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A blue 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross is shown parked in front of a mural.

Buying the Right 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross: Hybrid or Gas?

SUV shopping has become quite the challenge these days, even if you already know what you want to buy and from which brand. The reason for the challenge is mostly associated with the fact that there are so many different models to choose from, so many different trim variations, lots of different powertrain configurations, and all sorts of other features that can make it difficult to pinpoint what you may actually need from the SUV that you’re shopping for. Now, this is where we come into the equation because narrowing down your purchases can be made so much easier when you know what to look for and why. In the case of the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross, if you are considering buying the subcompact SUV but you’re not sure which version to go with, this article can help you with that.

So you may be aware that for the 2023 model year outing, Toyota added an entirely new hybrid line-up to the Corolla Cross offerings. That means that you now have the option of getting the SUV either with a gas-powered engine or with a combination of three battery-powered electric motors working in conjunction with the combustion engine. What are the pros and cons of going with one or the other, and which one is right for you? Well, that’s what this article is here to help you with when it comes to shopping for the right kind of 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross before you head off to the dealership.

ICE vs Hybrid Offerings

The 2023 Corolla Cross has two different powertrain options, two drivetrain configurations for the internal combustion engine, and one configuration for the hybrid models. This might seem a little confusing, but I’ll break down the details of the engine line-up and what it offers you as a driver. Now if you opt for a classic combustion setup, the Corolla Cross is available with an inline 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. The dual variable intelligent valve timing 4-cylinder manages 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired up with a continuously variable transmission with intelligence and manual shift mode. In short, it’s a very smartly designed powertrain oriented around fuel-saving technology.

The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder combustion engine is available in two different drivetrain formats. You can get it in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive format, which is key depending on if you need something simply for fuel economy or better handling on or off the road. The available Corolla Cross Hybrid is only available as an all-wheel drive configuration, given that it has multiple motors powering the front and rear axles. That’s what makes it quite unique.

The hybrid combines three electric motors powered both by a lithium-ion battery and a separate 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. But instead of the 4-cylinder providing all of the propulsion, the electric motors handle most of the heavy lifting, outputting up to 194 hp. This gives the Corolla Cross a lot of instant access to torque off the line and also enables it to manage 0 to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds flat.

A white 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE is shown in a car mirror.

Fuel Economy vs Powertrain

The big selling point of a hybrid vehicle is that you’re saving money in the long run while paying more in upfront costs, but is it worth it? Well, the pricing differences between a 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross versus a Corolla Cross Hybrid will determine whether you’re willing to put a few thousand more into the Corolla Cross Hybrid for long-term savings at the pump or save a few thousand with the standard Corolla Cross but not getting the same level of savings when it comes to gas mileage. This is oftentimes one of the biggest struggles people have when it comes to buying an SUV that has different powertrain configurations.

In the case of the 2023 Corolla Cross, the combustion engine with all-wheel drive will net you 29 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway. Those are great numbers, and that already makes the Corolla Cross an excellent pick for those looking for a solid daily driver from an SUV. The numbers get even better if you’re looking at the front-wheel drive Corolla Cross, which manages 31 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway.

The Corolla Cross Hybrid is only available as an all-wheel drive vehicle, so you don’t get the front-wheel option like the combustion engine. However, even as an all-wheel drive, the Corolla Cross Hybrid manages some great gas mileage at up to an estimated 37 MPG combined. So that’s a significant step up over the combustion engine.

Savings vs Costs

The really big selling point of the Corolla Cross Hybrid is the instant torque and the fuel-saving costs. You have longer travel times with less of a need to focus on filling up, which is great. So if your main focus is on getting those fuel-saving gains, you can take advantage of the Cross Hybrid. If you plan on owning the vehicle for a long time, and if you plan on using the vehicle as a daily driver doing long commutes, then a hybrid definitely makes sense as an option, but what if you’re not keen on electric motors or dealing with the potential maintenance of a hybrid? Well, then, you have the ICE as a fallback.

The benefit of the combustion engine is that you don’t have to worry about the higher upfront costs if you’re planning on buying new. The really good part about the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross is that the cheapest version of the vehicle also has the best fuel economy. If you opt for the entry-level L trim in front-wheel drive, you get the best fuel economy out of the vehicle. Also, you have a more reliable maintenance schedule to fall back on when it comes to a traditional combustion engine. But maintenance really needs to be considered heavily, and I’ll explain why.

A grey 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross is shown from the side driving on a city street.

Maintenance and Service

While a hybrid vehicle is known for being a great back-and-forth option of transportation for people who don’t want to expend a lot of time and money into regularly maintaining the vehicle, they can be more costly in the long run if you have to have any major work done. The benefit of going the classic combustion route is that you have fewer components that require special service maintenance. That’s one of the biggest downsides to going the hybrid route. However, if you’re not mechanically inclined and you don’t feel like getting under the hood, hybrids work really well in this case as a great fire-and-forget sort of option because so long as you remember to have the technicians take care of the basics, you don’t have to worry about tinkering with anything under the hood.

If you do know your way around a wrench or two, and you’re keen on doing some of the regularly scheduled maintenance on your own, then a combustion-based 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross is a good way to go. You can still do a lot of the basics on your own, such as oil changes, spark plug replacements, oil filter swaps, and other basic maintenance requirements to keep the vehicle running. In short, if you don’t want to fiddle with anything under the hood and just want a great economy-class subcompact SUV, the Corolla Cross Hybrid is a good option. If you would rather save more money upfront and do some of the work yourself over the lifespan of owning the vehicle, the standard Corolla Cross is a good pick.

Choose the One That’s Right for You

There really isn’t a “right” answer as to which Corolla Cross model you should pick; hybrid or gas. It all comes down to what you want and need in your vehicle. For some, a hybrid is going to be a great option, while others will find the gas-powered version to be best for their current situation.