mReview: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross - No Reason to be Cross

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Want a Corolla Altis but lament its lack of road presence? Well, it seems that you aren’t alone, for Toyota has repackaged its iconic saloon nameplate into a crossover form factor.

Put your pitchforks away - this isn’t a blasphemous exploit of the Corolla brand. Toyota didn’t just build an SUV and slap the iconic name on the back of it. You’ll realise the familial ties once you step into the cabin of this soft roader.

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And the relation goes far beyond just sharing cabin components, as both the saloon and crossover variants of the Corolla are built on the same platform. Logically, it does make sound financial sense for Toyota to head down this avenue, especially considering the car buying population’s voracious appetite for crossovers. What better way to introduce a new soft roader than to name it after one of the best selling vehicles of all time?

Increased Road Presence

Let’s address the issue raised in the intro of this article. With a taller body shell and raised suspension, it definitely has greater road presence as compared to its regular saloon sibling. The subtle differences in the overall design language also help, with the designers opting to trade elegance for some added attitude in the crossover.

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As part of its transformation, the official import Corolla Cross now sports a large perforated front grille (Parallel Importers bring in JDM versions with a different front fascia). A gloss black trim panel surrounds the plastic mesh, further helping accentuate its road presence. Pseudo wide arches add some definition to the rear 3/4s of the vehicle, allowing it to more convincing pass off as an off roader.

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All in all, it is a handsome-looking car that manages to look in-trend without the use of any current design fads. A trait which should see it withstanding the test of time, remaining aesthetically relevant in the years to come.

In the Cabin

Remember what I pointed out in the opening paragraph? Well, it is inside that you’d clearly see the direct relation between the Corolla Altis and the Corolla Cross. The cabin is almost identical to that of the saloon, though you do get a little more space in every metric.

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This means solid overall build quality, and a painless user interface. No fancy touchscreens and excessively confusing sub-menus here - controls that you’d use daily are still controlled via physical switchgear dotted about the cabin. Infotainment needs are taken care of by a double DIN-sized head unit with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality.

Whilst I had no issue with the size of information displayed, I can potentially see this as a bugbear for those older in age. Rounding off the cabin is a pleasantly thin-rimmed steering wheel, as well as a digital gauge cluster.

How Does it go?

There’s definitely a sense of fun built into Toyota’s TNGA platform, and that driving enjoyment can clearly be felt even in the MPVs and crossovers built on said architecture. But hold your horses - for the Corolla Cross is far from being a capable canyon carver.

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It demonstrates that the Japanese automaker understands its intended audience. The car’s road holding is impressive, offering decent amounts of grip when driven sensibly. Body roll, whilst present, isn’t as pronounced as in other crossovers of its size. The suspension also competently soaks up all of the imperfections our roads could throw at it, which means passenger comfort is never compromised regardless of the terrain.

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And comfort also isn’t sacrificed on an aural front. With a decently punchy combined power output of 196 bhp and 206 Nm of torque, the car never once felt asthmatic in city driving. When driven sensibly (and slowly), the CVT drone was never really a problem. In fact, it gets intrusive only when you are properly pushing it, something you’d never regularly do locally.

You Wouldn’t be Cross if you Bought this car

There are cars built to excite the enthusiast, pairing the best of what internal combustion can offer with advanced suspension geometries developed over the past several decades. This Corolla Cross isn’t that.

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If anything, this crossover is a vehicle that appeals to one’s head, and not his/her heart. But there’s nothing wrong with that. It suits the needs of its intended target market to a tee, combining reliability, practicality and affordability into a properly compelling package. And should you decide to sell it, expect it to have excellent resale value.

So, what’s not to like about it?

Toyota Corolla Cross Specifications
Price: $76,599 (without COE)
 VES Band: A2
Inline Four
2.0 litre
124 bhp, 230 Nm
Driven Wheels:
18.8 km/L
7.7 s
Top Speed:
180 km/h
Fuel Tank Capacity:
43 L
4,460 mm x 1,825 mm x 1,620 mm
2,640 mm
Cargo Capacity:
425 L

Photo Credits: Photo Credits: ACube Creative (@weareacube)

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