Crossing over: Toyota puts Corolla name on a new crossover

This photo from Toyota shows the Corolla sedan. It's not as enjoyable to drive as the Civic but is otherwise strong on value. (Toyota via AP)

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This photo from Toyota shows the Corolla sedan. It's not as enjoyable to drive as the Civic but is otherwise strong on value. (Toyota via AP)

When did they start making the Corolla as a crossover? Are they still making the car version of the Corolla? Those were the questions people asked me when they saw me out and about in the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross. And the quick answer to the two questions is: The Corolla Cross is new this year and yes, Toyota is for sure still making the regular Corolla.

In fact, it’s quite an homage to the Corolla for Toyota to slap that name up on a key new vehicle for them. We have seen other auto manufacturers use name recognition to their benefit. Other than the name and the diminutive size and price, there’s not much other similarity between the Corolla Cross and the Corolla.

The Corolla Cross sits a little higher than a Corolla and has distinctive looks. It looks the part of a small crossover with its posture and overall shape. The gentle slope of the roofline shows that headroom will be maximized inside, and the angular windshield offers a great viewpoint for the driver. The grille is pretty basic, but then again, Toyota is pretty conservative with their styling anyway, so the Corolla Cross will have broader appeal. And the profile and back side are actually pretty eye-catching. There are other crossovers with a similar look, so there’s a familiarity, but it also has enough of a youthful vibe it will resonate with the Corolla crowd too.

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The performance of the Corolla Cross is basically what I expected it to be – and that is uninspiring. A small 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine without a turbo is not going to exhilarate. When you add a continuously variable transmission (CVT) you get a crossover that maximizes fuel economy but does nothing else in the way of excitement.

The Corolla Cross has 169 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers tell the tale of this vehicle’s overall powerplant.

The intent of the Corolla Cross is not to blaze off the line or give you goosebumps (which is good because it does neither of those things), but rather it’s intended to be a regular driver that is well mannered. And that’s at the heart of the Corolla Cross and why it was created for this model year.

Personally, I think a plug-in hybrid electric version would’ve been far more appealing, but nobody from Toyota asked me.

Inside, the Corolla Cross really impressed. I expected small, cramped and basic inside and got the opposite. The back seat is surprisingly comfortable with ample legroom and headroom. Since the Corolla is Toyota’s smallest car, I expect small to be the theme in the Cross version. The touch points were adequate, but to be expected.

It didn’t feel cheap inside and even the road noises was minimal. All in all, the interior quality is one of the most pleasantly surprising features of this new crossover. Toyota’s infotainment is so easy to use without being too technical. Less is more in this regard.

There’s 26.5 cubic feet of cargo room in the front-wheel drive version of the Corolla Cross. (There’s actually slightly less in all-wheel drive versions). But the behind-the-seats space is big and useful. Fold the seats down and the cargo area jumps to a segment-leading 66.8 cubic feet.

For a nice, comfortable interior with plenty of interior space, the Corolla Cross is an option to consider.

There are three trim options: L, LE and XLE. My tester was actually the base trim L with FWD. The curb weight was 3,125 pounds and surprisingly it had a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds. The starting price was impressively low (for a crossover) at an MSRP of $22,195. This is one of the other appealing aspects of this vehicle.

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The fuel economy ratings are impressive in that it achieves better than 30 mpg. In fact, the EPA ratings are 31 mpg/city and 33 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of suburban driving I averaged about 32 mpg. Note: I’d forego a couple of MPGs for a non-CVT transmission. But that’s just my preference.

The 2022 Toyota Corolla Crossover does the name of Corolla proud with a crossover that does everything you’d expect a Corolla to do plus some bonus things like quiet comfort and large storage space. If you like a Corolla then the Crossover version might be just the next step up for you.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at jimmydinsmore73@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross L

  • Price/As tested price................................................ $22,195/$22,195
  • Mileage.......................................... 31 mpg/city; 33 mpg/hwy
  • Engine............................................. 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower................................. 169 hp/150 lbs./ft.
  • Transmission................................. CVT
  • Drive wheels................ Front-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Huntsville, Alabama

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