FURwB2K4 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos 7
2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos 7

Toyota Corolla Cross: The upwardly mobile alternative

Riley Riley

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos 5

What is it?

You could in all likelihood be looking at the successor to the Corolla hatch and sedan as the market continues its move away from traditional vehicles.

Corolla Cross joins the Yaris Cross, C-HR, RAV4, Kluger, Fortuner, Land Cruiser Prado and Land Cruiser 300 Series in Toyota’s ever growing lineup of SUVs.

And, like many of the aforementioned models, it is available with a fuel saving hybrid petrol-electric powertrain — one that importantly recharges itself.

It’s the right-size and the timing couldn’t be better for the arrival of the pumped up Corolla, but it’s going to cost you almost $5000 more to get into one and there’s sure to be a long waiting list.

But hey?

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos 6

What’s it cost?

Looking much like a smaller version of the RAV4, there’s three versionsfrom which to  choose: GX, GXL and Atmos.

There’s petrol or hybrid powertrains, front- or all-wheel drive, with pricing starting from $33,000 plus on-roads for the front-drive, petrol-powered GX.

For $2500 more you can have the same car with a fuel-saving hybrid setup. 

AWD is another $3000, but available only with GXL and Atmos.

GX comes with 17-inch alloys, LED head and tail lights, automatic high beam, daytime running lights as well as heated and auto folding door mirrors.

Inside, you’ll find cloth trim, single-zone climate air, smart entry and start, an electric park brake and a 7.0-inch driver information display.

GXL, priced from $36,750, adds combination leather and fabric upholstery, dual-zone climate air, leather-accented shift knob and steering wheel, auto dimming rear view mirror, better LED headlights, front fog lights, roof rails and rear privacy glass.

To this Atmos, priced from $46,050, adds 18-inch alloys, panoramic sunroof and a power-operated tailgate.

There’s also leather-accented upholstery, heated seats and steering wheel, eight-way power-adjust driver seat, fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster, Nanoe X air conditioning technology, illuminated entry and a wireless phone charger.

Infotainment consists of an 8.0-inch touchscreen, with voice control, Bluetooth, AM/FM/DAB+ digital radio, wireless Apple CarPlay but wired Android Auto and six-speaker audio — but alas no navigation.

For that you need to fork out for one of the more expensive models.

Voice activation is enabled with the words “Hey, Toyota!” and you can use the new multimedia system as a web browser.

There’s a 12 volt outlet in the console box and single USB-A port at the front of the centre console, while GXL and Atmos grow two extra USB-C ports in the back.

Cross also comes with a 12-month subscription to Toyota Connected Services, accessible via the myToyota Connect app.

After this you’ll need to pay $9.95 for Toyota Connect+ and $12.50 for Connected Multimedia monthly.

This lets you remotely check the status of the doors and lights, access the vehicle’s last known location and recent trips, or start the engine or climate control.

But we wonder how often this last feature actually would actually get used once the novelty has worn off?

GXL and Atmos get a larger 10.5-inch touchscreen with built-in navigation, while Atmos also adds premium 9-speaker JBL sound.

Atmos is also fitted with a fully digital instrument cluster, with three different display modes and a number of options.

Corolla Cross gets a full five stars for safety.

With eight airbags and a reversing camera, Autonomous emergency braking (Car-to-Car, Vulnerable Road User, Junction Assist and Backover), a lane support system with lane keep assist (LKA), lane departure warning (LDW) and emergency lane keeping (ELK) and an advanced speed assistance system (SAS) are standard on all versions.

GXL and Atmos add a 360 degree camera.

Automatic Collision Notification can notify emergency services in the event of a collision triggering an airbag, who can attempt to speak with vehicle occupants to determine the seriousness of the situation.

Corolla Cross is covered by a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, extending to seven-years on engine and driveline, with capped-price servicing for the first five years or 75,000km.

Each 12-month/15,000km service is pegged at $230.

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos 1

What’s it go like?

Having driven hundreds of Toyotas over the years breeds a certain familiarity.

Getting into the Corolla Cross for the first time, it all feels, looks and even smells the same — familiar but at once different.

The cabin looks like Marie Kondo has paid a visit. The fit out is not quite spartan, but the emphasis is clearly on functionality and practicality. It’s all there – but with nothing to spare.

In fact, it reminds me of the old joke that if Toyota could find a way to charge for the air in tyres — it would do so (apologies).

There’s also a certain sameness to the way the Cross drives. The feel and sound of the hybrid powertrain is straight out of the Prius playbook.

Cross sits on the same platform as the Corolla hatch, along with the C-HR and Lexus UX, but gets a larger, more powerful hybrid in recognition of the extra size and weight that it carries — 120kg more than the petrol version.

At 4460mm in length, Cross is 85mm longer than the hatch, but 170mm shorter than the sedan.

The cabin is a roomy and pleasant environment, but rear legroom is limited, at least sitting behind my 183cm frame.

Headroom getting in and out of the back is also challenging, thanks to a receding roofline and raised seat height.

The cargo area is a good size though, with 414 litres of space behind the rear seat in front drive models — 380 litres in the all-wheel drive.

The space saver in the all-wheel drive is replaced by a tyre repair kit to make room for the second electric motor.

While the 1.8-litre setup in the hatch puts out 103kW, the Cross with a larger 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle engine, teamed with an electric motor for the front axle, delivers a combined 146kW of power at 6600 revs.

Torque? Toyota never puts a figure on combined torque for its hybrids. Never really been quite sure why.

The petrol engine alone however produces 190Nm between 4400 and 5200 revs. The electric motor — another 206Nm

A second electric motor is added to the rear rear axle in all-wheel drive versions, helping among other things to correct any oversteer or understeer.

Drive is through a CVT-style continuously variable style transmission.

The CVT in the hybrid misses out on a sequential or manual change mode in petrol versions, but comes with three drive modes: Normal, Eco and Power.

They alter throttle response, engine load and transmission response.

The dash from 0 to 100km/h takes a brisk 7.7 seconds in the front-drive version.

In power mode, performance is surprisingly sharp, but you still need to wind it up in preparation for overtaking.

But why, one might ask, do you have to keep switching to power mode to get satisfying performance. Why isn’t this the default mode?

If you answered economy, why then is there an Eco mode?

The brakes are excellent, consistently pulling the car up quick smart during repeated hard braking.

Fuel consumption from the 36-litre fuel tank in the fronty is a claimed 4.3L/100km, or 4.4l/100km for the all-wheel drive — and it takes standard unleaded.

We were getting 5.2L after more than 300km. This is a little higher than expected when a Camry hybrid will return 4.6 without any effort.

Interestingly, the 2.0-litre petrol Cross is good for a not unattractive 6.0L/100km.

Cross produces 97g/km of CO2.

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos 8

What we like?

  • Looks
  • Higher ride height
  • Rear air vents
  • Doesn’t use much fuel

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos 4

What we don’t like?

  • Pricey
  • Zoomy hybrid
  • Limited rear legroom
  • Transmission lever

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos 2

The bottom line?

It feels a bit underdone, but we like it.

Corolla sells on price and value. The Corolla Cross ticks one of those boxes.

A top of the range hybrid hatch is $37,620. Our top of the range, two-wheel drive Atmos is $46,050 — a whopping $8430 more. 

Atmos is the pick. We wouldn’t worry about all-wheel drive which doesn’t warrant the additional $3000. The deal breaker however is that you can get into a larger front-drive RAV4 Hybrid XSE for $46,375 — just $325 more?

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos 3


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Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Atmos 2WD, priced from $46,050
  • Looks - 7.5/10
  • Performance - 6/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 7/10
  • Value - 7.5/10

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