Pros: pleasant to drive, decent interior room, proven hybrid tech
Cons: no PHEV planned, conservative styling, average boot space
The Corolla Cross is the final piece of Toyota's SUV jigsaw, slotting between the C-HR and the RAV4. It faces many rivals in the segment, so Toyota will lean on its reputation and proven hybrid technology to attract buyers.
Toyota Corolla Cross Design
As the Toyota Corolla Cross sells in a variety of markets around the world, its design has to have broad appeal, though there are minor differences to the exterior look of the European model. The C-SUV segment that the Corolla Cross operates in is a fiercely competitive one with numerous rivals so to maximise its potential for success, Toyota's designers have played it relatively safe, preferring to focus on practical aspects than a divisive style.
Its footprint places it between the C-HR and RAV4, with a tall roofline that helps boost passenger interior space. Playing on SUVs' popularity, there is plastic cladding around the wheel arches and along the sills. The bumpers at either end have silver-painted elements to portray a more rugged look, though the ground clearance doesn't lend itself to tackling any extreme off-roading.
Large LED headlights enhance the sense of width and feature a distinctive lighting signature. A similar design applies to the rear lights, too. The glasshouse is capped with a chrome detail extending to the C-pillar with the Corolla Cross name stamped into it. The 18-inch alloy wheels strike a good balance between aesthetics and ride comfort.
Toyota Corolla Cross Interior
There's a conservative look to the interior of the Toyota Corolla Cross that could benefit from a splash of colour; nonetheless, it is a cabin that seems very well assembled. The quality of the plastics and other materials is better than the company's past efforts. Despite some use of piano black plastic on the centre console, which is known to scratch and scuff easily, it seems like a cabin that will cope well as a family car.
Toyota makes the Corolla Cross a mostly digital affair with a 12.3-inch instrument display that offers a small degree of configurability. Sensibly, this display sticks to a reasonably traditional layout, so it doesn't prove distracting and is easy to read at a glance. Paired with this is a 10.5-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system, which runs wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto for smartphone pairing. A wireless charging pad is also available, in addition to USB ports.
Practical elements include physical controls for the climate settings and chunky buttons for other features such as heated seats — all straightforward to operate by touch without looking away from the road. A healthy degree of adjustability for the driving position means the Corolla Cross will suit many people and the rear-seat space is decent. It doesn't feel the most generous for kneeroom but makes up for this with plenty of headroom on account of its high roofline. With a capacity of 436 litres, boot space is where the Corolla Cross lags behind some of its competitors.
Toyota Corolla Cross Performance & Drive
Toyota sticks with a hybrid-only offering for the Corolla Cross and will use a 2.0-litre four-cylinder option from launch. Now into its fifth generation, Toyota's hybrid technology is well-proven, though the Corolla Cross uses a new battery that is smaller, lighter and has a better power output to drive the electric motor - power goes to the front wheels. A maximum output of 197hp provides reasonable performance, though this car is built more for comfort and refinement than outright pace.
In urban settings, the improved hybrid battery enables a good split of time driving with only the electric motor. Careful driving will help to maximise the recovery of kinetic energy from the petrol motor's use to help keep overall fuel consumption down. During our time with the car it returned an average of 5.5 litres/100km. This included motorway driving and demonstrated how Toyota's hybrid system can run for brief periods with the combustion engine off at high speeds.
The fitment of modestly sized wheels helps ride comfort and, in general, the Corolla Cross exhibits a good degree of body control through the bends. There is little in the way of pitch or roll during changes of direction, either, ensuring it remains on an even keel for a smoother and more comfortable ride. Road noise is also on the low side, with only some wind noise picking up at higher speeds. The driving position also warrants praise as it gives that sought-after elevated seating position and pairs it with clear lines of sight thanks to a low dashboard and slim A-pillars.
There is also an all-wheel-drive version of the Corolla Cross that uses the same hybrid setup with an extra electric motor on the rear axle to improve traction in low-grip conditions. Using an electric motor rather than a mechanically linked all-wheel-drive transmission enables faster reaction times while adding less weight. The maximum power output of that system remains at 197hp, while Toyota will also introduce a 1.8-litre hybrid model with 140hp. This will be the most affordable version.
Toyota Corolla Cross Pricing
Toyota is in the final stages of confirming pricing and specifications for the Corolla Cross. The car's positioning in the range is also expected be reflected in the pricing structure.
Carzone Verdict: 3/5
It might not be all that exciting to look at or to drive, but the Toyota Corolla Cross still has plenty of appeal, especially for families. The use of a hybrid-only powertrain line-up rules out those who perhaps prefer the longer electric range of a plug-in hybrid. Still, Toyota's expertise in the technology is well-known and should ensure it remains an affordable and economical option in this busy segment.