Expert Reviews

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross First Drive Review

If you’re going to inherit a family name, you could do worse than “Corolla.”

Since 1966, Toyota has sold more than 50 million Corollas worldwide of varying sizes, shapes, and formats. With Canadian sales up more than 18 per cent in 2021 through October, the Corolla is tops in its segment, even leading the perennial favourite Honda Civic. Attaching the Corolla name to a crossover bodes well for recognition, but it also sets high expectations. And for the most part, the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross delivers.

Slotting between the diminutive C-HR and the ever-popular RAV4, there does indeed appear to be a place for the Corolla Cross to do battle with the likes of competitors like the Mazda CX-30, Kia Seltos, and Volkswagen Taos. It shares plenty of DNA with the other Corollas in the lineup, including the engine and transmission, and the very platform on which it’s built. And while much of the exterior looks like a smaller RAV4, those familiar with the current Corolla sedan and hatchback will also recognize the familiar interior layout that received only minor tweaks.

Comfortable Cabin

The interior shows Toyota’s intent of making this a comfortable and practical place to log kilometres. In all but the top-of-the-line XLE trim, the simple fabric seats are stitched with a diamond pattern on the backrest, and they offer decent support. In fact, while the overall seat shape is similar to those found in other Corollas, the springs inside them have been repositioned to account for the taller driving position afforded by the higher sight lines. The XLE’s seats are covered in faux-leather, available in a handsome two-tone beige and black theme that brightens up an otherwise dark and drab interior.

During a day of driving, the Corolla Cross’s front seats proved to be comfortable, with ample headroom available front and back, but rear legroom is a bit tighter than in most competitors. The 60/40-split folding rear seat will accommodate three across, though it’ll be tight for a trio of adults. The boxier, squared-off shape compared to the smaller C-HR equates to improved outward visibility, especially in the rear three-quarter view.

Ergonomic Extraordinaire

The Corolla Cross’s controls are sensibly laid out, and the knobs for volume and tuning, plus climate control (dual-zone in the XLE trim) make for simple operation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard equipment, even with the base L trim’s seven-inch touchscreen. All other trims receive an eight-inch touchscreen that proved simple and responsive, and while the XLE also gets a wireless charge pad, there’s no wireless connectivity, but there are four USB ports on board. The top-line nine-speaker sound system offers a modest improvement over the mediocre base unit. The XLE has a partly digital gauge pod as well, though there are no complaints about the L and LE trim’s traditional gauge layout.

Kudos to Toyota for making both heated front seats and a heated steering wheel standard on everything but the basic L models. It also graciously relocated the heated seat controls to an easier-to-access location compared to the rest of the Corolla lineup.

Small but Safe

Toyota should also be commended for including its full suite of advanced safety features as standard equipment across the board. In addition to nine airbags, there are pre-collision systems with automated braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assistance, and LED headlights with automatic high-beam control across the board. Blind-spot monitoring is available on upper trims.

Spacious for Its Size

Cargo capacity varies depending on drive configuration – front- or all-wheel drive – and whether or not a sunroof is specified. At best, a front-driven Corolla Cross without a sunroof is rated at 750 L behind the rear seats and 1,891 L with the rear seats folded. These figures are impressive, nearing the capacity of the VW Taos. Even in its least capacious format with AWD and a sunroof, the 696 L behind the rear seats and 1,840 L with them stowed are still near the best in the class. Toyota gives the Corolla Cross a 680-kg (1,500-lb) tow rating.

On the Road

The test route for our Corolla Cross drive included a mix of highway and twisty back roads, giving a good all-round impression of its capabilities. At highway speeds it’s a smooth and quiet cruiser for this class of vehicle, and in the corners the Corolla Cross is a competent handler. The differences between front- and all-wheel-drive models are deeper than traction, though, as the former also have a simpler torsion beam rear suspension that tends to hop and crash over larger bumps compared to the latter’s multi-link setup.

All-wheel-drive versions have a fully independent rear suspension that helps keep the back end better controlled in corners and over road irregularities. Given that all-wheel drive is only a $1,400 option on the two cheapest trims (and standard elsewhere), it’s almost a no-brainer, especially with its added traction benefits.

The familiar 2.0L four-cylinder engine generates 169 hp at 6,600 rpm and 151 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm, and it’s the only power plant available. It provides adequate oomph to get things rolling, but compared to the torquier turbocharged offerings from competitors, the drivetrain may be the one area in which the Corolla Cross falls short. Toyota also offers only one transmission: a continuously variable transmission (CVT). While CVTs generally leave driving enthusiasts complaining about the rubber-band feel of the power delivery, Toyota fits a physical first gear to give a more direct feel when starting out.

Fairly Efficient

CVTs are generally employed to help maximize fuel efficiency (and reduce production costs), and to this end, the Corolla Cross fares very well. Toyota claims an average consumption rate of 7.6 / 7.0 / 7.3 L/100 km for front-wheel-drive models, while all-wheel-drive versions are estimated at 8.1 / 7.4 / 7.8 L/100 km. Regular fuel is all that’s required, and the all-wheel drive figures are better than those of most direct competitors.

Pricing and Availability

Toyota has gotten quite aggressive with its pricing of the Corolla Cross, especially considering the impressive amount of standard equipment. Basic L models start at $26,750 (FWD) and $28,150 (AWD), with the expected volume sellers being the mid-trim LE at $28,950 (FWD) and $30,350 (AWD) and the LE Premium at $32,450, which adds standard all-wheel drive, a wireless charger, power sunroof, and roof rails. The XLE, meanwhile, is $35,850 before tax. All prices include a non-negotiable freight fee of $1,860

Final Thoughts

Toyota is confident the 2022 Corolla Cross is poised to be a high-volume seller, and there is no reason to doubt that belief. This newest entry into the sub compact crossover category is a sensibly designed, high-value offering, and well deserving of its storied Corolla nameplate.