Review: 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross
It's a good size, but is it a good choice?
The Road Beat tests the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross.
Words and pictures by Mitchell Weitzman
I wanted to like the new Corolla Cross, Toyota's new compact crossover. Drawing on the name of one of its most successful models for marketing purposes, this new entry sits below the RAV4 in Toyota's hierarchy, but above the niche C-HR. Actually, think of this as a new RAV4 'classic.' I say 'classic' because the RAV4 has grown rather large over the past decade, dwarfing its early forebears, with this new Corolla Cross being a more similar size to those classic RAV offerings. In fact, it's larger than a pre-2005 RAV4. So, for those that think the RAV4 is now too big for their needs, Toyota may have your answer. Or maybe not.
It looks funky, continuing Toyota's relatively adventurous new design language. Most gave positive compliments regarding the appearance of this new Corolla Cross despite a mish-mash of elements. But, they must work, as even I liked the aesthetics given its reserved yet far from bland design. The round front fenders are strange on their own, but they give an appealing look when paired with the bulbous snout that nearly resembles a dog. That might sound bad, but it does seem to be generally likened.
The size is right for many people. As the stalwart RAV4 has aged, it has only grown physically so much that the once compact RAV4 isn't quite so compact anymore. So, as a result, the Corolla Cross comes in at very sensible dimensions for those not needing the absolute most room. For yourself, or a small family and/or plus a Golden Retriever, it works plenty fine. The storage in the rear is ample enough for most daily tasks, too.
Inside, I liked the well-finished interior on this fancier XLE trim, boasting materials that give a sincere sense not only quality, but lasting quality. When paired with the comfortable, leather steering wheel, this Corolla Cross is a nice place to be even if it does come up short against, say, Mazda's CX-30. The seats do their job well, too. Toyota's center display remains an aging item as always, though.
What isn't good...
A good amount, unfortunately, starting with its terrible engine. It's a 2.0-liter, naturally-aspirated inline-four that is also featured Toyota's Corolla models. With 169 horsepower, it's mediocre in every sense. Actually, it feels more like 120 horses, with 0-60 MPH taking a pissy 9 seconds of turmoil raging beneath the hood. I say that because this engine is far too loud and thrashy for its own good, exacerbated further by a Continuously Variable Transmission that holds the RPM and therefore sustains the broken blender nature of the motor to annoying strides. This is one of the many new vehicles that would benefit from being...electric. Ever hear that recent science recreation of what a Neanderthal likely sounded like? Yeah, like that, but for cars; it isn't good. It's so woeful in practice and unpleasant to hear that I'd far rather hear nothing.
To make matters worse, I was hoping that the Corolla Cross would at least be economical, but it isn't, Yielding only 30 MPG on the highway at 72 MPH and averaging 25.5. Why do I consider that bad? Because Toyota's own RAV4, with a larger, more powerful engine, and it being a bigger and heavier car to boot, too, gets better overall mileage, with my last one achieving 28 MPG overall. So, you opt for the slower and small choice, but it's also both slower and less efficient? That doesn't compute. A Corolla Cross Hybrid that can average 40 MPG would be hugely appealing and should be the only option available. It should be coming soon. Hopefully.
How does it behave on the road? Thrillingly unthrilling, that's how. Lifeless was what I instinctively used to describe it. If you value any kind of excitement while motoring, look elsewhere; This is transportation stripped back to its most boring concoction. The steering is...steering. The handling is...well, unconvincing, with the suspension having its focus more toward the ride quality than any form of exuberance. And yes, the ride quality is decent at least, even if it does get unsettled by rougher sections of road, but it is at least what most will find comfortable. Oh, and the front A-pillars are in the perfect position to block your view for anything that isn't perfectly straight in front of you.
This Corolla Cross XLE with AWD can at least venture into mildly inclement weather with some vague confidence, but this model does come at a surprising cost. At $33,550, it's actually more expensive than some decently equipped RAV4s. Thankfully, the starting price for one is under $25,000, a very competitive and attractive price point, but to get a nice one such as this, it's far too expensive for its own good. A turbocharged (it's wickedly fast in comparison) and luxurious Mazda CX-30 is only a couple grand more at that point...
Verdict: What the world needs? Or a missed opportunity?
I'm all about smaller cars; people don't need the overly generous space afforded by today's crossover and SUV offerings. But, smaller cars also require something to make them unique, because being cheap isn't a personality. Smaller cars need to be fun, and the Corolla Cross goes all out for sensibility by sacrificing all hope of fun. Hyundai's Kona and Venues are small, affordable, but they have some fun instilled into them at least with their driving dynamics. Ditto for Mazda's CX-30. What can the Corolla Cross be counted on for? Being well-made and likely lasting a lifetime, offering the security of Toyota's legendary reliability and ability to always count on it. And for what will likely be 100,000 people each year that buys one of these, that's enough for them.
2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE AWD
Price as-tested: $33,550
Pros: The right size, well-done interior and well-equipped
Cons: Slow, not efficient enough, boring, pricey as equipped
Verdict: A missed chance at something fun; wait for a future hybrid variant