Expert Insights

Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Road Test

Laurance Yap
July 7, 2023
Toyota's perennially popular Corolla now has a crossover version, the Corolla Cross. The new Corolla Cross Hybrid adds the company's well-known hybrid system for 196 horsepower and 42 combined MPG. All mileage is EPA estimated.
Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Front Exterior

A Best-Seller Goes Crossover – and Hybrid

The Toyota Corolla is the best-selling vehicle in the history of the world. For decades, drivers around the world have been attracted by its combination of space, features, and fuel economy, and it’s no surprise there are millions of them on American roads. But the Corolla is not just one car, the four-door sedan that we’re familiar with. It’s now a family of cars, which includes hybrid drivetrains, and now the Corolla Cross, a raised hatchback that’s halfway between a car and an SUV. Like the sedan, the Corolla Cross is available with Toyota’s popular and proven hybrid system, which helps significantly improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

New for 2023 and arriving in Toyota dealerships this summer, the Corolla Cross Hybrid is value-priced, with a starting MSRP of $27,970, and comes with features and space not typically found in a small crossover. We think it hits a real sweet spot in size, performance, features, and price, and its hybrid drivetrain truly sets it apart. The Corolla Cross Hybrid is now one of 11 hybrid models available from Toyota, who also sells two plug-in hybrid models, the all-electric bZ4X crossover, and the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car.

Toyota Corolla Cross

Impressive Economy and Performance

As befits its available two-tone paint and rugged body cladding, the Corolla Cross Hybrid is available exclusively with all-wheel drive. Under the hood is the fifth generation of the Toyota hybrid system, like in the Prius, which combines a fuel-sipping gasoline engine and electric power to produce a total of 196 hp and a zippy 0-60 time of 8 seconds. Thanks to a continuously-variable transmission, a compact and light lithium-ion battery pack under the rear seats, and an electronic all-wheel drive system, the Corolla Cross Hybrid also delivers an impressive 42 MPG combined, according to EPA estimates.

The Corolla Cross Hybrid is also really fun to drive – more fun than you would expect given the specifications. The hybrid powertrain gives it more than enough pep in city traffic, and it has enough passing power to feel relaxed and comfortable on the highway as well. We also really like its comfortable ride, the responsive steering, and how stable and predictable the Toyota is in corners. The all-wheel drive system works on demand, only engaging the rear wheels when needed, which helps improve fuel economy. 17-inch alloy wheels are standard on entry-level S and mid-level SE models, while the Corolla Cross Hybrid XSE moves up to larger 18-inch wheels.

Interior of Toyota Corolla Cross

Spacious, Feature-Packed Interior

All Corolla Cross Hybrid models have a spacious, high-quality interior packed with useful features. There’s plenty of space front and rear, a usefully large cargo area, and easy access through wide-opening doors. All trim levels include a in 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, LED headlights, smart key access, and more. SE models add privacy glass, paddle shifters, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert, while XSE models get Softex synthetic leather seats with seat heaters and a power driver’s seat. Other available features include a power moonroof, single- or dual-zone automatic climate control, and more.

While the 8-inch screen isn’t the largest, the Corolla Cross Hybrid’s new infotainment system is excellent. It features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and has a number of USB-C charge ports to keep all your devices charged. Engineered by Toyota’s Texas-based technologies team, the infotainment system also has a wide range of enhanced connectivity and convenience features, including Over-the-Air (OTA) update capability. Drivers can interact with the car through touch and voice activation controls. Two phones can be connected to the system at once, and a number of subscription-based options add further convenience.

With Intelligent Assistant, simple phrases like “Hey Toyota” awaken the system for voice-activated commands to search for directions, adjust audio controls, change the cabin temperatures and more. Cloud navigation accesses the latest available map, traffic and routing information in real-time. To ensure users have the most up-to-date search capabilities, navigation search is provided by Google data. Destination Assist also access to 24/7 live agent assistance to locate the next destination. And an available wi-fi connect subscription turns the Corolla Cross Hybrid into a rolling hotspot with integrated audio streaming, Apple Music, and Amazon Music integration.

toyotoa corolla cross hybrid closeup

Safety Comes Standard

Built on Toyota’s familiar TNGA-C platform, the Corolla Cross Hybrid comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, a suite of active safety systems that includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection; lane departure alert with steering assist; dynamic radar cruise control; lane keeping assist; road sign recognition; and automatic high-beams. The pre-collision system, lane departure alert with steering assist, and lane tracing assist have enhanced sensors that help them work better under all conditions, and there’s a new emergency stop function that can detect when the driver is non-responsive. It can safely bring the vehicle to a stop if the driver doesn’t respond to alerts to take control.

With all of this standard tech – you don’t pay extra for any safety feature – the Corolla Cross Hybrid is a compelling package for young families. It looks and feels sporty but approachable, it has the high line of sight that crossover drivers love, and it has spectacular fuel efficiency for a tall, all-wheel drive vehicle. We’re fans of its style, its price, its feature content, and the fact that it’s built in the U.S., at Toyota’s brand-new manufacturing plant in Huntsville, Alabama. Starting MSRP for the Corolla Cross Hybrid s is $27,970, while the SE model is $29,290 and the top-level XSE model is $31,065.