Friday, June 9, 2023

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross

Benjamin Yong Darpan, 03 Feb, 2023
  • 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross

New entry-level family hauler

Toyota knows a thing or two about building compact crossovers, launching the first RAV4 in the mid-1990s during the nascent days of the segment. Since then, however, the model has gotten larger over subsequent generations and something fresh with a familiar name is filling the void left behind: the Corolla Cross. 

“For more than five decades, Corolla has moved Canadians like no other vehicle ever has – and the newest member of the Corolla family continues that tradition,” says Cyril Dimitris, Toyota Canada vice president, in a media release. “The Corolla Cross brings that reputation to the hot compact SUV market – appealing to Canadians who love the footprint of a smaller vehicle, but who also seek impressive versatility and the all-weather confidence of all-wheel-drive.”

Though built on the same TNGA-C platform as its sedan/hatchback namesake, the small SUV, which debuted last year, looks unique resembling a baby RAV4.

The mesh grille, black bumper and body cladding and rear window spoiler lends an air of sportiness, and Darpan’s top-of-the-line XLE-grade press loaner adds extra goodies like 18-inch dual five-spoke alloy wheels, premium LED lighting, roof rails and moonroof. The Cypress green exterior paint and Macadamia brown SofTex faux-leather interior is a gorgeous combo as well. 

The interior shares a lot of similarities with the five-door variant though affords 53 millimetres of additional legroom and 63.5 headroom thanks to a slightly larger form factor. Similarly, cargo capacity is much improved offering 440 litres of space when the split 60/40 folding bench is laid flat. 

The 10-way power-adjustable heated driver’s seat is comfortable and supportive and for 2023 a next-generation Toyota Multimedia infotainment system is standard showcasing an eight-inch touchscreen and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. While an improvement over the outgoing technology it’s not the most intuitive offering on the market. 

All trims run a 2.0-litre four-cylinder Dynamic Force (what the brand calls the family of powertrains utilizing high-speed combustion to achieve great thermal efficiency) engine producing 169 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque mated to a CVT transmission. The familiar setup is peppy even when installed under the hood of the crossover, and coupled with the all-wheel-wheel-drive-equipped version’s fully independent suspension provides an unexpectedly enjoyable experience behind the wheel perfect for urban commuting.

For quick trips out of town or to and from the hardware store, the 1,500-pound maximum tow rating should be sufficient for light hauling needs. Also new for the current year is the introduction of Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 on all models boasting enhanced sensors improving detection capability — the collision-avoidance function recognizes motorcyclists in certain situations, and when making a turn or approaching an intersection forward and laterally-approaching are detected triggering alerts and/or emergency braking if necessary. 

The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross is at dealerships now and is built at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant in Huntsville, Alabama. 

Highlights (as tested): 

MSRP: $34,550

Motor: 2.0-litre inline-four cylinder

Horsepower: 169 @ 6,600 rpm

Torque (lb-ft): 150 @ 4,400 rpm

Gearbox: CVT    

Layout: all-wheel drive   

Fuel economy:  11.2 L/100 km


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Most noticeable at the front is a new nose section with black trim surrounding the centre air intake. Full LED lighting featuring the Porsche Dynamic Light System, which automatically bends the beam into a corner for better visibility, is now standard across the lineup as are the Sport Design style wing mirrors. 

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Built upon the TNGA-K platform, the slim LED headlamps and full-width LED taillight bar, sloping roof and large 19-inch multi-spoke “super chrome” two-tone alloy wheels on the Limited grade Darpan evaluated make for quite a handsome product, actually. At 4,740 millimetres long the size is just right. Not too big or small.

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Though smallish in appearance, the inside is quite roomy. Rear seat legroom is decent —— due to a slim seat back design utilizing ultra-light “giga-steel” in its construction — and the cargo area can accommodate 690 litres of stuff when the second row is upright, or 1,422 litres when folded down.

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A 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, is complemented by two electric motors and a 400-volt battery pack. The resulting performance is nothing to scoff at: a total of 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. 

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The level of premium appointments in the interior is absolutely stunning. The cabin in our near grade-topping Sensory tester, slotting under the $67,995 Autograph, was draped in gorgeous melt-to-the-touch Saddle Brown semi-aniline leather with complementary hits of open pore ash wood looking elegant rather than gaudy as the trim sometimes can.

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The most immediately noticeable outdoorsy aspect is the use of copious amounts of black body cladding on the bumpers, wheel arches and side sills. The addition of the off-road-ready armour complements the wind-swept lines of Kodo styling language surprisingly well, particularly in the desert-esque Zircon Sand Metallic paint colour of Darpan’s press loaner.