Critics Corner: Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid


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Jul 08, 2023

Critics Corner: Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is boosted by the automaker's fifth-generation hybrid technology. The Corolla Cross Hybrid has an extra 25 hp and delivers a 23 percent increase in combined fuel

The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is boosted by the automaker's fifth-generation hybrid technology.

The Corolla Cross Hybrid has an extra 25 hp and delivers a 23 percent increase in combined fuel economy compared with last year's model. It comes equipped with a hybridized 2.0-liter engine delivering 194 hp with an estimated 37 mpg combined in fuel economy.

As in the nonhybrid model, the Corolla Cross Hybrid comes standard with Toyota's new touchscreen infotainment system and safety features including lane-keeping, blind spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alert. The vehicle is available in five trim levels: LE, XLE, S, SE and XSE.

Journalists had a chance to drive the Corolla Cross Hybrid and we've collected some early reviews.

Drives tame

"The Corolla Cross hybrid comes with a 196-hp powertrain that combines a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and three electric motors. Toyota packs in plenty of standard driver assistance and infotainment tech as well, so the Corolla Cross hybrid delivers a big bang for the buck. Enthusiast drivers, however, will find its road manners disappointing. While it rides smoothly and is quicker than the nonhybrid version, it's still dull to drive, making rivals such as the Hyundai Kona and Mazda CX-30 more attractive to those buyers who like to drive.

"The result is a much perkier SUV when compared to the nonhybrid model; the hybrid hit 60 mph in 7.3 seconds at our test track versus a lethargic 9.2 seconds for the standard model. The hybrid also features a slightly sportier suspension tune, but don't expect GR Corolla levels of driving fun as the Cross is still very tame."

— Drew Dorian, Car and Driver

Adjustments of a hybrid

"Those who notice the Toyota Corolla Cross' design in comparison to the hybrid model will instantly recognize the latter's reworked front end. Whereas the gasoline-only Corolla Cross wears a large grille shaped a bit like a catfish's mouth, the hybrid sports a beaked lip that looks a bit like the Lexus RX's new face. Toyota also blacked out the trim and badging as additional distinguishing features. The result is a handsome, rugged-looking small SUV.

"Toyota also gave the Corolla Cross Hybrid some unique tuning elements. Its suspension is recalibrated to accommodate the extra weight of the battery and motor. On the road, the small crossover rides with a premium feel, and its fully independent suspension setup manages body roll and chassis control well. The hybrid SUV also uses a progressive steering rack, which exhibits a somewhat vague feel around center but firms up in corners. Toyota says it went with this tuning to suit the tastes of the U.S. market, as American buyers tend to like light steering at low speeds.

"The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid's regenerative braking system provided ample stopping power during our test drive, too, but we took issue with the pedal's spongy feel at the top of its travel. Once we adjusted to the initial squishiness, the subcompact SUV provided more confident braking than what we've experienced in our long-term Corolla Cross LE."

— Billy Rehbock, Motor Trend

The sporty option

"The Hybrid also gets different wheel designs, blacked-out badges and exterior trim pieces, available two-tone paint finishes that are paired with a black roof, and an awesome new lime yellow color called Acidic Blast. "A re-tuned 'sport' suspension is another change for the Hybrid, and while it doesn't actually feel appreciably sportier compared to the normal Corolla Cross, ride quality and overall comfort [are] seriously improved. Updated dampers mean the Hybrid feels smoother over rough tarmac, and road noise isn't as prominent. I even think the Hybrid rides better on the 18-inch wheels that come on the XSE, versus the 17s found on the S and SE trims.

"The steering is overly light and twitchy, and the brake pedal is squishy with a fairly big initial deadzone, though neither of those qualities should matter much to the Corolla Cross' intended buyer. I do wish the three drive modes were more distinct; switching into Sport or Eco makes little difference to the driving experience."

— Daniel Golson, Motor1.comFamiliar but youthful

"If I am hearing Toyota's marketing mavens correctly, the new 2023 Corolla Cross Hybrid is the RAV4 Hybrid for millennials not wanting to drive their dad's SUV. Essentially, if I really am understanding this right, our kids want something that goes like a RAV4 but doesn't look like, well, a RAV4. And if you can save them a few bucks along the way, so much the better.

"Inside, the Corolla Cross Hybrid is again familiar territory. Oh, Toyota would be perfectly right to state that none of the major interior body parts share part numbers with anything else in the automaker's lineup. On the other hand, it's all so very familiar. We've seen the base model's 8-inch touchscreen on other SE trims in the company's lineup. Ditto the dashboard styling, some of the buttonry, and much of the instrumentation.

"Exceeding fuel consumption expectations is another typical Toyota hybrid characteristic. While lesser cars — both gas- and electric-powered — struggle to meet their official fuel economy figures, Toyota's hybrids often exceed them. I can't remember the last time a Toyota hybrid — regular or plug-in — failed to better its fuel consumption rating. The kids might not want the RAV4 look, but I suspect they'll appreciate class-leading fuel economy."

— David Booth, Driving.Ca

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