First Drive: 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross
The ‘Cross’ takes everything good about the Corolla and makes it taller, roomier, and AWD
The fastest-growing segment in the automotive universe just got an all-new player, although it might be easy to overlook by its very old name. Piggybacking off 55 years of brand equity, the Toyota Corolla Cross takes everything good about the Corolla sedan and hatch, and makes it taller, roomier, and — most importantly — blends it with AWD .
The Corolla, the all-time best-selling vehicle in the world, with some 50 million cars sold globally since its introduction in 1966 (1.6 million sold in Canada since 1969), forms the basis of the 2022 Corolla Cross, slotting just above the CH-R and below the RAV4.
While sales of the smallish CH-R have been good, it lacks the AWD that is so necessary in a country that gets plenty of ugly weather. The CH-R is also not everyone’s cup of chamomile. Maybe the new Cross should have been the new Matrix?
There is, however, plenty to like. First and foremost is the exceptionally good ride, coupled with pleasingly supportive seats. A fully independent rear suspension on AWD models, joined by McPherson struts up front, delivers such a composed and controlled response to most roads, even those majorly beat-up, it’s hard to accept this thing starts at $26,290 for the AWD L version — a model that also gets LED headlamps, heated seats, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The ride quality is so good, it will embarrass crossovers costing twice as much.
The look and shape are nothing like the polarizing Kia Seltos with which the Cross competes, though the space is, coming in very near the room in the Seltos with 750 litres of cargo space with the rear seats up; and 1,890 with the 60-40 seats down. That’s a lot of room for a subcompact. Rear seat leg-room isn’t quite as generous, but up front there’s never a feeling of being cramped or contained.
Visibility is excellent out the front and to the sides, less so out the smallish rear window, but with big honking side mirrors, it makes seeing everything super-easy. Start the engine (push-button start is available on LE and up) and the 2.0-litre four-cylinder idles smoothly. Underway, it takes some timing to extract all 169 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque via a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that drives the front — or all four — wheels. No, there’s no chiropractor-calling acceleration, but a spirited get-up-and-go attitude is present. Passing power could be greater, but for the most part there’s enough power to get around comfortably.
The steel-belted CV transmission has a direct-shift component to make it feel like a seven-speed; and, sure, there is some noise when the throttle gets squeezed for all it’s got. This kind of gearbox uses a mechanical first gear to get more power to the wheels at takeoff before switching over to operate like a regular CVT once moving. It also allows the Corolla Cross to tow up to 1,500 pounds.
Road noise from the rear seems odd when the whole front area is so quiet, completely absent of wind and road noise, making cruising along at 100 to 110 km/h extraordinarily relaxing. Nothing rattled or squeaked inside.