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Reader Review: 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE AWD

Driving.ca logo Driving.ca 2022-05-16 Greg Williams
Jeff and Sonja Norman pose with the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE AWD. © Provided by Driving.ca Jeff and Sonja Norman pose with the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE AWD.
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In 2006, Sonja and Jeff Norman bought a new Toyota Corolla S. They kept the car until 2018, and it’s the only Corolla the Calgarians have ever owned. When presented with the opportunity to put the new 2022 Corolla Cross through its paces, they were interested in the week-long test.

“But,” Sonja says, “When I heard ‘Corolla’ I thought it would be a small sedan like our old Corolla S — I was pleasantly surprised to find out the Cross meant it was a CUV — a cute ute.”

 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE AWD. © Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE AWD.

Toyota launched the Corolla Cross in North America in 2021, and the five-door utility vehicle fits between the automaker’s C-HR and RAV4. Based on the Corolla sedan’s platform, the Cross can be had with front or all-wheel drive across three trims with the L, LE or XLE variants. Regardless of the trim, under the hood of the Corolla Cross is Toyota’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that makes 169 horsepower, and it’s paired with a continuously variable transmission.

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The Normans picked up a top-of-the-line 2022 Corolla Cross XLE AWD finished in Wind Chill Pearl – a white colour with a hint of ‘sparkle’ to it that Sonja thought helped make the vehicle look “pretty.” Inside, the Cross was trimmed out in cream-coloured Macadamia SofTex material. It would have cost just a bit more than $36,000, before taxes but including freight and PDI, to drive the Cross off a Toyota dealer’s lot.

“We’re driving a 2014 Lexus RX350 and a 2015 Ford F-150 now,” Jeff says. “The Corolla was my commuter car, but when we sold it in 2018, I bought the truck.”

Sonja adds, “I’m considering getting rid of the RX350 and going into something smaller. We used to use the Lexus for longer road trips out to Kelowna or Vancouver, but that’s changed in the last couple of years and now if we’re going anywhere, we tend to take the truck. We do have a seasonal RV in Sundre that we visit.”

When shopping for a vehicle, Sonja lists comfort and style as important considerations.

“I was really impressed when I first saw the Cross,” she says. “It had really nice lines with a wide stance, and it looked ‘secure.’” Jeff adds, “I thought it was an interesting concept, but it looked bigger than it actually was once you got in it. And I did really like the 18-inch alloy wheels.”

But every time Sonja got into the Cross, she says she’d hit her knee on the steering wheel.

“And the door handle seemed oddly placed when you go to shut the door, it’s farther forward than you’d expect,” she says.

Once in, it didn’t take long for either of them to get comfortable in the four-way power adjustable driver’s seat and they both found all controls fell easily to hand. Getting underway, Sonja thought the four-cylinder engine had “really good pep,” and the CVT was smooth and efficient.

When Jeff got behind the wheel, he says, “That was my first experience with a CVT, and I didn’t really know what to expect but when you pushed it to get up to speed to merge onto the highway it was very smooth and it worked very well.”

Overall fit and finish was rated as ‘high-quality’ by Jeff, but the passenger does not get a power adjustable seat.

“That’s something of a letdown,” Sonja explains after taking a turn as a passenger. “Not strictly the fact that it’s manually adjustable, but there was no ability to raise the height. I’m not short, but I’m not tall, either, at five-feet six-inches, and I couldn’t see over the dash the way I’d like to and I couldn’t change that.”

On the highway, with Sonja at the wheel of the Corolla Cross, she says, “It had great road manners in the wind, and didn’t get pushed around. I always felt well in control on the corners and the steering was tight and responsive.”

Of some of the tech found in the Cross, Sonja says, “The radar cruise control worked great, and I like that feature, but I didn’t care for the lane tracking assist. I didn’t feel I was too close to the lines, but it would beep and pull the wheel, so I eventually shut that off.”

While she was comfortable piloting the Corolla Cross on the highway, she thinks the Toyota is an ideal vehicle for running around in the city.

“I wouldn’t really feel comfortable driving it all the way to Vancouver,” Sonja says, but Jeff adds, “I certainly would. It doesn’t feel overly small on the highway, it’s well-powered and it’s quiet; there’s very little wind noise.”

Regarding the Cross’s utility, Jeff managed to fit their two bags of golf clubs in the rear cargo area without folding down the 60/40 seats. They did fold those seats forward and say the seat backs would not lay flat for a level cargo floor.

“The power rear liftgate is a nice feature,” Sonja says, “and there’s a button you can push to stop the hatch in a certain position – that was neat.”

With their front seats positioned where they liked them, they tried sitting in the rear seats. Neither of them felt they really had ample legroom and weren’t sure how long adult passengers might remain comfortable.

However, “I’m an advocate of all-wheel drive, and I think it would be a great little car,” Jeff says, and together, the couple conclude. “There’s great value for the money, if you’re looking for something small with some big features.”

DRIVER’S JOURNAL

Day 1

A chilly day means a good opportunity to try out the heated seats and steering wheel. The controls are located for easy access while driving. The entire steering wheel heats, not just specific spots and it actually got too warm for bare hands, so it had to be turned off. The seats are a simple Low or High setting, which is maintained when the vehicle is shut off, so when you restart the car, the seats return to warming at the previous setting. We didn’t have the optional remote start capability so it’s unknown if the seats would heat without butts in them.

Day 2

A good day to take a road trip. So, we’re off to Okotoks to try out some features. Cruise control selector is located in a handy spot on the steering wheel, easy to employ and adjust. With the radar feature engaged, the vehicle automatically lowered the speed to ensure we were following at a safe distance. Not sure how the vehicle following us was alerted to the fact we were slowing since we were not applying brakes to signify our slowing. I’m curious about that part of the safety equation. Having automatic headlights ensure taillights are also on, a great safety feature, making sure others know you’re up ahead. The audio system has great sound.

Day 3

Running errands, in and out of busy parking lots this is a perfectly sized runabout. Cargo area is even big enough to handle two sets of golf clubs. We tested to know for sure. Power rear lift is a handy feature for those times when hands are full, either with children or stuff.

Day 4

Discovered that the trip counter we had been relying on resets each time the vehicle is shut off, it’s in conjunction with fuel consumption calculation for your trips. BUT with further investigation we found that the odometer has the additional capability of a Trip A and a Trip B. So many options for collecting more information than we knew what to do with.

Day 5

LTA – Lane Tracking Assist – found this feature rather annoying so I was glad to learn it could be turned off. Yes, it keeps the vehicle centered in the lane, but it also meant fighting the steering to avoid road cracks or other obstacles, it is almost like having a poor wheel alignment. Perhaps with time a person would learn to appreciate it.

Day 6

Taking a turn at sitting in the passenger seat, it was disappointing to not have the same seat variations as the driver. Manual forward and back, seatback tilt, but no height adjustment. So much focus on tech, it’s time companies gave some focus to passenger comfort. I didn’t make for a happy passenger; I would rather be in the driver’s seat where I could customize to suit my preference. There’s a very cool feature that lets you know whether backseat passengers have their seatbelts on.

Day 7

Time to give the vehicle back. Not the week to be able to test the AWD, but Calgary is like that. It’s also the reason we choose to equip our vehicle with AWD, to always be prepared! Overall, it is a fun ride. Easy to drive around town and easy to park.

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