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Toyota Corolla Cross 2.0 Hybrid (2023) review

The new Toyota Corolla Cross hybrid SUV takes a sensible approach.

Dave Humphreys

Words: Dave Humphreys - @LordHumphreys

Published on: October 13, 2022

Words: Dave Humphreys - @LordHumphreys

Published on: October 13, 2022

Tech Specs

Model testedToyota Corolla Cross 2.0 Hybrid
Hybrid system2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with electric motor
Transmissione-CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions113-120g/km
Irish motor tax€190 per year
0-100km/h7.6 seconds
Max power197hp
Boot space436 litres (seats up), 1,359 litres (seats down)

The Toyota Corolla Cross arrives fashionably late to one of the most competitive segments in the car market. With stiff competition from well-known models such as the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, not to mention the incoming Renault Austral, will the Toyota's hybrid-only offering and conservative styling continue the Japanese firm's success story on Irish shores?

In the metal

There are only so many ways to package a five-seat SUV, and with the Corolla Cross being a global car for Toyota, it has to appeal to a broad audience. European models receive some minor bespoke styling tweaks, specifically a different front grille from what the US cars get. Still, in general, it's not particularly different.

Toyota's designers have played it relatively safe with the look of the Corolla Cross. It is far from edgy. If anything, it's a bit too conservative - take the Toyota badges off it, and we think many would struggle to identify the car's producer. The smaller C-HR and Yaris Cross have more striking designs. But Toyota knows its buyers well, and in this particular segment there are plenty of people for whom this model will tick all the boxes.

Measuring 4,460mm in length, it slots nicely between the C-HR (4,395mm) and the Toyota RAV4 (4,600mm). Its reasonably tall roofline ensures plenty of passenger space across both rows of seats.

That sense of space becomes apparent as soon as you sit in the supportive driver's seat. With plenty of adjustment, and a good range of reach and rake from the steering wheel, finding a comfortable position doesn't take long. Ahead is a 12.3-inch digital instrument display that offers a small degree of configuration. Sensibly, Toyota hasn't tried to make it appear overly complicated or distracting.

That also goes for the 10.5-inch touchscreen. While Toyota's native infotainment is functional, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto are available, and physical controls are retained for everyday functions such as adjusting the climate control. The overall layout is good, as the touchscreen is set at an ideal height and the low dashboard allows for excellent outward visibility.

But this is primarily a family car, so rear-seat space is equally important, and younger passengers will find little to complain about in the back. The rear doors open to a reasonable angle, while both outer seats contain easily accessible ISOFIX mounting points. Adults will also find headroom good, and the large rear windows contribute to the cabin's airy feeling. Boot space isn't class-leading, but at 436 litres it should prove sufficient for most, and it can expand to 1,359 litres when the rear seats are folded.

Driving it

At the heart of the Corolla Cross is Toyota's fifth-generation hybrid system. With more than two decades of experience, it's fair to say that the Japanese brand knows a thing or two about hybrid technology and this latest version contains numerous improvements. Most notable is the use of a new lithium-ion battery that is more compact and lighter, thus saving 14 per cent in weight over the previous version while also increasing its output by 14 per cent. That translates into slightly more prolonged periods of engine-off running for the Corolla Cross.

The 2.0-litre engine contributes to a total output of 197hp and provides brisk acceleration from a standing start to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds. In reality, few are likely to attempt to match that time with any degree of frequency. Drive the Corolla Cross with vigour and you'll be met with the sound of high engine revs more than anything else. Instead, this car excels when being driven at a far more modest pace.

That driving position we mentioned earlier provides for a desirable elevated seating position, while outward visibility is excellent in all directions. The low dashboard combines with slender A-pillars and side mirrors that are placed well along the door to provide an open space for the front quarter light, meaning there's much less chance of a cyclist or pedestrian being obscured by a blind spot.

With only a minor alteration to your driving style, it's simple to extract more efficiency from the hybrid powertrain. It is quick to disengage the petrol engine when you lift off the accelerator and allow the system to utilise the stored power from the battery via the electric motor. Only short bursts of electric travel are possible, but lifting off the gas whenever possible at least gives the system more opportunity to capture some of the spent kinetic energy back into the battery again. Waste not, want not, etc.

At a normal cruise there's little to signal the switchover between the two motors. The Corolla Cross can even travel at higher motorway speeds without the combustion engine running momentarily. It's a pity that Toyota hasn't offered a plug-in hybrid system to enable prolonged electric running for this model, however.

Powertrain aside, the Toyota drives with a fair degree of comfort and refinement. You don't experience a massive level of road noise, though the wind noise does pick up above 90km/h if you don't have the stereo switched on. There is decent body control in the bends, and also when braking or accelerating. That said, it lacks some of the engagement of more sporty crossovers, but in its defence, it never tries to be that type of car. Efficiency and comfort are where the Corolla Cross seems happiest.

Although Toyota had not published fuel economy figures by the time of the car's launch, over the course of a day covering a variety of different driving conditions, and with three adults onboard for some of that, the trip computer indicated a combined consumption figure of 5.5 litres/100km, which for a car of this size, is thoroughly respectable.

What you get for your money

Initially, the Toyota Corolla Cross will only be available with the 2.0-litre hybrid system, though the 1.8-litre hybrid version is set to follow in 2023. Irish ricing and specification details are set to be announced in the coming days. This section of the review will be updated when they have been released.

Summary

Even though Toyota has largely played it safe with the Corolla Cross, it has still managed to hit all the main points buyers seek out in a mid-size SUV. The combination of practical features, decent interior space and a hybrid-only offering should ensure it has widespread appeal and could easily see it become one of the brand's most popular models in Ireland, furthering the success of the Corolla nameplate.



Alternatives

Car Reviews | Kia Niro PHEV (2022) | CompleteCar.ie
Kia Niro vs. Toyota Corolla Cross 2.0 Hybrid (2023): side-by-side with the Toyota, the Kia has a more interesting design, while a strong standard specification adds to its appeal, along with plug-in hybrid and all-electric options, but the Corolla Cross feels larger inside.
Car Reviews | Nissan Qashqai e-Power (2022 prototype) | CompleteCar.ie
Nissan Qashqai vs. Toyota Corolla Cross 2.0 Hybrid (2023): the Nissan has a more interesting design, is a bit more practical and offers a hybrid option that, on paper at least, delivers good fuel consumption figures.
Car Reviews | Volkswagen T-Roc 1.0 TSI petrol (2022) | CompleteCar.ie
Volkswagen T-Roc vs. Toyota Corolla Cross 2.0 Hybrid (2023): the T-Roc has been a success for Volkswagen, but it remains one of the more expensive options in the segment and lacks the hybrid option that Toyota has from the outset.

Tech Specs

Model testedToyota Corolla Cross 2.0 Hybrid
Hybrid system2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with electric motor
Transmissione-CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions113-120g/km
Irish motor tax€190 per year
0-100km/h7.6 seconds
Max power197hp
Boot space436 litres (seats up), 1,359 litres (seats down)