Out and About With the Toyota Corolla Cross Sport

Take the world’s most popular car and apply a utility vehicle body to the platform and you have what’s known as the Toyota Corolla Cross Sport. This small crossover not only builds on the Corolla heritage, but it supplies an important entryway to the brand. And to the surprise of absolutely no one, gas and hybrid variants are available, once again demonstrating Toyota’s commitment to choice and efficiency.

2024 Toyota Corolla Cross Sport front

What is the Corolla Cross Sport?

The Toyota Corolla Cross Sport is a five-passenger crossover SUV that shares its underpinnings with the Corolla sedan and hatchback. This vehicle occupies the subcompact category and is followed by the RAV4, Venza, BZ4X, 4Runner, Highlander, Grand Highlander, Land Cruiser, and Sequoia in this category.

Toyota rolled out the Cross Sport in 2022, replacing the C-HR. Gas models come with standard front-wheel drive and available all-while drive. On the other hand, the Cross Sport Hybrid is sold only as all-wheel drive.

The Corolla Cross Sport comes in three gas trims or grades, with prices starting at $23,860 and reaching $28,085. As for the hybrid, this model starts at $28,220 and tops out at $31,445. You can choose the hybrid in four grades.

Add $1,400 for available all-wheel drive and $1,350 for the delivery charge. Further, optional package choices come at an additional cost.

What is the Exterior Like?

There are some distinctions between gas and hybrid models. The gas versions feature an oversized grille that dominates the front fascia. Meanwhile, the hybrid offers a tamer version with the main grille lowered and complemented by a narrow upper grille opening.

The overall look is sporty with a dash of elegance found on the top-trim models. LED lighting is used liberally above the base trims, with front and rear lighting apparent. Fetching wheel choices, a broad selection of colors, and available roof rails round out the look. Some features, though, are offered only as package upgrades, including the optional power liftgate.

Toyota Corolla Cross Sport front seats

Is the Interior Roomy?

On paper, the Corolla Cross seats five, but that’s a stretch for most families. The interior matches the sedan in design, but rear legroom seems tighter with the crossover. Nonetheless, the front seats are reasonably comfortable while the rear seats can seat two children with ease and three in a pinch.

Despite the tight quarters, the Corolla Cross offers decent cargo space behind the rear seat, measuring approximately 25 cubic feet. Folding down the rear seat stretches that space to nearly 60 cubic feet, with ample space for your yard sale finds.

Which Technologies Are Available?

Toyota stuffs its smallest SUV with a host of standard driver-assist technologies. These include lane keep assist, forward emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control with full stop and go.

A six-speaker audio package comes standard along with two USB ports, Bluetooth, and the center console screen. A nine-speaker JBL audio system is available and several grades also have four USB ports and a wireless charging pad.

Toyota Corolla Cross dashboard

Are There Packages for the Choosing?

Yes, there are spend-up packages available, depending on the grade. On base models, a Moonroof Package includes a tonneau cover. As for the JBL audio system, this package is available across the model line.

Upper trim models offer a Convenience Package comprised of a power liftgate and the moonroof. Finally, an Adaptive Front-Lighting System brings in auto-leveling lighting for an enhanced nighttime driving experience.

What are the Engine Choices?

Every Corolla Cross comes with a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine that works with a continuously variable transmission.

With the gas model, this one produces 169 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. As for the hybrid, the numbers come in at 150 horsepower and 139-pound feet of torque. However, when operating under full throttle, the hybrid power output reaches 196 horsepower combined as the front electric motor kicks in. A second electric motor turns the rear wheels.

Fuel efficiency is this vehicle’s hallmark. Gas models average upwards of 32 mpg in combined city and highway driving. On the other hand, the hybrid returns approximately 40 mpg, with the best efficiencies reached while driving around town.

In our week of driving, which was mostly on the highway, we averaged just under 39 mpg.

The Corolla Cross also offers a limited towing capacity of 1,500 pounds when properly equipped.

Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid engine

How Does it Drive?

Toyota lent us a Corolla Cross Sport Hybrid, therefore our review is based entirely on this vehicle. We have driven the Corolla sedan extensively as we own one. That said, the hybrid adds its own distinctive to the mix.

The Cross Sport Hybrid features a powertrain with a specially tuned engine. We touched on the power differences earlier. It is important to note that those differences are relatively small as more power is delivered when needed. Nonetheless, the efficiencies yield a rather lackluster vehicle. The CVT features a planetary gear for ease of step-off acceleration. On the highway, the transmission stretches and pulls, a feeling common to its design. That design actually impacts performance, with the purpose to push up the efficiencies.

We did appreciate, though, the extra boost in power when passing. With the gas engine and front electric motor uniting to deliver optimum performance, the hybrid easily overtakes vehicles on the road. Steering though is vague, but we give this model credit for handling tight corners with ease. We found this SUV relatively quiet and the ride is an improvement over the sedan. In other words, bumps and other road insults are better managed, delivering an improved riding experience.

Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid side

Who are the Major Competitors?

There is a long list of competing models to choose from in this segment. We have tested most of them and value remains an important consideration. Most models start below $25,000. Typically, front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive optional. Models, though, such as the Mazda CX-30 and Subaru Crosstrek are only all-wheel drive.

Other competitors include the Kia Seltos, Hyundai Kona, Chevrolet Trax, Nissan Kicks, and the Volkswagen Taos. The segment also features the Honda HR-V, Buick Envista, Hyundai Seltos, and the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Shoppers should note the Kia offers a pair of additional small models including the Soul and Niro. The latter is also available as a hybrid.

Which Model do you Recommend?

It is easy to point to any of the hybrid models and encourage shoppers to consider one of the four grades. But for price-conscious shoppers, we recommend starting your search with the LE grade. This one adds LED fog lights, alloy wheels, roof rails, wireless smartphone charging, more safety features, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, and a power-controlled driver’s seat. That’s $2,350 in upgrades over the base model.

Most shoppers should be happy with front-wheel drive. An additional advantage of the hybrid, though, is the standard all-wheel drive. This one relies on the electric motor to distribute power to the rear wheels, and gives an added measure of stability while cornering and when negotiating slick roads. Depending on fuel prices and driving habits, most owners should recoup the added cost of a hybrid within a few years.

Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid rear

It’s a Wrap: Toyota Corolla Cross

All in all, the Toyota Cross Sport supplies a marked improvement over the previous C-HR, particularly with its available all-wheel drive and hybrid options. Toyota products routinely top our list of recommended buys, especially for quality and reliability. The Corolla Cross Sport may not be the most exciting model in the segment, but it should tick most of the boxes for today’s small crossover shoppers.

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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