Toyota‘s CH-R CUV has had a rather rocky sales career, with this last remaining relic of Scion being eclipsed by some of its rivals. However, it would seem that Toyota is out to change the narrative and has unveiled the 2022 Corolla Cross, which will be coming to the U.S. for the first time.
Familiar Name Crosses The Pond
While this is the first time U.S. buyers have laid their eyes on the Corolla Cross, the model has been an international exclusive for a while now, with the model debuting back in 2020. Like its global cousins, the U.S. version packs a lot of charm into its exterior styling. The front fascia reminds us of the Highlander’s but with the core traits shrink-wrapped for this smaller package. The large front grille is complemented by sharp-looking headlights and is a welcome infusion of conformity, especially when compared to the otherworldly CH-R. The side profile has a more conventional shape, too, and it leads the eye to the back, where a handsome set of taillights adorn the chunky styling.
Toyota claims that some minor revisions were made to allow the Corolla Cross to comply with U.S. safety regulations but stopped short of revealing exactly what they were. When the Corolla Cross eventually makes its way to showrooms, buyers will have three different trim levels to choose from (L, LE, and XLE). As is often the case with other Toyota models, each trim level gradually bakes in more standard equipment. Look for the LE to be the volume-focused member of the family, with the range-topping XLE and the base L covering the other ends of the consumer spectrum. We will also give bonus points to the XLE for its slick-looking 18-inch alloy wheels, with the base L getting a set of simple 17-inch steelie rims.
Corolla Cross Interior Learns From The Past
Slip inside the Corolla Cross, and you will immediately notice big changes in how the interior is presented. The CH-R had a wild fascination with diamonds, resulting in some fascinating design decisions that were a prominent double-edged sword. Here, it seems that Toyota designers ditched the reckless abandon and adopted a back-to-basics approach. Of course, the trim level will play a role in some of the equipment buyers get, but the basic layout is much cleaner, with the dashboard, steering wheel, and some of the plastics going for a far simpler presentation.
Tech fans will be pleased to hear that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality come standard, but they will need to open their wallet to take advantage of the large 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system as well as the 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster. Toyota also offers these buyers plenty of charging options, with front passengers getting a lone USB port while second-row passengers get two. Choose the LE or XLE, and you get to add a wireless charging pad to the mix. The rest of the cabin promises to be a balanced mixture of sport and comfort, with the front seats offering a commendable amount of bolstering for its segment. These same thrones can also be slathered in SofTex leather trim in certain trim levels.
One Size Fits All For Corolla Cross Performance
In some markets, the Corolla Cross is known for offering a hybrid powertrain, but for now, U.S. versions of the pint-sized CUV will make do with the Corolla’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The spirited four-banger produces 169 hp and can be paired with either front or all-wheel drive. The Corolla’s CVT also gets grafted into the CUV. Still, Toyota engineers opted to use the unit from the Corolla S, which has software tweaks aimed at making the driving experience slightly more engaging.
The suspension in front-wheel-drive models still retains an old-school torsion beam setup in the rear, but all-wheel-drive models get a fully independent four-corner suspension. This allows the bigger Corolla Cross to embrace its family heritage and allows Toyota to save on manufacturing costs for the model. The Corolla Cross can also tow up to 1,500 lbs, making it a good companion for light traveling.
What About The CH-R?
That’s the million-dollar question, but it would seem that the future is bleak for the eccentric duckling in Toyota’s CUV lineup. A base CH-R starts at $21,595, but the Corolla Cross is primed to undercut it by a few thousand and would be offering more equipment for buyers as well. The Corolla Cross will also be more powerful than the CH-R, with the 169 horsepower 2.0 liter outshining the 144 horsepower mustered by the CH-R.
That sets up a potential sales cannibalization scenario. Still, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Japanese auto giant is quick to act and could potentially ax the CH-R before the new CUV arrives stateside. On that note, Toyota chose to keep that particular talking point to itself, but we wouldn’t be shocked if the first units make their way stateside later this year.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.