The rising phase of small SUVs we dub “midcompact” covers all kinds of niches, together with outside adventuring, sporty driving, family-friendly and extra. With one imperfect exception, which we’ll get to later, there has but to be a correct hybrid-powered entry. Properly, that adjustments with the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid.
Because the identify implies, it’s primarily based on the somewhat unremarkable 2023 Corolla Cross that doesn’t fulfill any area of interest past making an attempt to woo individuals who had constructive associations with a Toyota Corolla. It may benefit from having its personal factor, and crushing its rivals’ gas financial system does simply that. EPA-estimated gas financial system is 45 mpg metropolis, 38 mpg freeway and 42 mpg mixed. That’s up from the common, all-wheel-drive Cross’ estimate of 30 mpg mixed, which was already tied with the two.0-liter Subaru Crosstrek for class-leading – most rivals are admittedly only one or 2 mpg behind. Based on EPA gas price estimates, you would save about $500 yearly by choosing the Cross Hybrid.
You’ll even be getting a big efficiency benefit, at the least in comparison with the common Cross. The Cross Hybrid comes with Toyota’s fifth-generation hybrid powertrain additionally discovered within the spectacular 2023 Toyota Prius. Particularly, the all-wheel-drive model that provides a 3rd motor to energy the rear axle. Just like the all-wheel-drive Prius, complete system output is 196 horsepower, which is up from 169 within the gas-only Cross. That’s the distinction between the Corolla Cross being one of many slower automobiles within the phase and the Cross Hybrid being one of many faster ones.
After all, “faster” just isn’t the identical as genuinely fast. If you’d like that, a turbocharged Kia Seltos or Mazda CX-30 is the best way to go. Nevertheless it definitely will get up to the mark with better urgency than a Honda HR-V or 2.0-liter Crosstrek, and acceleration is enough for the phase. It additionally advantages from that improved, fifth-generation hybrid system’s further electrical motor software off the road and smoother gasoline engine engagement.
Sadly, the engine’s engagement could be smoother than previous Toyota hybrids, however the omnipresent drone everytime you get again on the throttle continues to be there, and it will get outdated rapidly. Apparently, the brand new Prius doesn’t do that, or somewhat, the sound appears buried deep inside the engine bay. It was one of many causes the brand new Prius impressed a lot. We suspected the Corolla Cross merely had much less sound deadening, however Prius chief engineer Satoki Oya stated the noise distinction is admittedly the results of the in any other case equal Prius engine having an additional balancing shaft that reduces noise and vibration. The Corolla Cross really has extra sound deadening to take away some significantly disagreeable frequencies, but it surely’s fairly clearly not sufficient to totally compensate.
The Corolla Cross Hybrid is solely out there in what historically have been thought-about sporty Toyota trim ranges – SE and XSE – in addition to a brand new S base trim degree pictured above. These aren’t out there within the common Cross. A sport-tuned suspension is the one mechanical improve that comes with these trims, moreover the efficiency improve. I admittedly haven’t pushed an ordinary Corolla Cross, so I can not touch upon the distinction, however “sport-tuned” is a relative time period. The Hybrid doesn’t wallow about, however nothing concerning the expertise says “sporty.” The inert responses from the steering definitely don’t assist, although at the least placing the automotive in Sport mode provides a dollop of additional weighting. That’s not one thing you’ll discover within the common Corolla Cross.
Most consumers won’t care about these critiques of its lukewarm dynamics, and can fortunately take the massive gas financial system determine and completely competent management responses. This can be a easy, easy-to-drive commuter automotive. It doesn’t also have a weirdo gear selector like a Prius or most different Toyota hybrids.
The S/SE/XSE trims do present the same old visible upgrades on high of hybrid-specific enhancements. Chief amongst these is the brand new face, the variations in which you’ll see beneath with the common Cross on the fitting in inexperienced. Principally, the trapezoidal grille has drifted south to the underside of the fascia and is adorned in shiny black trim, whereas a protrusion juts out from between the headlights like a button nostril. The Toyota badge rests inside it curiously completed in black to match the SE’s all-black badging somewhat than the everyday blue badge discovered on different Toyota hybrids. The Cross Hybrid seems to be extra associated to the RAV4, particularly with the black distinction roof out there as a $500 stand-alone choice on the SE and XSE.
Variations on the rear are successfully restricted to shiny black trim on the decrease bumper rather than the same old matte black plastic accented with a body-colored trim panel. “Roof rails” are included on the SE and XSE, however they’re actually simply elevated trim items with fastened crossbars bolted into them. There are additionally distinctive wheel designs, out there in 17-inch (S and SE) and 18-inch sizes, and the gold “Acidic Blast” paint coloration you see here’s a Hybrid unique.
The inside is carried over from the Corolla Cross other than distinctive upholstery. A black material accented in grey is compulsory on the S (two backside photographs above), and is considered one of two decisions on the SE together with a black/blue mixture. The XSE (pictured above) has SofTex vinyl upholstery in all black or a black accented in blue.
Each 2023 Corolla Cross now will get Toyota’s newest infotainment system, which will get faster responses and a extra fashionable look (yay) however loses its user-friendly bodily menu buttons (boo). The display nonetheless measures 8 inches, which now appears a bit small. The XSE has a digital instrument panel, which is more and more normal problem on this phase – a reality made apparent while you get into the S or SE and are confronted with plain-Jane analog gauges that don’t even characteristic the same old Toyota hybrid energy meter. There’s only a tach that crashes to zero while you come to a cease or the electrical motor is solely powering the automotive.
These devices are indicative of a cabin that basically lacks the panache of most rivals – particularly the beautiful new HR-V cabin and tech-filled 2023 Kia Niro. Ah sure, that may be the opposite hybrid that now resides on this phase after it grew considerably with its 2023 overhaul. It’s an imperfect comparability, but it surely’s nonetheless a troublesome one for the Cross Hybrid. The Niro doesn’t provide all-wheel drive, which is the one technique to get the Corolla Cross Hybrid, and is slower regardless of counting on a standard automated transmission that helps it keep away from the Cross’ droning points. It additionally doesn’t sit as excessive off the bottom (the Cross Hybrid has a good 8 inches of floor clearance) and customarily seems to be much less like an SUV. Nonetheless, the Niro is sharper to drive and will get 53 mpg mixed. That’s not as massive of a gas financial system bounce as it could appear, but it surely ought to nonetheless equal a number of hundred bucks per 12 months.
The little Kia additionally has a considerably bigger again seat than the Toyota – within the Corolla Cross, full-sized adults sitting front-and-back could discover their knees grazing the sprint and entrance seat, respectively. Cargo area on paper would appear to favor the Corolla Cross by a few cubic ft (the Hybrid has the identical 21.5 cubic-feet because the AWD common Corolla Cross), however the Kia has a extra purposeful area in observe. Neither has a spare tire – a chunky wiring harness wanted for the additional rear motor snakes via the world the place the common Cross’ spare could be, leaving an unlimited, ineffective chasm crammed with grey foam.
Pricing is analogous between the 2 – the Kia begins decrease however goes increased, but it surely ought to because it’s out there with much more tools on its higher finish. The Cross Hybrid begins at $29,305 for the S, together with the $1,335 vacation spot cost. The SE goes as much as $30,625; the XSE to $32,400. These estimates are roughly $4,000 dearer than the comparable common Corolla Cross trim ranges. That’s far more than you’ll possible have the ability to pay again utilizing gas financial savings alone, however you then’re additionally getting extra because of the additional efficiency, model enhancements and, presumably, a barely extra partaking driving expertise.
There’s additionally the matter of the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid usually being the extra aggressive automobile, or at the least higher capable of stick out amongst a crowded area of fascinating, well-rounded gamers. Its excessive gas financial system is a giant deal, as is its normal all-wheel-drive system. Nothing else provides that mixture at its value and dimension. Would placing snow tires on a Niro be a greater guess? Perhaps. How about paying a bit extra for a RAV4 Hybrid that begins round $31,000? Yeah, most likely. So, not precisely a ringing endorsement. However hey, that Acidic Blast paint and the black roof seems to be fairly darn cool. There’s that.