Toyota Corolla Cross Limited Hybrid car review
One week living with the Toyota Corolla Cross Limited Hybrid.
One week living with the Toyota Corolla Cross Limited Hybrid.
What do you get when you take a universally popular car like the Corolla, make it a hybrid, and turn it into a baby SUV? Well, you create a car that everyone wants to buy. We borrowed one for a week to see what all the fuss is about.
The Corolla Cross has four models across the range. Sitting on the bottom of the range is the GX Hybrid which sells for $42,000, followed by the GXL Hybrid ($45,000) and Limited Hybrid ($49,000), while the top price goes to the Limited Hybrid E-Four AWD ($52,000). All models can qualify for the Clean Car Discount – the first three models can get $3108 back while the thirstier AWD only gets $2851.
We had the Limited Hybrid, which is cosmetically identical to the AWD version. There are a few minor differences under the skin – it (obviously) only has 2WD, has a smaller fuel tank (33L v 43L), has a spare tyre rather than a repair kit, slightly different rear suspension and weighs a bit less. The AWD also has a small electric motor to help drive the rear wheels too. The extra running gear for the rear wheels means it has a smaller boot as well.
There’s plenty of room for the people up front, though it does feel a bit skinnier inside than a RAV4. This is especially evident when you look at the centre console. It’s very slim, so you definitely notice you’re sitting closer to the front passenger. The cabin follows the current design trends and is very clean without an overload of buttons.
Front and centre on the dash is a nice big infotainment screen that’s clearly the next generation of Toyota technology that’ll eventually filter to other models. It’s a big improvement over the last one with a clearer, more high-definition screen.
Each vehicle we trial gets the same treatment: a week of commuting in rush hour from Lower Hutt to Consumer HQ (a round trip of 28km); a run to the supermarket; and a drive over the Remutaka Hill and back, to see how it goes on a longer weekend trip. In total this makes for about 270km of motoring.
We record fuel use (both actual and on the trip computer) and measure electricity usage where appropriate, with PHEVs and EVs. The actual fuel use is measured by filling the tank to the brim at the start of the trial and then again at the end, and comparing numbers. It’s an inexact science that we use as a check, but it’s still a real-world appraisal – just one you take with a grain of salt.
Toyota has put its latest and greatest hybrid system in the Corolla Cross. It’s not groundbreakingly different to slightly older versions that I’ve driven, and it all feels very familiar. I did manage to nurse the Cross up to over 50km/h on electric driving alone, but that was with me watching the rev counter very closely and driving in a bit of a surge-like manner to do so. I have never managed to do that in another Toyota hybrid so there must be a bit more power. However, had I performed that test with someone else in the car, they probably would’ve felt queasy.
It performs just as you’d expect in the commute with the electric motor taking over every time you coast to a stop or when you first take off again. Most commutes had the trip computer giving a readout of less than 4.0L/100km when going in rush hour.
When things get slow and you get close to the car in front, the infotainment switches to a top-down, 360° view of your surroundings that even shows the road beneath the car. I didn’t see a lot of value in this other than to add some interest to the commute.
That top-down camera does come into its own when you’re parking, though. It makes parking very easy, though you need to remember to look up at the world around you or you quickly become lazy and non-attentive to everything except the screen as you nail yet another park.
The Cross also has Intersection Turn Assist, which watches out to the sides at the front of the car to let you know if someone’s coming when you drive out of a park nose first (or intersection or roundabout, for that matter). That’s a handy feature. A lot of newer cars have a rear-cross assist but not all have the warning for when you’re driving forwards.
The boot is plenty big enough, with a foot-kick opening function for when your hands are full.
I liked my roadie in the Corolla Cross. There’s plenty of room for the driver and front passenger, while I’d describe the space as adequate rather than comfy in the back as there isn’t much legroom. Since I’m incredibly selfish and it didn’t impact me, I was happy as anything.
The infotainment has a voice control feature. That means you can change radio settings with a “Hey Toyota” followed by what you want it to do. It does work quite well, and it means you can keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. However, if you have your phone connected on Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, you’ll probably be talking to that system instead.
In terms of power, again it’s adequate. If you’ve driven a regular Corolla, then you know not to expect the Earth when you put your foot down. It will overtake but it’s not particularly fast. I did like the suspension when cornering, which felt similar to driving the RAV4. It felt safe and planted without too much body roll.
There’s a major problem with the Corolla Cross in that it’s a victim of its own success. You can’t even buy one. Every spec level has sold out across the range. At best, you can register your interest for a model to be delivered in 2024. If your current vehicle is coming up for replacement in the next couple of years, it’d be a good shout to contact a dealer now if you’re interested in one.
After driving one for the week, it was pretty easy to see why they’ve sold out too. I’d happily have this as my daily driver. I thought it was quite the handsome devil and all the bits that you interact with on the inside make the interiors of Toyota’s other SUVs feel old by comparison.
Turns out turning the practical, easy-to-live-with Corolla platform into an SUV was a stroke of genius.
Toyota claims a minuscule 4.8L/100km for the Corolla Cross Limited Hybrid. The trip computer measured it at 5.2L/100km. Our actual fuel usage was 5.3L/100km.
The vehicle was kindly lent to us by Toyota NZ.
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