Wednesday, June 19, 2024
First Reviews2023 Toyota Corolla Cross First Drive Review: Internal Competition

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross First Drive Review: Internal Competition

Better fuel economy and better performance to boot.


  • The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid starts at $29,305 in the United States and at $35,915 in Canada, freight and delivery charges included.

  • Good fuel economy, handles well for a crossover, undeniable versatility.

  • Priced close to the RAV4 Hybrid, no ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, rear seatbacks don’t recline.


The immensely popular subcompact crossover segment is getting shaken up once again with the arrival of the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid, hot on the heels of the non-hybrid variant that launched last year.

That non-hybrid Corolla Cross has been selling well so far, but the introduction of the hybrid powertrain makes the vehicle even more compelling as it’s not only more fuel-efficient, but more powerful as well.

 

Fuel economy is pretty good. Its city/highway/combined ratings are set at 45/38/42 mpg in the United States and at 5.2/6.2/5.6 L/100 km in Canada, thanks to the joint effort of its 2.0L four-cylinder gasoline engine, its front-mounted motor/generator and electric drive motors and its rear-mounted electric motor that creates an all-wheel drivetrain. Output is pegged at 196 horsepower, and while there’s no combined torque rating, the main electric motor generates 152 pound-feet and the gas engine produces 139 pound-feet. Overall, that’s 27 ponies more than in the regular Corolla Cross and its 169-hp 2.0L engine, allowing for eight-second 0-to-60 mph (0-96 km/h) sprints.

During our test around Carlsbad, California, the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross delivered a solid average of 42.5 mpg or 5.5 L/100 km. That’s very good for a versatile, all-weather family hauler that can easily carry our belongings during a vacation, haul the groceries or get the kids to hockey practice. Towing capacity is rated at 1,500 pounds or 680 kg as well.

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

Despite its eight inches or 203 mm of ground clearance, the Corolla Cross feels planted on the road, whether we’re cruising down the interstate or heading up a gravel road on the way to the cottage. Paddle shifters are fitted as standard on SE and XSE trims, to seemingly add a sporty touch, but the Sport drive mode doesn’t do much to enhance the driving experience. While it livens up throttle response a little and remaps the electronic transmission’s behaviour at wide-open throttle, it doesn’t change any steering or suspension settings. We tried it and didn’t notice anything particularly amazing about it. On the other hand, this Toyota obviously isn’t focused on performance, but rather fuel economy with the bonus of slightly more power and better acceleration numbers compared to the regular Corolla Cross.

There’s nothing innovative or ground-breaking about the Corolla Cross’s cabin, but it scores points for being functional and ergonomic. The relatively high roofline allows occupants to sit straight up, the seats offer good support for road trips and there are plenty of storage points for emptying our pockets or bringing snacks and bottles along for the ride. The cargo area boasts a volume of 21.5 cubic feet or 609 litres with the rear seats in place, 61.8 cubic feet or 1,750 litres with the seatbacks folded, placing it among the best in the subcompact crossover category.

Meanwhile, Toyota’s latest infotainment interface may not be the slickest on the market, but it’s easy enough to use while driving, presenting a vertically stacked row of main menu buttons of the left side of the screen. We can also connect our phone for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration, of course. The system is compatible with over-the-air updates, accepts voice commands such as “Hey Toyota, crank up the heat” while including a Wi-Fi hotspot and connected services through a mobile app (subscriptions required after trial periods).

The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is available in S, SE and XSE trim levels in the U.S., while Canada gets SE and XSE only. They all include the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 active safety feature package, rounding up emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and road sign assist.

Standard features for the U.S.-market vehicle include 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, an intelligent key and an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, while the SE adds roof rails, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. The range-topping XSE serves up 18-inch wheels, LED taillights and fog lamps, SofTex simulated leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat and heated rear seats. The Canadian-market vehicle gets the same features in the SE and XSE trims, but a heated steering wheel and heated front seats are standard on both variants. The Canadian-spec XSE includes the power moonroof instead of being optional, along with the power liftgate, dual-zone climate control and JBL audio system. Don’t look for ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, they’re not offered.

The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is scheduled to arrive in dealerships in June, priced at $29,305 in the United States and at $35,915 in Canada, freight and delivery charges included, but not dealer fees. Here’s the breakout by trim level:

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Pricing in the United StatesSSEXSE
MSRP (including freight)$29,305$30,625$32,400
Convenience Package  $1,250
JBL audio system $800$800
Adaptive headlights  $615
Moonroof package $940 
Extra-charge paint colours$425$425$425
Black-painted roof $500$500

 

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Pricing in CanadaSEXSE
MSRP (including freight)$35,915$38,685

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

Now, that all important question: will Toyota be able to keep up with demand? And we’re saying this because many Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and RAV4 Prime buyers have waited months for their unit to be built and shipped. The same situation could occur with the built-in-Alabama Corolla Cross Hybrid, and dealer inventory could be very low to non-existent for a while. The folks at Toyota said they’re working through the order backlog and should catch up by early next year. Of course, wars, supply chain issues and pandemics are to blame in this case, and Toyota isn’t the only manufacturer launching new products even though it has a line of customers waiting for their vehicles to arrive.

And while the Corolla Cross Hybrid is affordable, the RAV4 Hybrid’s base price is only about $2,755 pricier in the U.S., and only $865 higher in Canada. The Canadian-market RAV4 LE Hybrid isn’t as equipped as the base Corolla Cross SE Hybrid, but still, for about the same monthly payment, we get a bigger vehicle. When we’ll eventually get it.

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

In the meantime, we should know that the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is one of the most fuel-efficient subcompact crossovers on the market, beaten only by the Kia Niro and potentially the 2024 Dodge Hornet R/T plug-in hybrid. Other electrified segment rivals include the MINI Cooper SE Countryman plug-in hybrid, the Subaru Crosstrek plug-in hybrid, and that’s it.

The Corolla Cross Hybrid is a solid offering with good handling, good performance and great fuel economy. However, while its price in reasonable, the RAV4 Hybrid is a great deal as well, and could be a better choice overall for those who need the extra interior room and want the extra refinement of a bigger vehicle. As the coach of any sports team would say, a little internal competition certainly doesn’t hurt, and if this new model allows more customers to get their vehicles quicker, we’ll all for it.

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