The 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross looks familiar, like a new winter jacket that somehow smells like grandpa. Toyota’s latest model doesn’t do anything new, but it greets buyers coming from Toyota sedans or larger vehicles with a warm but uninspired welcome.
More like a smaller RAV4 than an enlarged Corolla hatch, the small crossover offers a good-sized alternative to the funky Toyota C-HR hatchback that’s been touted as a crossover since 2018. The latest Toyota doesn’t feel so new, with its outdated infotainment system, buzzy powertrain and analog gauge cluster. There’s even a stick in the gauge cluster to reset the trip meter like old times. But Toyota has proven time and time again that its cautious introduction of new automotive technologies appeals to customers who prefer familiarity. That’s one of the reasons he earns a solid TCC rating of 6.2 out of 10which will likely increase once crash test results are finalized.
During my long weekend on the road with the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE with AWD, I was surprised to find no CD player.
Hit: looks like a smaller, quieter RAV4
The five-seat crossover shares styling cues with Toyota’s best-selling RAV4, but without the sharp front and rear corners. The split upper and lower grille stands out from the RAV4’s more menacing grimace with a smile that aims to please. The black cladding covers the square wheel arches and the curved fenders give it a bit of heft at the rear without demanding to be taken seriously as an SUV. That’s not the case, and Toyota has found the balance between over-designing some of its latest models with a streamlined look that’s more unified in the Corolla Cross.
Miss: Dull, buzzy powertrain
There’s less to like under the hood, but that’s perfectly sufficient for most drivers. The Corolla Cross uses a 2.0-liter inline-4 shared across the family, from the Toyota C-HR to the Lexus UX. It produces 169 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque, and paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission, it doesn’t go anywhere in a hurry. It’s fine, but the noise it makes seems like it’s trying to relieve itself at every turn. More than anything else, the noise reveals its economy car roots.
Hit: loading volume
Whether the Corolla Cross will replace the failed C-HR, which still sold 35,700 units in 2021, remains to be seen. The squat C-HR only holds 19.1 cubic feet behind the rear seats, or 37 cubic with the seats folded down. The Corolla Cross AWD model I tested had 25.2 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up, and the cargo hold easily handled a Costco run. Separately, it held my daughter’s big hockey bag with less trouble than other small crossovers. In both models, there’s only about 32 inches of rear legroom, but head and shoulder room is better in the Corolla Cross than the C-HR.
Lack: outdated interface
Toyota rolled out its much-improved operating system and interface, but the entry-level Corolla Cross doesn’t get it. The font and graphics will be familiar to anyone who has driven a Toyota for the past two decades, giving it a familiar simplicity that other new cars lack. But it’s dated, like an 8-bit game in a digital metaverse.
Coup: All-wheel drive available
The top XLE models come with all-wheel drive, which you can’t get in a C-HR. That should appeal to winter drivers who want the added traction of all-wheel drive without having to replace winter tires.
Miss: Should be a hybrid
The loud but efficient powertrain has a 29 mpg city, 32 highway, 30 combined. I came short of this on most freeway miles, but it’s good for an AWD crossover. It would be so much better and quieter as a hybrid. Maybe next year.
2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XL AWD
base price: $28,640, including $1,215 destination
Price as tested: $33,550
Transmission: 2.0-liter 169-hp inline-4 with CVT and AWD
EPA Fuel Economy: 29/32/30mpg
hits: Quiet styling, good cargo space, all-wheel drive available
Failures: Noisy and outdated interface, would be better as a hybrid