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Car reviews - Toyota - Corolla Cross - Atmos


We like
Right size and capability for many buyers, impressive performance and fuel economy, well equipped, AWD benefits, stylish looks, low-cost servicing, comfortable, tidy dynamics, runs on 91RON unleaded
Room for improvement
Over $50k for test vehicle on the road, no spare wheel, dashboard protrudes into entry aperture, passenger seat mounted too high, intrusive ADAS, miserable towing capacity, sundry rattles

Toyota’s small Corolla Cross hybrid SUV pleases on a number of fronts

12 Apr 2024



IT HAS been around since late 2022, and thankfully, earlier long delivery delays are now shorter on Toyota's in demand Corolla Cross small SUV. 


The boxy crossover SUV model is built on Corolla hatch /sedan’s TNGA-C platform but is completely different in just about every respect.


Tested was the top of the range Atmos AWD hybrid which retails for a not insignificant $50,030 plus on-road costs making it close to $54k on the road.


Petrol-electric hybrid AWD competitors are few apart from the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S from $45,090 and the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed AWD PHEV from $56, 490 (base model is $47,790) both excluding on road costs.


Others like the new Hyundai Kona are front-wheel drive hybrids.


It looks a lot like a shrunken Kluger sharing that car’s pronounced grille and similar rear styling with defined straight and curved highlight creases along the sides and a tapering roofline. There’s a bit of RAV4 in there too but Corolla Cross is not quite as angular as the RAV.


As the top of the range variant, the Atmos exterior is differentiated by additional body bright work and bigger 18-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof… and powered tailgate with kick sensor.


Other benefits include LED lights front and rear (with automatic high beam and fog lights), roof rails, rear privacy glass, dual-zone climate control, additional rear seat USB-C ports, heated and retractable door mirrors and a shark fin style antenna, electric park brake, keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery, 60:40 split-fold rear seats and a retractable cargo cover.


Additionally, the Atmos variant scores a 10.5-inch touchscreen multimedia array and native satellite navigation as standard with other goodies including 360-degree camera technology and parking support brake. The multi-media system features wireless Apple CarPlay but wired Android Auto connectivity.


There is more as the test model is equipped with heated front seats (with two settings) and steering wheel (with single setting), an eight-way adjustable powered driver’s seat, a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster, illuminated entry and a wireless phone charging pad.


Checking the specification list, we find all Corolla Cross grades have Toyota’s Connected Services functionality which connect to an owner’s smartphone (via the myToyota Connect app) to provide real-time remote information and features. Through the app, owners can remotely check on the status of the doors and lights, and access information including vehicle location and recent trips, or start the engine or climate control.


And all grades have Toyota’s upgraded Safety Sense suite of driver assistance technologies that now features lane change assist and safe exit assist. Eight airbags are standard, but the top-spec model is further enhanced with the addition of a panoramic view monitor, advanced parking assistant, and pedestrian detection for the parking support braking system.


Power comes from a 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine developing 112kW/190Nm paired with an 83kW/206Nm electric motor on the front axle providing combined maximum power of 146kW.


The test AWD model incorporates an additional 30kW electric drive motor on the rear axle. Toyota doesn’t quote a combined torque figure for all the power sources, but seat of the pants feel suggests around 300Nm is likely.


A small 4.08Ahr battery pack is located beneath the rear seat taking minimal load space.


The AWD model rides on a MacPherson strut (front) and multilink rear end, is stopped by four-wheel disc brakes and offers up to (a meagre) 750kg braked towing capacity.


Driving Impressions


Apart from banging my knee on the protruding edge of the dash upon first entry, the Corolla Cross Atmos AWD Hybrid impresses as a good, family-oriented all-rounder up for a wide range of uses apart from a limiting 750kg towing capacity.


It has a higher ride height than the Corolla hatch which helps access and loading as well as driving on rough roads.


The five-seat cabin is roomy and comfortable and in the case of this model, offers a high level of luxury for the money…approaching Lexus standard. Soft leather seat facings are comfortable to sit on and the look of the interior is lightened by a metal insert across the middle of the soft feel dash.


Two large format screens – a multi-function centre and driver’s info’ pod – are clear and simple, though a degree of the dreaded menu mining is required to access some functions often only available with the car stopped… because the passenger isn’t afforded access on the move.


Intrusive advanced driver assist systems are prevalent on the Corolla Cross in particular the emergency forward braking and active lane keeping assist that is switchable if you prefer to control the car’s position on the road yourself.


But once switched off, LKA automatically re-activates on starting.


There’s plenty more ADAS not to like for people who can actually drive, but as all new cars are equipped with it, we won’t harp on.


Ride quality is well controlled with a sporty flavour thanks in part to low profile rubber and firmish front strut and multi-link rear suspension that collaborate to give the Atmos AWD quite a sharp drive feel for a small family SUV, aided by strong brakes and reasonably responsive steering.


It is nimble and fun to drive pretty much everywhere. 


Some tyre rumble can be heard on rough roads but nothing you’d be concerned about though the test vehicle had an annoying frequency rattle in the left-hand corner of the dash and towards the rear passenger side seat area. We couldn’t isolate them for love nor money.


We drove it with five adults aboard and the Corolla Cross felt the pinch but still had plenty of kick when accelerating at highway speeds.


Speaking of which overall performance rates highly as the 1550kg Corolla Cross Atmos AWD gets out of the blocks quickly, has strong mid-range and roll-on and spins out nicely at the top end all of which are somewhat incongruous on a small family SUV with a CVT transmission.


The engine is audible when pushed but quiet most of the time. Average fuel economy on test was around the 5.7 litres per 100km mark which we feel is acceptable giving a range of around 600-700km from the 43-litre tank.


Tall people will find the high mounted front passenger seat annoying but overall, in cabin room is adequate with a decent size load space down the back but no spare.


There are plenty of goodies to like on this particular model such as the rear privacy glass, premium audio, dual-zone climate control, decent headlights, USB ports front and rear and the heated exterior mirrors, front seats and steering wheel.


It is easy to park even without resorting to electronic assistance and is generally a practical all round transport tool that looks good, is cheap to run and own.


The Corolla Cross is definitely worth a look – and you don’t have to plug it in anywhere… just drive and enjoy it. Happy days.

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