When you think about vehicles that are popular worldwide, few besides the Honda Civic can compete with the Toyota Corolla. To capitalize on the Corolla nameplate, Toyota has engineered a crossover version of the wildly popular and reliable sedan. Although the Corolla has never been known for pure motoring excitement, some customers are enthusiastic about the prospects of the pinnacle of reliability. Although many people may be looking for something more sporty, such as the recently reviewed the Mazda CX-30, the Corolla Cross delivers reliable transportation. It offers solid fuel economy and all the latest safety tech in a comfortable package. I was thoroughly impressed by what other enthusiasts may consider bland.
Lisa Materazzo, Toyota Motor North America’s group vice president of Toyota marketing, says, “Our loyal customers love the quality, durability and reliability that have helped make Corolla the best-selling nameplate in history. With the all-new Corolla Cross, we are building upon that foundation and offering more versatility and fun to adapt to their evolving lifestyles.”
In Italian food terms, sometimes customers are looking for a solid slice of New York pizza vs. a pesto-laden, wood-fired, brick-oven gourmet version. Luckily for the Corolla Cross, Toyota even includes toppings on its New York slice!
Solid Pizza Done Right
When you’re in the mood for old-school solid pizza, the Corolla Cross delivers. Powering the Corolla Cross is a 2.0-liter bulletproof Toyota engine that may not be the fastest, but it will give years of trouble-free service. The CVT transmission comes from the Corolla car’s “S” version. Toyota’s CVT is slightly unconventional. It includes a physical first gear that gets you out of the hole, and then hands it off to the CVT for maximum economy once you get going.
On the suspension front, the Corolla Cross features fully independent shocks on all-wheel-drive models, while front-wheel-drive vehicles feature a brand-new torsion beam system in the rear. In the Toyota fleet, a competitor is the CH-R crossover. It has more rounded futuristic looks while the Corolla Cross is the conventional choice. To differentiate them, the Corolla Cross can tow up to 1,500 lbs. while the CH-R is not designed for towing. I couldn’t help but think the Corolla Cross would be perfect for the motorcycle enthusiast who wants to sportingly ride and tinker … but doesn’t want to worry about the vehicle that tows their bike to the canyons.
All-Wheel Drive Without Sucking Gas
Toyota’s engineers know the market and know their customers want maximum efficiency with the benefits of an AWD crossover. Toyota’s clever Dynamic Torque Control system can direct up to 50% of the engine power to the rear wheels when it’s needed – and disengages completely when it’s not. This feature helps Corolla Cross maintain great fuel economy estimates – another strong suit for this powertrain – with an estimated 32 combined mpg for the FWD model and an estimated 30 combined mpg for the AWD model.
A Solid Design
The Corolla Cross features a black grille flanked by LED lighting with black body accents. The 18-inch alloy wheels on the higher-trim versions look good and feature black accents on some spokes. On the inside, you can get a power moonroof, Qi wireless charging and vents for the rear passengers. Heated front seats are an option, and we love the large toggle switches that control them with ease.
In back, storage space can be maxed out with the 60/40-split folding rear seats and an available power liftgate with height adjustability. This is a feature that now can be added in the aftermarket if your original ride didn’t come with it, with several companies manufacturing power liftgate kits for older vehicles.
Multimedia Made Easy
On my XLE version, the 8-inch infotainment unit is easy to use, with physical buttons that surround the touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are here, and charging ports are available for all passengers. Alexa connectivity is also onboard, making it easy to navigate Amazon Music. The available Audio Plus multimedia system features Remote Connect that allows easy access to smartphone content.
To pump out the tunes, Toyota commissioned JBL to develop a nine-speaker audio system, complete with a cute subwoofer in the trunk. It is not the hardest-hitting system, but it does the job surprisingly well. A trip to your local mobile electronics retailer can help take it to the next level.
Safety First, Second and Third
All models of the Corolla Cross come with the terrific Toyota Safety Sense suite. This includes the coveted automatic cruise control that makes traffic jams almost tolerable. My system worked great on the always-jammed Cross Bronx Expressway. When you upgrade to the higher models of the Corolla Cross, you get front and rear parking assist and automatic braking.
The Corolla Cross is the definition of a solid small SUV. It might not be the sportiest offering, but sometimes that solid, consistent slice of pizza hits the spot better than a fancy appetizer pizza covered in pecorino and goat cheese. Typically, your go-to is what you want for your daily driver! With my XLE tester coming in at under $28K, I have no hesitation recommending it to anyone looking for a solid, reliable CUV.