang on, it does take some getting used to.
But once you get used to it (I am, having driven a bunch of hybrid Toyota models), it’s fine.
The noisiest element of the drive experience is when that petrol engine is revving hard, but thankfully, there’s not too much road or when noise to contend with. All told, this is a very impressive small SUV to drive.
Corolla Cross GX highlights:
- LED headlights
- Halogen daytime running lights
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Space-saver spare wheel
- Power folding, heated side mirrors
- Embossed fabric seats
- Manual front seat adjustment
- Rear seats with tilt function
- Urethane steering wheel
- Electric park brake
- 2 x front, 2 x rear cupholders
- Retractable luggage cover
- 60:40-split rear seats
- Automatic climate control
- 7.0-inch driver’s instrument display
- Smart entry and start
- 12V power socket, front
- USB-C port in centre console
- Power windows
- Door pockets with bottle holders
- 8.0-inch touchscreen
- 6-speaker audio
- AM/FM/DAB+ radio
- Wireless Apple CarPlay
- Wired Android Auto
- Toyota Connected Services (12mth subscription)
- Check lock/unlock status
- Check vehicle location
- Log recent trips
- Start the engine and climate control
- Set controls on guest drivers
The things that give it away that this is a base grade are the polyurethane steering wheel and gear selector, which certainly cheaper the feel.
And on the outside, those dull halogen daytime running lights look amazingly drab – especially when contrasted against the standard LED headlights.
Heck, you even get an LED in the boot area – I would have thought pedestrians and other road users being able to see you coming would be more important, to Toyota.
So, just to be 100 per cent clear, you get a bit of extra stuff if you can spend the $3750 extra for the GXL.
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
- 360-degree camera system
- USB-C rear charge ports
Honestly, I think you’ll get a more enjoyable Corolla Cross to sit inside of, and you’ll probably see a benefit come resale time, too.
The Toyota Corolla Cross range was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating against 2022 criteria, with pretty strong scores across the board.
It managed 85 per cent for adult occupant safety, 88 per cent for child occupants, 87 per cent for vulnerable road users, and 83 per cent for safety assist tech.
One thing to note, though, is that the GX misses out on a potentially life-saving safety technology – Backover AEB, which can auto-brake for pedestrians detected when you’re reversing.
This tech is offered in GXL and Atmos, and it really should be standard range-wide.
Otherwise, the tech offering is pretty democratic, including eight airbags (dual front, driver’s knee, front-centre, front side and full-length curtain), and a host of other assistance features.
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
There’s a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, and if you service your car on time against the logbook requirements that extends to seven years for the powertrain.
Further to that, if you maintain your car with Toyota annually, and have a hybrid system checkup done on schedule, the battery warranty is 10 years/unlimited kilometres. That’s an excellent long-term ownership prospect.
The fuel costs are going to be low in this thing, because it has serious real-world efficiency on its side.
Official combined cycle fuel consumption for the GX Hybrid is just 4.3 litres per 100 kilometres, and over several hundred kays of mixed driving, my real world return was just a smidge over that at 4.6L/100km. Very impressive.
And, it can run on 91 RON regular unleaded. Fuel tank capacity is small, though, at 36 litres. I guess that doesn’t matter that much if you get the fuel use I saw, but you’re still looking at over 780km per tank.
As for longer-term costs, the brand offers a capped-price servicing plan for the Corolla Cross, which is $250 per visit for the first five years/75,000km. Impressive.
If you want a no-frills car that will save you on petrol bills, yet still manages to offer some exceptional safety gear, in-car technology, as well as a suitably sized cabin for the family, this is a walk-up start for you.
I was thoroughly impressed by a lot of things about the Corolla Cross GX Hybrid.
I’d definitely spend the extra for a GXL and get a few more niceties, but if your budget isn’t that pliable, this is going to be a smart solution.
Click the images for the full gallery