After a long period when Toyota’s smallest SUV, the RAV4, grew into a mid-sized model leaving the compact field open to numerous competitors from other brands, it now has three vehicles in contention, Yaris Cross, C-HR and now, the subject of this week’s review, the Corolla Cross.

Although it sits on the same platform as the Corolla hatch, the Cross has a totally different body as befitting an SUV. The styling is quite conservative but that’s unlikely to deter the typical Toyota buyer who prefers function over fashion.

There are three Corolla Cross three variants, GX, GXL and a new name, Atmos. As is the norm with Toyota each comes with a hybrid option which adds between $2500 and $3000 to the price while GXL and Atmos are also available with all-wheel drive.

Prices, prior to on-road costs, range from $33,980 for the entry level 2WD GX petrol through to $50,030 for our test vehicle, the Atmos AWD hybrid.


While it shares much with the Corolla its outer appearance is more mini-RAV4 than maxi-Corolla with a snub-nosed grille featuring the Toyota logo, with blue highlights in the centre. GXL and Atmos add front foglights, enhanced LED headlights and roof rails.

The Atmos gets a two-piece panoramic moonroof.

All images indicative only.

Anyone stepping up from the latest Corolla hatch or sedan will have no problem adapting to the dashboard layout of the Cross because, apart from the new touchscreen (more later), they are all-but identical.

That’s not a criticism because we’ve always loved the stylish yet functional Corolla design.

What they will appreciate is the extra interior space that the SUV conversion has brought to the Cross with more headroom throughout and plenty of leg and footroom in the rear seats for all but the tallest of occupants.

Only the Atmos comes with a folding centre armrest complete with twin cupholders.

Boot space varies according to driven wheels and powertrain, ranging from 380 litres in the Atmos AWD hybrid up to 436 litres in the 2WD non-hybrid GX and GXL. Atmos comes with a powered rear hatch and kick opening feature.

While the 1.8-litre setup in the hatch puts out 103kW, the Cross with a larger 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle engine and 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 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.

In addition to the usual mandatory safety features all Corolla Cross variants come with eight airbags, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert ; and ISOFIX child seat anchors.

Also standard in all models is the latest Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 package which adds a pre-collision safety system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, active cruise control, lane trace and departure alert with steering assist, lane change assist with deceleration assist, road sign assist, door exit warning and automatic high beam.

In addition, GSX gets parking support brake with vehicle and object detection and a panoramic view monitor. Atmos adds pedestrian detection to the parking support brake feature as well as advanced park assist.

Corolla Cross has yet to receive an ANCAP rating but the maximum five points would seem certain.

Corolla Cross is the first Toyota in Australia to get the brand’s new multimedia system. The entry-level GX uses an 8.0-inch touchscreen, GXL and Atmos get a 10.5-inch screen. The resolution is sharp and fast to respond with the option of using voice activation.

Satellite navigation is standard in the GXL and Atmos.

There’s wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto along with a single Type-C USB port in the front console of the GX and two in the centre console of the GXL and Atmos.

Behind the steering wheel there’s a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster in the GX and GXL, with a much larger (12.3 inch) one in the Atmos.

Corolla Cross also gets the latest version of the Toyota Connected Services communications system that uses the myToyota Connect smartphone app to allow owners to do such things as remotely check the status of the doors and lights, access information such as the vehicle’s last known location and recent trips, or start the engine or climate control.

The taller body of the Corolla Cross assist with access while the higher driving position, large windscreen, side windows and mirrors together with a relatively narrow A-pillar combine to provide excellent visibility to the front and side, only let down a bit by a fairly skinny rear window.

There’s a reassuringly solid feel to the Cross and it’s easy to drive and park around the urban environment which is most likely to be its home with steering which is relatively light but direct and intuitive.

Apart from the battery-only start and silent running the Atmos hybrid that we tested had that sharp acceleration that we enjoy in all vehicles with an electric component.

Suspension is well-balanced although we did get knocked around when maneuvering through a badly-cratered section of our drive courtesy of some recent flooding.

Toyota is playing a waiting game in adopting pure electric and plug-in hybrid technology
relying – very successfully – on the hybrid variants that feature across the range with sub-5.0 L/100 km fuel consumption relatively easily achieved.

It’s quite rare for road testers to be able to match or beat the optimistic fuel consumption numbers that car company’s publish but we were able to average 4.3 litres per 100 kilometres during our week in the Corolla Cross AWD Hybrid, just under the listed 4.4 L/100 km. In one 40-kilometre rural run we got down to 3.6.

Helping these impressive results, Corolla Cross is the first local model to get the 5th generation Toyota hybrid powertrain which combines a lighter lithium-ion battery with a more powerful main electric drive motor.

Everything about the new Corolla Cross points to it being a major success for Toyota. Start with the base of Australia’s top-selling brand for the past 25 years, add a badge that’s been around since 1967 and accumulated more than 1.5-million sales here. Then bulk it up to get into the booming compact SUV market, and top it off with the latest in fuel-saving hybrid technology.

Corolla Cross currently sits in sixth place among the 23 vehicles in the small SUV market segment.

The Corolla name brings decades of credibility while the SUV body adds the family-friendly practicality to the Cross.

Add it’s neat styling, comparatively spacious interior, capable performance and excellent fuel economy and we expect it to overtake its compact SUV rivals within the next 12 months.

All Toyotas now come with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. This can be extended to seven years on the engine and driveline, and 10 years on the hybrid battery, subject to all scheduled servicing being done at Toyota dealerships.

There is also five-year capped price servicing due every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres at just $230 per visit.

Looks: 8/10
Performance: 8/10
Safety: 8/10
Thirst: 9/10
Practicality: 8/10
Comfort: 8/10
Tech: 7/10
Value: 7/10


GX Petrol 2WD: $33,980
GX Hybrid 2WD: $36,480
GXL Petrol 2WD: $37,730
GXL Hybrid 2WD: $40,230
GXL Hybrid AWD: $43,230
Atmos Petrol 2WD: $44,530
Atmos Hybrid 2WD: $47,030
Atmos Hybrid AWD: $50,030
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Toyota dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Toyota Corolla Cross 2.0-litre petrol / electric hybrid five-door wagon

Capacity: 1.987 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 112 kW at 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 190 Nm at 4400 rpm
Fuel Type: Standard unleaded petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 4.4 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 101 g/km

DRIVELINE: Ten-speed continuously variable transmission

Length: 4460 mm
Wheelbase: 2640 mm
Width: 1825 mm
Height: 1550 mm
Turning Circle: 10.4 metres
Kerb Mass: 1550 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 43 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Five years / Unlimited kilometres




About Alistair Kennedy

Alistair Kennedy is Automotive News Service and Marque Publishing's business manager and the company's jack-of-all-trades. An accountant by profession, he designs the Marque range of motoring book titles, operates the company's motoring bookshop on the NSW Central Coast and the associated web site, as well as its huge digital and hard copy database. Whenever we can escape from the office he does so to cover new vehicle releases and contributes news stories. Alistair's other interests include cricket and family history on which he has written three books.
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