Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 Hybrid (2023) review
A cheaper hybrid powertrain has been added to the compact SUV line-up. Is it the one to go for?
Shane O' Donoghue
Shane O' Donoghue

Published on October 13, 2023

Toyota Corolla Cross overview

We've already driven the Toyota Corolla Cross in 2.0-litre hybrid guise as it was launched exclusively with that powerplant towards the end of 2022. But now Toyota has added a more efficient - and more affordable - 1.8-litre hybrid variant to the line-up. The 1.8 hybrid brings the starting price for the Corolla Cross down, while the addition of a new entry-level trim also helps it offer better value for money.

If you're not familiar with the Toyota Corolla Cross, it's bang in the middle of Toyota's five-model SUV line-up, filling a gap between the smaller Yaris Cross and C-HR, and the larger RAV4 and Highlander. As the Corolla Cross name suggests, it uses the same platform as Toyota's big-selling family car, and at 4,460mm it's slightly longer than a Corolla hatchback, while also being around 200mm shorter than a RAV4.

In terms of size, powertrain and price, the Corolla Cross lines up against a wide variety of compact SUVs. Most similar is the Honda HR-V, which is also a hybrid and is slightly shorter, while the new Hyundai Kona Hybrid is a close match, too. Elsewhere, the ageing SEAT Ateca and Skoda Karoq offer good value, but not hybrid drive, while the Volkswagen T-Roc comes with mild-hybrid assistance. The Nissan Qashqai is also worth considering.

The Toyota Corolla Cross model range

Irish prices for the Toyota Corolla Cross start from €37,870 thanks to the arrival of this 1.8-litre hybrid model. The arrival of the 1.8 hybrid also sees the introduction of entry-level Luna trim - until now, the 2.0-litre hybrid only came in higher Sport and Sol specifications. As a starting point, the Luna model is still pretty well equipped, with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights with auto main beam, heated and auto-folding door mirrors, two-zone climate control and a 12.3-inch digital driver's display.

Infotainment is handled by a 10.5-inch touchscreen running Toyota's Smart Connect Multimedia system. This features Bluetooth, smartphone integration, cloud navigation and voice assist, while there's a six-speaker stereo, remote services via Toyota's My T app and USB sockets front and rear, with an older USB-A up front and two USB-C connectors for the back seats.

Move up to Sport trim, and the standard equipment includes 18-inch machined alloy wheels, different LED headlights, privacy glass, roof rails, extra LED cabin lighting and keyless entry and starting.

At the top of the range, Sol spec adds a powered tailgate, part-synthetic leather trim with heating for the front seats, wireless phone charging and a panoramic opening glass roof. The only option available across the range is paint, so if there's a specific piece of equipment you're after, then you'll have to move up to the next trim level.

Safety equipment is strong across the range. All versions feature Toyota Safety Sense 3, which is the company's latest suite of electronic driver aids. This includes full integration with the eight airbags in the cabin, and also includes a pre-collision system with junction assist, pedestrian, cyclist and motorcycle detection with emergency stop, plus proactive steering assist. Then there's a reversing camera, lane departure warning with lane tracing, road sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and a rear seat occupant reminder.

Higher-spec Sport and Sol trims also feature blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors and safe-exit assist, which prevents you from opening the doors if there's approaching traffic.

The Toyota Corolla Cross interior

If you're familiar with Toyota's current line-up, then the cabin of the Corolla Cross will hold no surprises. The layout is similar to that of the Corolla's, but the taller roof of the Cross version means it feels more spacious, while large windows enhance the feeling of roominess. This also means that there's a good view for the driver of their surroundings.

The Corolla Cross's infotainment system sits prominently on the dashboard, so it's in your peripheral vision and you shouldn't need to take your eyes off the road for very long to use it. The graphics are sharp, and connecting a smartphone for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is straightforward. While some rivals have migrated to placing climate controls within touchscreens, Toyota continues with physical controls in the Corolla Cross, so it's easy to adjust the cabin temperature when you're on the move.

Ahead of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital display that is also clear and offers a comprehensive range of driving information. This display changes layout when switching between drive modes (which is done via a button ahead of the gear lever), although the changes are subtle - much like the car's driving character when choosing the different modes.

Storage is reasonable rather than outstanding. The centre console is on the narrow side, with space only for a couple of cupholders behind the gear lever, while ahead of it is a flat surface (where the wireless charging pad sits on Sol models). The larger storage areas include a decent glovebox, while the central armrest flips up to reveal a modestly sized bin beneath it that contains a handy 12-volt socket. The door pockets can fit bottles, but not a lot else.

Move to the back seats, and there's more space here than you'll find in any other Corolla-badged model, and the Cross feels less claustrophobic in the back than a (pre-2024) Toyota C-HR thanks to its larger back windows. There's room for three people across the back, and there's decent legroom, while two pairs of ISOFIX child seat mounts are included on the outer seats. However, we'd say that there isn't enough space across the rear bench to fit a third child seat in there. Other convenience features in the back include a central armrest with cupholders moulded into it, twin USB-C sockets and air vents, plus additional cupholders set usefully high on the doors.

At the very rear, the 1.8-litre hybrid version of the Corolla Cross has a larger boot than the 2.0-litre model. That's because it's fitted with a smaller hybrid battery, and its location above the rear axle impacts on cargo volume. There's 436 litres of space in five-seat mode, which is 46 litres more than you'll get in the 2.0-litre model, while folding the back seats creates 1,359 litres of space, an increase of 60 litres over the 2.0-litre hybrid. Folding the 60:40 split seats is simple enough, but there's a pronounced step in the boot floor when you do. All versions of the Corolla Cross come with a space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor.

The Toyota Corolla Cross driving experience

A total maximum power output of 140hp is made by the combination of 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor. That's 57hp less than the 2.0-litre model manages, incidentally, while the bigger engine produces more torque as well. The most obvious impact the smaller engine has is on acceleration, with a 0-100km/h time of 9.9 seconds quoted for the 1.8, compared to 7.6 seconds for the 2.0-litre hybrid.

And you do feel that on the road, as the 1.8-litre engine is audible more of the time than the 2.0-litre alternative. It's not a deal-breaker exactly, but the better refinement of the bigger engine certainly helps justify its higher price.

More importantly, fuel economy sees a slight improvement, with Toyota quoting a WLTP-tested figure of 5.0 litres of unleaded used per 100km, compared to 5.1 litres/100km for the 2.0-litre. That might not sound like much, but the savings will soon add up if you do lots of short local trips with the smaller capacity engine. In fact, in similar conditions and driving, we averaged 5.6 litres/100km in the 1.8-litre model, while we saw an average of 6.1 litres/100km in the 2.0-litre last year.

Otherwise there's little to separate how the 1.8 and 2.0-litre models drive. There are the same three driving modes to choose from - Normal, Eco and Power - and the driver can also slot the gear lever back into the "B" mode for enhanced brake energy regeneration. The chassis is a polished one so it marries decent comfort with better composure when pushed than many will expect from a car in this sector. It's a solid all-rounder, in summary.

Our verdict on the Toyota Corolla Cross

If you live in a particularly hilly part of the country, or you fill your car up with people and their luggage regularly, then there's no doubt that the 2.0-litre version of the Corolla Cross is the better option if you can afford it. However, for the vast majority of buyers, the 1.8-litre model does just as good a job, while bringing running costs and the purchase price down usefully. It's undoubtedly the pick of the range.


Tech Specs

Model testedToyota Corolla Cross 1.8 Hybrid
Irish pricingCorolla Cross from €37,870
Powertrainhybrid - 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with electric motor
Transmissionautomatic gearbox - e-CVT, front-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions114g/km
Irish motor tax€190 per annum
Fuel consumption5.0 litres/100km (56.5mpg)
0-100km/h9.9 seconds
Max power140hp
Max torque142Nm
Boot space 436 litres with all seats in use, 1,359 litres with rear seats folded down
Rivals to the Corolla Cross 1.8 Hybrid (2023)