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  • Writer's pictureCory Fourniquet

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid: First Drive

Family vehicles are kind of our specialty here at GT: Garage Talk since we do a family review of each vehicle that comes to our home base in Tyler, Texas. While we were on location in Wisconsin, we spotted one of the latest family vehicles from Toyota in their affordable Corolla Cross Hybrid and took it for a short spin to see just what it is like.

Unfortunately, we only had about half an hour with this particular example, but in that time we were able to take in just how appropriate the name Corolla Cross really is for this small crossover. After spending an entire week with the GR Corolla, and riding up from Chicago to Wisconsin in a hatchback Corolla, I can say with confidence that the Corolla vibes are strong with this one. The dash feels like a copy and paste of what is found in the sedan and hatch versions of the Corolla, which is not a bad thing. It is a reasonably well-styled dash with a useful infotainment screen running Toyota’s latest and in-house designed software.

Where this vehicle shines over the car versions of the Corolla nameplate is storage. Its taller stance allows for more storage space under the dash in the center console, and the rear hatch is much more spacious than what we experienced with the hatchback. Where the hatch deals with a raised floor, reducing its overall capacity, the Cross has a more traditional storage area that boasts 21.5 cubic feet of space, which is almost as much as a large Chevy Tahoe (behind its third row, at least).

Exterior styling is familiar to those who like the Toyota family of Crossovers, with a nice blend of elements from the RAV4, Highlander, and 4Runner. Designers did sneak in several “Corolla Cross” logos throughout the exterior design to make sure everyone knows exactly what this new crossover is. The Hybrid stands out from the gas-only version with an updated grille that looks a little less Fu Manchu than the gas-only models.

Under the hood is Toyota’s 2.0L 4-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor in the rear for electronic AWD much like the system employed in their hybrid-only Sienna minivan. The result is a vehicle that can drive around at low speeds under electricity only, but with a gas engine that whirrs to life when needed. When the gas engine does come on, it is a rather noisy experience.

Fuel economy estimates are what make this a vehicle worth checking out over some of its competition. At 45 mpg city, 38 highway, and 42 combined, the Corolla Cross with its 2.0L engine is more efficient than the larger Kia Sportage Hybrid we are currently testing using a smaller 1.6L gas engine.

We hope to get one of these delivered to us at home for a longer-term test where we can do our normal rounds of testing. Initial impressions however make this one a desirable option for those looking for a good combination of storage and passenger space with good fuel economy.

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Specs:

  • 2.0L Dynamic Force 4-cylinder Engine

  • 196 Combined Horsepower

  • 152 lb-ft of Electric Motor Torque

  • Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission

  • Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive

  • Sport-tuned Independent MacPherson Strut Front Suspension with Stabilizer Bar

  • Sport-tuned Double-wishbone Multilink Rear Suspension

  • 17-inch Silver Alloy Wheels

  • 215/65 R17 Michelin® Primacy All-season Tires

  • LED Headlights with Automatic High Beams

  • LED Brake Lights

  • Seating for 5

  • 6-way Manual Driver's Seat

  • 60/40 Split Folding Rear Seat

  • 4.2-inch Multi-Information Display Screen

  • 8-inch Infotainment Screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

  • 9 Speaker JBL Premium Audio System

  • Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 (TSS 3.0)

    • Pre-Collision System w/Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD)

    • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)

    • Lane Departure Alert w/Steering Assist (LDA w/SA)

    • Lane Tracing Assist (LTA)

    • Automatic High Beams (AHB)

    • Road Sign Assist (RSA)

  • Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automatic Braking (PA W/AB)

  • Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA)

  • Safe Exit Assist (SEA)

  • Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS)

  • Safety Connect®

  • Nine Airbags

  • Proximity Key with Push Button Start

  • EPA Fuel Economy 45/38/42 (city/hwy/cmb)

  • Starting Price: $27,970

  • Price As Tested: $32,865

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