Sedan sales continue to slide as Americans become a nation of station wagon drivers. Oh, they’re now called utility vehicles, but let’s face it, they’re station wagons. And their ubiquity renders them anything but trendy.
Still, their popularity continues, and it can be seen in the sales of the Toyota Corolla. Last year, Toyota sold 222,216 Corollas, down 10.75% from the 248,993 Corollas sold in 2021. However, 56,666 consumers bought a 2022 Corolla Cross, a new model introduced last year that could grow to become the brand’s most popular Corolla in the U.S.
As has become a Toyota custom, the company has just released a hybrid model of the Corolla Cross, one that’s built at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing in Huntsville, Alabama.
Built on Toyota’s TNGA-C platform, the 2023 Corolla Cross Hybrid is offered in S, SE and XSE trims, and is powered by Toyota’s frugal gas-electric hybrid system that returns 41 mpg in combined city/highway driving with a starting price of $27,970. By comparison, its conventionally-powered, non-hybrid all-wheel drive sibling returns 30 mpg in in combined city/highway driving and has a starting price of $23,060, a difference of $4,910.
Given that the national average for a gallon of unleaded gasoline costs $3.55, the difference in price is enough to buy 1,382 gallons of gas.
Now, according to the Federal Highway Administration, Americans drive an average of 14,263 miles per year. This means the difference in fuel usage between the two 2023 Corolla Cross models is 97 gallons per year — 475 gallons for the conventionally powered Corolla Cross and 348 gallons for the Hybrid.
So, it will take a little more than 14.25 years before you’d see any savings from the Hybrid’s superior fuel economy. If you drive less than that, say, 10,000 miles per year, you won’t live long enough to save any money with the 2023 Corolla Cross Hybrid.
That said, for the environmentally conscious, the Hybrid’s frugal appetite is more important than any financial considerations, which is true of any electrified vehicle. They cost more to buy, and the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross S is no exception. But it is frugal with fuel.
Considering the aggressive front-end designs of most Toyotas, the front end of the 2023 Corolla Cross Hybrid is almost tastefully tame, although it looks like it’s frowning. Maybe it figured out its financials.
There’s a modesty to its look that clearly communicates this model’s intentions. There’s little flashiness here, merely a metallic garnish that starts at the base of the windshield, rising up the windshield pillars and across the top of the side windows. Opting for the SE or XSE adds privacy glass and roof rails.
Overall, the Corolla Cross is 5 inches shorter than the Toyota RAV4 but 3 inches longer than the C-HR and boasts 8 inches of ground clearance. When it comes to footwear, S and SE models have 215/65R17s, while the XSE trim is fitted with 225/55R18s.
And four two-tone paint combinations are available, all with a black roof.
While the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is smaller than the RAV4, most will find it more than roomy enough for their needs. Front seat space is more than sufficient, while rear seat legroom is merely adequate and dependent on the kindness of front seat passengers.
Cargo capacity is rated 21.5 cubic feet, expanding to 61.8 cubic feet with the seats folded — it’s the same for the conventional as well as the hybrid Corolla Cross.
The base Corolla Cross S features a cabin filled with hard plastic with an aggressive texture, one that reflects noticeably in the windshield. Don’t expect faux leather-wrapped surfaces here. But the vehicle’s climate control system features knobs and buttons, a welcome relief from having to fish around on a touchscreen and a lot easier to safely change while driving, as the controls can be located by touch.
Motivation comes from Toyota’s fifth generation Toyota Hybrid System, which pairs the company’s 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine gas engine with electric motors to provide all-wheel drive through a continuously variable transmission. Rated at 196 horsepower, Toyota says the 2023 Corolla Cross Hybrid runs 0-60 mph in 8 seconds.
Towing is rated at 1,500 pounds with a 150-pound tongue weight. Payload is rated at 1,205 pounds for the S, 1,215 pounds for the SE and 1,170 pounds for the XSE.
Safety and Technology
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have crash tested the 2023 Corolla Cross Hybrid. But Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, the company’s suite of driver assistance safety systems, comes standard and includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Hill Start Assist Control, Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist, and Automatic High Beams. SE and XSE models also get standard Blind-Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
An 8-inch touchscreen is standard and comes with Toyota’s new easy-to-use multimedia system with wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and USB-C charge ports. AN AT7T hotspot if standard with 4G connectivity for up to five devices.
This performs exactly as you’d expect a Toyota to perform. It doesn’t try to be something it’s not. Excitement is not its forte; competent, reliable transportation is.
Driven moderately, the gas engine’s noise is subdued. Press for a surge of power and it moans loudly as the transmission reluctantly unleashes more power. Throttle response feels spongy at times. In other words, typical small car performance.
Road and tire noise are moderate, but present. As you’d expect, cornering brings out body lean, but body motions over bumps are well controlled, with large bumps transmitting through to the cabin. Steering is light with some play on center, but there is a modicum of road feel.
2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid S Specifications
|Dimension||L: 181.1 inches/W: 70.2 inches/H: 56.3 inches/Wheelbase: 108.3 inches|
|Powertrain||2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and twin electric motors; continuously variable transmission|
|Fuel Economy||45 mpg city/38 mpg highway/41 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||220 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $39,570; As tested: $40,665, including $1,095 destination charge.|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
The best surprise about the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is no surprise. If you closed your eyes and imagined what a Corolla Cross Hybrid would be like you’d get the same vehicle pictured here. It’s a practical, efficient, robust little buggy that’s made to use and use up. It’s lack of glamor is its glamor.
Just don’t call it a station wagon, even if it is.
2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid – Frequently Asked Questions
Is the 2023 Corolla Cross be hybrid?
What is the mpg for a 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid?
45 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 41 mpg combined according to the EPA. We saw 39 mpg in our tests.
How big is a 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid?
It’s 175.6 inches long, 6.9 inches shorter than the Corolla sedan. The EPA lists passenger volume at 94.9 cubic feet with a moonroof, 93.8 cubic feet with it.