2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE AWD review
Many automotive brands have their own version of the golden goose, the go-to model moniker that virtually assures success due to long-term image and reputation.
Ford has Mustang and F-150, while Toyota has Camry and Corolla. For nearly 50 years now in the U.S. market, Corolla has been synonymous with quality, reliability and value. Flashy? No, but a family sedan that’ll last close to forever.
Not surprisingly, Toyota now slaps the Corolla name on its new small crossover, just a smidge up from its much cuter and zippier C-HR. Not just a naming thing though as the new Corolla Cross rides on the same platform as Toyota’s Corolla sedan and wisely opts for its optional, horsier engine for power.
Don’t get too excited though, the 2.0-liter I4 delivers just 169 horsepower with a torque rating of 150. Yet linked to a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) the Corolla Cross displays adequate power, however with a steady groan during acceleration. Ignore that, as many of us would, because the rest of the small crossover is pure family comfort and value.
The handling is light and easy while the ride is compliant and actually better than many larger crossovers and SUVs. A family of four will fit here and not be jostled severely on crumbling Midwest roads. Corolla Cross is a steady and above average performer like its sedan namesake.
Plus, and if you’re a crossover or SUV fan this is perfect, the tested XLE model had AWD to provide good traction in winter slop, of which we had a bit when I first got the car. No need to engage it as this is AWD, not 4WD like a Jeep or many SUVs. The AWD model also incorporates a multi-link rear suspension in place of the former torsion beam.
All this, plus more, at a base price of $28,840, including delivery, for this top-level trim. Go front-wheel drive and base level L model and the price drops to $23,410. Add AWD and the L lists at $24,960 for a 2022 model. Prices are rising a bit for 2023 and there’s a wait still on the Corolla Cross, depending on what you order.
A mid-level LE model with AWD runs $27,310 and may be the best value.
The test car added quite a bit of extras to hit $33,550, but that’s still a value considering the average cost for a new car or crossover now is about $45,000. The big ticket here was the audio system upgrade at $1,465, adding a JBL sound system with nine speakers, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa capability. The power sunroof and power hatch also added $1,250 to the sticker.
All the rest of the options were minor, including $299 for roof rack rails, which one might want if taking this on camping outings with a family and need a spot for a tent and other outdoor gear.
Standard though on the XLE is the larger 8-inch info screen as a seven-incher is standard on the L model. The screen includes both a volume and radio tuning knob too, much easier than toggles and on-touchscreen buttons that often don’t function if the user is wearing gloves. Just sayin’, winter in Wisconsin!
The XLE also includes two major safety upgrades, the blind-spot monitoring system and cross-traffic alert viewed through the rear-view camera screen. But Toyota is one of the leaders in packing safety equipment onboard as standard via its Safety Sense 2.0 system, even on the L model. The safety system includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and assist, smart cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and automatic high beam headlights.
XLE also includes a wireless phone charger at the bottom of the center stack, but be sure to press the button there to turn it on or you’ll get no charge. Two USB ports are standard too, as are softer dash and door coverings.
That said, the plastic door and dash feel pretty good, but are indeed a textured hard plastic. Yet that’s what I expect at this price.
While the Corolla Cross exterior styling is pretty middle of the road, the interior looks sharp without being gimmicky. The seats are a two-tone tan and brown Softex (leatherette) and the dash and door tops are black. Trim around the screen and console is gloss black and trim around those and the dash is a satin silver. Handsome, yet simple.
The seats are well shaped to provide hip and lower back support and the XLE includes a power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, an option on lower trims. The front seats also are heated. Bingo!
Headroom is more generous in the Cross than in the sedan as is rear legroom, so for growing families of four this provides some extra comfort. All the dash controls are easy to see, use and reach and as with Subarus, the sightlines to the sides are improved by adding a vent window with a view between the A pillar and side mirrors.
Cargo space is generous in the back with more than 25 cubic feet of room while the overhead are solid visors with extenders, something many higher priced vehicles no longer offer.
I drove the Corolla Cross during a chilly early winter week with off-and-on snow, but was still a bit disappointed in its gas mileage. Rated at 29 mpg city and 32 mpg highway, I got just 25.9 mpg in about an even mix of the two. I was expecting more like what the trip computer indicated at about 28.5 mpg.
For the record I had managed 33.7 mpg in a Corolla hatchback a few years ago and it featured the same engine and weighed just about 100 pounds less. Driving a hybrid Corolla sedan last year netted 65.6 mpg, which is tremendous. Know too that Toyota has introduced a hybrid version of the Corolla Cross for 2023, which may be the best value going!
As for competition, well, this is a super crowded market with the likes of Subaru’s Crosstrek, Kia’s Seltos, Hyundai’s Venue and Kona, VW’s Taos, Nissan’s Kicks and Rogue Sport, Mazda’s CX-3, and Honda’s HR-V as major competitors. Drive them all and decide, but ask about availability before you even head to the dealership!
FAST STATS: 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE AWD
Hits: Easy handling, decent ride, AWD, good interior room and cargo space, plus power hatch. Value pricing, solid safety equipment, heated front seats, sunroof, wireless charger, 8-inch screen w/volume & tuning knobs, visors w/extenders. A hybrid now available.
Misses: Growly engine and down on power, anticipated better mpg, tinny sounding stereo.
Made in: Huntsville, Ala.
Engine: 2.0-liter I4, 169 horsepower/150 torque
Transmission: CVT automatic
Weight: 3,170 lbs.
Length: 175.6 in.
Wheelbase: 103.9 in.
Cargo: 25.5 cu.ft.
MPG: 25.9 (tested)
Base Price: $28,840 (includes delivery)
Major Option: Power sunroof, $1,250
Audio Plus (8-in. touchscreen, 9 JBL speakers, Sirius XM 3-mon., security alarm, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay/Amazon Alexa compatible), $1,465
Auto-leveling front lights, $615
Carpet floor mats/cargo mat, $249
Frameless HomeLink mirror, $175
Door sill protectors, $179
Roof rack crossbars, $299
Rear bumper protector, $79
Activity mount, $399
Test vehicle: $33,550
Sources: Toyota, kbb.com