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2022 Toyota Corolla Cross: FIRST DRIVE REVIEW

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Published on Sep 09, 2021
The Toyota Corolla has long been known for value and practicality, and turning it into a crossover hasn't changed a thing in that regard.

Making a Toyota Corolla crossover is such a simple idea, one might wonder why it took this long. Considering the Corolla sedan has long been known for charting safe, sensible paths for the last half-century, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the 2022 Corolla Cross is cut from the same cloth.

If the diminutive Toyota C-HR was perhaps a bit too quirky, the Corolla Cross should feel much more approachable. Coming in 3 inches longer than the C-HR and 5.3 inches shorter than the RAV4, the Corolla Cross is small without feeling claustrophobic. With more than 8 inches of ground clearance, it offers a suitably SUV-ish look that's more mainstream than the C-HR. It still carries a few fun pieces of flair, like the pronounced body work above the wheel wells, but overall it's pretty normcore.

The Corolla Cross' exterior might be fresh as a daisy, but the interior is pretty much a carbon copy of the Corolla sedan -- and that's not a bad thing at all. The cabin is arranged sensibly, with just the right amount of physical switchgear for the infotainment and climate controls. The dashboard is low, providing for some excellent forward visibility. The touch points on my top-trim XLE tester are soft, but this is a value-oriented car at heart, so there are still plenty of hard plastics. I fear that Toyota may have cheaped out too much on the headliner quality, but as this is a preproduction model, all I can do is hope something nicer shows up when the Corolla Cross lands at dealers in October.

he Cross is a couple hundred pounds heavier than the Corolla S sedan from which its powertrain is borrowed. Sporting 169 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque from a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-4, the Corolla Cross offers suitable acceleration on a flat plane. However, introduce hills and the experience becomes perilous. Sharp inclines are met with a speedometer that moves like a sundial as the continuously variable transmission ratchets up the revs in order to maintain or, if you're feeling optimistic, gain speed. Ditching the weight of all-wheel drive may help, and it'll save you $1,300 in the process, but a fully loaded XLE AWD with two adults and camera equipment in the trunk makes for a very pokey time.

Keep the hills away and the Corolla Cross should return some decent fuel economy. Front-wheel-drive variants will return an EPA-estimated 31 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, while all-wheel-drive models aren't too far behind at 29 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.

The Toyota Corolla has always been a pillar of affordability, and that does not change with the introduction of a crossover. The base 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross L will set you back $23,410 including a $1,215 destination charge, with the middle-child LE coming in at $25,760 and the XLE costing $27,540. Those prices are for front-wheel drive, by the way; if you want all-wheel drive, tack on an extra $1,300 regardless of trim.

While I'm surprised it took Toyota this long to blend the market's love for high-riders with a nameplate that has held steady for half a century, now that the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross is here, it's clear that Toyota has a good one on its hands. It's a compact crossover that oozes value and offers adults and families the accouterments they need in a daily driver. It won't be long before these things are everywhere -- except maybe in hill country.

Written & Presented by Andrew Krok
Produced by Marc Ganley

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