This may come as no surprise to you, but the best-selling nameplate in history is Corolla. Yep, Toyota has been making them for over 50 years, and selling them like crazy the whole time. So, with the ever-continuing growth of small SUVs, it seems only natural that the carmaker would combine an SUV with the Corolla name.
Welcome to the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross!
Stylish but mainstream
Two things strike you about the Corolla Cross. First of all, while it is stylish, there is nothing that screams Toyota or Corolla about it. We guess Corolla buyers aren’t the kind to flaunt what they have. The second is how large it appears. At first, we just expected a tall hatchback, like the Kia Niro, but no, this is an honest-to-goodness SUV.
The front is the most Toyota-like, with the large down-turned grille with the brand logo. It’s a sporty look with the grille finished in back, flanked by angry-looking LED headlights and daytime running lights. LED fogs and a lower horizontal slat grille give a tough appearance.
The profile is generic SUV, but that’s not bad, since the Cross comes off as sporty with bulgey fender flares, scooped-in side doors and a swept back C-pillar. We even like the “Corolla Cross” engraved in the upper chrome panel. Giving our XLE-trim level tester some added flash were stylish 18-inch alloy wheels.
At the rear, you’ve got an integrated rear spoiler, wraparound LED taillights and a carved-in rear hatch. We like how the rear bumper and lower fascia also give off a trucky-vibe. Our tester was finished in a blue-gray metallic called Celestite, that changes color depending on light, and looked handsome and upscale.
Inside, the Cross reminds us of the Corolla sedan we recently tested – only taller. Open the door, and slide into a 10-way power adjustable seat, and it’s easy to get comfortable. Covered in SofTex – Toyota’s nice faux leather – our XLE model looked upscale and inviting. The LED interior lighting added a nice touch.
Ahead of you are large, bright analog gauges, with a massive speedometer taking center stage.
Info-tainment is handled by a nicely sized 8-inch touchscreen, which Toyota thankfully includes both volume and tuning knobs! The climate control system is easy and clear to use – hey this is a Corolla, everything’s supposed to be friendly, and it is.
Tech comes fully on board. Our tester had the optional 9-speaker JBL Audio system, as well as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Like most competitors, there’s a bunch of optional connected services available including Wi-Fi connect. Toyota has really stepped up their connectivity in the last couple of years!
Seating in back is comfortable for adults – Toyota even includes standard heating and a/c vents for those rear passengers. Space-wise, we’d say that it slots perfectly between the larger RAV4 and smaller C-HR models. Opening the power tailgate reveals a surprisingly spacious cargo area with the rear seats up, and dropping the split-folding rears, you have loads of space.
If cargo carrying is a priority, think about sticking with the less expensive front-wheel drive model – AWD models like our tester feature a multi-link rear suspension (more on that later) that requires the load floor be raised. It’s a small amount, but it could make enough of a difference in which model you choose.
Speaking of carrying it all, Toyota is also following the current trend and offering a variety of accessories like roof rack with crossbars, activity mounts for bicycles, and more. Nice.
Friendly to Drive
Driving the Cross is pure Toyota Corolla.
Under the hood is a peppy 2.0-liter, four cylinder pushing out 169 horsepower through a CVT automatic transmission. Adding the available all-wheel drive and the larger crossover body makes for a heavier vehicle and you feel it.
Left to its own devices, you can tell the Corolla is doing its best to stretch your petro-dollar, but it is about as enthusiastic at it, as we were. Thankfully, you can pop the transmission into manual mode, and it really wakes things up.
Run the engine up to higher rpms, and it is happy to do so, and being able to downshift coming out of corner is fun. Okay, it’s not Mazda CX-5 fun, or Hyundai Kona Turbo fun, but it’s enjoyable enough.
The Cross has a nice supple ride, thanks in part to the AWD’s multi-link rear suspension, and it provides a serene, comfortable, and upscale-feeling experience. We did hit one day of heavy rains, and we can say in those conditions the AWD ran great and felt confident and composed.
Handling is the same – confident and controlled, more than outright sporty, but it certainly isn’t boring. A nice compromise that’s sure to please the target buyer.
That buyer will certainly want the best safety equipment, and all Corolla Cross models feature Safety Sense 2.0, with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Alert, Full-speed dynamic range radar cruise control and Road Sign Assist plus more.
Our tester added a couple other nice features, including Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automatic Braking. All good stuff.
How Much for all this Good Stuff?
Well, it’s a Toyota, so you have a wide range of choices. The Corolla Cross L starts at just $22,195, and for a modern, trustworthy crossover you can plan to keep for years, that’s tremendous value.
Our whole-enchilada XLE was at the other end of the spectrum and started at $27,625 including all-wheel drive. Adding in the JBL Audio Plus Package was $1,465, the Convenience package was $1,250, and adaptive headlights were $615. Add in destination, and we rang the bell at $32,170.
The biggest competition probably comes from the Toyota family – a RAV4 XKE Premium AWD starts at $32,285 and it’s bigger, bolder, and nicely equipped. The smart choice here is to get a lower to mid-level Corolla Cross and pocket the money.
We’d also look at the Hyundai Kona at $31,345 and the Mazda CX30 at $32,320. Both offer a sleeker look and stronger performance, but they lose out on practicality. Decide what suits you best.
Stylish, practical, and built to last, the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross SUV is a welcome member to the Corolla family!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.