The Toyota Corolla Cross may not look super exciting on first glance, but it’s one of the most anticipated new vehicles to launch in 2022.
Every time we published an article about it on CarExpert it would quickly become the top-ranking article of the week, and we’ve received countless reader questions about it.
At $33,000 before on-roads, this is the Corolla Cross in its most affordable form, and a good way to test Toyota’s anticipated new crossover without all the distracting bells and whistles from higher up in the range.
Could the base model be the sweet spot? Let’s find out!
On test we have the absolute cheapest Corolla Cross variant you can buy in Australia – priced from $33,000 before on-road costs.
Drive-away, you’re looking at about $37,320 for this variant using a Melbourne postcode with standard paint.
The base GX is also available with a petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain for an additional $2500, making it the most affordable hybrid in the segment – though rivals in this space are few and far between.
It’s also pretty competitive with entry-level offerings in the segment – see below for more.
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
Key rivals include:
- Honda HR-V Vi X: $36,700 D/A
- Kia Seltos Sport 2.0 FWD: $35,390 D/A
- Mazda CX-30 G20 Evolve: $32,790
- MG ZST Essence: $33,990 drive-away
- Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross LS 2WD: $33,490
- Nissan Qashqai ST: $33,890
- Subaru XV 2.0i-L: $33,190
Prices exclude on-road costs unless specified
The fleet-spec vibe of the demure exterior continues in the cabin, with a polyurethane steering wheel and hard door trims. In fairness, there’s a number of entry-level SUVs that undress the cabin a bit at the base grade.
While the drab grey colour scheme and more utilitarian materials don’t give off a luxurious vibe, the hard-wearing cloth, clean design and clear digital displays make the Corolla Cross’s cabin very functional, giving off a feeling of durability.
The front seats are comfortable and offer decent bolstering to support you in the right places, and there’s good adjustment in both the driver’s seat and steering wheel so that even leggy people like myself can get comfy.
While the steering wheel lacks a leather or leather-look finish, I’m a big fan of its compact rim and well-placed switchgear. It just sits super comfortably in the hand – provided you haven’t left it out in the sun for too long.
Ahead of the driver is the same 7.0-inch supervision display you’ll find in the higher-up GXL, and it’s suspiciously similar in size and design to the unit used in more expensive vehicles like the Lexus NX.
Sitting atop the dashboard is an 8.0-inch touchscreen shared with other models in the Toyota line-up, offering wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, but without factory satellite navigation.
It does offer Toyota Connected Services, which includes a 12-month subscription to an array of net-based services such as remote functions via your smartphone and an intelligent voice assistant activated by saying “Hey Toyota”. Being the base model with no native navigation, the connected nav feature isn’t available here.
The thick bezels may not be super attractive, but the latest generation of Toyota’s infotainment is a massive step forward in look and feel compared to even the most recent iteration, and in practice it’s a much snappier and fluid experience as ever.
Wireless Apple CarPlay worked pretty flawlessly during our time with the Corolla Cross and is a cinch to set up, while audio quality from the standard six-speaker audio system is fine given the price point.
Below the tablet-style display are physical climate controls nicked straight from the Corolla Hatch and Sedan, which are clearly labelled, easy to use and nicely designed. The GX gets single-zone climate, while GXL and Atmos models feature dual-zone functionality – all models score rear air vents, however.
Storage up front is also good, thanks to a deep cubby under the centre stack – though no wireless phone charger in this grade – cupholders between the front seats, a small-ish centre bin and door pockets that can accommodate the average bottle and other small items.
Like we assessed at the launch, the Corolla Cross’s rear seat is more accommodating than some smaller crossovers, but it’s not quite the size of something like a RAV4.
I’m 6’1 and can fit behind my preferred driving position fine, although it’s a bit snug in terms of knee room. Head and toe room otherwise are good for the class.
Two adults will be fine back there, and the Corolla Cross’s big rear windows mean it’s a much better kiddy carrier than the related C-HR. You also get rear air vents, a map pocket behind the front passenger seat, as well as bottle holders in the door.
Speaking of the kids, there are ISOFIX anchors on the outboard positions, as well as top-tether points across all three rear seats.
The boot capacity of the Corolla Cross largely depends on the variant you choose, but the GX and GXL 2WD petrol versions offer the most space at 436 litres in five-seat configuration.
You’ll find a temporary space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor, which is better than AWD Hybrid models with their repair kits, but rivals like the Kia Seltos offer full-size spares across the bulk of the range.
The space itself is nice and square, but when the rear seats are folded there’s no adjustable load floor and therefore there’s a huge hump between the low-slung boot floor and the backs of the rear seats. Having done an IKEA run with a friend to get a 2.0m-long cabinet, this was a bit of a pain.
Petrol versions of the Corolla Cross run a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine developing 126kW at 6600rpm, and 202Nm between 4400 and 4900rpm. It’s the same motor as the Corolla Hatch and Sedan.
Drive is sent exclusively to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT) which features 10 virtual ‘speeds’ in its Manual mode, as well as a launch gear.
Combined fuel consumption is quoted at 6.0L/100km, while CO2 emissions are rated at 136g/km. Unlike some other vehicles in the Toyota line-up, the petrol engine doesn’t feature idle stop/start technology.
All versions of the Corolla Cross run on regular 91 RON unleaded, with fuel tank capacity dependent on the drivetrain. 2WD petrol versions get a 47-litre fuel tank, while 2WD Hybrid and AWD Hybrid offer 36L and 43L tanks respectively.
Toyota quotes a 0-100 time of 9.0-9.2 seconds for the petrols. Top speed is rated at 198km/h. All versions of the Corolla Cross are rated to tow up to 750kg (braked).
In keeping with its entry-level positioning, the base Corolla Cross petrol is decent across all metrics.
The atmo 2.0-litre four fires up with a tinny rumble, and as we’ve experienced in other Toyota models with this petrol-CVT drivetrain, it gets along with usual duties just fine.
It’s a basic, economy-class drivetrain that’s best used in a more sedate, relaxed manner. Demand more of it and it can get quite coarse and noisy under load, though it at least translates to reasonable progress.
The petrol model’s CVT has 10 simulated ‘steps’ and a physical launch gear, so it does a good job at mimicking a conventional automatic under acceleration while also dropping revs at a cruise to improve economy.
Around town the petrol Corolla Cross gets up to speed without much fuss, and the cushy ride and big tyre sidewalls do a good job of ironing out the lumps and bumps of inner-city Melbourne.
It also handles in typical Toyota fashion – it’s a sweet steer. The fluid steering and responsive front end make the Corolla Cross very easy to navigate any environment in, and there’s a level of talent in the chassis that encourages some driver engagement.
These environments demand less from the naturally-aspirated petrol engine, meaning the general ambience is smooth and refined. However, it’s not as responsive nor as efficient as the $2500 dearer hybrid version.
Unlike the larger RAV4 with effectively the same engine, the Corolla Cross lacks fuel saving idle stop/start technology – which meant our traffic-heavy week of daily commuting saw the fuel consumption blow out a little higher than we experienced on the media launch in Sydney.
I’ll also note the CVT transmission’s physical launch gear also negates the elastic, slingshot sensation that many transmissions of this type exhibit off the line.
Once you hit the highway the Corolla Cross again gets the job done without making much of a song and dance – unless you really push it, which again leads to a shouty engine note.
Being naturally aspirated, peak torque doesn’t come on tap until quite high in the rev range – 4400rpm – so if you’re in a rush or need to overtake, you’ll need the CVT to flare revs to get the best out of it. As noted earlier, it’s not the most refined power unit when being driven in this manner.
Once at a cruise, however, the engine settles into a pretty silent hum, with the CVT able to drop revs to about 1500-1600rpm at around 100km/h. Not bad.
Wind and road noise levels are good for the class, in a segment where highway refinement often takes a figurative back seat. It’s also a notable improvement on the standard Corolla passenger models.
Toyota also needs to be commended for including an expansive suite of driver assistance systems and LED highlights from the base trim level – we’re looking at you, Kia.
All versions of the Corolla Cross feature adaptive cruise control with stop/go that combines with Lane Trace Assist to facilitate semi-autonomous highway driving capability, and in practice it’s a pretty accurate co-pilot unlike Toyota systems past.
There’s also handy inclusions like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert – though the plentiful glasshouse means outward visibility is quite good – and there’s even lane change assist that gently steers towards the adjacent lane when indicating; a feature typically offered by Mercedes-Benz models.
Rounding out the headline standard inclusions is a reversing camera with adaptive guidelines. It offers decent resolution for the spend – unlike the very average surround cameras on up-spec versions – though there are no supplementary parking sensors on the base model.
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)
- Glacier White
- Frosted White*
- Stunning Silver*
- Eclipse Black*
- Atomic Rush*
- Lunar Blue*
- Moondust Grey*
- Jungle Khaki
*Premium paint costs $575
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 powertrain components if the car is serviced using Toyota’s capped-price service program.
Maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres – whichever comes first. Toyota offers affordable capped-price servicing for the Corolla Cross, with the first five services capped at $230 each.
As for real-world fuel consumption, we saw an indicated 8.1L per 100km during our week with the Corolla Cross, which is a bit up on Toyota’s 6.0L/100km claim and more than the 7.4L/100km urban figure. For reference, the Corolla Cross 2WD Hybrid claims to use nearly half of our real-world figure (4.3L/100km) and fares better in town.
It’s worth noting the Corolla Cross spent the majority time in heavy traffic, but the lack of stop/start meant it spent a lot of time idling at a standstill.
Lower trim levels are often forgotten in today’s marketplace, such is the Australian private buyer’s preference for top-spec models.
Yes the Corolla Cross GX will appeal more to fleets than the average private customer, but if you’re looking for a safe, sensible, no-frills compact SUV that covers all bases and then some, the base Corolla Cross could be a good bet.
It’s cheap to buy and service, and is kitted out with more safety and assistance kit than just about any rival at this price point. In typical Toyota fashion, it’s a vehicle you can buy with peace of mind though it won’t ignite the senses.
With that said, our recommendation would be to get the GX Hybrid, which is worth every cent of its $2500 premium thanks to the significant efficiency and refinement gains that come with its 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain.
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