With the 2022 Corolla Cross, Toyota borrows from its bestsellers as it downsizes its latest crossover-SUV hardware. The Corolla Cross is the newest, smallest Toyota crossover to sport available all-wheel drive. Larger than the front-wheel-drive Toyota C-HR and taller than the Corolla sedan that lends its name to the effort, the 2022 Corolla Cross also borrows its looks from another Toyota—the bigger and bolder RAV4. Compare the Corolla Cross with the Honda HR-V, Subaru Crosstrek, and Hyundai Kona.
It’s a scaled-down RAV4; which isn’t a bad thing. It is, given its intentional knock-off of the RAV4’s shape. The Corolla Cross uses that family resemblance to draw in eyeballs and the look translates well on its shorter body. It’s a sharp, squat-looking crossover with smartly angled pillars and wheel wells. The cues that set it apart include an upturned “mailbox” grille, more pronounced and curved fenders, and slimmer LED lighting; they don’t cut quite the rakish appearance of the RAV4 but they’re far from the car’s economy-car roots.
The Corolla Cross puts its foot down on the first part of its name, not the second. It’s resolutely average, and that’s just fine. It taps the Toyota parts bin for its 169-hp 2.0-liter inline-4. With 150 lb-ft of torque, and a curb weight of between 3,125 lb and 3,325 lb, it’s not going anywhere quickly. You’ll want to put your foot in it and keep it there, but this engine puts out notable noise off the line and its CVT holds it in its midrange. The CVT drop-ships power to the front or all four wheels, and can be held manually at specific ratios with a shift mode, but it begs for relief as it struggles uphill with just a driver on board.
Front-drive models have ostensibly a less advanced twist-beam rear suspension, compared to the more sophisticated rear multi-link suspension on the AWD versions. The front-drive models let the Corolla Cross relax into its commuter chores, while the heavier and more complex setup exerts more control over wheel motion, which, combined with the bigger 18-inch wheels.. The Corolla Cross rides well on the highway, especially with the smaller 17-inch wheels on the L and LE versions.
The Cross’ electric power steering doesn’t have a lot of feedback and it’s very light at parking-lot speeds, but on interstates it builds enough weight to keep the car centered. On tight corners, where it’s brought along a head of steam, it’s relentless with its understeer, and doesn’t have the power to do anything about it. The Corolla Cross can tow up to 1,500 lb, technically, and has ground clearance of up to 8.2 inches, a half-inch less than a RAV4.
The Corolla Cross earns good, but not great gas mileage ratings. Front-wheel-drive models are EPA-rated at 31 mpg city, 33 highway, 32 combined. With all-wheel drive, numbers drop to 29/32/30 mpg. It’s worth noting those figures aren’t much higher than a much bigger RAV4 or Honda CR-V; it’s also worth noting that Toyota has a hybrid Corolla Cross in the pipeline for the 2023 model year.
Top crash-test results and good standard safety features reflect well on the Toyota Corolla Cross.The Corolla Cross aced crash tests by both the IIHS and the NHTSA, which gave it a five-star rating. The IIHS took it a step further with a Top Safety Pick+ award for its standard automatic emergency braking system that rated at “Superior” in stopping before impact with vehicles and pedestrians. The small crossover’s standard LED headlights also performed well. As do the Cross’s standard safety features, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic high beams. LE models add blind-spot monitors and XLEs get parking sensors and rear cross-traffic braking.
The interior takes the same tack as the RAV4, with a familiar layout capped by a touchscreen perched on the dash. It’s neatly arranged, with a compact binnacle of gauges and a stand-up touchscreen as the only breaks in a slim dash that appears to be pinned or suspended by a pair of air vents. Gray and black are the order of the day, except on the Corolla Cross XLE, which wears warm beige synthetic leather.
The Corolla Cross fits four plus stuff. At 175.6 inches long in all, the Corolla Cross is a half-foot shorter than a RAV4; it’s just 2.0 inches shorter in wheelbase, at 103.9 inches. That translates into plenty of space for front-seat passengers. Head and leg room abound, but the cloth-trimmed front seats in the L and LE models have manual adjustment via fragile-feeling levers—and they lack good lumbar support. With tilt/telescope steering it’s simple to find a good driving position, but the lack of low back padding only gets fixed in the XLE, which gains power adjustment, synthetic leather, and lumbar support.
The back seat can fit two large passengers; head room ranks highly, but knee room spells out the key difference between the Corolla Cross and the six-inch-longer RAV4. The Cross’ 32.0 inches of rear leg room and 52.5 inches of rear shoulder room don’t leave much space for long-legged people or for a third passenger. The Corolla Cross sports at least 24.6 cubic feet of space behind the second row seat, and at least 65.0 cubic feet when the rear seats fold down, depending on the presence of a sunroof and all-wheel drive.
Toyota nails the basics, and skips the extravagances and stocks the 2022 Corolla Cross with ample standard features, and it has good infotainment as well as great value. The base $23,410 Corolla Cross L sports a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split folding rear seats, and LED headlights. All-wheel drive costs $1,300. All prices include $1,215 in destination charges.
That’s a bargain, but we’d spend a little more for the Corolla Cross LE. At $25,760, it adds an 8.0-inch touchscreen, roof rails, keyless start, and wireless smartphone charging. It can be configured with a sunroof and JBL 9-speaker audio. It’s $27,540 for the XLE, which gets synthetic leather upholstery, a 10-way power driver seat, a center armrest, 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, and a tonneau cover. Options include adaptive headlights, a power tailgate, and JBL audio. Toyota’s 3-year/36,000-mile warranty now includes 2 years/25,000 miles of service.
At the end of the day, the new 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross might just be what you need. Its relatively small size, great safety tech and value with Toyota reliability make it a great small SUV for first time buyers. With the Corolla Cross Toyota has struck the veritable sweet-spot of the small SUV class. It does everything you’d want with Toyota refinement and reliability.