Preview: All-New 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross SUV Is Unveiled With Key Safety Gear

This fresh model slots between the C-HR and the RAV4

Photo: Toyota

The 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross is an all-new choice for shoppers seeking a small, fuel-efficient SUV that comes loaded with safety features. 

It fits into the gap between the Toyota C-HR and RAV4. The automaker has drawn on the more than 50-year legacy of the Corolla name for this vehicle, which might just be the spiritual successor of the boxy Corolla Wagon from the 1990s. 

The configurations are simple, with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. There are three trim levels (L, LE, and XLE) and a single four-cylinder engine paired to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Simplicity may be a key part of its appeal as a straightforward SUV without the dramatic styling found on the C-HR and RAV4. 

The Corolla Cross is among several new and updated models Toyota is rolling out, including the GR86 sports car, Land Cruiser, and Tundra. 

Here’s what we know about it so far:

What it competes with: Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Honda HR-V, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30
What it looks like: A Mini-Me version of the Highlander
Powertrains: 169-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine; continuously variable transmission; front- or all-wheel drive
Price: $23,000-$28,000 (estimated)
On sale: Early fall 2021

CR's Take

The Corolla Cross looks promising, with its straightforward styling, estimated fuel efficiency, and healthy roster of standard safety equipment—all virtues associated with the Corolla sedan

Even the base model comes nicely equipped. Sure, there may not be a lot of show-off trickery, but it has many details that are certain to matter to owners over the long run, such as connectivity, rear vents, and power equipment. Move up through the trim levels and the Corolla Cross gains creature comforts like heated front seats and wireless device charging, which can make it a tempting alternative for buyers who may not want the extroverted RAV4 or other similar-sized models. 

Outside

Photo: Toyota Photo: Toyota

When looked at straight on, the Corolla Cross has a sharp visage due to angled, LED brows over the headlamps. (Turns out “Cross” may be referring to its emotional state rather than being shorthand for “crossover.”) From the side, there are dramatic fender flares that give the body character. There’s a delicate chrome accent on the XLE that runs up the windshield pillar, across the top edges of the side windows, and extends to the hatch, giving it the subtle appearance of a floating roof, a popular styling trend. This is nicely done and speaks to the maturity of the design. Heated mirrors are standard on even the L trim. 

Adding to its SUV credentials, Toyota claims that the Corolla Cross has 8.1 inches of ground clearance, more than most SUVs. It may add to the SUV image, but there are no pretensions about this model being a serious off-roader. 

Inside

Photo: Toyota Photo: Toyota

The interior has a simple, clean appearance. Lower trims have cloth upholstery and a small 4.2-inch information screen in the instrument cluster. The XLE pampers with leather upholstery and wrap for the steering wheel, as well as a larger 7-inch info screen. It also adds two cup holders for a total of six, sliding extensions on the sun visors, a rear center armrest, and numerous other welcomed details.

The base L trim comes with a 7-inch infotainment touch screen, with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa capabilities. The LE and XLE upgrade this to an 8-inch system, with an available JBL audio package and wireless device charging.

Not common in this class are standard rear vents to help keep second-row passengers comfortable.

Photo: Toyota Photo: Toyota

What Drives It

Whether you choose front- or all-wheel drive, the Corolla Cross comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 169 horsepower, matched to a continuously variable transmission. Toyota says the EPA-estimated combined fuel economy for FWD versions is 32 mpg, with the AWD versions getting 30 mpg. This is 2 to 3 mpg better than the Toyota C-HR and RAV4. 

Balancing out the range for the two drivetrain configurations, the FWD versions have a 12.4-gallon gas tank and the AWD versions have a 13.2-gallon tank.

The maximum towing capacity is 1,500 pounds, which is sufficient for a jet ski or a small U-Haul trailer.

Safety and Driver Assistance Systems

The Corolla Cross comes standard with both the Toyota Safety Sense suite of advanced active safety systems as well as Toyota’s signature STAR Safety System. This means all trims have forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, automatic high beams, and road sign assist for reading speed limit warnings. The STAR system refers to several brake-oriented technologies, such as stability control, traction control, and brake assist. 

Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are standard on midlevel LE and top XLE trims, while front and rear parking obstruction warning with automatic braking is standard on the XLE. 

Photo: Toyota Photo: Toyota


Jeff S. Bartlett

A New England native, I have piloted a wide variety of vehicles, from a Segway to an aircraft carrier. All told, I have driven thousands of vehicles—many on race tracks across the globe. Today, that experience and passion are harnessed at the CR Auto Test Center to empower consumers. And if some tires must be sacrificed in the pursuit of truth, so be it. Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSBartlett).